Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Making the Cut

This weekend I had promised myself I would write a proper post. By this I mean one about work. I had been thinking of investigating the capabilities of the 3D printers currently being used in America or catching up with the government e-lending and e-book review. I just knew that I wanted to do something a little less frivolous than my recent posts. 

This went out the window thanks to Facebook and it's sponsored ads. Now, I'm not normally a fan of these ads, they rarely interest me. But on Wednesday Facebook presented me with one which I not only found interesting but which I would have been willing to travel across the country to see. 

This was ad was for The First Cut at Manchester Art Gallery, a new show that will run between 5th October and 27th January. The reason it excited me was because it's about artists who use paper, and more specifically, a number who recreate, reuse and recycle books. 

On Saturday there were a number of artist talks planned so I rushed down after my hockey match and managed to make it for the last 4. I haven't been to an artists talk for years and I have to admit I cringed slightly when a eager art student (with obligatory oversized sketchbook) piped up to compare her own work when asked of there were any questions for the exhibitor. However it was nice to feel part of the art scene again and to learn a bit about the process and methods employed by the artists. 

I don't want to repeat what they said, suffice to say most of them were genuinely passionate about their work, if maybe a little tired from the stresses of installing over the previous few days. I've tried to sum up in a few words how the works came across below:

Andreas Kocks (Paperwork) : epic, meticulous, depth, raven.

Andrea Mastrovito (Exodus:8:13) : floral, layers, humor, bright.

Mia Pearlman (Roil) : storm, deconstructed, spontaneous, strokes.

Nicola Dale (Sequel) : dry, dead, unloved, reloved.

I also saw work from Sue Blackwell, Noriko Ambe, and Claire Brewster and will be going back to spend more time exploring the works that I missed. I especially want to spend some time in Manabu Hangal's Wonder Forest without the crowds of small children running about. Don't get me wrong, I love that the exhibition excites children, nothing is better for art than that. However there is something about the suspended forest that calls for contemplation rather than shrieking!
I didn't like all the work. As a librarian I found Nicola Dale's talk of 'the death of books' a bit twee and I'm not completely sure Mia Pearlman's work translated successfully from it's normal room sized scale. However I did love the way the curators placed additional pieces throughout the main galleries, matching paper dresses, feathers, butterflies and skeletons with epic sea scapes from Turner and the grand neoclassical entrance. If you're visiting the exhibition it's worth doing the rounds of the other galleries to see these additions.

The overarching theme I took from the exhibition was how vital appropriate scale is to the success of a peice of work. Whether it was the tiny work of Peter Callesan or the room sized creation of Andreas Kocks the size seemed to either draw you in or overwhelm. Both these artists made a huge impression on me although their work is vastly different in both scale and concept.

The First Cut is worth a visit if you have anything more than a passing interest in art, books or craft. There are a number of events planned including workshops, family events and a series of additional artists talks. There is also additional work at The Gallery of Costume in Platt Fields Park. I certainly found it interesting, beautiful and inspiring in equal measure.

 So I supose I should say thanks to Facebook. Although I'm sure I would have stumbled across The First Cut eventually I wouldn't had made those first weekend talks if it hadn't been for the adverts. Although it pains me to say it Facebook actually got it right this time.

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