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Archive for the 'galleries' Category

“Where can I buy original Art in Manchester and why should I?”

The appetite for owning original works of art has grown steadily over recent years.  Maybe because it is one way to make a house feel individual in these times of flatpack ubiquity.  A well-chosen piece of art can reflect a chink of character of the owner and prompt a smile or moment of pause in the thick of our busy lives.  No bad thing at all and not something that often happens with a Billy Bookcase.

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I’ve been asked the question a few times this year “Where can I buy affordable original art?”.  As I am based in Manchester my answer is somewhat limited but here are the options that I know about in my locality:-

  • ArTzu Gallery on Ancoats near the Art Deco Express Building.
  • Artland Gallery under the Quaker Meeting House opposite Central Library, Manchester.  An exciting new venue which ran a stunning exhibition of Jan Chlebik‘s  cityscape photography recently, latest exhibition is by New York Times photographer Christoph Bangert (see image above).
  • Blyths art gallery central Manchester.
  • Castlefield Gallery close to Deansgate Metro Station.
  • Colin Jellicoe Portland Street, Manchester.
  • Comme Ca Art various spots including upstairs at the prestigious Lowry Hotel, Salford/Manchester border.
  • Cornerhouse Projects (downstairs in the bar) close to Oxford Road Station, Manchester.
  • Cube Gallery (architectural related work)  see upcoming exhibiton from award-winning photographer John Davies.
  • Islington Mill, Salford/Manchester border.  Growing artists collective with studios and galleries, often special previews & shows.
  • The Lowry, Salford/Manchester border.  Has occasional exhibitions and work for sale from artists (often local).
  • Manchester Craft and Design Centre Favourite spot for emerging work, textiles, painting, photography …. all sorts.
  • Mooch Art new venture in Northern Quarter plus online gallery selling mostly local artists; painting and photography.
  • Revolve Gallery used to be Manchester-based, moved in Sept 2010 to an impressive space in Clitheroe (just north of Preston in the Ribble Valley).
  • Richard Goodall Gallery Northern Quarter, mostly illustration and photography linked with music promotion and posters, had Leonard Cohen’s work on show last year.
  • Waterside Arts Centre (Sale) nice Gallery space featuring local artists all media from painting, photography through to mixed meda and between.
  • Wendy Levy Gallery very respected Gallery based in West Didsbury top notch artists represented here including Liam Spencer.

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Finally, just in case you find galleries a little intimidating, then you might want to check out a new event on the calender, it’s the Buy Art Fair 24-27 Sept 2009 which enjoyed a very special inaugural launch last year with 3,200 visitors and over 200 artists on display, well staged at the nice, light and airy Urbis, Manchester.  Never spend more than the price of a new sofa, prove your skill at spotting new talent, support creativity and art, make your home original and breathtaking and you never know you might make some money on it too!

UPDATE : For an alternative take, check out a great blog run by a New York Gallery owner Ed Winkleman.  His blog is a really useful place to pick up terrific candid advice on the art world, the nitty gritty of running a Fine Art gallery and to see how sales are going on the other side of the pond.

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Manchester artist Ben Kelly’s new exhibition “Painting the Blues” @ Manchester City FC Museum …

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Award-winning local artist Ben Kelly had a busy time last week.  Sadly, I couldn’t make his Preview Night due to work commitments, but judging by all the feedback and coverage, things went very well indeed.

His exhibition is called “Painting the Blues” and features new work created over the last 12 months.   The aim was to capture the highs and lows of Manchester City Football Club.  Any City fan knows more than most, the world of football is a hugely unpredictable one, where “emotions change from triumph to despair in the space of ninety minutes”.

Even for a club with Manchester City’s history, the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster, yet Ben was given free rein by City to wander wherever he wanted, with unprecedented access to witness activity behind the scenes  aswell as the regular matchday frenzy.  One has to congratulate the club for creating the opportunity for an artist to try and capture the season on canvas and as a huge City fan this was pretty much a dream assignment for Ben.

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He is certainly an artist on the rise; having won a massive £15,000 in December 2006 in a competition organised by the Lowry and Umbro called “One Love – The Football Art Prize”.  He beat 800 other artists from all over the country to scoop the prize when his painting “The Final Whistle” was chosen by a panel of judges, one of whom was Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger (in the news this week with his ‘Angel of the South’ White Horse commission).
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Next project on the horizon was an exhibition at the prestigious Cheshire gallery Firob & Peacock in Knutsford.   This work showcased some of Ben’s landscape paintings; each piece took the viewer by the hand on a beautiful foray into the woods.  Featuring forests and icy stillness, this exhibition was full of intense atmospherics, Lowry-esque figures almost lost within impossibly elongated trees.  Delicate tints and the occasional dramatic splash of vividity created wonderfully engaging work.

