In March 2020, my art class visited the Manchester Open Exhibition 2020, ‘Everyone’s An Artist’ at the HOME Manchester; the hub for contemporary art, theatre, and film. The exhibition was celebrating the creative talent of the residents living in Greater Manchester and with over 2000 entries, 544 were lucky enough to be chosen to exhibit.
The artwork consisted of mixed media pieces and paintings, embroidery and textiles, oil pastel canvasses, and abstract sculptures. There was a lot of diversity amongst the art displayed, with many different nationalities and cultures explored through the art.
The doors opened at noon, but we were an hour early so decided to discuss the exhibition and go through the questions for this unit with our art teacher while enjoying hot chocolate and cake in the café. The atmosphere in the café was quiet and calm as it was pretty much empty which meant we could concentrate and listen to each other.
When I first stepped into the gallery, I was rather taken aback because there were a much larger amount and variety of art pieces than I had expected. I found the environment quite relaxed and the volunteers and staff were helpful and friendly.
At first, we explored the entire exhibition fully, led by our art teacher. Then we were allowed to explore independently and choose a few specific pieces that we liked to take photos of and sketch. We discovered a lot of textile art, from embroidery to crocheting/knitting, felting, and quilting which was great because we created a couple of embroidery hoops and our chosen art form is using textiles for Batik. I jotted down a few ideas to include in my final piece for my art challenge.
My favourite artwork in the entire exhibition was Number 18, the Mancunian Way, painted by Sue Mann. This piece strongly reminded me of my regular journeys on the Mancunian Way and I recognised it immediately when I first saw it. Looking at the painting properly, I think the artist used oil paints. I also attempted to copy it using pastels.
I also loved Number 53, Fernery Foxes by Helen Musselwhite. This piece was a papercraft art with incredibly intricate details that have been finely cut. The symmetrical design was amazing because although there are two identical foxes, it looks like they are meeting each other for the first time in this beautiful fernery.
Another piece that I really enjoyed was Number 274, Sun Over West Macdonnell Ranges by Beverley Coleclough. This was a huge piece, and it looked like a mixed media print. I was drawn to it because my art group had recently created a 3D landscape painting on canvas, similar to this. This design would be perfect to create with batik.
This exhibition has made me realise that there are many opportunities for everyday people to exhibit their own artwork and that you don’t have to be someone famous to have your art displayed in a gallery. It has also inspired me to try and submit my own works to future open gallery events.
There were a few things that I felt didn’t work at the exhibition. Firstly, a few of the art pieces were displayed a bit too high up for close observation. Secondly, the art was arranged by a number system, and we were given a booklet with the details inside; however, many of the larger pieces covered up the numbers and so we were unable to find out more information about them. Lastly, and this is solely a personal choice; I wasn’t too keen on the artwork portraying nudity and profanity, I felt they were not suitable for children. However, I do understand it’s a form of art and people express their creativity differently.
Overall, I had a fantastic experience at this exhibition and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in art, particularly anybody who is interested in the more diverse forms of it. I have been to many exhibitions at different art galleries but this was definitely unique because it was open to the public to participate in.