Published: MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL, 15th January 2009
2009 may be looking like a rather dim year, with the economic crisis engulfing businesses like I eat chocolate. My suggested remedy to the tightening of purse strings, unsurprisingly, is to seek out some art exhibitions – they are free after all.
Art is good for the soul. To aid my point I have thoughtfully Googled some suitable quotes: Tony Blair stated that, "Dynamism in arts and culture, therefore, creates dynamism in society." Not only this, but the medical profession agrees too – the BBC caught University College Hospital chief nurse supporting their, quite expensive, art collection because, “A healing environment is crucial to a positive patient experience”. So there you have it: art is socially dynamic, positive medication with a decided lack of uncomfortable side effects (unless you decide to purchase some, that is). Whoopee, time for a healthy injection of the forthcoming Manchester art scene…
Manchester Art Gallery begins their 2009 programme with a golden and glittery firework bang. Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, opening in February, will showcase some of the world’s most important da Vinci drawings and thus promises to be a sure success. The famous renaissance mathematician, inventor, writer, architect and painter, (quite an impressive CV one might say) produces drawings with subtle strokes, great anatomical knowledge and a wealth of feeling.
Manchester Art Gallery will also be showcasing work from British artist Paul Morrison, whose highly stylized, composite landscapes will include a new black and white, site-specific wall painting specially commissioned by the gallery. The first major exhibition of twentieth-century female surrealism: Angels of Anarchy will be shown here later in the year.
Another show being whispered about is Urbis’s State of the Art: New York, which brings new and commissioned work from emerging New York artists to town in April. While Gallery Oldham’s The Art of Japan in February will display some particularly beautiful works by the great Japanese potter Shoji Hamada and a wealth of prints and decorative art objects, collected by Blackburn cotton magnate Thomas Boys Lewis.
The Whitworth continues its endless wallpaper displays and retrospective of Walter Crane, which if you haven’t seen is definitely worth a visit. Before revealing, rather exciting this, Subversive Spaces: Surrealism and Contemporary Art. A show that promises the surrealist greats Salvador Dali and René Magritte, alongside dark rooms and disturbing installations by internationally acclaimed German artist Gregor Schneider.
Cornerhouse gets all evolutionary on us with Interspecies, an exhibition organised by the Arts Catalyst on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and concerned with the human species' superiority over other animals.
Meanwhile the Manchester Museum will be orchestrating their rather bizarre ‘hermit’ artist in February, when a chosen artist will permanently reside within the museum and create work that responds to the collections, the environment and questions of sustainability. The results of which are sure to be intriguing.
The Chinese Arts Centre showcases work by Eric Fong in Seeing Beyond until 5 April. His work explores the experiences of health and the body alongside different medical approaches, while Manuel Saiz addresses the identity of the artist and their interaction with the audience in Private Party. Keep Out at Castlefield Gallery from February. Not forgetting our new found favourite, the Artland Gallery, which has an exhibition of war photography from Iraq at the end of January.
Phew, 2009 is set to be an art-saturated year in Manchester, and if all this doesn’t manage to cure financial tension, do pop down to Manchester Art Gallery on 28 March for a special 'stress-less’ day of free activities for the family. With classical music performances, workshops, creative activities and 'tranquillity art tours', I'm sure the University College Hospital would approve.
PDF: Art Roundup 2009, Manchester Confidential, 15th January 2009