Outside is a shack built of timber pallets, with freshly washed clothes hanging on the line to dry in the autumn sunshine. Not far away, local people live in brick terraced houses in one direction and multi-million pound apartments in tall tower blocks in the other, but whatever ills there were with previous generations in urban societies in Britain, everyone had a roof over their head. They did not have to live in doorways or in a house created from timber pallets with no protection as the autumn and winter weather closes in.
‘Crossing Border’s by Matilda Glen draws attention to the ongoing suffering of refugees, not only between Africa, Syria and Europe, but across the world, as we hear news of a caravan trying to reach the USA from Mexico which President Trump is determined to frustrate, forgetting that these are real people, real human beings, not characters for a vote-winning lobby or tweet.
The University of Manchester is fortunate in having an art gallery such as the Whitworth, recently extended and refurbished and winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015. It has a fine and extensive collection of its own, but its main strength is the programme of international-quality special exhibitions which it runs, including at the moment South African artist William Kentridge’s exhibition ‘Thick Time’. Alice Kettle’s ‘Thread Bearing Witness’ and Prints of Darkness: Goya and Hogarth in a Time of European Turmoil.
There is an unexpected link weaving through these exhibitions; Hogarth, Goya and Kentridge all base their work on drawings, Kentridge having the advantage that he can today translate them into amazing 21st century digital experiences. Surprisingly, he has also translated his drawings into tapestries, woven in Johannesburg, which gives a connecting link into the embroidery works of Alice Kettle and her collaborators.
A further exhibition, ‘Bodies of Colour: Breaking with stereotypes’ shows the whacky whizzy world of modern wallpaper design from the Museum’s extensive collection, many of which link to popular art culture and art; some of which are quite sinister. No William Morris prints here!
This is a gallery to visit again and again, in part, because the quality of exhibitions is so good. Tate Modern currently has on show an early Kentridge digital work from the 1980′s but has yet to mount a full-blown exhibition, which is well overdue. For anything approaching that, we have had to rely on the Marion Goodman gallery in Soho