BeesBlogs art2c in Manchester – March – One

BeesBlogs art2c in Manchester – March – One

March heralds in Spring and some great new art2c in Manchester this month. Rather than put together a What’s On of great length, I’ve decided to break it down in weekly bite-size pieces. More next week!!

As part of International Women’s Day and Manchester’s Wonder Women Festival, Castlefield Gallery have brought together Ruth Barker and Hannah Leighton-Boyce in their latest exhibition previewing 8th March. (There will be a première performance of ‘If this is the last thing that I say’ by Ruth Barker / 6:15pm, Thursday 8 March)

Of Flesh and Stone by Tom Baskeyfield & Mario Popham – HOME starts 9th March, with Baskeyfield and Popham exploring the socio-political history of North Wales and its inextricable links to the materials of the title through drawings and photography.

Sonia Boyce – Obsessions is part of a collaboration with Manchester Art Gallery, Bethlem Museum of the Mind and The New Gallery Walsall and is a live video link exploring her ‘Obsession’ with Northcotes’ painting of Ira Aldridge (1807-67) as Othello, The Moor of Venice which is part of the MAG’s collection. Further dates with Bob & Roberta Smith and Cornelia Parker are also scheduled.(Details below)

Finally in this BeesBlogs art2c in Manchester edition is Contemporary Six’ new exhibition of work by Chris Cyprus who has raced to capture the effects of sodium lighting on local scenes of Saddleworth , Mosssley  and Stockport, among others before the Governments move to change the views forever with LED lighting. Northern Lights previews 10th March


Ruth Barker & Hannah Leighton-Boyce – Castlefield Callery

9 March – 29 April 2018* (Public Preview 8th March 6-8pm)

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Ruth Barker – Circle Work 2015 Performance Photograph by Christopher MacInnes. Courtesy of the Agency.


Premiere performance of ‘If this is the last thing that I say’ by Ruth Barker / 6:15pm, Thursday 8 March 2018


2018 marks the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People’s Act, brought in to reform the electoral system in Great Britain.  Enfranchising women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications, the Act marked a key stage in the continuing journey towards universal suffrage.

Previewing on Thursday 8 March; International Women’s Day, and as part of Manchester’s Wonder Women Festival, the exhibition will include newly commissioned work by Ruth Barker and Hannah Leighton-Boyce. The University of Salford Chancellor and ‘writer in residence’, the award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays Professor Jackie Kay MBE, will also write a commissioned poem inspired by the exhibition.

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Hannah Leighton Boyce_Studio view, work in progress

Paired by Castlefield Gallery, both women’s practice sees them undertake in-depth research projects with the artists often embedding themselves in communities to explore people and place. New work for this exhibition has been made during 2017 when Castlefield Gallery supported Ruth Barker (Glasgow) and Hannah Leighton-Boyce (Manchester) to undertake research residencies: Leighton-Boyce in Scotland with Glasgow Women’s Library, and Barker in Salford with the University of Salford and University of Salford Art Collection. Over the course of the year Barker and Leighton-Boyce have exchanged many ideas, thoughts and stories, in particular through conversation and letters. New works will premiere at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, before touring in 2019 to Glasgow Women’s Library, and acquisition into the University of Salford Art Collection.

Barker primarily works in performance and performative-writing, and has an on-going engagement with the ‘voice’. As a mother of two young children, she is clear that her recent experience of traumatic birth precedes but does not define her new body of work ‘If this is the last thing that I say’.

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Hannah Leighton Boyce_Concequences of progress; remnants for the future 7

The central figure in ‘If this is the last thing that I say’ is an ambiguous ‘pulley- woman’, a (ready-made) clothes pulley standing in for Barker’s absence. Alongside other works, this becomes a way for Barker to talk about her own mortality and an anxiety around motherhood, illness, physical vulnerability. Brutal world politics, and the economic conditions of contemporary Britain are, Barker feels, rapidly coalescing to render her publicly mute.

If this is the last thing that I say will come together through an assemblage of spoken word and sound, and will include wall based fabric works, and sculptural objects. A black fabric performance costume hung up to dry alongside an incomplete papier mâché female torso – suggesting nothing more than an ineffectual Winged Victory, while a ‘rug’ depicting a child’s drawing of the face of the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar.

Children from Salford’s Clarendon Road Primary School will be recorded performing a sonic meditation inspired by the founder of “Deep Listening”, the late Pauline Oliveros, in the University of Salford’s Anechoic Chamber (a room designed to absorb all sound, rendering the room completely silent). The audio recording will be accompanied by the sound of Barker’s own breath works, infant babble, and performed monologue.

The rug work will be made using specialist production techniques at the University of Salford’s fibre workshop with artist assistant Alena Donely.

Leighton-Boyce explores historical narratives through site-specific actions, sculpture, drawing, sound and installation.

