Running until Sunday 27th March, the coming days represent your last chance to dive into one of the finest art projects in the city. But what exactly is it, and who is involved?
First up, a bit of history. The idea began before the pandemic, with an open call for anyone to submit work and be considered for inclusion in a huge exhibition. First held in 2020, the Manchester Open won awards for its innovative approach to boosting engagement in the arts, and strengthening the ties between one of Manchester’s best-loved institutions — HOME — and the public.
Following that success, the Manchester Open, held every two years, is back at HOME. This edition features 474 individual works by 446 artists. Whittled down from a staggering 2,271 submissions by a panel of experts and public representatives, it’s a clear sign of the appetite for this kind of competition in a region that can surely claim to be the most fertile in UK arts right now.
With practitioners hailing from all ten boroughs, visitors will find animation such as the surreal and fantastical ‘Piccadilly Beach: Costa del Mancunia’, depicting one of the city’s most iconic public spaces as a sun-kissed shoreline, alongside fine art paintings, bold political textiles, and a plethora of other pieces across multiple mediums.
As part of the offering, 20 artists from the final exhibition have been chosen by Castlefield Gallery, this year’s partner, and HOME. These were divided into five categories, with one overall winner selected for each and £10,000 in funds being handed out to the top pick artists and Castlefield Gallery. Meanwhile, the People’s Choice Award, voted by the public, saw the winner walk away with a £250 voucher for supply specialist Cass Art and the offer of an exhibition at the Oldham Street space.
So, here are the winners:
Granada Foundation Gallery Award — ‘Portrait of a Woman’ by Gwen Evans
Gwen Evans has been exhibiting work in galleries like The Sennedd Welsh Assembly Building, Cardiff and The Biscuit Factory Newcastle, often in the form of portraits of people with a dash of the fantastical and surreal. You can see more of her work here.
Castlefield Gallery: Artist Professional Development Award 1 — ‘Solar’ by Gherdai Hassell
Writer, storyteller, and multi-disciplinary artist, Gherdai Hassell trained in China but was born in Bermuda. Memory, nostalgia, and identity are core themes to her portfolio, with innovative multimedia work asking questions about our relationship with the body and avatars. Check more of her pieces here.
Castlefield Gallery: Artist Professional Development Award 2 — ‘Alexa’ by Annabelle Richmond-Wright
Dividing her time between Manchester and Leeds, recent graduate Annabelle Richmond-Wright is already getting noticed for sculpting, installations, and performances in which she tackles issues like workers rights, feminism, gender roles, capitalism, materialism, and technology. Follow her on Instagram.
Castlefield Gallery: Artist Development Award 50+ — ‘Oceans Apart No.22 (thin ice skating)’ by Nan Collantine
Whether painting, drawing, working on installations, or combining all three, Nan Collantine is deeply interested in space, with her pieces often about specific places, and the work’s position within a building or exhibition designed to start conversations between the relationship between situation and artwork. Discover her portfolio here.
The People’s Choice Award — ‘Paper Samurai’ by Luke Armstrong
This year’s People’s Choice Award was won by Luke Armstrong, whose intricately detailed and unarguably beautiful, small-scale paper sculpture proves size isn’t everything when it comes to getting noticed among hundreds of artworks on display, but attention to detail is. His portfolio is dominated by scenes depicted with paper and cardboard, leaving what is about to happen to the audience’s imagination.
The Manchester Open 2022 runs at HOME until Sunday 27th March. Advance booking is recommended, tickets are free.