I was pleased to have my digital drawing accepted for the first Manchester Open art exhibition at Home. In the 80's I had work accepted in the Manchester Academy exhibitions at Manchester Art Gallery , but these exhibitions were ended when the gallery was refurbished. Since then, it has been a shame that there has been no open exhibitions in Manchester.
The fact that there were over two thousand entries, by over a thousand Greater Manchester artists, shows that this type of exhibition has been sorely missed. Just over five hundred works were selected and most were displayed in the large gallery, on the ground floor, with a few of the larger pieces shown on the upper levels.
Arriving early, we decided to eat in the HOME restaurant before the opening at six pm. This proved to be a good idea because the queues eventually stretched around the inside and outside of the building; again showing how popular this event was with the public.
Fortunately, we only had to wait about fifteen minutes before we were allowed in and this gave me time to collect my certificate and a sticker to show I was an accepted artist.
On entering, we had a brief look around before finding my picture, which was situated on the far left wall. Although understandable, due to the large number of exhibits, it was a shame to see how crowded the walls were. There were even gallery helpers guarding floor exhibits, which were displayed in walkways around the gallery!
After posing beside my picture, we moved on to see the rest of the artwork. Every time we looked round, we saw new pieces to interest us.
It was interesting to see the range of artwork, including a full range of figurative and abstract pieces. Notably, on first impression, there were very few landscape paintings. Exhibitions tend to reflect the themes that are popular, as well as the thoughts of the selectors and it appears that this traditional genre is either not highly thought of, as in previous years or maybe I'm being too cynical and it was simply because not many were entered.
I recently read an article by someone who believed that traditional painters of landscapes are the new rebels of the artworld, where unmade beds and pickled sheep are held in high regard. I never really saw myself as a rebel but, hey, I can live with that!
As with all exhibitions I see of this type, some work appealed more than others but as the saying goes; 'There is something for everyone.'
We look forward to going back, when it is less crowded, for another viewing.
Also, I would like to applaud HOME for bringing back an open exhibition for Artists from the Greater Manchester area. Thank you.
I enjoy reading detective novels and recently returned to an author I had read a few years ago, Malcolm Hollingdrake. I had forgotten how he includes artwork and artists in his books. One of the detectives collects paintings mainly from the Northern school of artists. I didn't realise that he either owns or has owned the works he writes about and at the end of each book he features an artist. In one book "Dying Art" the main theme is that of art forgery, and as well as being an interesting story there are many fascinating facts about this practice.
Some of the artists, who specialise in mainly depicting the northern industrial landscape, mentioned in the books include James Lawrence Isherwood, Mary Feddon, Theodore Major, Harold Riley, John Coen, Norman Cornish and of course L.S. Lowry.
I have always been interested in this school of artists and in the late 70's and 80's I was lucky enough to exhibit alongside a couple of them. I was also fortunate to have a full exhibition of my work in an adjacent gallery to an exhibition by the late, great L.S Lowry.
In 1989, Peter Davies wrote a book about this school of art. I was invited to
the launch of the book, which took place at Blackpool Art Gallery. Many of the artists mentioned attended and an exhibition of their work was also opened. Looking back, I wish that I had asked more of them to sign my book, which by the way I have put in a safe place (if only I could remember where), as some copies are selling for up to £200 each.
Like many things that go in a cycle, this style of painting has again become popular in certain areas, with several Cheshire galleries specialising in it. In 2015, Peter published an updated version of the book called " A Northern School Revisited" acknowledging recent artists such as Liam Spencer, Bob Richardson and John Thompson.
It is a shame that there is no northern gallery with a permanent collection of these artworks on show or that a touring exhibition couldn't be organised. The recent film #MrsLowryAndSon shows that there is a great interest in this style and The Lowry Art Gallery in Salford, would be an ideal place for at least an exhibition; possibly in conjunction with Salford Art Gallery. I for one hope that in the near future someone takes the initiative to make this happen.