Leighton-Boyce describes her recent residency with Glasgow Women’s Library as having a profound effect on herself and her work.  She states – “What I realised, or was reminded of on my last trip to Glasgow, was how recent personal experiences connect to the works I am developing; how trauma, loss, healing, reflection have informed decisions and conflated with the themes around the works. The library has been a place where I could feel vulnerable but also supported, where I could let thoughts settle among the books I was reading and items in the archive, and to reflect on these through different conversations”

During her residency the welcoming embrace of the library especially struck Leighton-Boyce, and new works for the exhibition take inspiration from a large circular table centrally placed in Glasgow Women’s Library, one used for meetings, tea, lunch breaks and conversation.

For Leighton-Boyce the table was reminiscent of the round table in the house of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the British suffragette movement (now the Pankhurst Centre), which was the birthplace of the Women’s Social and Political Union; and ‘The Table of Sentiments’, a domestic parlour table used by American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to draft ‘The Declaration of Women’s Rights’ at Seneca Falls in 1848.

Her new works will echo her experiences, specifically through her decision to work with salt, drawing on its inherent properties of healing, energy, and the charge of ‘coming together’ she experienced at Glasgow Women’s Library.

In developing her work, Leighton-Boyce entwines ideas and materials, echoing the physical imprints and human presence, the traces of labour and emotion. Her research led her to explore salt as a metaphor for both the physical extraction process of researching and the laboured mind, singular and collective; of form and fluidity, of resistance and preservation.

As with Barker’s work, historical narratives have informed and will be present in the new works. In reflecting on the multiple bodies that form the body of the archive and the importance of looking back, Leighton-Boyce references the story of Lot’s (unnamed) Wife who was turned to a pillar of salt because she defied the angels and turned to look back on the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:26). The powerful new body of salt-inspired and made works will signal the presence of the body; the blood, sweat and tears of the mind, body and soul.

Event: 10 March 2018, 1.30-4pm

Exhibition tour and discussion over tea and cake with artist Hannah Leighton-Boyce, Glasgow Women’s Library Life Long Learning and Creative Development Manager Dr Adele Patrick, Castlefield Gallery Director Helen Wewiora and Curator Matthew Pendergast, and University of Salford Art Curator, Lindsay Taylor.

Of Flesh and Stone by Tom Baskeyfield & Mario Popham – HOME

Fri 9 Mar – Sun 29 Apr

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Houses to Cemetary – Courtesy of HOME

Of Flesh and Stone explores the complex socio-political history of North Wales and how its story is inextricably linked to this natural substance that has been, and continues to be vital to human civilisation HOME is delighted to announce Of Flesh and Stone, the next exhibition in its popular HOME Projects strand, spanning across both of the venue’s Granada Foundation walls.

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Shoes – Courtesy of HOME

Humans, over many centuries, have chipped, split and blasted stone, re-configuring hillsides and moving mountains. Through a dialogue between drawing (embossed rubbing) and photography, artist Tom Baskeyfield and photographer Mario Popham  him to bring to the fore these layers of our shared history.Forming the second part of the artists’ project Shaped by Stone, the exhibition highlights a causal relationship between the post-industrial landscape of North Wales and the urban rooftops of Manchester. The mountains of North Wales have been transformed by the large-scale extraction of slate, disseminated to feed the demands of the Industrial Revolution. By recording
the scars and remnants of this conquest, Baskeyfield and Popham examine a past dependence on rock that continues to shape the human narratives unfolding within these hills and valleys. Meanwhile, in a Northern city forged by the very same forces of industry, the remnants of these mountainsides endure among the glass, concrete and steel.

Tom Baskeyfield said: “Over recent years my practice has developed in response to the ecological crisis we find ourselves in, and a concern for how we got here. I am moved to seek out the connections and relationships we have with each other and the earth. This takes me back to the land where I am drawn, in particular, to fields and quarries as potential bridging places, sites of interaction between ourselves and
the planet. The relationship we have with the land is deeply complex, formed over millennia. I see art as a lens, and a language, to explore this relationship and to respond and communicate.”

Mario Popham added: “Walter Benjamin tells us ‘the present comprises the entire history of mankind as an enormous abridgement’. I see photography as a means to make a lyrical enquiry into our common history, the ways in which we live with our past and our ever-shifting relationship to the natural world.”

OBJECTS OF OBSESSION – Manchester Art Gallery – Thursday 8th March


Royal Academicians – Sonia Boyce, Bob and Roberta Smith & Cornelia Parker – share their influences at museums and galleries across the UK

Three of Britain’s leading artists are marking the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy by sharing their great obsessions with a global audience, in a new series of live events. Following the opening interview with Cornelia Parker at Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Sonia Boyce and Bob and Roberta Smith will be grilled by broadcaster and RA artistic director Tim Marlow on the works of art that have had a profound effect on their lives.

Objects of Obsession is a collaboration between the Royal Academy and The Space, a digital commissioning and development organisation founded by the BBC and Arts Council England. The Objects of Obsession events are taking place at the three diverse museums and galleries which house the works of art to be explored. Each artist will reveal the reasons for their obsessions to audiences at each venue and to a potential global audience, as each discussion is streamed live across Facebook and YouTube.

