HOME announces award winning artists from the 2022 Manchester Open Exhibition

Having visited this year’s Manchester Open Exhibition and seen for myself the breadth of artistic talent on display, I can only imagine what a difficult job it would have been. But someone had to do it!

The judging has taken place and last night, HOME announced the 5 winners of the Manchester Open Awards 2022!

Read more about the exhibition here: Preview: Mcr Open Exhibition 2022

HOME shared the tricky task of selecting this year’s award winners with Castlefield Gallery, choosing from a shortlist of 20 artists.

10,000 pounds of prize funding is being distributed to local creative talent with prizes including tailored artist development packages managed by Castlefield Gallery and HOME to help guide and invest in their practice, a solo show at HOME’s Granada Foundation Gallery and The People’s Choice Award

The nominated artists were broken down into five award categories.

But enough of this intro , build-up and tension!

The awards and winners are as follows:

• Granada Foundation Gallery Award – Gwen Evans, Portrait of a Woman, Oil, acrylic and airbrush on board (Gallery No.435)

• Castlefield Gallery: Artist Professional Development Award 1 -Gherdai Hassell, Solar, Mixed media collage archival print(Gallery no.409)

• Castlefield Gallery: Artist Professional Development Award 2 – Annabelle Richmond-Wright, Alexa, deconstructed computer chair, hand-stitched foam, latex and found object high heels.(Gallery No. 469)

• Castlefield Gallery: Artist Professional Development Award – 50+ – Nan Collantine, Oceans Apart no.22 (I think it’s going to rain today), Oil paint and oil bar on canvas (Gallery No.62)

And the final award, The People’s Choice Award was voted by the public and will receive £250 Cass art voucher and a bespoke development opportunity to be agreed with artist: Winner Luke Armstrong, Paper Samurai, paper sculpture (Gallery No. 458)

Runners up for The People’s Choice Award are: 2nd place – Michelle Topping, Evade, graphite and colouring pencil on paper, 3rd place – Carlos Feng, Isolation, acrylic on canvas, 4th place – Jen Orpin, Stand Your Ground, oil painting on canvas and 5th place – Arnold Pollock, Kam, film.

Congratulations to all!

Helen Wewiora, Director and Artistic Director, Castlefield Gallery, says:

It’s an honour to have been asked to be part of the Manchester Open judging panel again. Submissions for the 2022 exhibition evidence the wealth of artistic and creative talent in the city and city region. The finalists shortlisted for the Manchester Open Awards this year further demonstrate a high level of creative skills and artistic promise.

In the first five weeks, HOME’s award-winning exhibition has generated over £23,000 in art sales with 93 artworks sold, exceeding the inaugural exhibition’s target of £22,000 in 2020.

Kate Royle, Marketing and Sales Officer – Visual Art and Theatre, says:

It proves that there is demand to support Manchester’s diverse local artists. The Manchester Open also serves as an accessible entry point if you are starting your art collecting journey or you just want to snap up a great work of art. It’s fantastic to see so many artists supporting other artists in these purchases and art lovers supporting local artists!

Your last chance to deflect fomo and visit the Manchester Open Exhibition to see not only the award-winning works but all those other fantastic pieces, is swift approaching.

Closing Sunday 27 March, what are you waiting for? Of you go!

For full details, including tickets, visit https://homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open-exhibition-2022/

Film review: Caravaggio, part of the Derek Jarman retrospective, Jarman at HOME

Before we start, HOME is one of my favourite spaces in Manchester. I just wanted to say that. I haven’t professed any feelings for the place itself in quite a while, given the frequency I visit. I don’t take it for granted, especially given the recent enforced absence (I’m over using the C word).

So no, I don’t take it for granted but heading into the building yesterday just before 6pm, leaving again just after 8pm, it was a hive, a sheer hive, people, of activity.

People heading in and out of the Manchester Open Exhibition, heading upto the theatres and cinemas, eating, drinking and laptopping in the ground bar/ the upstairs restaurant, some browsing in the shops (they’ve got Ian Curtis greeting cards in there at the moment), chatting to greeters at the welcome desk, standing in line at the box office.

It’s just…life, people enjoying it and squeezing every last cultural drop out of it, courtesy of HOME. So a little late according to the February love calendar, but I heart you HOME.

