Friday, 19 October 2012

You can take the girl out of Manchester...

Sarah Bridgland
Fotoeken 2012
Found German photo corner mounts, paper card, glue.

When I visited Manchester recently I was thrilled to have the chance to see the wonderful new exhibit 'The First Cut: Paper at the Cutting Edge' at Manchester Art Gallery. This fantastic show was filled with so many of my favourite things...

 Sarah Bridgland
Matemaatika 180 x 180 x 48mm, mixed media (2011)

Sarah Bridgland's work was my absolute favourite with her intricately cut 3D drawings exuding nostalgia & reminiscent of wood block prints from the 1950's. Her geometric modernity creates small worlds that make you want to shrink & wander through. Her blog is worth a look at too!

 My mum looks at Claire Brewster's work 
The Harbingers 2011 
Photo©Laura Noble

I have also mentioned my love of Claire Brewster's work before, so was thrilled to see her birds in flight across the walls of the gallery. As I made my way through the gallery it seemed to me that I wanted to take pictures of every work I saw so bought the catalogue. If you love collage I suggest you do the same it's a great publication & cheap too! The birds are cut from geological maps & set with pins onto the wall. As they flit across the white expanse the maps are broken, physically & virtually transcending the borders of geography, poetic & beautiful.  

 Su Blackwell
Wuthering Heights 2010
Handcut 3D book sculpture

Su Blackwell forms narratives from the pages of a book with magical results. Her diorama although from an adult fiction has the sense of wonderment found in fairy tales. Lit from inside the farmhouse warms the scene as well as adding to the eerie atmosphere. 

 Justine Smith
The Judge 2011
US Dollars, perspex case

Weapons are always made to look cool when artists get hold of them for political effect. Justine Smith is no exception to this. Money is after all the root of all evil as well as making the art world go around...

 Justine Smith
Inheritance 2012
Chinese 100 Yuan notes 

She infuses horror, greed & beauty with objects calling out to be handled as much as the notes that cover them. 

 Andrea Mastrovito 
Enciclopedia dei fiori da gardino 2009

This enormous installation of flowers by Andrea Mastovito in the centre of the room covered the floor as if the images on the seed packets grew themselves. Tantalisingly tactile but in her words she makes "clean but totally impersonal cuts". 

Andrea Mastrovito 
Enciclopedia dei fiori da gardino 2009

This phrase fascinated me as if the mechanical nature of the way in which she cuts the paper somehow removes it from her own hand & into the flower to become alining thing in its own right. 

Manabu Hangai
Wonder Forest 2012
Seaweed raw hemp paper pigment (Hosojuzumo), recycled material (petal, leaf, toys, brochures, flyers, ribbon, seashells, etc.)

Talking of living things, the first thing to move in this space other than the visitors is this calming work by Manbu Hangai. The branches are suspended just above the floor so as to gently move & turn.


My mum chills out in the Wonder Forest

The leaves are made from seaweed collected by local fisherman in the oyster beds in the nature reserve near Hokkaido where he lives. This particular species of seaweed hosojuzumo prevents shellfish growth, so Hangai's use of it is also environmentally friendly. As you wander through the sculpture you do feel like you are in a mediative state, everyone slows down, marvellous.

Andreas Kocks

Then there are the epic brushstrokes in graphite on watercolour paper by Andreas Kocks. These sweeping swirls are full of energy despite their carefully planned beginnings made on a much smaller scale. The paper looks like plastic as the graphite coating is thick. 

Andreas Kocks

It reminded me of a studio I once had  in Limehouse that some artist before me had thought to coat the floor in graphite. Needless to say I did myself quite the injury (concussion actually) whilst walking across the studio with a large painting. As I fell backwards I held my arms up to protect the painting & cracked my skull instead. Explains a lot I must say.

Kara Walker
Grub for Sharks: A Concession to the Negro Populace (detail) 2004

There is little care for skulls here either. Kara Walker's paper work was truly disturbing & not for the faint hearted. There is nothing gentle about slavery, the cruelties & injustices of the slave trade are laid on bare walls in silhouetted forms of the unspeakable, unthinkable...
In a dedicated room on its own this work is difficult to be in, but powerful & moving so essential viewing. The combination of black on white works as the perfect metaphor, inverting & subverting at the same time.

My mum makes another appearance for scale purposes

Chris Kenny creates compositions of fragments of found ephemera pinned lie beetles in a natural history exhibit. 

Chris Kenny
Capella 2012
Mixed media construction with map pieces (detail) 

Taking things out of context his narratives are assembled, in this case with the graphic circular discs which pivot within their own universe like the star they are named after, the 6 brightest in fact.

Yuken Teruya
Notice-Forest (Burger King) 2009

Taking the lowly wrappings of fast food & turning them into magical places seems unlikely till you see this amazing piece. It is like a puzzle waiting to be figured out as the first thought that comes to mind is 'how does he do that?' 

Yuken Teruya
Notice-Forest (Burger King) 2009

Discarded remnants & reminders of globalisation feature in Yuken Teruya's practice & reflections on his homeland of Okinawa. If you think the Burger King bag is good, his treatment of 6 McDonald's bags leaves me troubled by its aesthetic appeal.

Yuken Teruya
Notice-Forest (Burger King) 2009

The irony of the deforestation due to fast food chains is direct, but sometimes a little directness is what we need.


  1. Thank you for posting Laura, some great work,and love the nostalgic feel

    1. Thanks Paul, its well worth the visit.