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Get comfortable with art at Sofa

Sofa in Fallowfield is becoming Manchester’s first ‘Art Bar’, exhibiting the work of up and coming artists, designers and photographers…

Published on September 26th 2006.

Get comfortable with art at Sofa

There’s no getting away from the fact that art is often seen as pretentious and highbrow. And I’m not just talking about stuffy old men discussing the finer points of Renaissance portraiture. Indeed, it’s the unmade beds and dirty urinals of the world that produce the most exclusivity. It’s conceptual, daahling.

I like art, but I’m not afraid to admit that the thought of art galleries make me break out into a cold sweat. Unless it’s one of the larger London galleries, where you can happily lose yourself for hours amidst the hordes of American tourists pointing at the pretty pictures of Henry VIII, I avoid them like the plague.

Why? Because I hate the feeling of standing in a near empty gallery, with some trendy curator watching me to gauge my every reaction and whispering about me to his Vivien Westwood wearing friend. “She didn’t even look at the elephant dung, Renoir, she’s so uncouth. I could tell by her shoes the moment she walked in. Hmph”

That’s why I like Sofa’s new idea. Sofa in Fallowfield is becoming Manchester’s first ‘Art Bar’, exhibiting the work of up and coming artists, designers and photographers. Three or four artists at a time will be able to exhibit their work on wall space over two floors, with exhibitions lasting six weeks before the collection is changed.

This means that the art can be viewed in a much more relaxing environment than a silent, clinical gallery, with art fans being able to enjoy a drink while they browse the exhibitions, and introducing more people to art who may not have normally visited a gallery.

Kim O’Brien, Licensee of Sofa, commented: “The idea of exhibiting art came to me because I love looking at art yet don’t get the chance to do so very often. I wanted to create a relaxed environment where people can come in to see the art on display but not feel intimidated by the silence and stark atmosphere often present in an art gallery.

For many young people, much of their time is spent in bars, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to add another dimension to just ‘going for a drink’. We want everyone who has any kind of interest in art - and those who don’t – to come down and check out the great work on show. The response so far has been fantastic, and we already have a database of people wanting to come to the launch of the first exhibition.”

The launch will take place on the 7th October, with Manchester’s legendary Mike Pickering, of Hacienda and M People fame, showing his support by performing an exclusive DJ set for guests on the night. Also present will be established photographer Jenny Keegan and artist Philip Towers, who are exhibiting alongside two up and coming artists. SketchCity will be offering guests the chance to interact and produce their own art on a giant canvas on the night.

Artists interested in exhibiting their art at Sofa should call in to the bar and complete an application form. Samples of work will also be required.

For more information or to be put on the guest list for the launch night please call Kim at Sofa on 0161 248 4820.

Jayne Robinson
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First manchester art bar? Really? If you take a look around the city there are tons of Bars that do things like this, Kro2, Sandbar, Centro, most of the bars actually along the Oxford Road corridor to fit in with the new photography project that's happening down there, there really is dozens of places, Timesis (now Boutique) had a new exhibition on all the time. This is far from the first bar to show exhibitions in Manchester. And really is a bar the right place to be viewing art anyway? Does anyone particularly want to look at art in a more serious way than just 'pretty pictures' when they're on a drunken night out?

Matthew Hodge

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You probably don't know me. I'm the owner of Manto on Canal Street.

Just thought you should know that it was Manto that introduced the art in bars concept to Manchester! For ten years between 1990 and 2000 we did exactly the same thing before a refit took us in a different direction and it was no longer deemed appropriate!


Peter Dalton

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You must have gone into some weird galleries in your life. They're not all full of dung and pretentious rubbish. Mind you, as a gallery owner myself I have come across some weird 'curators'. You know the type: They stare at you as you walk through the door with a look of withering condescension. A look that says 'Why is this peasant coming into our salubrious surroundings?'Can't stand that sort of thing. However, Troubadour Gallery is a welcoming space a place where old people come in just to say hello, where kids arrive with parents and just browse around, where serious collectors arrive to purchase works of outstanding beauty. Where people come to our preview nights, drink loads of good wine and beer, eat their fill then stagger off to the pub to continue the event. Bliss!!Have a look at our current exhibition www.troubadour-gallery.co.uk best of luck to the other art venues.Getting ready for our preview night this evening.Cheers


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Fantastic that sofa is showing art in the bar, so glad this is being revived. Just wanted to say that manchester has always had a great history of this, I myself started the scene many moons ago back in 1993 at Manto cafe bar on Canal Street and had lots of great shows at generation x (now pure space) on new wakefield street. Some of the great and good DJ's played a fantastic mix of piano tunes as guests were treated to cocktails kindly supplied by Diageo drinks brands. Well done sofa and good luck Kim keep up the good work.

Alyson Doocey

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