Contemporary art snippets – May

Contemporary art snippets – May


In this contemporary art snippets blog I’ve included, alongside local Manchester events, a Hilary Jack exhibition in Scotland, and Altrincham’s Word Fest. Plus we have a new contemporary art exhibition from Louise Garman at Air Gallery and two from Cross Street Arts

We also have a reminder of some great contemporary art events which we have featured in recent blogs but are still on for you to see, such as: Susan Gunn ‘Ground Evolution’ at HOME, ‘to board a plane’ at Altrincham’s Air Gallery, ‘Lore And The Living Archive’ at Touchstones Rochdale which has a commission by Manchester artist Magnus Quaife. more HERE

Paradise Works has ‘there’s no such thing as boredom‘ and Castlefield Gallery have one of the longest exhibition titles ‘Oh, it’s easy to be clever if one does not know all these questions‘ and finally Contemporary Six have Anne Aspinall’s exhibition ‘A Welsh Connection.  more HERE

‘So much to see……..and so little time


Air Gallery – Louise Garman ‘That Dark Space Behind My Eyes’

Exhibition runs: Tuesday 22 May- Saturday 2 June 2018

contemporary art snippets
Louise Garmn

AIR Gallery is to present a new body of work by North-West visual artist Louise Garman.

Louise’s practice has been to explore the idea of journeys; collecting discarded and unwanted everyday objects along the way, and photographing her surroundings. She does not compose the images, but instead captures the ground and sky in an immediate, spontaneous way.

contemporary art snippets
Louise Garman

Each journey taken has been documented in sketch books, photographs, drawings and prints, exploring the process of observation and selection. Subconsciously, she has focused on objects related to life and death – abandoned birds’ nests, children’s toys, discarded sleeping tablets, to name but a few. Louise has become fascinated by unwanted and displaced signs of life, both man-made and natural; abandoned objects, in surreal landscapes, both fleeting and precious.

contemporary art snippets
Louise Garman

The exhibition will include an installation constructed from objects found on her journeys and a collection of photographic images . Each piece is striking; presenting these journeys as a moment in time, both ugly and beautiful, harsh and tender.

Louise studied at Chelsea School of Art and graduated with an honours degree in Fine Art/Sculpture. Since then, her work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions and galleries, most recently, in the critically acclaimed Society of Women Artists at The Mall Galleries London and the G.M. Arts Prize in Manchester



Altrincham Word Fest  12-27th May

Contemporary art
Altrincham Word Fest



Contemporary arts snippets is also featuring Altrincham’s Word Fest which is a writing festival that is taking place from the 12th to the 27th May 2018.  For two  weeks the town will host workshops and events about poetry, scriptwriting, ‘flash fiction’, self-publishing, life writing and blogging.

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Kat Horrocks

Word Fest is the brainchild of local residents Yoko Isami and Anne Earley. The pair are both committed bookworms who met when they were involved in a local art festival. Yoko is a printmaker and artist whilst Anne has many years of experience in marketing and events management roles.

Whilst other local towns have literature festivals, Anne and Yoko decided they would like to do something a little different.

Anne explains’

As compulsive readers and social media addicts we realise that we, like many people, are passive consumers of other people’s words and ideas. We thought it would be exciting to change that around and give people, including us, the chance the express their own creativity through creating a poem, a blog, short story or whatever.

The pair are delighted at the range of talented writers who have agreed to be involved. For example, ‘King of Flash Fiction’ David Gaffney, will be running one of his famous workshops inspiring participants to create a short story in 150 words. David is a prolific writer and has published collections of short stories, novels and most recently a graphic novel, The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head.

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david gaffney

Short story writer, poet and editor, Kate Feld, will be hosting a Life Writing workshop, encouraging participants to work with the most authentic subject matter –their own life story. Kate who has had a long association with Manchester Literature Festival is also a lecturer in Journalism at the University of Salford.

Seamus Kelly, professional poet, writer and teacher will be supporting his workshop attendees to create poems and will be hosting a poetry open mic night for local poets to perform their own work.

Anne and Yoko are also delighted to welcome Kat Horrocks and Pamela Higgins (aka SpamellaB) of We Blog North, the region’s bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers collective, to Altrincham Word Fest. Their Introduction to Creating Content Online is designed to inspire, educate and support anyone keen to get online themselves.

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Kate Feld

Other events will include an evening with Altrincham resident, Paul Carroll, who has successfully self published and promoted three novels with a fourth on the way and a scriptwriting workshop with published playwright, Sarah Cassidy. Sarah writes for the stage, radio, screen and is currently part of the 2017/18 Liverpool Everyman Theatre Playwright Programme.

Further details and updates can be found on the Altrincham Word Fest Facebook page . Tickets can be purchased from Eventbrite by searching for Altrincham Word Fest.


Hilary Jack ‘The Messenger’

4 May – 1 October 2018 Mellerstain House, Kelso, Scotland TD3 6LG

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Hilary Jack – In Memoriam The Messenger photo credit The Published Image

The Messenger is a series of four site-specific works in the landscape, made in response to the rich history of Mellerstain House and the fascinating characters who lived there, revealing the intriguing story of the family that has created and maintained of one of Scotland’s most outstanding examples of 18th century architecture, as well as the wider and turbulent history of the Borders.


