The Tallest of Tales

Manchester Art Gallery presents The Tallest of Tales, an exhibition of new work by contemporary British artist Alison Erika Forde.

By Matthew Tyas | Last updated 19 July 2013

Share this story

From 27 July, Manchester Art Gallery presents The Tallest of Tales, an exhibition of new work by contemporary British artist Alison Erika Forde. The exhibition features 12 new, previously unseen works, displayed together for the first time in a special installation.


Alison Erika Forde creates unique objects, rescuing unwanted mass-produced pictures and charity shop bric-a-brac and transforming them into extraordinary works of art. Influenced by book illustrations, comic strips, folk art and kitsch, Forde’s signature approach embodies the idea that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Her pieces draw on her dreams and memories of past experiences to produce fairytale images which are imbued with a vital mischief and dark humour.

For The Tallest of Tales, Forde’s works are displayed around and within a small wooden hut, specially created by the artist for the exhibition. From outside, Forde’s works and the house itself are playfully evocative of children’s stories such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood, but inside there is a dimly lit and cramped atmosphere. As such, the house forms an integral part of Forde’s art, transforming her exhibition into an innocently enchanting installation on first look, but with a series of contrasting, darker works to explore within it.

Recycling found and donated items has been a consistent and important part of Forde’s artistic practice, stemming from something that was a natural part of her upbringing and family ethos. She draws inspiration from the inherent qualities of these objects and the materials she collects, working from instinct, without sketches or plans.

Alison Erika Forde says:
“Making my art accessible to people from all walks of life is an important element of my artistic process: from the familiarity I aim to conjure up by the imagery I select, to the objects I choose to paint upon. Having an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery is an amazing opportunity to reach a large and varied audience, to share a piece of my alternate world with them and see how they respond.”

Alison Erika Forde’s work is held in The Olbricht Collection, Collection Robert Devereux and private collections in Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, USA as well as the UK. This exhibition is part of an ongoing programme to showcase emerging talent from Manchester.

The Tallest of Tales
Alison Erika Forde
27 July – 10 November 2013
Manchester Art Gallery
Free entry

Tel 0161 235 8861 or email