Saturday, 27 January 2018

Manchester Art Gallery

Having listened to the music of one of Manchester's greatest sons in my last post, come with me now on a journey up to that great north west city where there are some strongly Asian inspired, artworks currently on display at Manchester Art Gallery and other art spaces across the city. It is all part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the independence of India, Pakistan, and later Bangladesh, to show the most exciting examples of South Asian culture. I really liked the oddness of this squatting Spiderman sculpture, completely at home, yet, strangely out of place against the Victorian neo-classical setting and artworks in the grand entrance hall of the gallery. He is the work of Hetain Patel, noted for his use of the intervention of fantasy superhero figures within the everyday domestic setting of his family home in nearby Bolton.

The following sequence of images are from Patel's short film - The Jump (2015). It set my spider senses tingling!

I also greatly admired these painstakingly detailed miniature architectural paintings of multi-disciplinary artist Risham Syed's home city of Lahore in Pakistan. Syed is interested in capturing the changing urban landscape of Lahore, and her work is well-placed in the constantly shifting development of the Mancunian landscape. The installation above, is also by Syed and forms a complementary architectural contrast to her paintings.

The picture above gives an indication of the scale of these lovely, tiny paintings.

This installation - The Tent Of Darius, (2009), is also by Syed. I'm not sure which I preferred most, her miniature paintings, or these beautiful, poetic embroidered interventions on army garments which have witnessed first-hand the horrors of warfare. I loved the simplicity and quietness of their inclusion into the gallery, again amongst the high drama of the Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The embroidered embellishments add something poignant and moving to these relics of past conflicts.

On the second floor of the gallery is a room devoted to an exhibition of South Asian Design, exploring how the traditional crafts of the region are informing contemporary craft and fashion. I really adored this gold, thorn-inspired light fitting. I cannot remember who designed it but it is gorgeous, and I coveted it. Many of the exhibitions in the gallery continue until the end of February, and are well worth a visit.


This graphic, neon installation at the Princess Street entrance/exit to the gallery by artist Waqas Khan is entitled Kushamdeed I, 2017, and means "Welcome" in Urdu.

Hetain Patel
until 4th February 2018
Risham Syed
until 25th February
South Asian Design 
until 27th May 2018
Manchester Art Gallery
Mosley Street

Friday, 26 January 2018


Two for Mancunian legend - Mark E Smith who passed on Wednesday, whose singular vision, use of language, and storytelling was something else. Thank you for the music.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Lumiere London

London looked wonderful lit up for Christmas (here), and it looks pretty spectacular once again thanks to the Lumiere London light installations at various locations across the city. I went "up west" and here are the light installations that delighted me. This colourful version of Westminster Abbey was an amazing transformation, looking more like an Indian temple than a Gothic abbey. It is an installation called The Light of the Spirit (Chapter 2), by Patrice Warrener, and it is absolutely fantastic. Apparently it was created by taking photographs of the building on glass slides, colouring these by hand, and then projecting them back onto the building. The colours really sing against the original white stonework. This initial encounter on the Lumiere trail really set me up to see some good art, and raised my expectations for the other installations. 

Trafalgar Square hosts Collectif Coin's installation - Childhood - a field of brilliantly lit white balloons which flash on and off intermittently. 

In the near distance there is a neon pink ladder ascending to heaven atop St Martin's-In-The Fields church. Sadly it's not Jacob's Ladder, but the installation - Echelle, by artist Ron Haselden.

Leicester Square was transformed into a delightful garden of flora and fauna. These butterflies are by Jo Pocock and Lantern Company, and entitled - Nightlife. The other animals are also wonderfully crafted. It is an exquisite, magical space. 

Another of my favourite installations was this - Flamingo Flyway - again by Jo Pocock and Lantern Company. It's a fabulous flock of illuminated flamingos, swooping and whirling their way around the streets of Chinatown.

An iconic British design classic, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's K2 telephone box was put to great surreal use as a glorified fish tank on the streets of Covent Garden. It is titled Aquarium, and is by Benedetto Bufalino and Benoit Deseille. I love this so much I want it in my living room!

At Piccadilly Circus meanwhile, the facade of the Hotel Cafe Royal has been hijacked and an animated projection of a clock is used to take viewers on a journey through both time and space. It was noisy, colourful, and a real showstopper. It is entitled Voyage, and is by Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein.

Then it was back to St James's church, (the subject of my last post), to be greeted on the exterior by Tracey Emin's Be Faithful to Your Dreams, (above)a nice signature, neon text piece. The purpose of coming here was to revisit Arabella Dorman's Suspended, to see it lit at night. It looked so different. The shadows thrown by the clothes are like ghostly figures projected onto the walls. On the outside of St James's to the rear you will find - My Light is Your Light, a group of bent, linear Lowryesque-figures by Alaa Minawi (below). 

At the Royal Academy of Arts there is a dramatic Matisse-inspired animated installation - Love Motion - by Rhys Coren.

The Superdry clothes chain building at 103 Regent Street hosts another impressive projected installation - Frictions - by duo Mader Weirmann. It is accompanied by another loud, thumping soundtrack.

Julian Opie's much quieter - Shaida Walking 2015, in Soho.

Bare bulbs on Carnaby Street are a light installation - The Plug and Bulbs, by James Glancy Design. They will apparently, be a permanent installation which is a very stylish plus for the area.

I loved these psychedelic lava-lamp-like projections at Oxford Circus. The colours were so strong and vibrant. They are part of Miguel Chevalier's Origin of the World Bubble 2018, and are understandably inspired by microbiology, and the movement of cells. Disappointingly there was no promised big bubble, probably due to health and safety concerns because of the strong winds experienced the night before Lumiere London opened, and a previous failed attempt to install the bubble last week, again because of high winds.

Robyn Wright's Neon Bicycles in Mayfair. They inspired a number of interactive poses from visitors destined no-doubt for Instagram feeds.

Aleksandra Stratimirovic's contemplative Northern Lights, bringing the spirit of the aurora borealis to Grosvenor Square.

Michael Davis's Illumaphonium was fun, and noisy, with visitors needing no invitation or encouragement to bang out a tune.

A poetic, lone nightingale sings in Berkeley Square to the music of the same song. It is Cedric Le Borgne's installation - Was That a Dream? A quietly beautiful piece this one.

This piece above - Reflektor - by Studio Roso was an interesting optical illusion. It looked from the front like a huge suspended globe glistening, reflecting the light and throwing out fractured shards of colour, but interestingly on closer investigation was flat in design. 

This installation is entitled - Supercube, by artist Stephane Masson, and bizarrely features footage of a group of women individually captured in 448 Kilner jars. I found this one particularly compelling in its oddness.

Cycles of colour from the London Eye. Our permanent light installation.

And lastly there was Burlington Arcade, as always keeping it classy. Lumiere London 2018 was literally quite brilliant. Bring on the 2019 edition!

Lumiere London
until 21st January
various locations