Friday, 28 November 2008

If I Had A Monkey I Wouldn't Need A TV @ Castlefield Gallery

They might have misspelled my surname, but - once again - it's pleasing to have something up on the City Life website.

My review/preview of the Laura White exhibition, If I Had A Monkey I Wouldn't Need A TV, is up on the website here.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

New Exhibitions: Laura White's If I Had a Monkey I Wouldn’t Need a TV @ Castlefield & Philips Art Gallery Christmas Exhibition

Today is the opening of If I Had a Monkey I Wouldn’t Need a TV, an exhibition by the sculptor Laura White at the Castlefield Gallery, as well as the opening of the christmas exhibition at the Philips Art Gallery

I don't know what the Philips Art Gallery exhibition is like, though I look forward to their usual pleasantly un-hip choices. 

However, I went down to the Castlefield Gallery earlier this week to write a preview for 

Combining sculptural forms with images in a chaotic riot of colour and form, this is a absolutely lovely exhibition. Seldom does something so cerebral, with such a suffocating mass of theory behind it, turn out to be so beautiful, whimsical and ever so slightly sinister. 

There is an intensity and detail to the sculptures which I haven't seen since Kim Adams' Bruegel-Bosch Bus in The Art Gallery of Hamilton.  

You can really lose yourself in this collection of sculptures. Preview opening tonight, If I Had a Monkey I Wouldn’t Need a TV runs until the 25th of January 2009. 

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A ( not so ) Quick Guide to Arts About Manchester

Manchester is an incredibly vibrant, exciting and eclectic city, and its art scene reflects that. However, in a city as large and diverse as this, with several distinct areas just within the city centre, it can get a little overwhelming. 

To counteract this and to help you get the most out of this city has to offer, here's a brief guide to some of the major and not so major galleries around Manchester. 

From the big internationally acclaimed civic institutions through to small artist led galleries and emerging artists cropping up in unlikely places, from the wilds of the Northern Quarter to the cosy enclaves of university campuses, artistically, Manchester has something  for everyone. 

Civic Galleries 

In terms of big civic galleries, there is a plentiful supply. Manchester Art Gallery has a great collection of art, with over 25,000 objects. The gallery has a particularly fine and extensive collection of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite painting and objects on permanent display, including the seminal painting by Ford Madox Brown, Work. But the gallery is not restricted to the nineteenth century, with a collection spanning six centuries, it also has a significant examples of eighteenth century and contemporary works. Whether you want to gaze upon William Blake or Lucian Freud, there is something for you. 

Located on Moseley Street, just opposite the central library and St. Peters Square - as well as on the very edge of China Town - Manchester Art Gallery is housed in two fine Victorian buildings. These building are joined together with a stunning glass atrium and stair well area, designed by the award winning architect Sir Michael Hopkins, and opened in 2002 to critical acclaim.

The atrium itself has been used as a space to display art work, as demonstrated this summer by these amazing sculptures by Korean artist Choe U Ram.

Current temporary exhibitions include the block busting Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision, which is accompanied by a display of Pre-Raphaelite Works on Paper from the Collection.

Totally different but equally exalted is Urbis, which stands out in the middle of Manchester's shopping melee pit like neatly crash landed spaceship. Striking up into the ( often) gloomy Manchester sky it looks like a cousin of the Pompidou Centre with it's guts tucked in. 

Incredibly trendy, Urbis styles itself as a " exhibition centre about city life." The current exhibition displays the political works Emory Douglas, the first and only Black Panther Minister for Culture. 

Housing a popular cafe, a top floor restaurant which offers unequalled views of the city, as well the painfully cool, seasonal bar The North Pole located in an adjacent marquee, Urbis is a social, as well as cultural, hub. 

The Cornerhouse, nestling next to the Oxford Road Station, has, along with its cinema, book shop and bar facilities, three floors of dedicated exhibition space. 

Unfortunately the quality of the exhibits can be quite variable, positive reaction Masaki Fujihata exhibition was undermined by the current exhibition, The Interwining Line

The downstairs cafe-bar area, which affords an unrivalled people-watching panorama across the hurly burly of Oxford Road, currently features stills from the Academy Award nominated animated film, Persepolis

Not to be forgotten is the Chinese Arts Centre in the Northern Quarter. The Chinese Arts Centre is the international agency for the development and promotion of contemporary Chinese artists. 

