Art in Manchester: Techniques, Mystic Lamb and Disabled Activism

Art in Manchester has some really interesting Art2c starting this week from Saul Hay, Peoples History Museum (PHM) and PROFORMA, who will have a number of Manchester based artists at the Venice Biennale this summer. I must to mention are Julian Bovis and Nigel Durkin the driving force behind The Weavers Factory in Uppermill, Saddleworth on the fantastic launch of their new gallery. A labour of love and dedication to their former neighbour and artist Joan Charnley who left the building to Julian and Nigel to turn into an art gallery and a place to nurture art and crafts in the community. They had in excess of 1000 people visit on the opening weekend. Congratulations!

There are also exhibitions starting this week from:

PS Mirabel – Why Smash Atoms curated by Otis Jordan and Isaac Jordan with film, drawing, sculpture, painting photography from artists from Manchester, Berlin and Vienna (PV 6-9 Thursday 11th April)

Paper Gallery have Rui Matsunaga from Japan with Mystic Lamb and Silicon Prophets and in Paper 2 Alicija Mrozowska with a series of site specific paintings (PV 6-9 Thursday 11th April)


UNDOING’ Castlefield Gallerys collaboration with Manchester School of Architecture is on until next month and definitely worth a visit. The exhibition explores how buildings, places and artefacts are re-used, reinterpreted and remembered.

Also at HOME Steve Oliver’s Best Muscle exhibiting a series of photographic works made entirely in computer with material sourced from the internet, which unfolds over time to create the emergent compositions. It’s always a pleasure to visit HOME and this is getting some really good social media comments so worth a visit.

It’s also the final week of Cherry Tenneson’s: HALF OF TWO DAYS OF EVERYTHING at Paradise Works

Lastly The Northern Boys exhibition of plein air painting from nine northern artists continues at Contemporary Six near Manchester Town Hall

More details click HERE


Technique – Saul Hay Gallery 

PV 10th April continues until 12th May

Art in Manchester
Martin Nash_(Title TBC) – ‘Technique’ Saul Hay Gallery

technique (n.) [tɛkˈniːk]​
1817, at first especially in criticism of art and music, from French technique “formal practical details in artistic expression” (18c.), noun use of technique (adj.) “of art, technical,” from Greek tekhnikos” pertaining to art,” from tekhne “art, skill, craft in work”.

For their upcoming exhibition ‘Technique’ Castlefields Saul Hay Gallery have brought together a quite diverse group of artists who have various unusual or even unique techniques used to create their art. Whilst I don’t always include artists bio’s in my blogs, its worthwhile reading a little bit about the artists to understand some of the unusual techniques which will be exhibited.

Omid Asadi

​As a child in Iran, Omid Asadi would draw with a needle on leaves or rose petals. When he visited an exhibition of paper cutting, First Cut, at Manchester Art Gallery, it brought back memories of his childhood activity and he began to work with leaves found around his Manchester home.  The intensely delicate work is created with carving and cutting techniques on actual fallen leaves using a craft knife, a scalpel and a needle.

Alyson Barton

In Alyson Barton’s work landscapes are captured through creative techniques that include the integration of primitive early forms of almost forgotten ‘hand made’ 19th Century photography, including the ancient Wet Plate Collodion process, and the painterly techniques of the Old Masters Studio in which Alyson has trained.  More recent pieces utilise fragments of the earth and bark from the scene portrayed  mixing them with resin to coat this original Collodion image. The end result is very low key and permeated with layers of meaning.

Ian Chadwick

An interest in sacred geometry and in particular the meditation symbols known as mandalas informs much of Ian Chadwick’s work.

Each individual point of colour is an individual piece of glass arranged in a manner which produces a kaleidoscopic, op-art effect.  Each piece is then formed utilising a variety of cold working glass techniques, and re-fired up to three more times to ensure each piece achieves the best quality finish, and to enhance the quality of the glassware even further. This complex way with which each piece is handmade also ensures that each piece of glass that is a unique work of glass art.

Helen Davies

Art in Manchester
Helen Davies – Idle – Technique Saul Hay Gallery

Helen Davies’ work always starts with photographs to find the light and shadows. She then draws from only the photographs to which she feels a connection and sketches a layout concept before applying the graphite powder. Davies works in layers upon layers of powder and soft pastel, often using make up brushes and sponges to create the tones and soft texture of the base of the skin. Her tools for the details include blending stumps and pencils, but might use tissue, cotton buds and anything else that can apply the graphite powder to create the many different textures that are found on skin. Work is then further enhanced by the application of gold leaf.

Helena Denholm

Art in Manchester
Helena Denholme Epithelium 2017 ‘Technique’ Saul Hay Gallery

Helena Denholm’s works engage surface, the materiality of paint, layers, colour boundaries, retinal mixing and the edge or lip of paint layers. Each surface is layered in acrylic gesso, sanded smooth to eradicate a canvas footprint so that the marks on the surface are all constructed and determined by the paint application and the materiality of paint itself.