Curated by Sarah Coulson of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, each Jack’s four artworks in The Messenger focuses on a different aspect of this compelling narrative, from Mellerstain House’s foundation in 1725 to the present day. The first lady of the house, Lady Grisel Baillie (1665 – 1746), known for her meticulous bookkeeping that conveys a detailed and engaging picture of household life, stands as a strong and inspiring female presence throughout the series and was a source of particular inspiration to the artist.

The Messenger typifies Jack’s approach of melding past and present. The work is the first to reference Lady Grisel Baillie, who, aged 12, delivered messages from her father, Sir Patrick Hume, to the imprisoned Scottish conspirator Robert Baillie. It is thought that she met his son George Baillie (1664-1738) at this time, and they married fifteen years later. The couple later commissioned William and Robert Adam to build and decorate the neoclassical style house for which Mellerstain is now famous.

A statue of Hermes has stood on the front terrace at Mellerstain for many years. In Greek Mythology, Hermes was a herald and messenger to the gods, and possessed numerous powers often embodied in the staff he traditionally holds, known as the Caduceus. The Caduceus is a symbol of trade, negotiation, writing and commerce, and here acts as a link to the considerable gifts of Lady Grisel. Having lost its stone Caduceus some years ago, Jack has intervened to repair Mellerstain’s statue of Hermes with new dayglow Perspex one, intricately detailed with etching. It represents the union of Grisel and George and the extraordinary events that followed.

In Memoriam

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Hilary Jack – In Memoriam photo cred Hialry Jack.

The beautifully decorated interior of the Georgian manor is one of the finest examples of the work of Scottish architect and designer Robert Adam (1728-1792). It is adorned with ceiling roses throughout, and these designs are now celebrated outside the house in Jack’s In Memoriam a 25-metre wide drawing on the lawn in white turf paint. This piece also serves as a memorial to the 13th Earl, John Baillie Hamilton (1941 – 2016), a British peer and politician famed for his extensive knowledge of crop circles and interest in the paranormal, who resided at Mellerstain throughout his life until his death in 2016.

Look Out

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Hilary Jack – ‘Look Out’ credit George Binning.

Also on the lawn is Look Out a recreation of a former observation tower that once stood between the east and west wings of the house. The original building, like many in the region, was created as a look out post, and may have been used for securing household possessions, livestock and residents, during battles and raids by The Border Reivers. Built simply out of stone these towers had iron baskets with a peat fire in the cupola, which was lit as a beacon to signal danger. In reference to this fact, Look Out has smoke that gently rises when visitors approach.

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Hilary Jack – Look Out’ phot credit Hilary Jack

Jack’s facsimile resembles a dolls’ house, similar to one in the collection inside the house. At the back of the tower visitors can discover a series of shelves on which sit copies of some of the objects listed in Lady Grisel’s account books – swords, cart wheels, barrels of gunpowder, sacks of food, a chandelier and various household and farming items. The objects reference the extraordinary details of the household management at Mellerstain and evoke the everyday, and extraordinary, lives and travels of former residents.

No Borders

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Hilary Jack – ‘No Borders’, The Messenger phot cred The Published Image.

Overlooking the lake stands a bold large-scale white neon text work, mounted high on a scaffold, entitled No Borders. An ode to George and Grisel Baillie’s free spirited travels, it reads ‘No Borders, Just Horizons, Only Freedom’, a quote by American aviator and feminist icon Amelia Earheart, who was a pioneering female explorer of the early twentieth century known for pushing boundaries. This quote also reminds visitors of Mellerstain’s close proximity to the Anglo Scottish border and alludes to contemporary debates on Scottish independence, Brexit and the wider role of borders, referencing both personal boundaries and freedom of movement.

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Hilary Jack – No Borders Photo credit The Published Image


contemporary art snippets
Hilary Jack – ‘No Borders’ photo credit The Published Image


More contemporary art snippets:

Museum of Wigan Life

Friday 18th May 7-10pm

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Paula Fenwick Lucas Protection Series 2018

Museums at Night returns to the Museum of Wigan Life, with new contemporary art commissioned interventions, live music and speed dating with archivists, and historians.

Art from Stuart Bulman, Paula Fenwick Lucas, Dustin Lyon, Anna FC Smith, Louise Robson, Redfolio, Oliver Halstead, Jack Davenport, Jordan Clark

Music and animation by T.E. Yates


Who Are You

contemporary art snippets
Who Are You – Cross Street Arts

An exhibition of work developed by people seeking asylum and two Cross Street artists; Mike Fahey and Martyn Lucas. Celebrating the relationships Pathway Arts is creating throughout Wigan, where local people seeking asylum and local artists come together to create work and to have a conversation through different materials.

Opening 18th May 6-7.30pm
Open Saturday 19th & Saturday 26th 11am-5pm 
Viewable during week by appointment.