Commercial Galleries

Sometimes it's fun to see how the other half live, and even more fun to pretend to be them. Not everyone has the dosh to take a trip to a commercial art gallery as a customer, but that shouldn't stop you having a good nose around. The city centre has several interesting commercial art galleries, most notably the two Richard Goodall Galleries in the Northern Quarter and the Philips Art Gallery on Tib Street. 

Richard Goodall Gallery's first location is on Thomas Street, which claims to be the UK's leading fine art photography, limited edition silk screen rock poster art and low brow art emporium. To you and me that's very expensive posters and toys. Still it's nice to see what the ├╝ber trendy lot spend their money on. 

The more recognisable arty face of RGG is the Contemporary Gallery, located in a specially built, state of the art building on High Street in the Northern Quarter. In real terms it's just by that weird set of flats with the old market facade and just opposite Sweet Mandarin.

Currently on show are the stunning photographs of Jamie Baldridge , recently reviewed for, this exhibitions finishes on the 7th of December. This crowd pleasing show is to be followed by an exhibition which promises to be even more popular, in the wildly sought-after illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli's largest exhibition to date. The galleries' flickr photostream gives a good sense of what the gallery space is like and what kind of exhibits they put on. 

Although not nearly on the scale of the Richard Goodall Galleries, the Philips Art Gallery is worth a visit. Hidden away on Tib Street, this tiny, charming space is always full of a broad and interesting selection of art. The displayed work are refreshingly unfashionable, ranging from contemporary representative and impressionist works, through to fifties and vorticist paintings. Their Christmas Exhibition opens on the 27th of November and runs until the 20th of December. 

Artist Run Galleries

There are two great artist run galleries, the Castlefield Gallery and International 3. Opening this week at the Castlefield Gallery is a solo sculpture exhibition by Laura White called If I had a Monkey I wouldn't need a TV.

University Run Galleries 

Moving away from the city centre and up Oxford Road, the universities unsurprisingly provide a couple of great art venues. Manchester Metropolitan University has a sequence of gallery spaces on it's All Saints Campus, such as The Holden Gallery, which recently housed the Third Manchester Artists' Book Fair. Continuing the bookish theme, this gallery currently contains an exhibition called Reflective Stories, displaying examples of sketchbooks and journals from all levels of art practitioners. Reflective Stories continues to the 12th of December.

Just up the stairs and around the corner from the Holden Gallery is the criminally under used Link Gallery. The gallery currently contains works by current and former students of the Interactive Arts course, in a practically named, Interactive Arts Alumni Exhibition, recently preview on

Any discussion about the arts around Manchester with out mentioning the Whitworth Art Gallery would be deplorable. This stunning red brick Victorian building is located on Oxford Road by Whitworth Park and is part of the University of Manchester. 

It is home to some of the UK's finest collections of art and design including modern and historic fine art, prints, textiles and a rare collection of wallpapers. It's current and eclectic season of temporary display includes the stunning Putting on the Glitz, a celebration of burnished wallcoverings - an exhibition opened by Laurence Llwelyn-Bown earlier this month - and cloth & culture NOW, an unrivalled textile art exhibition featuring works from artists hailing from through-out Europe and Asia. Cloth & culture NOW is closing December 12th. 

Arty Pubs

These are just a few examples of the more traditional places you can find art around Manchester. If your looking for more edgy, atypical art there is a whole plethora of less typical places to try. For example the recent Illuminations exhibit which was held in a disused building on Whitworth Street West. 

However, its the city's pubs, bars and assorted drinking holes which often turn up trumps. Common in the Northern Quarter has a frequently changing decor supplied by emerging artists and illustrators. Strange Manchester staples of Odd and Odder have always had arty feel, and now Odder holds monthly exhibitions, providing an opportunity for local artists and designers to exhibit their work for free. 

The famous Matt & Phred's Jazz Club in the Northern Quarter currently has on display a selection of images entered in the Shot Up North photography awards. 

If you like your art with a little more narrative, you should head over to The Lass O'Gowrie. This classic Victorian pub, just off Oxford Road by the BBC,  has a changing display of comic book art in the snug, currently featuring Adrian Salmon's Cybermen comics for Doctor Who Magazine. 

