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Lowry's soccer match men

A new exhibition shows teenagers that fine artists can address subjects close to their heart. Adi Bloom reports

The art gallery is not the Saturday destination of choice for the average teenage football fan. Few members of the school team complain that training clashes with meetings of the art society. For many, a keen aesthetic sense is not a prerequisite for appreciating the beautiful game.

But a new exhibition at the Lowry Centre in Manchester aims to show football devotees that there is much that is relevant for them in fine art.

"Football Fever", which runs to October 11 to January 18, celebrates the 50th anniversary of Going to the Match, a painting by British artist LS Lowry. The painting, completed in 1953, depicts a group of Bolton Wanderers' fans heading for the terraces.

The new exhibition will display the Lowry picture alongside a series of four video testimonies from young football-goers, who discuss what the game means to them. Participants were chosen through adverts placed with local clubs Manchester City and Manchester United.

The aim, according to Sally Entwistle, head of education at the Lowry Centre, is to demonstrate that art is relevant and accessible to young people who might not usually visit a gallery. "When you work with art, you don't often get to work with people whose passion is football," she said.

"But people don't need to feel scared. Lowry's work is so accessible. It deals with day-to-day themes, with communities. That's something people are always going to be able to relate to."

Kris Hitchen, a United fan, appears in a video with his nine-year-old son, Jake. He has been surprised at the parallels between life and art. "Jake and I are both football-mad. We'll sit and watch any football, just for the sake of watching," he said. "Lowry's paintings are about people who don't earn very much, but want to be at the match when someone puts a ball in the net. It's a sense of belonging. I've learnt a lot about myself through this project."

Jake said the experience had taught him about Lowry and his work. "Artists usually paint flowers and countryside and things," he said. "Going to the Match is the first picture I've seen of a football stadium. It's amazing.

I'm more interested in art now."

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