Sunday, 4 October 2009

Feast for the visually inclined

When I think art and Manchester, I think Lowry. But more recently I've been introduced to the work of artists such as Liam Spencer who trained at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Spencer, who is most celebrated for his urban landscapes using rich palettes has more recently been exhibited in New York as well as the Lowry Centre closer to home. His landscapes depict a grandness to the industrial architecture of Manchester further adding to the artistic tradition of the city. Creativity has been bolstered in recent years by the popularity of art colleges in Manchester such as Man Met and City College. With this continuing art tradition is the new generation of Manchester trained artist who are being exhibited at the Cornerhouse this autumn. It is the work of The Bloomberg New Contemporaries who for the last 60 years have exhibited young and emerging artists at the the start of their careers giving them the opportunity to have their work shown for the first time.

The Cornerhouse houses art, cinema, bookshops and a restaurant so after manoeuvring several flights of stairs I was directed towards a light, open space which formed their 3rd floor gallery. This year, the gallery is exhibiting 47 artists. As I entered the gallery, a series of prints by Konrad Pustola caught my eye. 'Dark Rooms' is a series of domestic scenes using saturated colour thereby creating a melancholy, sombre, haunting mood. Continuing the focus on domestic scenes was Freya Wright's oil studies which as the artist explains were based on cinematography stills as she attempts to address how we interpret film. The studies depicted empty 1950's living rooms and housewives during moments of loneliness with titles such as 'Afterwards I find something to hang on to'. The most striking work was by Christopher Thomas and Kristal Raesaar with their series of urban photographs which question the truth in photography. The photos were of policemen and pedestrians taken simultaneously from different angles which leaves intepretation open to the observer. The last piece of work I viewed was by filmmaker Rachel Maclean whose piece 'Tae Think Again' was created to rethink her native Scotland's heritage. The film was like a modern day David Bowie video with digital colouring. The stills above and below can only go so far to convey what an extraordinary visual feast Maclean's work was.

This gallery was fresh, current and frankly made me excited about art in the city. The Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition runs until the 25th October and is a must see.

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