I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
Published November 10th 2012
Recycling is an art form at Manchester gallery
Who would have thought you could create art out of a fast-food wrapper? Manchester Art Gallery is currently showcasing the work of 31 international artists who create beauty out of paper, rather than on it. Make your way up to the top floor and you will be beguiled by the inventiveness on display in The First Cut exhibition.
Italian artist Andrea Mastrovito presents an array of flowers in his floor installation: Exodus 8:13. On closer inspection you realise that this burst of summer has been created from plant and seed catalogues. The title of the work comes from a biblical passage about a plague of frogs.
Wonder Forest by Manabu Hangai is another dazzling celebration of colour. The Japanese artist uses seaweed from the island of Hokkaido and branches from woods near Manchester. The 'trees' sway gently as you walk between them and cast attractive shadows on the wooden floor.
In the next room it's a darker affair in more ways than one. Kara Walker's: Grub for sharks: A concession to the Negro Populace portrays black figures on white walls. It is inspired by J.M.W. Turner's 1840's painting: Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying – Typhoon Coming On (The Slave Ship). Kara Walker's silhouettes are both amusing and disturbing. Amongst other things they depict a woman wielding a whip, secret trysts and a large gentleman being tormented by cherubs.
Legendary local band The Smiths are paid homage to in the bottom floor, Manchester Gallery. Kelley Walker creates a collage out of their single Panic and Cyprien Gaillard features their song Asleep to accompany images of the New Jersey skyline.
The First Cut is a marvellous testament to how paper can be transformed via cutting, folding and sculpting. It's not possible to mention all the artists who are included. However, you will go away with a different take on how to re-use Burger King bags and how to make a sculpture from old magazines (Chris Jones uses his to create a motorbike).
Elsewhere at Manchester Art Gallery you can stroll from Pre-Raphaelite art to the contemporary work of Sarah Lucas and others. One room is features the work of LS Lowry and Adolphe Valette – you won't need to step far from the gallery to see locations they depict.
In Translation, in the next room, continues until February 2013. The exhibition includes work by women who have migrated to the North West.
Back on the top floor, the Gallery of Craft and Design has everything from an eighteenth century ivory chess set, made in India, to a cocktail dress worn by designer, model and heiress Jasmine Guinness at Ladies' Day, Royal Ascot.
Manchester Art Gallery strongly encourages visits by families. The Clore Interactive Gallery gives children the chance to both dress up and create their own art. They could also join the Mini Art Club and a Baby Art Club, which meet on Fridays.
The gallery is free to visit but you can spend your cash at the shop and licensed cafe. You could even buy limited edition works by artists included in The First Cut.
On Thursdays closing time is extended until 9pm. If you've passed the working-day bogged down in paper-work and surrounded by photocopiers, the art may reignite your imagination and send you home with a fresh take on recycling.