As a private art advisor, I live and breathe the art world and like to uncover new artists all the time. Galleries, art fairs and the occasional degree show are my usual discovery realms, but as these are all currently closed or postponed, so I hit a bit of a roadblock.
It would be easy to say Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili or internationally renowned photographer Lee Jeffries, both Manchester-born, but they aren’t a true reflection of Manchester’s artist community and they have enough of a following that they don’t need a shout out. So I decided to reach out to our friends at Cotton On MCR and ask for some insights. On the back of that conversation, we have decided to collaborate on this week’s article.
Founded in 2017, by Manchester-born and bred Domino, Cotton On MCR was created with a simple mission, to support the local art scene and promote the various gallery programmes, all in one place.
Through their social media channels and mailing list, they keep everyone up to date with the exhibitions, as well as run events and workshops of their own. Now three years in, they are proud to say they are succeeding, helping both galleries and the artist community.
Manchester has some incredible talent and a huge variety of artists, many of which have appeared on TV, exhibited nationally and internationally too. So here are our Top 5 local artists you should all be following.
Liam’s work continues to impress and his career is truly on the up. He graduated Manchester School of Art only a couple of years ago and has achieved so much since, from a solo show at The Turnpike, to collaborating in the opening of a new gallery in Manchester, Pink, and now his work is being shown in Berlin’s Duve Gallery too! Liam creates pop-art like sculptures which are filled with subtle meanings, his pieces demand your attention. Liam says; ‘I try to make the work as honest as possible and as a result, it has a responsibility to not explicitly tell my story, but to create a story that people can relate to.’
If you like colour or abstract art then you will love Tina Dempsey’s work. Tina’s work explores colour, texture and form in a very abstract interpretation. The mixture of layers and text create these amazing and eye-catching pieces, with an element of fun and youth about them. Her work explores themes of the human experience, translating them into colour and she studies how colour can ’emote, affect and inspire.’ Our personal favourites are her collage pieces, mainly created with paper, paint and wood. Tina explains that her collage work is a way of ‘exploring new ways of using this medium and expanding the field of what collage can be, particularly with the larger site-specific pieces.’
Jason is an extremely talented painter that focuses on portraiture with themes that explore the ‘light and dark of life.’ You may have seen a couple of his pieces at the Manchester Open at Home. His portraits, which are so detailed and rich, really bring the subject to life, oozing with personality. He has recently painted portraits of NHS staff, as a thank you to their amazing, hard work. Jason explains that: ‘Expression through paint is therapy and gives me the freedom to tell mine and others stories in the hope people will relate and not feel alone.’ He has been shortlisted and received many awards, including the Royal Society of portrait Painters Annual Award, as well as The GM Arts Prize 2019.
We first came across Emily Carrington’s work last year at the Manchester School of Art Degree Show, and have loved her work ever since. The piece that caught our eye was one of her photographs of a high rise building, she then morphed and shaped the print into wave shapes, transforming something that is usually so rigid, solid and structured, into something free and curvy and light. She takes what would be an interesting photograph, and makes it into an even better sculpture. Her recent work explores the themes of brutalism and the outside environment, and she has started to use more plaster, brick and resin to create large scale sculptures that give the work a sense of presence.
Jen Orpin’s landscapes explore the urban and industrial parts of Manchester, focusing on the concrete areas, backstreets, motorways and even skips. She takes what would be a mundane scene and transforms it into a focal point, bringing beauty and grandeur to the every day, the forgotten areas of the city. Jen has been a participant on Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year and her paintings have also featured on BBC drama Last Tango in Halifax. Jen says; ‘I like to continually challenge the way I paint, and different subject matter often forces a change in style. I’m curious to see how a new landscape will stretch me as a painter. If you’re not growing, you’re standing still, right?’