This exhibition was specially created to celebrate SeaBritain 2005 (it’s the year of the sea apparently!) and includes some loans never shown at The Lowry before. Just about everyone is familiar with his industrial landscapes and his obsession with the characters that lived within it but perhaps we would not immediately associate Lowry with the Sea. This exhibition sets out to dispel the myth and with over three rooms dedicated to this theme alone, it certainly succeeds. It was trips to the seaside as a child that inspired Lowry to paint in the first place and his fascination with the sea continued all his life, right up to his death in 1975. Shelley Rhode, Lowry’s biographer explained that ‘he saw in the exorable ebb and flow of the tides the same vein struggle for survival that possessed the people whom he was to live and work.’
The pictures range from busy holiday beaches to working coastlines and docks but it is the ‘empty landscapes’ that really stand out. Beautiful in their simplicity, often just sea and sky they read as a metaphor for life. Both profound and moving, he shows us a sea that at once can be turbulent and brooding and similarly more calm and tranquil, much like the ups and downs of life. We often know Lowry as a rather depressed and melancholy figure and while his lonely seascapes certainly testify to that, he did have a sense of humour, albeit a black one, as can be seen in ‘The Shark, 1970’.
To be honest, I have seen Lowry’s work to death (probably like much of us) and too much of a good thing is, well, just too much sometimes. However, if you’re not familiar with Lowry’s back catalogue then it’s definitely a must see.
If, however, you still fancy a trip to Salford then The Lowry does have another show up its sleeve and this show might be worth a look. Spanning five decades of musical history, the exhibition features images by ‘legendary’ (says blurb) Observer photographer, Jane Brown that range from The Beatles and U2 to er, Gabrielle? If looking at pictures of famous people is your raison d’etre, then your going to love this exhibition. On the other hand, if that sort of thing doesn’t particularly bother you then I wouldn’t rush out to see it. I’m not denying they’re good pictures of famous people, I just don’t think the images reveal anything new about these famous personalities - which surely defeats the point doesn’t it?
This is the sort of exhibition your university tutor would ask you to write an essay on and then report your opinions back to the rest of the class. Not sure how much mass appeal this has got (by the way people were scooting through the gallery, I’m guessing not much) but the questions it poses are interesting and valuable enough. Basically, it tries to examine what kind of object is a work of art and how is our response to a work of art affected by its associations with a famous artist or the way is has been made? It looks at artistic value and the ‘aura’ that we attribute to an original piece of art.
For example, we are asked to look at two images of Picasso’s famous ‘Poverty’ piece taken from his infamous Blue Period. One is the original, one a print – you can’t tell the difference between the two but one is far more valuable than the other – why does our knowledge of fame and reputation affect the worth of an object so much? If you like to know the answers to these sorts of questions then I suggest this exhibition is for you. Try to ignore the dingy décor and depressing atmosphere though. This place really needs some serious ‘Norman Foster’ treatment, or at least somebody of his kind needs to take this building by its very foundation and give it a thoroughly modern makeover. Preferably as soon as possible!
Well yet another cutting edge exhibition arrives at The Cornerhouse. Their latest offering ‘(Prologue) New Feminism/New Europe’ has been set up by five female curators with the aim of examining the complex social, economic and cultural position of women in New Europe. An eclectic mix of film, photography, installations, video and live art, it is a collectively developed concept that aims to address prejudice against the word ‘feminist’ through art.
In Britain and The West in general, talk of feminism is now generally confined to academia but in New Europe where the debate around equality and rights is (in comparison) just beginning, it is a subject prevalent in everyday society. This exhibition gives some of New Europe’s artists a chance to throw open the feminist debate and allow its members to throw new light on the subject.
The work that resonated with me the most was Katarzyna Gorna’s work, ‘Madonna’s’ in Gallery Three. It is a black and white photo triptych that draws upon stereotypical historic Christian imagery and subverts this to examine their impact on the social roles imposed on contemporary women today. If you want to go round the gallery with someone who really knows what there talking about then they are running a tour on Thursday 1 September at 6pm.
If you’re in town, then I really recommend making your way to Harvey Nichols Brasserie on the Second Floor. We have provided 10 works by Willard Wigan, the creator of the smallest works of art in the world. His sculptures can only be seen through a microscope and to give you a flavour of how tiny the pieces are, he uses a hair from a fly as a paintbrush. The pieces are generally only three thousands of an inch thick and stand either on a grain of sand or within an eye of a needle. To create the works, that can be destroyed by a mere pulse in the finger, he has developed a method whereby he places himself in a meditative state for up to twelve hours at a time. Willard’s work is an accomplishment of total harmony of body and mind and I can only say that they have to be seen to be believed.
I mentioned in last month’s column that we were holding a show for Alicia Dubnyckyj who launched her new collection of Manchester cityscapes. It was a fantastic night (helped by the free flowing champagne poured so beautifully from the guys from Zinc!) and the collection was a tremendous success. We have sold three quarters of the collection which is surely a testimony not only to her talent but also to people’s pride in their city, whether they are true mancunians or not!
If you are in Harvey Nichols for the Willard exhibition you might like to have a look at another Artlounge artist located in the store’s Deansgate reception, as well as more pieces in the gallery itself. James O’ Hanlon’s work is heavily influenced by the pop art of Warhol and takes inspiration from advertising and fashion. Images of female figures are dropped onto different backgrounds, isolating his subjects with a specific emotion such as sexual ecstasy or spaced out beauty. They are very hip so check them out!
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