Contemporary art, photography, sculpture and opera from BeesBlogs

Contemporary art
Liam Spencer – Contemporary Six


Contemporary art, photography, new gallery openings and more,  with exhibitions in Manchester and beyond all well worth a look this week. There is so much happening this month it’s a full time job just trying to keep up! Last Thursday I went to the opening of Castlefield Gallery Associates new exhibition ‘Sources‘ plus three new exhibitions at ‘Portray/Portrait’ at PS Mirabel,The Girl and the Nettle‘ at Paper Gallery and Genevieve Slaters ‘Tunnel Vision’ Bunker Gallery all of which were in my last blog. All were really well attended and well worth a look. (more info and dates HERE )

Along with our contemporary art news features I hope readers will not mind a little indulgence on my part by including Opera North’s latest programme at The Lowry early next month. Opera North consistently bring affordable opera to our region with fantastic productions and incredible casts. This latest visit is no different. If you haven’t been before do give it a try. I’m sure you’ll enjoy!!

Contemporary Six

Contemporary art
Liam Spencer – Contemporary Six

On my way to the Castlefield Gallery opening I called in to see Alex Rueben, owner at the independent Contemporary Six gallery Alex commissioned some new small works from the hugely popular Manchester artist Liam Spencer. If you like Liam’s work it’s worth popping for a chat with Alex. I’ll also be letting you know all the details of Contemporary Six’ new joint exhibition happening in April, very soon.

De Lacy Fine Art

De Lacey Fine Art

Just around the corner on South King Street is the newly opened independent gallery, De Lacy Fine Art. Owner Gordon Farmer is an experienced gallerist having had premises in Liverpool for many years and was drawn by the fantastic contemporary scene and knowledgeable client base here in Manchester The gallery are already starting to expand into the upper floor and basement areas and intend to offer framing and conservation services. The gallery will have works from David Hockney, Elisabeth Frink, Josef Herman and more


GM Chamber of Commerce Contemporary Art Prize 2019

GM Arts Prize 2018 Winner Jo Clements (Right)

Over the last three years the contemporary art prize from GM Chamber of Commerce has gone from strength to strength and it’s fantastic news that they have announced the 2019 GM Arts Prize competition. Joy Sewart, Director of Skills Development & Social Enterprise at GM Chamber, said: “Our aim is to find and build the careers of artists and help develop artistic talent across the region. There is a wealth of talent and our job at the Chamber is to provide a platform to showcase and celebrate the work of our contemporary visual artists.”

Exhibition News

Jenny Drinkwater – Spliced and Diced – Vernon Park Museum Stockport  

Mon 25th February – Fri 22nd March 2019

North West based artist Jenny Drinkwater will incorporate images of the Vernon Park building and surrounding gardens into her bespoke-made sculptural installations. Since 2014 Jenny has built a body of work that considers the integrity of our environments, looking at the bond between urban development and natural landscapes. The different strands of her practise will also include film for the first time.

Jenny Drinkwater – ROSE TINTED.jpeg

Caitlin Griffiths – Paradise Works

‘Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real’

Preview: Friday 22 February. 6 – 8pm – Open: Saturday 23 February, 11-5pm

Caitlin Griffiths – Paradise Works

Caitlin Griffiths is presenting a new photographic work-in-progress made following her residency to the Niels Bohr archive in Copenhagen. 

Taking its title from the Niels Bohr’s quote (on the nature of Quantum Physics), the exhibition explores the relationship between reality and individual identity through two new series which draw on photography’s means to observe and document place, people and performance.

209 Women – OPEN EYE GALLERY – Liverpool

PV – 28th February at 6PM -14th April. Free entry

Sarah Champion MP, September 2018, London
As part of ‘209 Women’ project curated by Hilary Wood.

To mark 100 years since some women achieved the right to vote, an all-female photography initiative has created new portraits of all 209 women MPs in the UK, shot exclusively by women photographers.

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, by Polly Penrose

Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of leading suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, said:

“The exhibition will for once put women centre stage, acting as a reminder to never leave women out of the equation, on behalf of all citizens but particularly the 51% of the population who have been so unequally represented.

“To represent and be presented for what we are – as women, by women – is a very special thing. This is what 209 women is all about.”

Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, by Hilary Wood

Tracy Marshall, Director of Development and Partnerships at Open Eye Gallery, said:

“Photography has become one of the primary ways that we reflect and communicate our vision of the world. Through images, we gain a sense not only of how things are, but also how things could be.

“This project carries so much potential in communicating our vision of gender parity, pointing to a society where policy is made with people of all genders in mind. That’s why everyone at Open Eye Gallery is behind this national collaboration of artists and politicians, all the way: to light up the way to a future where gender is no obstacle — in art, in business, in politics and in every other pursuit.”

Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, by Hannah Starkey


Facing Out: Life after treatment for facial cancer – The Whitworth

Feb 22 February – 2 June 2019 – Opening event Thursday 21 February 6-9pm: with musical guests; Manchester-based singer Monica Ward with backing from the Chemo-thumpers.

Lead Image – Lucy Burscough, Graeme I, 2017. Copyright the artist.

Facing Out is an exhibition of portraits by Lucy Burscough of people who have experienced facial cancers together with their choice of artworks from the Whitworth’s collections. In the exhibition, the participants’ voices, experience and expertise are front and centre. The associated programme of musical performances, film screenings, workshops and talks, has been co-curated by the Facing Out participants with support from gallery staff.

The portraits have been painted by award-winning artist Lucy Burscough during her residency at Maggie’s Cancer Support Centre, in the grounds of The Christie Hospital in Manchester (2018).


Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things – The Hepworth

16 February – 2 June 2019

Magdalene Odondu – The Hepworth

Magdalene Odundo OBE is one of the world’s most esteemed artists working in ceramics. This major exhibition will bring together more than 50 of Odundo’s works, including a vessel made in 1978 from Wakefield’s art collection, which was the first of her works to be purchased by a public institution. These will be shown alongside a large selection of objects chosen by Odundo from across the globe and spanning 3,000 years, to reveal the rich and diverse range of making traditions that have informed the development of her own work.

Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Farshid Moussavi OBE, the exhibition will situate Odundo’s work at the heart of a constellation of objects that Odundo has drawn inspiration from: British studio pottery by Hans Coper and Lucy Rie; ancient vessels from Greece and Egypt; historic ceramics from Africa, Asia and Central America; ritual sculpture and objects from across the African continent; Elizabethan costume and textiles; as well as contemporary objects including a large work by artist El Anatsui. The exhibition will explore Odundo’s interest in her own diasporic identity and the charged role that objects have played, and continue to play, in intercultural relationships today.

Odundo’s works will also be brought into dialogue with sculptures by 20th century artists including Edgar Degas, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin, whose approaches to depicting forms have long been an inspiration for Odundo and highlight the primary importance of the human body as a reference within her work.




Tue 5 Mar   The Magic Flute  7.00pm

Wed 6 Mar The Magic Flute  2.00pm Schools’ matinee*

Thu 7 Mar   Katya Kabanova 7.30pm

Fri 8 Mar     The Rite of Spring / Gianni Schicchi 7.30pm

Sat 9 Mar    The Magic Flute 7.00pm


Two leading northern arts organisations have collaborated with Opera North for the Company’s latest season at The Lowry featuring a bewitching coming-of-age adventure, a tempestuous tragedy, and a double bill of iconic ballet and wickedly funny opera.

The Magic Flute

Opening the run is a new production of The Magic Flute, Mozart’s epic tale about Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night, held captive by the Priest of the Sun. Directing opera for the first time will be James Brining, Artistic Director at the Leeds Playhouse, who joins forces with set and costume designer Colin Richmond.

The international cast includes South African soprano, Vuvu Mpofu, who makes her UK début as Pamina and, as Tamino, Chinese-Australian tenor Kang Wang, who reached last year’s finals of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Samantha Hay takes on the role of Queen of the Night, with Gavan Ring (Figaro, The Barber of Seville, 2015) appearing as Papageno the bird-catcher. Robert Howarth conducts.

A specially-devised, shortened version of The Magic Flute has also been created for schools,  Sung in English, it will be performed at a special schools’ matinee on Wednesday 6 March.

Katya Kabanova

A very different production follows with Katya Kabanova, Janáček’s wildly beautiful tale of temptation, passion and guilt in a small-minded community. With a weak-willed husband and overbearing mother-in-law, Katya does her best to conform to society’s expectations but, when her husband goes away on business, temptation proves impossible to resist. As Katya’s world unravels and the insidious effects of guilt take hold, Janáček’s music beautifully captures the tension and barely suppressed eroticism.

The Rites of Spring /Gianni Schicchi

Friday sees a dance/opera double bill created in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre in the first ever collaboration between the two Leeds-based companies. The newly choreographed version of Stravinsky’s ground-breaking The Rite of Spring will be performed by Phoenix’s ensemble with the full Orchestra of Opera North playing the unmistakable modernist score. The piece shocked audiences when it was first performed in 1913 and is set to do so again as it is reimagined by internationally acclaimed Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus in his UK début, taking his inspiration from the country of his birth.

Enabling audiences to experience two art-forms in one evening, The Rite of Spring is paired with Puccini’s short – and only – operatic comedy Gianni Schicchi. Scheming relatives gather round the deathbed of a rich man, each laying claim to a chunk of his fortune, before they make the questionable decision to call in local con man Gianni Schicchi for help. Based on an episode in Dante’s Inferno, Puccini’s mini masterpiece is rich with vivid characterisation and colourful music.