And so as part of a collaboration with Manchester Art Gallery and their Protest! exhibition, HOME is currently in the midst of a Derek Jarman retrospective. The set designer, author, filmmaker and actual gardener…all in addition to being a pivotal figure in gay rights activism; a leading campaigner against Clause 28.

The screening movingly introduced by celebrated filmmaker, Francis Lee (God’s Own Country, Ammonite), Caravaggio was made in 1986 and stars a young Dexter Fletcher (a young Caravaggio), Nigel Terry (Caravaggio), Tilda Swinton (Lena) and I’m going to call him a national treasure because he JUST IS – Sean Bean (Ranuccio).

Born in 1942, 80 years ago, we lost Jarman in 1994 to an AIDS related illness. But as with every great artist, he lives on through his work.

The film follows takes us through the…fictional life (although there are, of course, factual details scattered throughout) of the 17th century Italian painter Michaelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio.

As perhaps dark and somewhat tormented as his paintings, the artist was a convicted criminal and, as depicted amidst a different narrative, indeed a murderer, having killed ‘friend’ Ranuccio in a sword fight.

The film itself is a painting with a pulse. Shot beautifully in faithful tribute to Caravaggio’s art in rich reds, dark shadows and a clever use of light to bring into focus, a serious of close-ups on faces, the expressions of which can tell a thousand words in a 5 second shot. Additionally we enjoy the steady, measured narrative of the older Caravaggio from his deathbed as he examines his life.

Indeed the almost ominously haunting timbre of Nigel Kelly’s voice along with the dark depictions on screen are reminiscent of those absolutely terrifying public information films of the 70s, in particular this little gem, Lonely Water, from 1973 (voiced by Donald Pleasance as the Grim Reaper):

https://youtu.be/xZWD2sDRESk

The film shows Caravaggio using friends, prostitutes, friendly prostitutes, to pose and create a vision which the artist committed to canvas. In fact our only source of his work being those paintings, the film reverses this process as we’re seeing them come to life.

As the young Caravaggio, Dexter Fletcher (giving me strong Jagger vibes), portrays a cocksure and literal street-wise attitude as a teenager both painting and prostituting himself to men for money. But in the close-ups a vulnerability comes screaming through.

Nigel Kelly gives a steady, thoughtful, brooding performance, the ferocious passion left to his paintings and occasional angry outburst to weary models who might dare to break position during long, weary, heavy, meticulous painting sessions long into the night.

His gentle, caring and paternal side is reserved for a deaf and mute companion, introduced as a young boy sold to the artist to assist him in his work. Indeed their relationship is touching, non-moreso as the young, but now grown man clings to him as Caravaggio’s literally takes his own rapidly dwindling life into his own hands.

The somewhat mutually beneficial relationship between Caravaggio and Michael Gough’s Cardinal Del Monte is, to use modern parlance, problematic. One on hand, supportive, perhaps again mutually exploitative, but given the relationship’s origins of young, vulnerable artist/adult high-standing church leader, the film isn’t shy to shine a light on the age old theme of religious hypocrisy and abuse (wherever on the scale this may come).

OK, we’ve waited long enough. Sean Bean (Shaun Baun) makes his film debut and as we don’t hear him speak for a fair few scenes, I wondered whether this is one performance where his glorious yorkshire accent is left unheard (side note, I don’t actually wish to reduce Sean Bean to a caricature – I have much admiration).

It is not.

Indeed as Dexter Fletcher before him delivers his lines in a captivating cockney accent, and various english accents and dialects are allowed to flourish, we are treated to Ranuccio/Bean delivering his lines in the way nature intended and what I enjoyed as a wonderful juxtaposition to his italian baroque aesthetic.

Speaking of which, the anachronistic elements of the cinematography slowly but surely start to creep in as the film progresses. To the point where the viewer (shh, me) is almost second-guessing everything they thought they knew. Did the tuxedo, the motorbike, electric lighting, trains, the calculator exist in 17th century Italy (or, of course, anywhere)? It’s clever and it’s symbolic of how biblical figures in Caravaggio’s paintings would collide with the aesthetics of the dress of modern day (then, of course) Italy.

Importantly, an overarching theme of the film is sexuality, and the erotic depictions of the male form. The suggested bisexuality of the artist is explored in highly charged and homoerotic scenes, as his gaze falls on bare-chested Ranuccio engaged in an organised bare-knuckle fight. But not exclusively.