Grab the chance while you can, and see Ben Kelly’s latest work here in Manchester at the City of Manchester Stadium Museum, open now and ending on the 31st March 2009.  All work is for sale, though I understand quite a few were snapped up at the Preview.

Which leads me on to the subject of my next post …. “Where can I buy original Art in Manchester and why should I?”.   Yes indeedee, coming soon … check back on the blog tomorrow (probably!).

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National Photographic Portrait Prize @ the Lowry

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The prestigious National Photographic Portrait Prize (2007) is occuping the light and airy mezzanine floor at the Lowry, in Salford, until October 12th 2008. This is a must-see for fans of photography in general and portraiture in particular. We are lucky to have this exhibition touring in the North West as it is usually only viewed at the National Portrait Gallery, London. For 2007 there were 6,900 submissions by 2,700 photographers from around the world.

It provides an opportunity to see a compelling array of images which highlight the sheer depth and power of a single image. The 60 shortlisted photographs have been taken all over the world and feature wildly different subjects, styles, technique and atmosphere; professional and amateur hang side by side. Should you go with a friend don’t be surprised if you end up arguing the merits of your favourite and casting your eyes heavenwards on one or two of those included.

The images are framed and printed in a variety of ways; sizes vary from 10 x 8 to a couple which fill an entire wall. I presume each photographer was allowed a free hand to choose how their work was hung? This helps to make each shot feel individual and hopefully allows the viewer to remember this is not a series but an opportunity to celebrate the art of great portraiture.

I cannot really argue with the First Prize choice a brilliant and powerful study by Jonathan Torgovnik taken in Rwanda. I also had a great deal of time for the Second Prize winner “Lucila, a.m.” (photographers site here).

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A slow-burner which quietly snuck into my brain. I don’t remember much of a connection the first time I viewed it, but I was drawn back to it time and again … close my eyes and I can almost place myself in that same room with the warm sun streaming in through the huge glass backdrop.

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Charlie Crane (who I have blogged about earlier in the year when he was selected for the New Contempories showcase) has made it into the 60, he has such lovely prints and a real sense of style. Colin Pantall‘s “Sofa Portrait #3″ is part of a series which has had a fair amount of praise and publicity already …. subtle and captivating.

If you cannot make it to the Lowry in time you can view all the Winners and those shortlisted on the National Portrait Gallery website. Looking at images on a computer screen is nowhere near the experience gained in a gallery space, but certainly better than nothing! Entry for the 2008 Photographic Portrait Prize Award is now closed and the winner will be announced in November.

Were the “Best of Manchester Awards” any good? … in fact do Awards mean anything?

There seems to be awards being presented everywhere you look nowadays, so many in fact that it is impossible to keep up with everything.

I am all for being judged by your audience, critics and peers but one has to ask the question how impartial is impartial? Nowadays, I have no time for Awards with heavy sponsorship … step forward the Brits which is owned by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry aka the British Record Industry). It claims it’s aim is to be “supporting young people in music and education” aahhmm … surely it is about keeping British Music in the headlines and rewarding those that have mastered playing the game and who sell lots of records. I am not saying all Brit winners are talentless but it is just that, as far as I can see, the BPI are just handing out awards to those already successful.

More meaningful are those Awards which generate word-of-mouth and are trying to give a helping hand to those talented (often innovative) souls who have not yet cracked it. Here you may find artistic types who possess a huge belief, a love for their chosen field crikey some folk who might even be doing it for fun and not money.

The cynical amongst you will shout that all Awards by their very nature are never unbiased, yes, true I agree but I guess I’m just saying that some have their hearts closer to the right place than others and this is often down to the Judges sitting on the panel and whether there is any kind of hidden agenda to the Awards.

A check on the Judges for the 2nd “Best of Manchester Awards” held at Urbis recently were Peter Saville Graphic Designer and all-round Manchester Design Guru, Miranda Sawyer (writer, broadcaster), Luke Bainbridge (Music Journalist, Editor Observer Music Monthly), there was the head of A&R at Universal Music, with nods to respected bods @ Castlefield Gallery (Manchester) and Blueprint Music Studios and Elvis Jesus head honcho covering the fashion angle. So a pretty eclectic, informed and opinionated group. Things are lookin’ good.

