Madchester part 1

April 1, 2013

As mentioned yesterday, Saturday was spent travelling with my friend Filipa. We hopped on a train and 2 hours later we arrived in the North, in the lovely city of Manchester. I have been there a couple of times before ( see the posts here, here  and here) but it was the first time for Filipa. My original plan was to see the Morrissey and the Smiths photography exhibition by Kevin Cummins and go to the Manchester Art Gallery, walk around and do a little shopping if time permitted. Fortunately everything went according to plan and we had a nice day out (no rain, can you believe it?) even if tiring, but we did everything we set off to do. Great success! As I took many photos I decided I should break the day’s events in 2, so today I am showing the arty bit and on Wednesday I’ll publish the details that have caught my eye while walking around the streets as well as the Smiths exhibition.

We started the tour at the Manchester Art Gallery and had a few pleasant surprises.

The first surprise was on the Manchester gallery area of the museum, the exhibition Dreams Without Frontiers- a few pieces inspired by the idea that the music makes the mythology of the place. There are so many good bands that come from Manchester and made it known to the world, it becomes part of everyone’s cultural landscape. I thought this was a most interesting concept to be explored.

I made a little vid of the video installation The Smithsons by Cyprien Guilliard (2005). I love this song (possibly the most melancholic of the Smiths repertoire) and it made the images that go along with it feel so desolate and sad… It is also interesting to point out that none of those images were filmed around Manchester, in fact they are from the Palissades, the Bronx, etc, all around New York. Manchester becomes a cultural state of mind rather than just a physical place.

Mixed media installation by Kelley Walker.

Another great surprise was the exhibition by artist Raqib Shaw. I had never seen his work before but I was immediately smitten! Working in two and three dimensions, his work was the revelation of the day. I have taken a few photos but I’m afraid these do not convey how beautiful his pieces are in real life- some of the detailing is made with crystals and unfortunately the camera doesn’t capture all the sparkle in the same way our eyes do.

This image is Raqib’s mirror of this:

Some details of this painting, that really amused me – the picnic basket and the female monkey with nipple tassels just killed me!

 It was good fun going through the galleries and spotting some of his pieces hiding and mixed in with the more traditional pieces from the museum. In the end there was a whole floor dedicated to his more monumental pieces and I took loads of photos! 

Raqib Shaw is a Kashmiri artist who now lives and works in London. I find the influence of Asian culture quite evident – the colours, some of the themes (the monkeys in outfits), the use of gold and glitter. It kind of reminded be of this Indian panel I had at home with a very colourful depiction of Ganesh, with gold beaded accents. His work is also violent and kinky – some of the monkeys in his paintings are quite cheeky! Just look at the images and you will see, no need to explain. 😉 Regardless of this, it also feels like he has a big sense of humour and I couldn’t help myself from grinning like an idiot while going from piece to piece.

Some close ups for detail- you can see clearly on this one the sparkly crystals and the gold detailing which is drawn using a porcupine quill.

I took a few more photos but as this post is getting long, you can peek here here here here here and here if you fancy taking a look at them.

We also saw a couple more things in the museum- their collection is pretty much the same but they keep adding different points of interest and sometimes change things around so although this museum isn’t one of the biggest I’ve ever seen and I’d been there twice already, there is always something different to look at. An example of this were the tags that had been added next to some of the pieces, advising the visitor to the fact that some of the glasses on paintings had been smashed by suffragettes as an act of protest in April 1913.

Top image: Emmeline Pankhurst, a suffragette and women’s rights leader at the time, bottom, some of the political paraphernalia of the group.

Some of my favourites pieces in this museum are the Pre Raphaelites, they have a fairly decent collection and some very good quality pieces. Names like Millais, Rossetti, Waterhouse and some more can be found there. I don’t know about you but I always find their languid portraits of women, with so much attention to detail and rich colours very fascinating.


Autumn Leaves by Millais. Such vibrant colours!

Ophelia by Arthur Hughes

Detail of Derby Day, a fine example of the Victorian era’s romantic fascination with an idealized every day man.

Detail of the gallery wall.

Admiring the naked ladies.


A vase by artist Grayson Perry. The other side can be seen here.

Another thing I like to look at in old paintings is the details on the costumes, it is very inspiring. The way the fabrics and textures are depicted can be extremely satisfying to look at.

A dress made of nails. Who volunteers to try it on?

View from the window.

Kitteh 😀

This one was very cool – a mouth camera! Basically the film was inside the artist’s mouth, who used the lips as the shutter. The photograph has a red tone because there’s always light that goes through the skin.

This mirror is all faboulousness. I want to have it at home.

On the revolving kaleidoscope, wearing lots of stripes.

 Aaaaand that’s it (for now). Next post will be the second and last part of the day with all the other nice and interesting things I stumbled upon. I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know if you think this is too long. I am trying to make the blog as pleasant for my readers as possible. xx

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  • Reply Lord Bassington-Bassington April 1, 2013 at 17:05

    What a lovely report! Perhaps we could tempt you to come to Manchester with us?

  • Reply Helga April 2, 2013 at 00:12

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY, you’re back!!!
    O, my, there is so much beauty and amazingness in this post!
    I’m especially taken with the nail dress, the paintings and those lovely, lovely tiles!
    I am totally putting a trip to Manchester on the agenda for when we make it over!

  • Reply Andrea Deal April 4, 2013 at 14:33

    Raqib Shaw is amazing!!! I would love to see his work in the flesh! Looks like such a great day!

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