His attention turns to Ranuccio’s girlfriend Lena (portrayed in an almost ethereal sense by the wonderful Tilda Swinton). What were the motivations?

The artist’s averted attention and passion in the film for Lena; a means to an end to capture her engagement as his model for his art? To provoke a jealousy in a more genuine love and lust for Ranuccio? A diversion to himself, others of the true sense of his feelings? There is a definite question mark over the latter, given the eventual fate of the three main players in the triangle.

The film is layered but the unapologetic depictions of homosexuality are strong.

There are many parallels to be drawn in this depiction between one artist, and another. Derek Jarman’s passion for taking on the establishment, pushing (others’) boundaries in his art in his films, paintings, poetry, the way he lived his life and advocated for others sharing a suppression by society.

And so, the programme, Jarman at HOME, which opened on 30 January 2022, comprises all of the director’s 11 feature films in addition to 11 short films, presented chronologically over six weeks with special guests and speakers due to attend several screenings.

Co-Curator Rachel Hayward, Head of Film at HOME, comments:

Filmmaker. Artist. Set designer. Author. Gardener. Activist. Jarman was a true polymath and we are delighted to be hosting this extensive retrospective of one of the most influential figures in contemporary British culture. We look forward to screening all of Jarman’s 11 feature films to our audiences, alongside some lesser-known short films, and we encourage people to also check out the brilliant Protest! exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery to be fully immersed in the world of Derek Jarman.

Please click here for details of the full programme of events and to book tickets: https://homemcr.org/event/jarman-at-home/.

As mentioned, the retrospective runs alongside Manchester Art Gallery’s Protest! exhibition which marks the first time the diverse strands of Jarman’s practice – as painter, writer, filmmaker, set-designer, gardener, political activist – have been brought together in over 20 years, since the significant exhibition of his work at the Barbican, London, in 1996.

Derek Jarman? You have my attention. Next stop, Manchester Art Gallery…

Review: Private Lives at The Lowry

There was a certain excitement stroke cockiness as I strode, yes strode into the Lowry last night.

I’ve been to the Lowry before. I’ve seen Nigel Havers on stage before. I’ve seen Nigel Havers in a play at the Lowry before. I’ve seen a production of Private Lives in Manchester before.

But never had all parts come together for me in what already felt like a perfect storm.

Noel Coward’s Private Lives had been forever etched on my radar thanks to my ‘fascination-bordering-obsession’ for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the already twice-divorced couple who famously took on the lead roles on Broadway in 1983.

And it is all too apparent why.

Private Lives tells the story of Elyot and Amanda, who were once married, find themselves on honeymoon with their new partners, in the same hotel on the French Riviera, admiring the view from adjoining balconies. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they are sharing cocktails. Who knows what the future holds for them now…

In this production, The Olivier Award winning and glorious Patricia Hodge, plays Amanda, Nigel Havers, charm personified, plays Elyot, the role taken by Noël Coward himself in the original production in 1930.

Both actors bringing the class demanded of the roles and words, the clipped delivery of the ferocious back and forth of the once married couple was captivating.

Havers and Hodge were deliciously devilish, as they quarrelled, kissed, sang, duelled and danced, delivering Coward’s bitingly witty repartee surely as nature indeed intended.

We laughed, gasped (and coughed – who knew 15 years ago two solitary cigarettes smoked briefly aloft a theatre stage could cause such reaction) as the play reached its dizzy heights.

Worthy sparring partners, we would assume their respective spouses, Sybil (Natalie Walter) and Victor (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart) are meek, mild, accommodating; the perfect antidote to their previous fractious marriage. Indeed at the top of the play, aloft their French Riviera hotel balconies, this appears so.

Hold their cocktails.

Hysterically and screamingly funny, in all definitions of the word, by the end, it was difficult to choose which ‘couple’ was the most wonderfully abhorrent.

There was also a brief but spirited appearance by Aïcha Kossoko as French maid Louise (my GCSE in French only letting me down slightly), bringing the calm (and brioche) into the field of battle.

With sets, songs and sollocks (not a typo) we were transported straight to the 20s (no the other less pandemicky 20s) in what was a glorious and riotous farce.

Plus Havers in tuxedos and smoking jackets – a match made in heaven.

Such fun.

On until 19 Feb, for all details and to book tickets, head to The Lowry website – Private Lives