Terry Duffy

Terry Duffy’s paintings are unique, using hand ground oils on hot pressed china clay board; a material providing a sheer surface on which to work. The paintings are pared back, but by ripping away at the board, he can create shapes that are dynamic and ambiguous, by being both abstract and suggestive of the human form, resulting in finished pieces that have surfaces which are simultaneously both polished and matte.

Mark Gibbs

Influenced by archaeology and referencing Shamanism Mark Gibbs’ sculptures resemble ancient ritual artefacts. The animals are built from the inside out, starting with a skeleton; their unsettling anatomical look resembles a cyborg or a creature in the stages of reanimation. The combination of archaic and modern elements such as wire or electronics produces an intentional uncertainty. Gibbs’ work is underlined by a focus on mortality.

Deborah Grice

Art in Manchester
Deborah Grice – Forever. Oil on canvas with gold ‘Technique’ Saul Hay Gallery

Deborah Grice’s paintings are mostly painted using oils on canvas and are worked up from studies, film and photographs. Her use of geometric lines allude to aspects of ‘vision’: perception, meditation, escapism, the physicality of looking..and are of course, open to personal interpretation. Grice’s most recent works include the introduction of luminescent pigments.

Susan Gunn

Susan Gunn’s paintings explore and develop the medium of gesso created using sedimentary ground rock/earth whereby the medium is the subject of the painting itself.

Gunn makes the natural and organic gesso using an ancient recipe dating back to before the Renaissance. Up to twenty layers of specialised paint are applied and as the gesso dries, each layer bonds with the last to form an exterior skin. Through manipulating the paint and environmental conditions, the materiality and vulnerability of the process is exaggerated. A process of mixing, layering, drying and rubbing away the surface follows allowing the fissures to form naturally and, occasionally, removing and breaking the canvas manually before the act of re-stretching, embalming and repairing the surface of a work to ensure its stability.

Martin Nash

Martin Nash’s paintings have become increasingly abstract. Concerned with exploring colour, mark making, pattern and that elusive and mysterious quality that makes a good painting. Layers of paint are applied and stripped or washed away at various stages of drying producing ethereal combinations of colour shape and pattern. Nash strives to maintain a decorative element in his work wanting to excite the eye as much as stimulate the mind.

Art Across – Technique

Saul Hay Gallery, Railway Cottage, Off Castle St. Manchester M3 4LZ

Wednesday 24th April 2019, 6:30-8:30pm

Tickets Free Through Eventbrite

Art in Manchester
Helena Denholm, Untitled I (Yellow), 2017, Oil & mixed media on board – From Technique at Saul Hay Gallery

To complement Saul Hay’s ‘Technique’ exhibition art historian Sara Riccardi will be joined by a panel of the exhibiting artists to discuss their interesting techniques and how there may be connections between their current methods and that of past artists from history

Artists panel: Ian Chadwick | Helen Davies | Helena Denholm | Mark Gibbs


PROFORMA ‘Curating Movement’

Discussion with leading North West Contemporary Art Curators and Artists

10th April 2019, 6pm. Talk starts at 6:30pm

Soup Kitchen, 31 Spear Street, Manchester M1 1DF

Soup Kitchen – Proforma Talk

Curating Movement: PROFORMA Pavilion in Venice is the first in a series of discussions exploring performative, moving image and live contemporary art and exhibition practices, and the impact of curating in the UK and internationally in the current chaotic political landscape.  For their first discussion they have announced a panel comprising: Poppy Bowers, Exhibitions Curator at The Whitworth, Zoe Watson, Curator at Holden Gallery,  with PROFORMA Pavilion in Venice artists Nicola Dale and John Powell-Jones and chaired by Chris Bailkoski, PROFORMA creative director.


People History Museum – Nothing About Us Without Us

On until 5th May

Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition @ People’s History Museum

People’s History Museum (PHM) latest exhibition looks at the past, present and future of disabled activism.  Nothing About Us Without Us has been co-produced with groups, campaigners and individuals to highlight the story of disabled people’s activism and reflect on how this has been represented in history.

One of a series of community exhibitions that responds to the theme of protest; which is the focus of the museum’s programme throughout 2019.  Following an open call for submissions, Nothing About Us Without Us is the result of People’s History Museum working with organisations, individuals and collectives including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Pure Art Studio, Quiet Riot and Venture Arts.

Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition @ People’s History Museum

This is also a very visual exhibition with banners, placards and other materials that have played an important role in campaigns led by disabled activists such as the Save the Independent Living Fund banner, which has been used on multiple protests across Britain.  A large Not Dead Yet banner highlights how disabled people have protested against assisted suicide, believing this to be an attempt to legitimise the killing of terminally ill and disabled people.

The exhibition also includes two t-shirts that belonged to leading disability rights campaigner Lorraine Gradwell (1953 – 2017), who since the 1980s was at the forefront of campaigns at a national level, including her role in founding GMCDP and Breakthrough UK.

Lorraine Gradwell t-shirts, Nothing About Us Without Us exhibition @ People’s History Museum

Nothing About Us Without Us also features very current campaigns.  The Autistic Pride Flag by Joseph Redford, tells of the autistic rights movement and the campaign for greater acceptance of autistic behaviours.  It also challenges those organisations that look to cure autism or use intervention therapies to modify behaviour.