Art in Manchester – Ruskin, The Reno and The Northern Boys

Art in Manchester: This week sees three exhibition from The Whitworth featuring Joy Forever, a response to John Ruskin, Ancient Textiles large textile works from the Paul Hughes Collection and The Reno who some Mancunians will remember from the 1970’s as a Moss Side nightclub venue for mixed race youths.

If you’re talking art in Manchester, then Contemporary Six Gallery across from Manchester Town Hall has The Northern Boys an exhibition of plein air painting from six northern artists.

I must mention the new exhibition now on at Castlefield Gallery. Undoing a collaboration with Manchester School of Architecture, Curator Tom Emery and Castlefield Gallery The exhibition includes photography, models, sculpture and film by artists and architects that explore how buildings, places and artefacts are re-used, reinterpreted and remembered. Really worth popping in. Architecture as art? Definitely (Full details HERE)


The Whitworth begins new chapter with a response to John Ruskin

Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market

29 March – 9 June 2019

Art in Manchester
Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust Installation Photography Houses of Parliament – Joy Forever – The Whitworth

In the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Whitworth responds to the artist, art critic, teacher and social reformer John Ruskin – in a year when his words seem as relevant now as they did then, in a climate of perceived ecological, political and social catastrophe. Ruskin was complex, difficult and flawed, as well as profound. He also hated Manchester, and therefore it seems fitting that the city responds with equal complexity and irreverence.

Art in Manchester
Epiode 1 – Centrifuge – Joy Forever – The Whitworth

Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market combines the Whitworth’s renowned collection of art and design (itself founded in the 19th Century on Ruskinesque thinking) with archival documents, contemporary installations, a cast of the wall of Westminster Hall, a road building, textiles, politics, pictures, a protest on the EBacc by local school children and commissions from Manchester-based design studio Standard Practice and Grizedale Arts from the Lake District.

In 1857, John Ruskin (1819-1900) delivered one of his most important public lectures in response to the Great Art Treasures exhibition in Manchester, the largest art exposition ever held in the UK, where paintings, drawings and prints borrowed from wealthy private collectors across the country went on public display for the first time. In The Political Economy of Art, or A Joy For Ever (and Its Price in the Market,) he berates a city that he sees as the epicentre of all ills in the world: a manifestation of the rampant free market capitalism, industrialisation and its dehumanising effects engulfing the 19th century world. This lecture later became the seminal book Unto This Last (1860), his treatise on political economy that became the founding text for the Labour Party and inspiration for Ghandi’s post-colonial reform of India. Referencing A Joy For Ever, the exhibition is structured as a wayward lecture, a step-by-step guide on how to use art for social change.

Art in Manchester
Ruskin – Head of Adam – Joy Forever – The Whitworth

In the first gallery, the displays respond to Ruskin’s question: how can an art collection be used for wider social advantage? Here some of the Whitworth’s collections are curated by the gallery’s ‘Handmade’ group, who meet regularly as part of a city-wide campaign to develop Manchester as an age-friendly city, alongside Year 9 pupils from The Hyndburn Academy in Blackburn who, in protest against the introduction of the EBacc that devalues arts education in schools.

The next gallery focuses on the relationship between art, architecture and ideas of good governance, speaking of how Gothic style was appropriated in the 19th century and became the architecture of state and commercial power. Ruskin admired the city of Venice as a model society, in which its Gothic buildings were created by the mutual cooperation of architect and craftsman, forming much of his thinking on the relationship between labour and happiness. Depictions of Gothic architecture by Ruskin’s favourite artists JMW Turner and Samuel Prout from the Whitworth’s collection will be displayed.

Art in Manchester
Prelude Brotherhood – Joy Forever – The Whitworth

Jorge Otero-Pailos’ The Ethics of Dust, is a large-scale latex cast of the wall surface of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament. This was first shown at Westminster Hall in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum result in June 2016. Here, it will be displayed alongside wallpaper designs by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin for the Houses of Parliament and Alfred Waterhouse’s designs of Manchester’s neo-Gothic Town Hall.

