Spurred on by last weekend’s visit to The Manchester Contemporary at the iconic Old Granada Studios, my subsequent studio trips have been increasingly ones characterised by a feverous need to paint! Yes it was that inspiring!
I had a lot of time to deliberate as I wandered around the show. The Contemporary offers up an intimate setting for many regional, independent galleries from across the UK (but a lot are based in Manchester & the North) the chance to exhibit the best in critically engaged art by emerging artists. Their commitment is “risk-taking and focus on the bold and the new” and there was definitely plenty to fulfil this goal.
I recognised many names represented by the galleries exhibiting at The Contemporary. From Holly Rowan Hesson, Nicola Ellis, Martin Hamblen (Castlefield Gallery), Lisa Denyer, Vincent James, Naomi Kendrick, Tracy Eastham (Paper Gallery), Rebecca Ounstead (Bloc Projects), Emma Talbot (Domobaal), Joe Fletcher-Orr (International 3), Maurice Carlin (Islington Mill) and Claudia Dance-Wells (Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun). Plus many new names all of whom set the standard for contemplative, and arresting, contemporary work.
There were some real stand-out booths that caught my eye. I loved the paintings presented by Manchester-based, Bureau. Ray Martin’s spry landscapes were aesthetically vigorous, to Aaron Rawcliffe’s playful, graphical renderings. Bloc Project’s dynamic curation supplied works by emerging artists revolving around Graeme Durant’s playful polystyrene sculptures displaying skill and humour (see his cheese-shaped forms below). Paper Gallery’s assortment of smaller works showcased both finesse with a high degree of accomplishment, Ellie MacGarry’s sublime, pastel-hued compositions would make me sleep well at night at the thought of them.
Finally, International 3’s ‘Rooted & Established’ by Brass Art immediately caught my eye with its glorious ‘under-worldly // under-tones’, the mirrored-piece of a casual woman catching glimpse of herself yet not seeing the roots extending under-neath her… somewhat creepily existing below the surface. And opposite from London’s ‘Space In Between’ is Simon Linnington’s exquisite ‘Get Lost/Get Help’, a found diptych consisting of the discarded clay and paint he had splattered on a plastic sheet from the floor of his studio. Then stretched and covered over frames to form magnificent ‘marble-esque’ paintings. A real joy to look at.
Here are a selection of my images from the event… and more can be found on my blog.