Manchester Art Scene

Manchester’s art scene has had a long and varied past and is often overlooked within the tapestry of the city. But it is one of several things that make this city so great, from matchstick dogs and matchstick men to renaissance style street photographer Manchester is a utopia of individualistic art talent.

The art scene in Manchester is truly ready for a change. After the success in 2015 of the Buy Art Show, the Craft Fair 2016 will see a new dawn of creativity in England’s second city.

One of the new crowning jewels in Manchester’s skyline and the northern art world is the new 8m art space set to be opened in the city’s centre called Neo. The collaborative workspace will display new media artworks and a regularly changing exhibition welcoming artists, established and up and coming, to submit their work.

Championed by Bruntwood Property firm, a family-owned Manchester based company, who have a long history of supporting the arts including The Bruntwood Prize For Playwriting and donating 10 percent of their profits to cultural initiatives.

Neo will be in good company with up and coming art space comfortingly named Home has started to make a name for itself by hosting a multitude of mix media art projects. Including the Al & Al: Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse curated by Bren O’Callaghan and Sarah Perks a cosmic travelogue in the artist’s own words features multi-verse theory works from a variety of sources of both fact and fiction.

Another landscape defining production is the up and coming exhibition, Imitation Game. A show partially inspired by the long industrial past of the North bringing together eight artists of International backgrounds in a deep exploration of machinery and the robotic imitation of life.

One of the most promising artists celebrated in this exhibition is Yu-Chen Wang, Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry’s artist in residence. The London based artist originally from Taiwan whose work has been internationally shown will exhibit her new work between the middle of February and the start of June. Inspired by science fiction, the future of technology and the human qualities surrounding machinery.

Manchester definitely uses its industrial past and legacy to influence the creative in the present. A history that includes a great many artists from a variety of mediums including Norman Foster the celebrated architect and mastermind behind such buildings as the ITN Headquarters and the Hong Kong and Shanghai design tower.

But Manchester Art School Graduate Emma Coxhead had the brainwave last year to focus her art and current events, more importantly the more positive current events. And thus the ‘Happy Newspaper’ was born, a look at all that’s good in the world. The newspaper forgoes the doom and gloom articles and embarrassing shots of celebrities instead the paper is adorned with the cheerful and cute illustrations of Emma Coxhead’s designs.

But if you’re looking for something a little bit for historical then the Tibor Reich retrospective at the Whitworth Gallery might be more up your street. The Jewish textile artist of British and Hungarian descent lived through World War Two to become one of the most influential textile makers in the twenty first century. The retrospective looks at his life between his time studying textiles at Leeds University to his business of Tibor Ltd and all its success.

The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is celebrating 30 years in the city with a graffiti and street art exhibition exploring graffiti and street art. Rarekind China Agency (February 5 – March 27) sees artists from China and the UK collaborating and responding to CCCA’s history and the international context of street art – creating original new work along the way.

Looking further into the future, a landmark monument to the art space The Factory will be designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA who has defeated a high-profile shortlist, which included Zaha Hadid and Rafael Viñoly, to win the contest for Manchester’s new £110 million flexible art space. The Factory named after the notorious Manchester legacy of the Factory Records the art space is looking to bring the music back to Manchester. In the old Granada Studios the art space set to be built in the next four years will be a beacon for all mediums of art in the North and will host 7,000 people and will be the place for the Manchester International Festival.

So 2016 is set to be an absolute turning point in the city’s ingenious lifeblood hopefully current artists will inspire a new generation of Mancunian creatives and by the time The Factory erected it will be filled with home grown talent.

By Katie Beech   -   03-02-2016

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