Manchester philanthropist and Ruskin follower, Thomas Horsfall (1841-1932), who set up the Ancoats Art Gallery and a picture loan scheme for schools in Manchester is also featured through letters of thanks from pupils and teachers related to the loan scheme. Horsfall’s plans for Ancoats Art Gallery included the commissioning of a model interior designed by William Morris to inspire better home environments for the millworkers and the exhibition will feature elements of Morris’ design including Strawberry Thief furnishing fabric and Daisy wallpaper.

Grizedale Arts marks its 10 year anniversary of projects in Coniston, the town where Ruskin lived for the last 28 years of his life and where he implemented many of his social experiments on craft, farming, water supply, dairy producing etc. This exhibition will present a mini survey of around 100 projects they’ve created to date, such as the Honest Shop, mini library and exhibitions of local crafts with a series of connected making workshops and talks.


Ancient Textiles from the Andes The Whitworth

29 March – 15 September 2019

Art i9n Manchester
Tunic Cushma – Paul Hughes Collection – Ancient Textiles – The Whitworth

This is a rare opportunity to see ancient Andean textiles of this quality and size exhibited in the UK. Through a major loan from the collector Paul Hughes, alongside pieces from the Whitworth, textiles from c300BC to c1400AD will be on display.

Art in Manchester
Panel – Chancay culture – Ancient Textiles – The Whitworth

As well as celebrating breath-taking achievements in textile technique and design, this show explores the complexities of their transition from local ritual to a wider international stage. Vitally, acknowledging the human origins of these objects (from tombs and often from bodies themselves) they are part of a programme of debate about ethics, how objects are contextualised and the impact of conservation on how we understand them.


The Reno at the Whitworth

Residency: 15 March 2019 – March 2020 Remaking the Reno: opens September 2019

Art in Manchester
Reno Door open 1969 – The Reno – The Whitworth

For a period of one year playwright Linda Brogan and a group of local residents, who all went to the Reno nightclub in the 1970s and 80s, will occupy the Whitworth.

Art in Manchester
Linda Brogan contemplating – Photograph: Karen Rangeley – The Reno The Whitworth

The Reno, located in Moss Side, was known as a space for young mixed-race Mancunians. The project stems from Brogan’s recordings of Reno Regulars reminiscing about their experiences of the club, and the subsequent archaeological excavation of the site led by Salford University Applied Archaeological unit.
Artefacts, video, works from the Whitworth’s collection, music and other materials developed over the residency will be on display in the gallery, which will also be used as a space for developing further ideas. In September 2019 a reconstituted Reno will reopen at the Whitworth.

Art in Manchester
The excavated Reno – Photograph: Karen Rangeley – The Reno – The Whitworth

The Reno @ the Whitworth is led by playwright Linda Brogan, with the Reno Regulars Barrie George, Brian Thorn, Carmen Jones, David Trigg, Dionne Richardson, Jeff Bassey, Myra Trigg, Persian, Philip Collins SNR, Steve Cottier, Susie Prouse, Suzy Mousah, and includes the photography of Karen Rangeley, films by John Lloyd, digital support by Sean Clarke, curatorial support by Nikita Gill, and a forthcoming publication by Bound Books.

History From The Mouths Who Lived It, Not A History Book

Hearing the first beat of Reno classics I am awash with internal light that makes my flesh tingle, and creates an opera in my veins. I know other Reno Regulars share that feeling. The Reno was a cellar club in Moss Side MCR. Heyday 1971 to 1981. Soundtrack, imported soul and funk. Predominantly populated by 50s born ‘half-caste’ stigmatised by the 1930 Fletcher Report: ‘Offspring of interracial alliances suffer inherent physical and mental defects.’ Born in 1950s England of No Black; No Irish; No Dogs. We were special. Elite. In the Reno we were majority not the minority. The nod of acknowledgment was a total thrill. Demolished 1987. Crossing the poppy filled empty site, I sat to remember our civilisation, black market, social structure, king and queen, all frustrated artists. I am a multi-award winning playwright, but a play couldn’t capture the nuances”.