300 entries fought to prove their work illustrated the best creative thinking and innovation in Manchester, things were wittled down to a shortlist of nine covering Art, Fashion and Music. There is an exhibition to accompany the Awards on the 4th Floor at Urbis until the 28th of September. From the work on show I had a couple of personal favourites … none of which turned out to be the eventual winner so there we go – what do I know !! Still I’d like the share them with you anyway :-)

I loved the graphics and ethos of the Red Deer Club “a small label with big ideas” and brainchild of nu-folk fan Duncan Sime.

On the 4th of May last year, UHC a socially-conscious Design Studio and Artists Collective who deal in “the finest blend of art, design and action” took to the streets. Helped by volunteers and “As part of a protest campaign against consumerism and climate change, 88 hoardings were covered with cream coloured ‘hoods’ emblazoned with the message, ‘trees breathe ads suck’.” (Manchester Evening News). UHC will always annoy some, but their work often seems to harness talent, invention and maybe a measure of eccentricity. Surely it’s not only me who applauds their aim to “present those traveling to work with a special gift – a few precious moments of peace and beauty in place of the incessant noise of advertising”. Wonderful illustrations too …

Finally I was rooting (pun not intended) for Paul Hartfleet to win in the Art Category with his Pansy Project. “Paul revisits locations where homophobia has been experienced and plants pansies. These self seeding pansies act as a living memorial to this abuse and operate as an antidote to it; some pansies wither whilst others thrive in car park borders and windswept road verges. Each Pansy’s location is named after the abuse received and the project is now worldwide with its very own website www.thepansyproject.com.

I know it appears I am blinkered, as his project heavily features photography and Paul’s current project features benches! but trust me, take a trip over to his own site and blog and see more of his fantastic work and ideas.

The actual winners were :

ART: Naomi Kashiwagi

MUSIC: Richard Cheetham, High Voltage

FASHION: Simon Buckley, Rags to Bitches

One final little footnote, I discovered a fab little Manchester band playing to the crowds at the Awards called Keith, a little bit Doors/Radiohead/Talking Heads all delivered with the customary Manc twang and swagger.

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British Airways commission art for Terminal 5 @ Heathrow Airport

All I know about Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is that the launch earlier this year was a total and utter disaster as far as British Airways reputation is concerned. But amongst all the doom and gloom it appears some glimmers of light sneaked in there too!

I have the “plush patterns” blog to thank for my discovery of Christopher Pearson’s work. He was commissioned by BA through Artwise Curators (who coincidentally handled a recent commission for Idris Khan who I blogged about a few weeks ago) along with three other emerging artists to create some site specific art works for Terminal 5.

The installation is certainly an eye-catcher and consists of Pearson’s wonderful studies of the Growing Cycles of the English Oak Tree which were etched into 3 pairs of huge glass panels and now stand in the First Class Galleries Lounge. Each pane is illuminated to reveal the delicate strokes of the original design and it vividly brings the work to life. His website reveals an artist open to experimenting with new technology and innovative methods for displaying and creating forms of art. One to watch for sure and serves as a reminder that artistic work can often by enhanced by careful consideration of how it is displayed.

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New Designers exhibition, London … winners Kate Laskey & Abigail Borg

I was hoping to get to the New Designers exhibition at the Business Design Cente, London, when I was visiting the capital a few weekends ago. Sadly, the time slot was just too tight and I had to give up on that idea, however on their website is a full list of the winners. It was a two-part show which celebrated the work of over 4000 graduates from around the UK who also competed to win one of the New Designer Awards. It is one of two major platforms for new graduates, the other being the Free Range exhibition over at Brick Lane.

Amongst this year’s award-winning array of talent I really liked the work of Kate Laskey. Her project entered for the ND exhibition was titled ‘Ten stops from home’ and featured a collection of wallpapers, furnishing and upholstery fabrics and cushions that all incorporate images noted from her journey to and from college. Covering the past three years, her sketchbook featured drawings from towns such as Shoreham, Brighton and Eastbourne which were developed to create the finished designs.

Kate is a recent graduate in Surface and Textile Design from Northbrook College and won the Harlequin Award at the exhibition. The judges described her work as “inspirational and highly individual with a very specific style and unique handwriting. Extremely refreshing and versatile”. Together with the prestige and media buzz of winning an award at this exhibition, it also means Kate will spend some time working at Harlequin a highly respected brand known through the world of interiors, they design and sell a select range of classy fabrics and wallpapers.

Also an honourable mention for a student from ‘Oop Norf’ …. hurrah, no I’m not biased at all !! Well done Abigail Borg from Leeds College of Arts, proclaimed the Business Design Centre: New Designer of the Year. I think her drawing skills and colour palette match up quite beautifully and her work could fit comfortably within a number of media from textile design right through to book covers and many in-between.

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