Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Contemporary Art Manchester
Unlike other cities', Manchester's independent art scene has long been a splintered, rather disorganised thing. You hear about exhibitions, sometimes in advance, sometimes after the fact. You go to private views and you see all the same people, mainly artists, designers and curatorial bods - it's a fairly small circle given the city's size. But considering that these artists' PR often consists of personally handing out flyers and - maybe - trying to spread the word on Facebook, it's not surprising that it can be hard to reach new audiences.
But that looks to be changing. Finally, the independent artists of Manchester have come together under one banner. Contemporary Art Manchester has been bubbling away quietly for a long time, and with the huge number of cooks involved I can only imagine how long those meetings must have gone on. But the group's website launches today, (they're already on Twitter and Flickr) and I'm pretty excited about what this means for Manchester's art scene.
Basically, CAM brings together Manchester and Salford's independent artists, small collectives and artist-led initiatives in a consortium that will give them a new platform to support what they're already doing, work together more effectively and increase their visibility.
The members of the consortium include Twenty+3 Projects, 100th Monkey, Bureau, Castlefield Gallery, Contents May Vary, BMCA, Exocet, FutureEverything, Gymnasium, Interval, Islington Mill Art Academy, Harfleet and Jack, The Salford Restoration Office and Rogue Project Space. Many of those will be familiar names if you read this blog regularly, because they're the folks who are doing really interesting and engaging visual art that, some might say, runs counter to the bigger art venues' tendency to play it safe.
Their first project is 'Trade City', a large group show in the new CHIPS building in Ancoats, and includes Antifreeze, an art car boot fair and exhibition about the high end art market delivered within the format of low end trade. That's on Saturday, July 4 (dates for the exhibition were not on the CAM website, but I'm assuming it will be open then.)
Interestingly, Trade City coincides with the Manchester International Festival, but is not on the festival's programme, as far as I can tell. Which makes it a kind of visual art fringe festival. So while you're enjoying the many amazing artists and performers visiting the city this summer, take some time out to appreciate the talent that lives here all year long.
(Image of Chips building courtesy of Paul Harfleet via Gymnasium)