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BlankWeekend is here

Samantha Grimes on an exciting art invasion in the city

Published on November 5th 2010.

BlankWeekend is here

If you go down to the city centre this weekend, you’re in for a big surprise.

Manchester's contemporary art scene is about to explode onto the streets. This may mean you could find yourself unwittingly taking part in an improvised performance, designed to challenge traditional perceptions and push a few boundaries. Or you might listen to a few stories on the street and admire some of the best photographic work around, without having to set foot in a gallery.

The street performances take place all weekend at undisclosed locations, and the photography and fine art work are also on display 24 hours a day around the city.

BlankWeekend is hitting the streets from 12-14 November, and is the brainchild of Blank Media Collective, a Manchester-based, non-profit organisation designed to promote and nurture every genre of emerging artist. Music, poetry, performance art, photography and fine art are all on display from over fifty contributing artists alongside each other in 14 venues across the city, from shop windows to the Green Room and Kro Bar.

The whole weekend has been organised by a growing band of enthusiastic volunteers from Blank Media, many of whom are artists themselves and recognise that a lot of people have prejudices an

In this admirable celebration of all things creative, the Collective has taken the 'mountain to Mohammed' approach, and broken out of the galleries. Now in its fifth year, the weekend is bigger than ever before, delighting it's instigator, Mark Devereux, the director of Blank Media.

It all kicks off on Friday 12th November with blankpages, a celebration of all things literary and spoken. Open-floor poetry, improvisation and live music are all on offer at Kro Bar, and you can either get involved yourself or just sit back and admire the quick-thinking and general ingeniousness of the performers. Saturday brings a workshop for kids, designed to inspire 7 – 12 year olds to explore their senses through various art forms, and blanksounds – an evening of 'prog-infused post-rock mayhem' from five bands at the Kings Arms, Bloom Street.

The street performances take place all weekend at undisclosed locations, and the photography and fine art work are also on display 24 hours a day around the city. Each artist has a portfolio on the Blank Media website, and the BlankMarket online store enables anyone to view and purchase their work.

Bedsit by Mario Sughi

One of the photographers whose work will be on display, Chris Leyland, described how helpful he's found being part of the collective. “I don't feel alone any more”, he told me at the BlankWeekend press launch, echoing the problems of many artists starting off in their careers – that of self-promotion.

Blank Media have given him opportunities to network, showcase his talents and invaluable advice, a service they perform for many more. Leyland will be exhibiting a collection of haunting photographic prints of animal and plant remains, displayed in lightboxes and available to buy complete. Sounds macabre, looks in reality like a beautifully-composed 21st century take a Dutch Masters still life.

Chris's work will be on display at Fred Aldous Art Supplies, Lever Street, and MadLab on Edge Street.

Another to catch my eye was the work of Andy Glinka, entitled 'This Boy's Life'. At first glance, it's a simple collection of polaroids, but on closer inspection, each one is painfully evocative of the loneliness and confusion of youth. I was instantly transported back to my 1970s childhood just by looking at the shots of the young boy playing with a rudimentary toy plane at the window of his bedroom, and another shot of the same boy sat at the top of the stairs. The photo is taken from the bottom of the stairs looking up at the small frame huddled against the wall on the top step.

Other artists include, Blanka Ciok, Naomi Kendrick and Mario Sughi. Having their works on view in shop windows means you will come across something you wouldn't expect. It’ll be worth having your eyes peeled and you ears open as stroll Manchester this weekend.

For more information on what's on, venues and to book for some events, visit www.blankmediacollective.org.

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