What’s On – Manchester contemporary art
Already half way through June and the art just keeps on coming. I must start by making mention of two exhibition previews I went to recently.
Saul Hay Gallery in Castlefield have ‘Shortlist’ with artists from recent art prize competitions. It really is a great exhibition and must have challenged the curating skills of gallery Directors Catherine and Ian Hay. That the exhibition hangs together, pun intended, so well makes for a great viewing experience.
Michael John Ashcroft | Justin Coburn | Christopher Cook | Anne Desmet RA | Paul Digby
Mark Gibbs | Sarah Gilman Deborah Grice | Steven Heaton | Glenn Ibbitson | Emerson Mayes James Naughton | Mandy Payne | Laura Quinn Harris | Anthony Ratcliffe | Sophie Twiss
Read more about these two great examples of Manchester contemporary art HERE
The other preview took place at Altrincham’s Air Gallery. Called ‘Emergence’ features the four prize-winners from last years Air Open 2017 again well worth seeking out!
April Virgoe | Omid Asadi | Rowan Eastwood | Tristram Aver
So, on to What’s On – Manchester contemporary art June 2
This week we have Tanisha Salakoh at GK Café & Gallery on Chapel Street, Art historian Sara Riccardi of Art Across give a lecture at The Portico Library on ‘Divine Monsters‘, Cross Street Arts announce their Open Studios 2018, Performance by TVAM at Paradise Works and its the last week of Nick Jordan’s solo exhibition Mental State Signs there too. Contemporary Six have ‘Marking My Travels from Manchester artist Matthew Thompson. Manchester Art Gallery have an illustrated talk on Leonardo da Vinci – A Life in Drawing.
Bury Art Gallery & Sculpture Park has ‘Shonky’ The Aesthetics of Awkwardness Shonky being a slang term for shoddy, corrupt, bent.
Tanisha Salakoh GK Café & Art Gallery PV 16th June
After a recent successful event at Cass Art, Tanisha Salakoh has “Self Portrait of the Mind”, a body of works that explores the practice of mindfulness through Abstract Expressionism.
Tanisha explains the background to the exhibition “In a traditional mindfulness practice, we develop the skill of bringing our attention to the present moment. This might be in the form of meditation, or simply tuning in and focusing on routine tasks that we normally perform in autopilot such as drinking a cup of coffee, brushing our teeth, or even breathing. In today’s society, we are so often caught up with what has happened or what is going to happen, that we forget about living in, and enjoying the present”.
“Originally, I started practicing mindfulness as a form of stress relief, and a way to improve my mental health and wellbeing. At first I found it extremely difficult, constantly finding my mind wandering, that little voice in my head constantly chattering. But the more I learned, and the more I practiced, I started seeing the benefits. I also started seeing parallels between mindfulness and abstract expression”.
When I paint, the little voice in my head is immediately silenced. I stop thinking. There is only doing. Painting. In the present. No beginning. No end. Only the present moment. The process of painting. The flow. I am so focused in the present moment that all my stress, worry and
anxiety dissipates. I am not thinking about what I have painted in the past. I am not thinking about what I am going to paint. I am not
thinking at all. My focus is solely on the process of creating.
During this process the canvas speaks to me. It takes me on a journey. The colours. The textures. They are all spontaneous. Haphazard. Time
flies. Hour pass. And at the end of the practice, I find myself staring into a reflection of myself. All the thoughts, feelings, emotions expressed during the process are captured. Immortalized on canvas. The painting is me. A self-portrait of the mind.
Mental State Lines – Paradise Works
Coinciding with Nick Jordan’s solo exhibition ‘Mental State Signs’, Film Material and Paradise Works host an evening of artists’ film, performance and live music. Mental State Signs continues until 24 June, open Saturdays 12-5pm or by appointment.
Cross Street Arts, Open Studios – Sat 23rd June, 10am – 9pm.
Contemporary art in Manchester this month also has Cross Street Arts Open Studios. See inside the studios of resident artists and their works in progress including Steven Heaton, Jane Fairhurst, Paula Fenwick Lucas, Martyn Lucas, Anna FC Smith and David Stanley. Associate members will be exhibiting throughout the space and there’s a live performance by 6 music favourite TVAM, who’s new single Psychic Data is described by Clash magazine as “the slate grey diorama reflecting a very British sense of dystopia”.
