The lovely city of Manchester offers no end of fantastic and, usually, free art, to indulge in. Curators, practitioners and viewers range from the well versed and experienced, to the cutting-edge and emerging. It seems there is room for everyone.
Part of the reason for this is, as well as the more established and historic venues and organisations in the city, Manchester also has a long history of innovative groups like Blank Media Collective. Established in 2006, the collective claim to “champion emerging artists, writers, musicians and practitioners through exhibitions, performance, free portfolio hosting on their website and via our online magazine, blankpages.” And since 2006 they have gathered a firm a respected reputation for doing just that.
You can loose yourself for hours wandering delightfully through the many amazing portfolios on their website. Forget Pintrest; if you want to look at cutting-edge art and beautiful photography, the Blank Media Collective site is the place to waste a few hours. Similarly blankpages, their bi-monthly magazine, is a true aesthetic. Each edition showcases a poet, fiction writer, illustrator, musician/group etc, in an ever changing but always beautifully designed, clean and artistically respectful way.
So what about their exhibition?
Currently, within their fantastically, isolated and brilliantly clean and cubic building on Hulme Street, Blank Space is exhibiting ‘Inside’. The artists involved – Claudia Borgna, Philip Cheater, Drop Collective, Gill Greenhough, Rosie Leventon, David Ogle, Emily Rubner, Liz West and Chris Wright – are all extremely different and unique in terms of style/media and content. All, however, are united in one thing; a project that aims to thoroughly explore the psychological and physical responses we have to the environments we experience.
The segmented space within Blank Space provides the perfect setting for this as participants are invited and able to completely immerse themselves within each individual art piece.
Themes of absence, loss, memory, fantasy and nostalgia are very thoroughly, and touchingly, explored; this is not an exhibition you simply look at, but one in which you participate fully with. You simply cannot help it. When I went to the exhibition, it literally took me a few attempts (and the knowledge that there was someone close by if I needed them) to allow myself to be entirely involved with some pieces; such was their unsettling effect on me. Others, however, I struggled to pull myself away from, and, in fact, revisited several times before I left.
‘Inside’ is a perfect name for a truly unique and very forward thinking exhibition, for once you are inside Blank Space, you enter a world that envelops and engulfs you. A world, which has literal, physical affects on you and which forces you, mentally, through a disturbing and enlightening range of emotional spaces.
Not content with simply putting on a fantastic exhibition, to accompany and compliment ‘Inside’, Blank Media Collective have produced a beautiful publication which is on sale there. Screen-printed and bound by the collective’s clever little hands, the ‘Inside’ booklet showcases the work of twelve emerging writers. The pieces are wide-ranging and unusual and offer the perfect accompaniment for the exhibition experience. The booklet is really fantastically designed, attractive, sharp and extremely stylish; a pure treat to indulge in.
Running till the 29th April, I completely recommend that you go to ‘Inside’. Take the time to appreciate the pieces from different parts of the rooms; stand and stamp; kneel and be indulgently voyeuristic. Allow yourself to fully embrace all that it has to offer you. This is in Manchester, it is free and it is simply fantastic. ‘Inside’ is art at it’s most engaging.
INSIDE: 30 March – 29 April 2012
BLANKSPACE | 43 Hulme Street | Manchester | M15 6AW | 0161 222 6164
OPENING TIMES: Wednesday-Sunday: 11am-5pm | Thursday: 11am-7pm | (Closed: Monday-Tuesday)
All images © Anne Louise Kershaw