After six days of continuous rain, we are becoming, according to OH, like “caged tigers”. To dispel the gloom I suggest a couple of possible adventures. I am surprised when OH turns down a scenic tour of Hyde and Dukinfield in the drizzle and opts for the alternative proposition of a visit to Manchester’s University Art Gallery , The Whitworth. Why is it that if you are in a major foreign city for a weekend you feel that you must visit all the galleries but in your home town it can take 58 years to get round to them? Another reason for the visit is a sneak look at the cafe which a fellow local blogger on Urbanspoon has recently postively reviewed. I am not stalking you, Hoss, honest. It wouldn’t seem right to stalk a horse would it?
The gallery has an important collection with works by Constable, Gainsborough and Turner as well as fine groups of Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian watercolours by Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Lear, Rossetti, Millais and Ruskin make the Whitworth’s watercolour collection one of the most outstanding in the country.
When we arrive, we note that the bulk of the Gallery is given over to an exhibition named “Dark Matters” subtitled Shadow_Technology_Art. Initially we feel a bit put out, we don’t want this modern posey nonsense, we want the classic representative art by well known names, like the web site says. We persevere though and our open minded attitude is rewarded by some quite remarkable and thought provoking art. Several installations (I admit to despising that term normally) that took the eye in more ways than one are detailed below. The great thing about the t’internet is that experiences like this can be made available online. Like anything however, the reality was much more impressive:
The first one that stopped us in our tracks was a work called Peg Mirror by an artist called Daniel Rozin, this looked initially like a set of wooden dowels set in a circle on a wall, until you approached it:
The next work, in an adjoining room was entitled The Veil created especially for the Gallery and this exhibition by Korean artist, Ja-Young Ku. This piece explored the relationship between the real and the illusory through the use of video, projection, sculpture and performance. Part sculpture, part film, part theatre – it was difficult to separate where one discipline started and another began.
We passed on into a darkened room where a strange film was playing in a loop, this was Kiss by Luke DuBois. In 4 minutes, we are shown around 50 iconic and famous kisses from cinema in an entirely novel way. The film clips had been basically “tampered with”, manipulated and reworked so that all the salient aspects of the images are reduced to single points of light, connected by further lines of white light like diagrams of constellations or very complex atomic structures. Even with a running length of only 4 minutes, your attention drops in and out whilst others in the darked room keep up a recognition commentary of who the kissers are and from what film. Verbal description is inadequate though, just watch and do it in full screen:
The fourth and most impresive installation was by three artists who collectively are known as Brass Art. A large darkened room had been set aside and the walls and ceiling covered with projection screens. A circular table of around 6 feet in diameter had been set up and covered with a collection of figures, polythene landscapes, abstract sculptures and organic forms all of which were exhibiting some level of transparency or translucency. A single spotlight circled the table, like a moon orbiting the earth, casting the most extraordinary shadows on all the walls and ceiling. These shadowy images changed constantly and no two moments ever seemed the same. A weird monochrome dream entitled, more than a little ironically, Still Life Number One. Despite my earlier claim that the internet allows you to share such experiences, in this case, it just isn’t possible. Here is a reference to the work but the small image at the top of the page doesn’t really begin to show the reality.
After a brief look at the more traditional images selected to fit with the shadow and light theme, we repaired to the cafe to enjoy cakes and the finest wines available to humanity…or at least tea and coffee. This cafe has received many awards and if the Chocolate Banana cheesecake and the Chocolate brownie were anything to go by, that’s no surprise. For a fuller report on this hidden gem, read this blog entry here by Hungry Hoss.