In the gallery is the one day only culmination exhibition ‘Nothing Personal’ which concludes a 2 week gallery residency by Andy Smith exploring ‘the post-truth potential of a world without icons’.
114-116 The Standish Centre, Cross Street, Standish WN6 0HQ
Contemporary Six – ‘Marking My Travels’ PV 23rd June
Marking My Travels’ — a solo exhibition by Manchester artist Matthew Thompson — will take place in the gallery from 23 June – 7 July. Matthew is an artist formerly interested in the urban landscape, portraying his beloved city Manchester in all of its variety: its grit, its melancholy, its romance, and its vibrance.
‘Marking My Travels’ takes the skills Matthew learned from Manchester and projects them out into the world. He uses pastels, charcoal, and paint to build cities on paper, with their changing faces, their relentless growth, and their relationships with the people who reside within them.
Manchester contemporary art:
Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness, curated by artist John Walter
Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre 23 June -15 September 2018
Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness, curated by artist John Walter, explores the nature of visual awkwardness through the work of artists and architects Arakawa and Gins, Cosima von Bonin, Niki de Saint Phalle, Benedict Drew, Justin Favela, Duggie Fields, Louise Fishman, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Kate Lepper, Andrew Logan, Plastique Fantastique, Jacolby Satterwhite, Tim Spooner and John Walter.
John Walters describes the exhibition here.
Shonky is a slang term meaning corrupt or bent, shoddy or unreliable, standing here for a particular type of visual aesthetic that is hand-made, deliberately clumsy and lo-fi, against the slick production values of much contemporary art. The exhibition offers a more celebratory definition of ‘shonkiness’, showing how it can be used for critical purposes in the visual arts to explore issues including gender, identity, beauty and the body. By drawing together artists and architects whose work has not previously been exhibited together or discussed within the same context, Shonky allows for new ways of thinking that privilege shonkiness over other aesthetic forms that have dominated recent visual culture.
In a series of conceptual rooms, Shonky explores this aesthetic across a range of media including paintings, sculpture, video, architecture and performance. Works include Andrew Logan’s maximalist mirrored sculptures of pop culture icons such as Divine, Molly Parkin and Fenella Fielding, a selection of paintings and lo-fi video work by pioneering artist and filmmaker Duggie Fields, and a series of small, totemic statues and works on paper by Niki de Saint Phalle. The exhibition also offers UK audiences a rare chance to see a selection of major works by American artist Louise Fishman, whose abstract works densely layer color and texture into large-scale paintings.
A series of photographs printed onto gauze depict the hotel and thermal baths of Rogner Spa, Blumau, Styria (1993–97), and the social housing block Hundertwasserhaus (1983-85) designed by Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The images showcase the architect’s characteristic use of brightly coloured facades, sloping roofs, unique windows and spontaneous vegetation. These are shown alongside the architectural model and drawings of Inflected Arcade House by experimental architectural duo Arakawa and Gins, who believed that their unusually designed houses with features such as sloping floors, curiously shaped rooms and functionless doors could have life-extending effects on their residents.
Tim Spooner combines puppetry, magic and scientific demonstration into a large-scale ‘performed sculpture’ The Voice of Nature (2017), made up of interconnected fragile sculptures that seem to teeter on the edge of collapse. A selection of textile ‘paintings’ and large, soft sculptures by influential German artist Cosima von Bonin sit alongside Mexican-American artist Justin Favela’s Floor Nachos (2017), a site-specific installation constructed of tissue paper and cardboard that explores cultural appropriation in his adopted home city of Las Vegas. Kate Lepper’s Emergency Canisters and Leaf Preservers are reclaimed plastic sculptures that have a dual purpose of preserving and exhibiting organic matter such as dried leaves and grass clippings, that encourage the viewer to consider the relationship between humans and nature.
The exhibition also explores how shonkiness can be represented in the digital sphere in Jacolby Satterwhite’s The Country Ball (1989–2012), which fuses drawing, performance and digital technology. Using his mother’s drawings as a source material, Satterwhite builds a rich, computer-generated landscape that he combines with family video and his own live performance.