Art in Manchester
Frank Pereira in the Reno – The Reno The Whitworth

Instead, 2016 I filmed Reno memoirs. ‘Tell me about your first night down the Reno.’ spiralled into: people spat in our prams; our white mum’s being ostracised from her family; being divided by our mum’s roast and dad’s yam; finding our family in the Reno of wall-to-wall half-caste. Memoirs are on Word of mouth 45,000 interacted. Since PC the word half-caste was deemed the same as nigger, we had become black. So now not only was our mum ostracised from her family and society now she was also ostracised from us. Like the gradations of slavery, we could never live in the white camp. A strange thought when our mums were our main caregivers and our main reference points were white. Like stardust, we gravitated, reclaiming who we had been, our rightful place within the Reno society. To form a star our project could orbit. Annette Ileke who never went to the Reno commented on Ann Sarge’s memoir: ‘Made me realise I am not mad and many of my age group experienced the same. Ha I feel to tell my GP I don’t need their counseling I get to understand a lot more listening to these stories at least I can relate.’ 2017, we actually excavated the Reno with Salford University Archaeology. 2018 we are finalist in 8 awards. 2019 March to August in our Whitworth ‘studio’, we will plan how to recycle South African William Kentridge’s installation as the Reno exterior, use our artefacts, photos and footage to delineate its interior then reconstruct the Reno in our space. Where September to March 2020 we will excavate below the Reno in a truth and reconciliation to contextualise our ‘half-caste’ experience by filming new memoirs, concentrating on a subject a month.
1. English people born before 1937 tell of an England before blacks. 2. African and West Indians born before 1937 tell of their birth country. 3. 1947 the British anticipating the African and West Indian’s arrival/ the African and West Indian’s sea voyage towards this land. 4. Those first few months of working together; shopping together; getting on a bus together, going in a pub together. 5. Love: black women arriving to ‘half-caste’ step children/ white women being ostracised by their family.
Weekdays, on we post our video diary of our research & development to plan why, what, and how to achieve all this.


The Northern Boys – Contemporary Six

Saturday, April 6 – Sunday, 21 April 2019 – Preview: Saturday, April 6, 11:00 – 17:00

Art in Manchester
The Northern Boys – Contemporary Six

Have you looked out from a Manchester tram to see a figure before an easel, stooped under an umbrella, painting furiously in the driving rain? Chances are, you’ve seen one of The Northern Boys — the distinguished outdoor painting group — nine of the North’s finest plein air painters, dedicated professionals and friends. (Well, you’d have to be dedicated, wouldn’t you?)

Art in Manchester
Michael Ashcroft_Hot Potatoes and Parched Peas – The Northern Boys – Contemporary Six

For two weeks from Saturday 6 April, the inaugural group exhibition of the The Northern Boys will be on display at Contemporary Six. Each of the nine artists will contribute a number of plein air paintings to the collection, from Manchester, Venice, London, and more, and after enjoying a 2018 full of awards and accolades from across the nation — now is the time to take notice.

Art in Manchester
Rob Pointon – The Northern Boys – Contemporary Six

Though each member has his own style, the group are united in their love for painting outdoors, “en plein air”. This hazardous process, requiring fortitude against the Great British weather and inquisitive public, lends an unmistakable freshness and energy to the paintings.

Art in Manchester
Rob Pointon – The Northern Boys – Contemporary Six

Alex Reuben owner of Contemporary Six says: “Painting outdoors creates work that is always distinctly of the moment in which it was created, and yet timeless. This is a quality found in the work of The Northern Boys — whether it be the evening-silhouetted domes of Italy, the lapping shores of Blackpool promenade, or the low beams of petrol-soaked cities. Life, as perceived by the artist, shines through.”


Membership of this remarkably accomplished group incorporates four Gallery-artists: Rob Pointon, Adam Ralston, Norman Long, and Michael Ashcroft, along with Ian Layton, Chris Slater, Steven Smith, Andrew Farmer, and David Allen.