20 January 2009

As the end of my legally allowable time here in the UK looms, i have done a bit of a panic upon the realisation that i'll be leaving this isle in about 14 weeks. Thusly, i have begun to create a list of things i must see and do before i leave, in an attempt to make the most of the time (particularly the weekends), i have left.

Today i trundled off on the tram and took myself somewhere i've been meaning to go to for months, ludicrous that i've not been before now considering its proximity to my general self; The Lowry. And it wasn't what i thought it was going to be.

I thought it was going to be more art gallery, less outlet shopping centre/entertainment complex. All that was missing was a Pizza Hut and Time Zone. Anyway, there was a gallery amongst all that guff and as the name would suggest, the main focus was on the work of LS Lowry, a local(ish) artist of last century. To be honest, i found most of his work a bit blah... maybe because there is still so many of them around? Maybe because i've seen lots of it printed on postcards/tea towels/neck ties etc before, so that the originals are now unimpressive? I don't know. The main gallery space, which was pretty big, at least four rooms, was dedicated to Lowry's work, and to that of a photographer who works around a similar area to places Lowry used to paint.

Anyway, interesting enough fellow, probably a bit of an odd-bod, but without doubt one of the north-west's most celebrated artists of his time.

In the other exhibition space, which they called 'the Promenade' was the works of six Guardian staff reporters over the last 100 years. Which was amazing. All black and white photos, they weren't necessarily all taken in Britain but the fair majority were... one that struck me the most was an image by Don McPhee taken during a miners strike in the 80's.

The summer of 1984 and the Miners Strike witnessed some of its most violent scenes as battle lines were drawn between the police and pickets at the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The police removed their shoulder identification numbers and blocked off the plant's entrance as up to 5,000 pickets lined up on an adjacent field to try to stop two lorry convoys leaving the plant One picket wearing a toy policeman's helmet strolled across to the massed ranks of police and exchanged banter, before the lines parted, and mounted police charged through with batons raised up the field.

This picture has been reproduced and printed directly on the wall and it was enormous, the detail captivating. Now i know i usually keep the art talk to Dot, but i've been to my fair share of galleries over the years and a couple of things were glaringly obvious to even me, about this exhibition... For an exhibition i found far more interesting than the main focus of the gallery, i thought it was put is a really poxy pokey space, with crap lighting. The pictures were all hung really low in what i thought was a kind of cluttered way, which was a shame because in my opinion, each picture really did justify its own space. I still enjoyed it though, and would definitely recommend a look-see.

Anyway, typically i'm very late late with my 'discovery' of Don McPhee and almost certainly the last person jumping on the bandwagon... especially now that he's dead. Further research tonight tells me that the writer over at Mancubist was also a fan, so it's kinda nice to know that i'm looking in the right places and finding the best Manchester has to offer...

Tune in next week for tales and discoveries of Manchester's underground tunnels and canals!


Mancubist said...

This is an excellent blog. Why have I not read it before?

dot said...

Hey, a reader! See that Mars!

Mars said...

we got ourselves a reader over here!

er, you've probably never read this blog because dot and i never really post any more, or comment for that matter. and we operate in a cliquey little circle-jerky.

you know how it is...