Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Manchester Art Gallery

Testicle removal, glitter, woman's suffrage, crayfish attacking birds; Perhaps not what immediately springs to mind when one considers visiting an art gallery built in 1824, but these were just some of the pieces on display when Pip and I visited the Manchester Art Gallery.

I'd heard that Manchester's art gallery was fantastic but I wasn't sure if fantastic was a scaled down description in order to keep expectations to an exceed-able level. I am not an 'art for arts sake' kind of guy and I won't pretend to enjoy or understand something if I do not.

Luckily for Pip and I, the Manchester Art Gallery exceeded all expectations. The galleries are very well laid out, as you sweep through the rooms which showcase different eras of paintings with a scattering of sculptures, photography and artefacts. Raqib Shaw had an exhibition on and while the 'exhibition gallery' held most of his work, they had done a fantastic job letting it spill through the rest of the gallery without being intrusive. Vines weaved and flowered throughout the entrance, and a few self-harming mini sculptures perched unsettlingly, staring down from various vantage points across the main hall. Shaw's work was also present in some of the older galleries with his dark and grotesque versions of a few mainstay paintings hanging menacingly across from their inspired originals.

Aside from Shaw, the collection of incredible art from throughout the ages was very impressive. Pip and I have been to the European masters exhibition when it visited New Zealand, which contained works from all the big name artists, plus we've visited a few other famous galleries through Europe. While we certainly are not art experts, this gallery in our opinion stands up on it's own against any London, French or touring German offering.

I must also mention how well art from the local Manchester/Salford area was incorporated throughout the gallery. Never out of place, these pieces from L.S Lowry and various other local artists gave the gallery a grounding to it's location and demonstrated how deserving of this building Manchester is.

It's place in history was also evident outside of just the art with reminders next to various pieces that in April 1913, three ordinary Edwardian woman turned vigilante, surprised the guards at the Manchester Art Gallery and smashed a few of the frames throughout the building. This is just another layer to a rather brilliant cultural experience in Manchester.

The entrance hall housed a scattering of these little creatures.

This is my pick of the gallery. 'The Chariot Race' About 1882.

Pip with some Lowry's.

'Claude Duval' painted in 1859. This painting reminded me of a scene from 'A tale of two cities'.

I took this photo through one of the gallery windows. I love how the dirty window
gives the shot an almost 'painted' look.

An old painting of Albert Square in Manchester. I absolutely love this one.

In the Raqib Shaw gallery.

More Riqib Shaw.