Crazy fun at the Joana Vasconcelos sculpture show in Manchester

I was both intrigued and excited to go see the latest show at the Manchester Art Gallery by Portuguese artist, Joana Vasconcelos. From all the pre-show publicity and little snippets of photos from previous shows I could see that her work would be an explosion of colour, humour combined with textile ferocity. What I didn't expect was the sheer size of her sculptures and installations, dotted around the entire art gallery ensuring that you fully explored every floor in the large building.

'Time Machine' features over 20 of the artist's most significant sculptures, of which many are newly created for the show. My particular favourites are 'War Games', an old 1960's Morris Oxford decorated with toy rifles but inside it is filled with an array of cuddly toys, some squeaking and moving completely unaware at the comical fake guns aimed directly at them. The main aim being one of creating an uneasy tension of child's play and between life and death.

'Lilicoptere' by Joana Vasconcelos at Manchester Art Galley
'Lilicoptere' is Vasconcelos's vision of what Marie Antoinette would be travelling in if she were alive today. A Bell 47 helicopter is adorned with pink ostrich feathers, Swarovski crystals and gold leaf. A complete contradiction of part-bird, part-machine, its definitely old-world luxury and a reminder of man's early dream of flying. She is also suggesting the future possibility of time travel and in this crazy-esque version of you can even start to agree with her! I personally would love to fly one of these gorgeous little helicopters haha if only they would work in real life!

There is lots to see including a couple of playful 'framed' textile paintings called 'Big Booby' and 'True Faith'... very up my street for fun and quirkiness. And yes, there is a lot of crochet dotted around but its not in a old granny, frumpy type of way, its in a massive, shove it in your face, grandiose, luxurious even... and its a very heart warming, comfortable style bridging the gap between some of those quite cold, impersonal artworks.

'True Faith' by Joana Vasconcelos at Manchester Art Galley

The Manchester Art Gallery has a first on their hands as its a great exhibition to be able to wander around and actually enjoy her crazy twists and fun turns on classic sculpture, paintings and decorative objects including ceramics.

You can visit their website at

... its well worth going to see for a bit of fun and imagination! I won't even mention the three robotic steam iron sculptures depicting opening and closing flowers... science fiction galore, mesmerising!


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