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Central Station and the Goodall Gallery

Philip Hamer is brightened up by a crazy array of colours

Published on May 30th 2008.

Central Station and the Goodall Gallery

It is now almost a year since Richard Goodall moved into his fine second gallery in the Northern Quarter and continued to memorably chart the city’s bond with the rock and pop cultures of the latter half of the 20 century. Manchester owes a debt to Goodall for creating a couple of galleries that would fit seamlessly into Paris’s Marais district.

Manchester owes a debt to Goodall for creating a couple of galleries that would fit seamlessly into Paris’s Marais district.

Having honoured Peter Saville/Tony Wilson/Factory Records in previous exhibitions he now showcases Central Station, the Manchester design house that produced posters, record sleeves and artworks for the Happy Mondays, and played such a vital role in the transformation of Manchester into Madchester on the world music scene.

Central Station was the creation of the three London trained artists, brothers Pat and Matt Carroll and Karen Jackson. They named their creative company after the former Manchester Central railway station that was being transformed into the GMEX arena in 1984 the year that they returned to the city.Little is gentle on the eye in this superb exhibition. You are assailed by a blend of colours and images that Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon- artistic gods to the designers -might have produced on mind-altering drugs. It struck me as chilling that such schizophrenic blending and fusing of colour could emanate from the drab Manchester of 25 years ago. Then I remembered the music and realised the specialness of this cross-artistic marriage.

It is amazing that, as with Factory’s output, something thought of as instantly disposable as record sleeves and posters has gained such status. Is this because Manchester is obsessed with this fertile period of its creative history? Or perhaps because they teach us more about our city twenty or so years ago than history does. Perhaps we have Andy Warhol, another artist who comes to mind, to thank for this.

The designers’ Playmate portraits of Ken Dodd, Kenneth Williams and Shaun Ryder strongly suggest a debt to Warhol with, on their own admission, a dash of Hanna- Barbera cartoonery curdled in.

It is the consistently high standard of the output over a long period that also impresses. After courting controversy with their design for the Happy Mondays Bummed album they went on to produce work for Black Grape and James. In recent years they created the graphics for the film Twenty Four Hour Party People as well as continuing to work in sleeve design with the Australian band The Panics.

It is the consistently high standard of the output over a long period that also impresses.

A Central Station Retrospective is at the Richard Goodall Gallery, 103 High St, Northern Quarter till 21 June

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robot74May 30th 2008.

I live in the Northern Qtr but would be great to see the Gallery opening hours more Urbanesque!!! I work all week 8am-6pm but weekends & bank holidays? It closes at 4m on Saturday & is closed on Sundays & Bank hols which is the best time to go to Galleries. Admittedly should have gone earlier on Saturday, I tried to pop down after weekend chores for a chilled stroll in our friendly Nthn Qtr but it was too close to 4pm. Shutters shut already. Strange as the streets were still full of people, odd business sense I always think? So after a coffee at CUP (good business opening hours!) I popped down to my Urban friendly Magma for my art fix . As least they've got their business browse times sorted. So instead of the print I intended to but I bought some cool books instead.

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