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The Sleep of Reason

Published on March 9th 2005.

Stephen Dixon’s new exhibition The Sleep of Reason, a fleeting trip through political conflicts of the last 20 years, has been launched at Manchester Art Gallery in conjunction with a second exhibition.

The exhibition was launched in front of a packed out audience that including four lucky Manchester Confidential winners.

Dixon’s exhibition represents all aspects of Good v Evil: the West v the rest of the world, Beauty v The Beast, George v the Dragon, Dorothy v the Wicked Witch of the East - it’s all here represented by well crafted ceramics.

The models, some of which take up to a month to complete, represent Dixon’s satirical view of the world’s political map slightly off the straight and narrow via quick stop offs at Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You.

Dixon’s ‘reporting’ of events ranging from the Falklands War to the first Iraq War entertain similar responses and are a slightly different showcase of how events may have been reported in the media.

Dixon represents many of Britain’s political outpourings by moulding some of the iconography that has developed over the years, mainly from the Thatcher years that have so obviously influenced him – the British lion, the monarchy, even the page 3 girl gets a tip of the hat, all based around vessels, some in the form of tea pots, another typically British icon.

It’s not just British politics that comes in for a bashing either – inspired by Goya, Dixon’s ceramics draw from Assyrian gods, Egyptian mummies, even Mickey Mouse and Madonna.

Dixon’s chess set hits the political spot right between the eyes, the strategic game perfectly representing global conflicts and the balance of power.

It isn’t all about being on the attack over the conflicts either – Princess Diana’s gains sympathy from one of Dixon’s models in particular, and his later work displays that he’s not the only one who’s been affected by conflict over the last 20 years and feels the need to represent it in artistic form. Dixon worked with a group of Kosovan refugees who noted their own emotions down in artistic form, the majority of which draw on the only influences they’ve known over the last few years – planes flying overhead, bombs being dropped etc.

Supported by the Gaeia Partnership, Stephen Dixon’s biting The Sleep of Reason is on at Manchester Art Gallery now until 30 May - Free

Art of the Garden

The Art of the Garden exhibition on the other hand, is a more serene affair, with images of the British garden from the last 200 years being represented in art form.

From Constable to contemporary interpretations of the garden from the likes of Marc Quinn and Martin Parr, the exhibition was organized last year to commemorate the Bicentenary of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Year of Gardening.

The Art of the Garden exhibition will also be running until the 30th May, 2005 - entry £5/£3.50 concs/under 18s free.

Manchester Art Gallery
Tel: 0161 235 8888

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