There’s No Place Like HOME
Starting this January is the HOME open exhibition. This is a free exhibition they run every year to celebrate the work of over 400+ artists within Greater Manchester, whittled down from 2,271 entries.
There is a huge range of work on display here, and there is something for everyone. Running since 2019, there are 5 tailored artist development packages by Castlefield Gallery and HOME up for grabs to help the artists develop their practice. In regards to the exhibition, they write on their website: “HOME believes art is for everyone”. Too right.
If you’ve never been to HOME before, it really encapsulates a lot of the best parts of Manchester, operating as a contemporary cinema, theatre space, gallery, restaurant and bar – it functions at the heart of the ironically corporate Tony Wilson Place. This was my first time visiting HOME after hearing about it repeatedly over the past few years, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
Upon entering the gallery, a Syrian friend of mine who accompanied me made a comment which resonated with me for the entirety of the time browsing the works: “The British people’s attraction with the bland fascinates me”. I love my friend’s ability to point things out to me that I had never really considered before, as he comes from such a contrasting culture, but he was absolutely bang on in his observation. On display are magnificent oil paintings of footbridges over motorways, watercolours of back alleys and an intricate impressionist painting of an English village – with First bus and Ford Fiesta included.
Now, this isn’t to put these pictures down in any way, there’s something incredibly poetic about taking something so mundane and reproducing it with great skill in such a sophisticated medium. These paintings represent who we are and what we are, and they visualise how there can be beauty in everything if viewed through the right framing – even a motorway. It’s a valuable lesson that if you don’t learn to appreciate these things, as these artists have done, then you’re making the reality of where we live even more gruesome.
My favourite piece that fits this eloquent description of the works on display is a hand-carved, painted sculpture of Microsoft WordArt that reads “Princess Diana”. Brilliantly simple in concept, but the expertise involved and execution is epic. We all know what WordArt looks like – everyone has tried their hand at pretending to be a graphic designer in putting it to use, but seeing it composed in this sense, existing in the physical world, makes it hit differently in a way that causes you to perform the singular nose exhale laugh at the genius of it. The craftsmanship of this piece is so good that I had to get right up to it to try to figure out what it had actually been made out of – at first glance it looked like foam, but upon closer inspection, my guess is wood.
Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that the entire exhibition fits this statement; there is a huge range of work on display, including paper sculptures, video collages, rugs and sculptures. Some professional, some amateur – there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
However, exhibitions like this, where there is so much squeezed on the walls, really means that the work of each artist must stand out by either medium or merit through the gallery’s attempt to showcase as many artworks as possible. Now, this isn’t a negative comment, just an observation – as an interesting side effect of the loaded walls is that the cream is naturally forced to the top. But of course, this also proves more beneficial to certain art styles – pop art especially. In this setting, the powers of bold colour and thick lines really shine brazenly in comparison to a finer, more detailed work. The paper plane that soars on top of the wall is notable as an artwork that draws the eye immediately with its red and blue wings and demands attention from all viewers.
Whether you’re a hardcore art fanatic or just looking for something different to do, get yourselves down to HOME and vote for your favourite piece (voting closes on the 21st of February). And if you can, slide them a donation to keep this incredible space open. The exhibition will be running until the 27th of March.
If you’re looking for more ArtMuse articles, you can read my reviews on Loitering with Intent at The Modernist and the Grayson’s Art Club exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. I’d also recommend Luke Spiby’s article on van Gogh Alive, which is at MediaCityUK in Salford for a limited time only.