A newly commissioned performance by Plastique Fantastique will take place in each venue, drawing inspiration from the Tarot, experimental music making and the logic of the internet. Benedict Drew’s new video installation Dyspraxic Techno (2017) will overload visitors with sounds and images to create a disorienting, over-stimulating experience. Curator John Walter will present a performative installation The Shonky Bar (2017). Designed in his distinctive maximalist aesthetic, the bar will explore Walter’s regular theme of using hospitality, play and humour as a way to engage audiences in art.
Divine Monsters: From Past to Present – The Portico Library 20th June
(Complimentary wine and snacks provided by Societa’ Dante Alighieri.)
As Dante journeyed through the Inferno he encountered beasts and monsters; these have inspired some amazing illuminations. In 1560 Conrad Gessner produced his Historiae Animalium, which showed actual and mythological animals side-by-side.
A lecture given by Art Historian Sara Riccardi will consider these texts and explore the historical representation of ‘bestiari’, which belonged to the wider collective Medieval imagination, of which Dante and Gessner were part. Sara will also present and explore the beautiful facsimiles of some illuminated early manuscripts of the Divina Commedia, on display at the Library until Friday 22 June.
Barbara Bertoni of Imago, the Italian publishers of the facsimiles, will be on hand after the talk to discuss the manuscripts with you.
This talk sits within the context of the library’s exhibition, Beautiful Monsters, and Sara will also introduce you to the work of the seven international exhibitors who have responded to volumes in The Portico Library’s collection to create new works incorporating drawing, painting, textiles, robotics and artists’ books, considering where the idea of the monstrous sits within themes of history, mythology and 21st century life.
The Divine Comedy: Early Manuscripts 20th – 22nd June The Portico Library
Over just three days during Festa Italia, organised by the Societa’ Dante Alighieri, facsimiles of six of Dante’s early illuminated manuscripts will be shown at The Portico Library. You will be able to view these stunning reproductions of the “Divina Commedia” up-close and discover some of the history of these amazing books. Although not the original manuscripts, the facsimiles are very interesting objects in themselves; not simple copies, but specially produced and refined to replicate the unique qualities of the true manuscripts. These objects are very useful and valuable in teaching us about the construction, history and artistry of the book.
An accompanying lecture will take place on Wednesday 20 June with the wonderfully knowledgeable and engaging Sara Riccardi of Art Across. Barbara Bertoni of Imago (Italian publishers of the facsimiles) will be on hand after the talk to discuss the manuscripts with you.
To learn more about the technical details of the manuscripts, drop in to the library at 3pm on 21 June to talk to Elena Palladino, Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian, member of the Societa’ Dante Alighieri.
This display of facsimiles will sit within the library’s own exhibition, Beautiful Monsters, inspired by The Portico’s oldest book, Historiae Animalium by Conrad Gessner. In this 16th century encyclopedia of animals Gessner included actual and mythological animals side-by-side, including many labelled ‘monsters’, with no distinction between the real and the imaginary. Seven international exhibitors have responded to this and other volumes in The Portico Library’s collection with new works incorporating drawing, painting, textiles, robotics and artists’ books, considering where the idea of the monstrous sits within themes of history, mythology and 21st century life.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing
Illustrated talk – 18 June 12.00pm – 1.30pm Free
Alistair Hudson, Director of Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth, warmly invites you to a presentation about our future exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing which opens in February 2019.
Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust will give an illustrated presentation about the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
The drawings are a national treasure, both incredibly beautiful and the main source of our knowledge of the artist. These extraordinary works allow us to enter one of the greatest minds in history, and to understand the man and his achievements.
Martin Clayton has worked in the Print Room at Windsor Castle since 1990 and has curated many exhibitions on the drawings in the Royal Collection, both within the UK and internationally. He is an expert on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and since 2002 he organised a series of exhibitions of Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci that have now toured to 15 regional museums in the UK and have been seen by almost a million people.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the artist. 144 of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings are being lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection to 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK, all opening on 1st February 2019. Manchester Art Gallery is one of the 12 venues.
Places are limited therefore booking is required.