Whenever I go to Manchester I try to call in at the Art gallery, especially if there is a new exhibition on. Unfortunately, like many galleries, because of cut backs these don't tend to change as often as they used to.
The present exhibition by mother and daughter Caroline Broadhead and Maisie Broadhead is one that I hadn't seen before.
"The exhibition presents new works in response to historic paintings of women by famous male artists who are represented in Manchester Art Gallery’s collections, including Lord Frederic Leighton and John William Waterhouse.
The artists interrogate how the pictorial conventions of historic paintings and their elaborate frames affect our perceptions of the women depicted. By blurring, transgressing and stretching the frames and edges of images, the artists disrupt the relationship between the picture and its surrounding. These interventions raise questions about how the women have been represented and create dialogues between the past and the present."
Maisie uses Digital photography to reference historical paintings and distorts the frames hoping to raise questions about how the women have been represented and create dialogues between the past and the present. The use of these misshapen frames certainly makes the exhibition unique, but begs the question, 'Is this just a gimmick?' This obviously is up to the viewer to interpret for themselves.
In some cases the melting effect of the frame works well and helps the intended interpretation but in others I feel the photograph stands well enough on its own and the frame can distract from this. I liked the pictures best that show a modern interpretation of the historic paintings; others looked very similar to the original era depicted.
However, nowadays, with the difficulty of being accepted by galleries, if one takes a more cynical view, and considered this unusual way of framing to be more of a contrivance to catch the attention of galleries, I wondered if more artists would re visit their own framing techniques!
Caroline uses, "beadwork and found objects to make enigmatic three-dimensional objects which investigate physical and psychological aspects of the paintings."
It was harder to see how some of these related to the historic paintings although the beaded portrait was impressive and must have taken a great deal of time.
I thought that it would be interesting to see this style as an original portrait rather than a copy of an existing piece.
The photographs were impressive and I could have easily believed that they were painted by the Pre Raphaelites. The 3D work was interesting and worth seeing, as is much of the work in the gallery.
Another worthwhile and thought provoking visit.