Arts and Culture

Art festival filled the streets of Manchester last Saturday

A free one-day art festival was hosted in galleries and streets across central Manchester last weekend.

Art Assembly 2022, held on Saturday 18, was an event aimed at advocating for culture, art, and creativity – along with showing how anywhere has the potential to become a space for imagination and expression.

The festival was organised by Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, along with Castlefield Gallery, the HOME venue, Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, and The Manchester College.

‘City as Art School’ was the festival’s theme – a concept designed to celebrate the idea of the city as a space for art, and champion culture as an educational experience.

A set of newly-commissioned artworks were presented across the city during the festival, co-created by 10 Greater Manchester artists and various student groups.

Emma Carroll, learning manager for schools and colleges at Manchester Art Gallery, said: “When I asked one parent if I could refund their travel costs on Saturday, she refused – she wouldn’t let me pay for it because she felt it had been such an honour for her and her daughter to be invited.

“I felt really humbled when she said that, and it made me reflect on what a big impact it’s had on them.”

The works were displayed both in established art venues such as Manchester Art Gallery, as well as in gardens, squares, and streets.

The eight new pieces encompassed a broad range of mediums – ranging from film and painting to textiles, installation, performance, and music.

Beginning at 10am last Saturday, people came to see the city become an art school, through workshops, talks, performances, and art installations.

Manchester Art Gallery was the centre of the festival, filled with works and performances all day long.

One performance in the gallery was, Taking Up Space, Taking In Space – a live art performance that took place on the inside balcony. Maya Chowdhry along with students from the Manchester School of Art performed every hour, intending to make everything, including the visitors and the sound of the building in the gallery, into the artwork.

Robert Parkinson, with the help of photography students from The Manchester College introduced 4×4 XeroX. Using a travelling Xerox machine the group created a moving photography exhibition, creating new works on the go.

The exhibition was done in the shadow of Manchester’s Printworks, the former largest newspaper and print manufacturer in Europe.

Parham Ghalamdar with Art & Design students from The Manchester College presented coloured canvases, mixed media digital installations, and paintings that showcased Manchester as a shifting cityscape.

Sally Gilford and artists from the University of Salford presented Bobbins! – to tackle women’s issues that are not often represented in the curriculum. The text on the Bobbins pays homage to the suffragette movement.

There was also a lovely performance, Women’s Lot, featuring some of the bobbins, a maypole dance, and songs inspired by mid-1700s folk ballads about a ‘woman’s lot’. Members of the public were encouraged to join in with the performance themselves.

Sam Owen Hull, with the help of students from Abraham Moss Community School, designed posters that were placed around the city – intended to help raise awareness about the ongoing climate emergency and overconsumption.

The festival also featured a live recording of an award-winning podcast by Art Fund – Meet Me at the Museum, at HOME. The podcast features often well-known people, taking somebody to a museum or gallery to see what is on offer, and discuss generally society and culture.

Carroll said: “The podcast was superb; I’m so grateful we were featured in it, and for the chance to shine a light on the importance of the arts in schools like ours.

“We work hard to prioritise it, and it has been great to have that work recognised on such a scale.”

It was a well thought-out, fascinating, and jam-packed day full of learning, creativity, and art!

Below you can find a video about the event.

Art Assembly 2022

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