Brush off your dancing shoes

Long After Tonight, 2005 'Production photograph 'Photographer: Peter Dibdin

Long After Tonight, 2005 'Production photograph 'Photographer: Peter Dibdin

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The Grundy Art Gallery has pulled off a coup by persuading an award-winning artist to bring his latest exhibition to town.

And on top of that they’ve got top poet Jon Hegley to come to Blackpool and perform a two-hour set.

First the exhibition, which is the work of the internationally-respected Matt Stokes, winner of the Becks Futures Prize in 2006 and shortlisted for the Jarman Award 2012.

Called Dance Swine Dance, and at the gallery from Saturday until March 29, it features the subjects Northern Soul, Cave Raves and American punk.

Many of the works share a strong association with Blackpool and the North West – notably the development of Northern Soul, of which the now destroyed Blackpool Mecca played a crucial role.

“We are really excited about Dance Swine Dance because it has such a wide appeal,” said Grundy curator Richard Parry.

“Stokes is a greatly celebrated artist. Part anthropology, part tribute and part collaboration, his work addresses enduring questions concerning how being part of a collective shapes and influences people’s lives and identities.

“The Grundy provides the perfect setting for this and we are looking forward to exhibiting this work and seeing the enjoyment people get from it.”

Newcastle-based Stokes has established a reputation for his lyrical films that focus on subcultures.

With Dance Swine Dance, both floors of the Grundy will be filled, revealing a selection of artworks and projections that explore Stokes’s particular interest in musical subcultures.

Visitors can expect to see a range of historic and contemporary music scenes represented, including Northern Soul, ‘Cave Raves’ from the early 90s and American Punk in Austin, Texas.

As part of the exhibition there are two special events planned.

Hegley, widely known for his sung and spoken comic poetry, and who regularly sells out at the Edinburgh Festival, will perform at Blackpool Catholic Club on Queen Street on Friday, February 21.

Hegley is one of the country’s most innovative poets with several best selling volumes of poetry to his name. He is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence. Hegley will perform a specially commissioned two hour set followed by a further two hour set of Northern Soul music from DJ David Belcher.

Tickets are £8 or £5 concessions/students and can be booked soon via www.visitblackpool.com

Before that, on Saturday February 8 in the Grundy Art Gallery, top Northern Soul DJ’s Richard Searling and Glenn Foster will discuss the history and evolution of Northern Soul in the North West, from the 1960s through to the present day.

They will field questions and play key records from the genre. It lasts from 8pm-midnight and is a free event but booking is essential.