Art Resources 

This is only representative of a tiny selection of venues to see art around Manchester and as the end of the year approaches, old exhibitions taken down and new put in their place, this information will date very quickly. 

However, do not despair, since Manchester is served by some great arts resources. 

The first is the Arts List, covering every genre of visual and performative art, this is the definitive listings for the Manchester area. 

Another useful resource to keep an eye on is Though the arts section is still, somewhat, in development, it promises to improve quickly. The online version of the Manchester Evening News supplement, it provides previews, news and reviews about entertainment and arts around the city, as well as competitions. 

The Art Guide is seemingly a resource with yet untapped potential. Formerly the Castlefield Gallerys e-flyer, it provides details of many grassroots arts activities, as well as links to various arts organisations and collectives in the North-West. 

There are probably many other great venues that I've failed to include, and if you feel I have left something significant out, be reassured it was not out of spite and please let me know via comments. 


... for now. 

All images in this posting are used under Creative Commons, and sourced from Flickr

Manchester Art Gallery by Zaw Towers.
Urbis by Max Blinkhorn
Cornerhouse by Zaw Towers
Whitworth Art Gallery by Chupacabra Viranesque.  

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Self Congratulation

I have my first ever byline in the print copy of City Life tomorrow. It's an rather edited down version of this preview piece about the Interactive Arts Alumni exhibition at The Link Gallery at MMU.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

"Seasons Greetings" @ Philips Art Gallery

Nothing like coming home to an invitation to free champagne after a rather annoying day.

Just received an invite to the opening of "Seasons Greetings", a Christmas Exhibition next week at the Philips Art Gallery on Tib Street. Vastly cheered by the tongue in cheek painting referencing the stuckists.

Monday, 17 November 2008

A Taste of Honey @ Royal Exchange

Just been to see the ( almost ) sell out A Taste of Honey at the Royal Exchange Theatre. 

This is probably the most hyped play I've every seen. Everyone and their mama wants to go see it... along with Les Denis and half the cast of Coronation Street. 

It's 50 years since it was first performed, so this should be significant for this Salford based play. 

Unfortunately it's been allowed to date quite badly, and is just a bit mish-mashy. The musical direction is mostly great, but there are a few really odd and incongruous choices. 

It has brilliant moments, when the actors seem to hit this brilliant cadence and unity and it strikes into the heart, but then the next moment it's back to gibbering, bickering nonsense. 

I know that is probably the core of 'kitchen sink', but what was once biting social commentary is now frothy and twee. There far too much of that of elbowy, smug idea of non-existent Mancunian past and identity which colours nearly all discussion of the cities history. 

Anyway, it still has its moments, the high point certainly being the last sequence before the interval AND definitely not the bitter, decrepit last scene. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Jamie Baldridge, Pilgrims & Peregrines @ Richard Goodall Gallery

After the slightly iffy Intertwining Line at the Cornerhouse, it was nice to go and see something I unreservedly liked. 

The Richard Goodall Gallery knows how to please a crowd, which I guess it pretty important if you're going to be a commercial gallery in these financially disastrous times. I might have disliked some of the Niagara and Yumiko exhibition, but if I had that fabled fist full of fifties I would have thrown it at one of Niagara Opium series. 

Millionaire admirers take note. 

A nicer version of these thoughts should go up on Citylife soon, but I thought I'd mention how much I enjoyed Pilgrims & Peregrines at the Richard Goodall Gallery today. 

Jamie Baldridge's photographic prints are on many levels a little dodgy and rather tacky, but they are also entrancing and beautiful. They remind me of those Tool videos, and of the more phantasmagorical of  Jean-Pierre Jeunet's films. 

A Dainty Phylectic

One major problem is that online images do absolutely no justice to what the original, full sized prints look like! When I saw the preview images I thought it looked rather twee, faux-surreal and generally derivative nonsense. But in real life, with the beautiful lustre and textures which the prints contain it is a completely different story.

The exhibition continues until the 6th of December. They are then followed by an exhibition of the wildly popular Nicoletta Ceccoli. You'll know exactly who I mean when you see the images. 

Anyway, I'm tired and need to prepare for a day of helping out at the NOISE festival tomorrow, and  Thought Bubble this weekend. 

Night Night. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Putting on The Glitz @ Whitworth Art Gallery

Writing things for really drives home to differences between writing for different audiences. 

