Text by Alice Bradshaw
An empty scaffolding-clad unit in Manchester’s Northern Quarter houses Some Recent Examples by six Manchester artists: Nina Chua, Tiago Duarte, Nicola Ellis, Mary Griffiths, Jo McGonigal and Maeve Rendle. The artists have exhibited together before, in part: http://corridor8.co.uk/online/review-meanwhile-see-this/ and also together in a wider group exhibition as Manchester School of Art‘s Fine Art MA graduates and tutors at Plataforma Revólver in Lisbon. Alumni of various years, their geographical base and recent exhibitions together have enabled the artists to identify and develop mutual interests in practice.
The temporary exhibition venue has been given a few coats of paint to present an archetypal white-walled, grey-floored gallery space and the floor plan handout numbers the works clockwise from the entrance. Work number 1 by the entrance is a stack of screenprinted office files by Tiago Duarte. The insides have been printed with blues – minus blocks of absent pigment – and these are stacked neatly in the corner creating horizontal lines of colour amongst the office-neutral buff and beige. Further along the wall hangs a pen drawing by Nina Chua echoing these blue lines with one of her felt-tip pen line drawings; this one in vertical greens and blues. Sandwiched between these colour parallels is a 3 piece Spandex assemblage by Jo McGonigal entitled Dirty Orange. The two smaller flesh coloured Spandex pieces have been dipped in luminous orange paint. There is definitely a colour matching theme going on here. Laid out on the floor opposite Dirty Orange is an amber glass-fragment organic form by Nicola Ellis. It sparkles under the spotlights like semi-precious gems in one light; like dried, bloodied mucus in another.
Just as colour matching seems the order of day, line and mark-making affinities materialise: Adjacent to Chua’s aforementioned Blue Green hangs a series of graphite drawings by Mary Griffiths. The inscribed graphite is in geometric parallels of modernist simplicity, titled Loft, Covered Way and Accumulator – suggestive of architectural designs; plans for something. Maeve Rendle’s video Mabel’s Voice has a similar focus on arrangement. The video image appears constructed or considerately framed and a simple piano melody plays moderato. Jo McGonigal’s framed Horizontal Fold #5 and Carbon Drawings laid out along a table are similarly simple placement variations of singularly folded carbon sheets.
Experiments in print processes using traditional materials are explored by Tiago Duarte and Mary Griffiths. Tiago Duarte’s The Varnishes are monotype prints of varnish. The whole surface has been applied with varnish, as opposed to where ink is to be stopped, and passed through a press. The result exposes the quality and variation of the materials under these conditions. Mary Griffiths has covered a slight concavity of flooring with graphite entitled Black Lead. Without a handout to denote a piece of work, you first become aware of it as a change in surface underfoot. In the spotlit grey-floored space you might even miss the subtle shade difference from the paintwork to the graphite footprints being trodden about the place. The audience become the perhaps accidental participants in the work; printing shoe impressions as they move from one work to the next and back again.
Some Recent Examples showcases new works by a group of Manchester artists exploring overlapping investigations into colour, formal arrangement and print processes – like a Venn diagram with six sets of related ideas. As ideas are prone to evolve and converge, the show exemplifies not so much the endpoint that many exhibitions ultimately are, but more so a midpoint in a dynamic trajectory, as the group plan to work together again in the future and develop their collective exhibition practice further.
Some Recent Examples is on display at Sevendale House, Manchester until 21 July 2013.
Alice Bradshaw is an artist, curator, researcher and writer based in West Yorkshire.