Hosts include Manchester Art Gallery, The New Art Gallery Walsall & Bethlem Museum of the Mind London

Othello the Moor of Venice (1826) by James Northcote (1746-1831)

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Othello the Moor of Venice (1826) by James Northcote (1746-1831) Courtesy Manchester Art Gallery

Sonia Boyce has chosen a painting showing 19-year-old Ira Aldridge (1807-67), in the character of the jealous Moor, Othello, from Shakespeare’s play. Aldridge first came to Manchester in 1827, appearing at the Theatre Royal. A black actor was seen as a ‘singular novelty’ then and Aldridge’s performances were acclaimed. Although from New York, Aldridge forged a distinguished career as a Shakespearian
actor in Britain and Europe. This painting was the first purchase by the Royal Manchester Institution(RMI). Northcote had painted it shortly after Aldridge had been appearing as Othello on stage in London,and the RMI purchased it after Aldridge starred in the same role in 1827 in Manchester.

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Sonia Boyce.

Thursday 8th March at 6.30pm at Manchester Art Gallery: Sonia Boyce. To view:

First portrait of Esther (with long hair) (1944) by Sir Jacob Epstein

Bob and Roberta Smith will discuss ‘Walsall’s Mona Lisa’, the bronze bust by Epstein, presenting his daughter Esther. Epstein said ‘If I had to be judged by one work, I should choose this. It has all the qualities I most admire in sculpture. I could not have done it better.’ The 15 year-old Esther has the air of a defiant teenager, reluctantly sitting for a portrait by her father and the work is reminiscent of
portraits of Egyptian princesses, reflecting Epstein’s passion for Egyptian art. The sculpture is part of the Gallery’s renowned Garman Ryan Collection, which includes a large selection of work by Epstein. The collection was gifted to Walsall in 1973 by Kathleen Garman (Lady
Epstein), Esther’s mother, and her friend Sally Ryan; among the collection’s 365 works are those by Constable, Turner, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, alongside artefacts from many cultures around the world. In 2009-11, Bob and Roberta Smith was artist in residence at the Gallery and created an Archive Gallery which tells the fascinating stories of the lives and tangled love affairs
of the Garman-Epsteins.

Wednesday 21 March at New Art Gallery Walsall: Bob and Roberta Smith. To view:
smith/ 


Sketch of an Idea for Crazy Jane (1855) by Richard Dadd

Cornelia Parker’s choice is one of 19th century artist Richard Dadd’s finest watercolours, illustrating the popular ballad of the time, ‘Poor Crazy Jane’, the tale of a girl driven mad by her lover’s desertion. In the early years of his artistic life, Richard Dadd (1817-1886) was recognised as one of the rising talents of his generation, a highly original specialist in the illustration of imaginative literature, notably works by Shakespeare. Confident and charismatic, he attracted wealthy patrons and appeared to be heading towards a successful future.

However, towards the end of a Middle Eastern tour of 1842-3, Dadd began to suffer from a mental illness that altered his character and behaviour. Upon his return home, he developed a literal conviction that his father was the Devil and consequently, Dadd murdered him. Dadd escaped to France but was soon arrested and brought back to England, where it was quickly recognized that he could not have acted solely with criminal intent. Instead of being put on trial for his crime, Dadd was detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure at Bethlem as a criminal lunatic. During twenty years at Bethlem, and subsequently at Broadmoor Hospital, Dadd continued to paint the beautiful works which
confirmed his status as a great artist of the imagination, supported in his artistic pursuit by his doctors.

Cornelia Parker at Bethlem Museum of the Mind: Full interview now available to view here:


Chris Cyprus, Northern Lights – Contemporary Six

Sat 10 March – Sun 1 April 2018


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NL 245. Acrylic, 16x12_, 2017, Mossley. (2000×1479)

When artist Chris Cyprus first tried to capture the magical colours of twilight in his beloved Mossley, little did he know he was painting the first of a series that would span over a decade, run to 250 images and see him featured on prime time BBC.

That series, called Northern Lights – instantly recognisable for its palette of striking blues, oranges and yellows – is now at an end. And an exhibition at  Contemporary Six near Manchester’s Albert Square, will showcase 36 paintings, including the final composition.

Since 2005, Chris has captured the beginnings of nightfall at settings around Greater Manchester, including Saddleworth, Duckinfield, Oldham, Ramsbottom, Mossley and Stockport, where he lived for a time as a child. Further east, paintings feature corners of Staithes, Robin Hood’s Bay, Holmfirth and Huddersfield in Yorkshire.

“One of the luxuries of being based in Pennines country is my close proximity to a wide range of striking locations,” he said. “The UK is truly beautiful in parts and the diversity of its landscape keeps pulling me back”.

But in 2015, his relationship with his Northern Lights series took on a new intensity. Chris discovered that a UK-wide Government programme to replace the evocative orange sodium bulb in street lighting with more environmentally friendly LEDs was already under way.

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Northern Lights No215. Huddersfield, Acrylic, 10×12–ú525 (2000×1583)


My painting took on a new significance,” he said. “I felt like I was chronicling the end of an era. I’m fully supportive of the green credentials of the new lighting – and the cost saving for cash strapped councils across the forgotten north – but I won’t half miss those magical moments when the orange street lamps crank up at dusk.”


”I don’t know what’s next. I’m always experimenting. I like to paint seasonally, so maybe my inspiration will come in the spring.”