New exhibition on the Modernist gallery finds life in outdated slide movie

Out of Time is a project devised for the Manchester Modernist Society by Bill Mather, after he stumbled upon a stash of slide films from the 1970s discarded in a haberdashery shop in Timperley, Greater Manchester.

“Sometimes you go looking for one thing and you find another,” says Mather. “I found these slide films in a bag under some polyester material in the corner of an abandoned shop which was owned by a friend of mine who passed away last year. I thought it would be a nice tribute to him to see what we could do with them.”

Mather invited 22 photographers from across the UK and Europe to use the film, specifically to shoot modernist buildings and scenes. To introduce an element of jeopardy, with the slide films now almost 50 years old, there was no guarantee that any prints would be possible from them.

Top image: By Jack Hale; Above: By Matt Simpson
Bill AyresBy Bill Ayres
Hoia BrebeneanuBy Hoia Brebeneanu
Zoe GruberBy Zoe Gruber

The full list of participating photographers were: Natalie Ainscough, Bill Ayres, Shirley Bainbridge, Carlos Baselga, Cinthia Baseler, Horia Brebeneanu, Annabel Cohen, Emily DeFelice, Ashiya Eastwood, John Ellis, Sapphire Goss, Zoe Gruber, Jack Hale, Susan Hallsworth, Simon Hadfield/Lisa Brown, Christopher Hopes, Stephen Marland, Lauren Mcintyre, Cal McNab, Alex Nelu, Matt Simpson, and Michael Walsh.

The results were indeed mixed, with many of the films damaged and showing nothing at all. Yet others offered up images that will delight fans of Manchester and Salford’s epic industrial architecture. Those that could be successfully developed revealed shots of bakelite switches and Manchester modernist landmarks such as the curvy Gateway House outside Piccadilly Station.

Some photos feature interesting discolouring including a shot of traffic lights bathed in turquoise with bright orange spots. There are also grainy black and white images of tower blocks in Salford and cooling towers in Derbyshire.

Michael WalshBy Michael Walsh
Cal McNabBy Cal McNab
Alex NeluBy Alex Nelu
Sapphire GossBy Sapphire Goss

The images are on display in the Modernist gallery and shop in Manchester until July 2, and will also be exhibited at Stretford Public Hall later in the year.

“With slide film there’s only one chance to get it right so we thought it would be interesting to see what we get back,” says Mather. “With the colours interfering and cross polarising we got some mixed results, but it was also interesting to see what the photographers decided to go and shoot. And in some cases, it looks like we may never know.”