Vibrant Manchester buzzes with exciting art at The Contemporary 2017

Having had no laptop for almost a month means this blog post is a little lagging behind so its a great blog to write as it reminds me of the diverse and exciting art I saw at the recent Manchester Contemporary.

Taking place at a different venue this year, Manchester Central is another large imposing building for this now regular art event.

Once more there was an eclectic variety of independent galleries showing art by a mixed set of emerging to established artists. As the largest contemporary art fair outside of London there is an abundance of Northern based galleries and I find there's always a looser, fun, perhaps more brazen approach to gallery stands here at the Contemporary.

With no overall divide between the Buy Art Fair and Manchester Contemporary it meant there was a fluid, relaxed flow of visitors whereas in previous years there's been a fixed divide often separating people from access to a dynamic arena of art. Educating people about contemporary art is often a huge barrier to their experience so this was a positive change in my eyes, and one where the average visitor wouldn't even necessarily perceive an immediate difference.

There was a distinctive curatorial diversity from one stand to the next and considering the small amount of space most galleries have to play with - and the number of artists they're showcasing, it was great to see an abundance of stand-out artwork that wasn't necessarily limited to size or scale. Taking Manchester's Castlefield Gallery who had a fun, unconventional showcase featuring ceramicist Lindsey Mendick. Her installation set 'Must Try Harder' of a fireplace adorned with everyday domestic objects was one of colour, kitsch, pattern and bad taste, which Lindsey herself often refers to as a delusion of grandeur.

'Must Try Harder' (left) at Castlefield Gallery

Also featured at Goldtapped, Lindsey's three gorgeously fun and crazy ceramic paintings titled 'Proverb' would look amazing on my living room wall. Whereas Juliet Fleming's 'Large Digital Clitoris' would make a fantastic neck pillow to lie on ignoring any references that its vulgar in any way - just extremely comfy and very bloody entertaining!

Juliet Fleming at Goldtapped!

My love of ceramics continued with Aliyah Hussain's offering at Islington Mill. Her rounded, curved and vibrantly coloured ceramic abstractions mounted on the stand wall caught my eye with their lively conceptions. Sitting nearby was one of the few remaining relief prints by Maurice Carlin as part of their fundraising project Temporary Custodians', Islington Mill are still fundraising to secure much-needed money for building renovations.

Aliyah Hussain (back wall) at Islington Mill

At Saul Hay Gallery Mike Chavez-Dawson's specially created installation piece sat alongside another mesmerising painting by Susan Gunn. Two contemporary painters, Jenny Eden and Francesca Neal, represented at the Manchester School of Art both caught my eye for their diverse and colourful use of layering, use of light, composition and playful marks.

Jennifer O'Neill's 'Millenni-Med' was a fantastically bright medicine cabinet of potions and cures ready to fix every mental and emotional quandary that social media and the digital age we live in has burdened us with. Highlighting the blurred boundaries between medicine and consumerism, it's a funny, amusing contemporary favourite of mine.

Vane Gallery

A draped silkscreen painting by Phil Root at Labrador Gallery was both abstract and symbolic, yet extremely decorative. Utilising another alternative format, Emily Musgrave's glass sculpture showed another example of material abstraction and I appreciated the distinctive uniqueness in her use of paint, inks and tints within the glass form.

David Rickard's alchemy inhabits the very physical iron-ore like paintings on display. Opposite to the illustrative artwork by Paolo Ciarska whose fantastic and humorous reflections from popular culture reflect on what society is like which make you smile just looking at them.

Hopefully from this account you can see that I'm right about the massive variety of art being showcased and an absolute cracker... lets bring on next year's incarnation!

Susan Gunn (back wall) and Mike Chavez-Dawson (glass installation) at Saul Hay

Maurice Carlin at Islington Mill

Lindsey Mendick (back wall) at Goldtapped

Paolo Ciarska at Goldtapped

Sharon Leahy-Clarke at Paper Gallery

Phil Root (centre)

Emily Musgrave

David Rickard

Syson Gallery

The Manchester Contemporary & Buy Art Fair
Manchester Central
Fri 27th to Sun 29th October 2017

Please take note that your art may flourish from reading this blog :)


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