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Art in Advertising, The Lowry

Jennifer Choi has a rethink and a pleasant day out at the Lowry's Art in Advertising exhibition

Published on March 23rd 2010.

Art in Advertising, The Lowry

Art in Advertising – it's an age old debate with stock abstract arguments so well-versed they sound at best, pretentious and at worst, unprovocative and stale.

Other standouts include the stunning series of photos framed in distress-chic Pilkington glass windows, and a very effective set up of a beaten-up couch where you listened to a eerily real soundtrack of domestic abuse.

So it was with a slight weariness that I traipsed along to the Lowry for this BJL exhibition. The trip turned out to be surprisingly pleasant and dare I say, even insightful and thought-provoking.

With Lowry being a long-standing client of the advertising agency, this created an interesting dynamic for the exhibit, which opened appropriately with posters on the “Coming to Manchester” theme advertising Lowry events. Illustrations of Wino and Buddy Holly were iconic and powerful advocates for the validity of art in advertising. But really, this entire show was a little like preaching to converts, with 21st century having long accepted art's significance and merit regardless of whether it's been corporately bankrolled and is no more than product-peddling. So no more about that.

What is interesting though, is a behind the scenes look into the advertising industry. A BA-campaign offers a timeline tracing its evolution from an A4 brief, to heavily annotated sketches and storyboards to the full-colour, literally larger than life final product. An adjacent wall was covered with crumpled ideas that never took off, like a misguided superimposition of the Queen's head onto a rapper for Key103, and a Zurich ad with flicked out blades of a Swiss army knife.

Other standouts include the stunning series of photos framed in distress-chic Pilkington glass windows, and a very effective arrangement of a beaten-up couch where you listen to a eerily real soundtrack of domestic abuse.

Less interesting was the mug tree apparently 'celebrating' Typhoo cuppas, individually decorated by artists which ended up looking a bit high-school project than proper show material. Mannequins dressed in Asda's environmentally friendly bags were a little been-there-done-that too. Overall, however, there is enough interesting works to make this a very worthwhile detour from the city centre.

Art in Advertising is on at the Lowry until 11 April 2010 and can be viewed Sunday to Friday, 11am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm. Admission is free although donations are welcome.

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