I'm really rather pleased with the write up I gave the opening of Putting on The Glitz at the Whitworth. It is certainly nice to have professionals to clean and buff my writing up into something rather smart and shiny. 

The opening was the fanciest thing I've been to since the opening of a commercial print fair at the Royal Academy last year. 

The exhibition itself? It is rather beautiful, but remarkably small as well. It is a bijou  box of magpie delights. 

Friday, 7 November 2008

Opening Bonanza: Charmeuse, The Intertwining Line & International 3

Attempted to go to the opening of three at exhibitions yesterday and failed! 

Did manage to make the opening of Charmeuse, the Ladyfest art exhibition, though I did sadly miss the performance by Fabiola Paz.
This is a wonderful, really professional and high quality exhibition. Understandably, Laura Robertson seemed really pleased and proud of the exhibition. Anyhoo, my first attempt at writing content for is now up and has some nice quotes from Laura and some of the organisers and artists.

Then I swung by the opening of The Intertwining Line at the Cornerhouse. Didn't really get much out of it, mostly because the gallery was insufferably hot and crowded. I can't handle crowds and couldn't locate the free booze. Shock and horror! Though I shall return midweek to have a proper gander and think about it.

I kicked my heels for far too long waiting for my buddy and then tried to head over International 3 for the opening of the Magnus Quaife exhibition. We rocked up just when it was closing. Sadly, I cannot wholly blame my mate's tardiness, since we both didn't really know where we were going and managed to get lost. However, the people outside did seem in a pretty good mood, so perhaps it's a good one and worth returning to.

Tonight is magpie's delight, Putting on the Glitz at Whitworth Art Gallery, opened by the one and only Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Tomorrow, The Third Manchester Artists Book Fair

Monday, 3 November 2008

Third Manchester Artists' Books Fair @ MMU 8th November

After my Thursday of being triple booked ( and that's if you don't count internship in the day ) , I'm glad this is on Saturday. 

Third Manchester Artists' Book Fair at the Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints Campus, is a one day event which is open to the public 11am to 5.30pm. Artists' Book can be pretty varied, so hopefully will be an interestingly eclectic affair. 

Frankly seems a bit like an industry junket, and there is very little information about exhibitors available online. However, I do know my friends over at The Manchester Comixs Collective will be in attendance.  

The Interwining Line Preview @ Cornerhouse, 6 November

Bloody hell, everything and their mum is happening this Thursday!

Not only is it the launch of the Ladyfest visual art exhibition, Charmeuse, it is also the preview of the new exhibition at the Cornerhouse. Called The Interwining Line: Drawing as a Subversive Art, the exhibition presents artists' drawings alongside early and
contemporary animation, highlighting their expression of political and social criticism

Taking over all three galleries of the Cornerhouse, the preview will start at 7.30pm and feature a special performance by artist Naomi Kashiwagi, who has previously been involved in that Manchester institution Apartment. She will perform her own unique vintage DJ style performance art, of which there is a rather old profile on the BBC Manchester website. 

Naomi Kashiwagi doing her arty, DJ stuff

Incidentally, it is also the BIG LAUNCH of this years Oxjam Manchester, at Trof 3, or the Deaf Institute, or whatever you wanna call it, 7pm - 2am & £5 entry. Details may be on the ubiquitous facebook , but still looks like a bloody good party. 

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Manchester Ladyfest, CHARMEUSE @ Zion Arts Centre

Hooray for Ladyfest!

What, you don't know what Ladyfest is? Ladyfest is a community-based, not-for-profit global music and arts festival for female artists that features bands, musical groups, performance artists, authors, spoken word and visual artists. This years Manchester Ladyfest is based at the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme. Running between 7th & 9th of November there is a full line up of talks, workshops and music events. Unfortunately, they've stuck the most comprehensive and comprehendible list of events on their facebook page. I may be addicted to facebook like everyone else, but wish it wasn't becoming so bloody ubiquitous. 

Anyway, getting my knickers in a twist about the accompanying visual arts exhibition, CHARMEUSE. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the ubiquitous facebook

It's free on the preview night, Thursday 6th November 6-9pm, and will be open during the Ladyfest festival weekend. Tickets are priced from £5, open 7-9th November 10am - 11pm,  available from