Manchester visit to We Face Forward Exhibitions

On a recent trip to Manchester I visited the “We face forward” series of exhibitions and managed to catch exhibitions at the Whitworth Art gallery, Manchester Museum and Manchester Art Gallery.  It’s definitely worth a visit! It’s on till 16th September 2012.

I first heard about the exhibitions that began in early June on the BBC 4 radio review show “Front Row”.  I am always interested in seeing new art exhibitions and being challenged by what I see.   As someone whose heritage is largely based in West Africa I have a personal interest in viewing contemporary art from this region.

At the Whitworth Art Gallery I really enjoyed the varied display of fabrics, at the Manchester Art Gallery it was the large-scale art works really caught my attention, it’s a fantastic space and I hope to visit again very soon.  It was good to be back at Manchester Museum which has really changed since my student days.  The time constraints of my whistle-stop tour meant that I didn’t get a chance to explore the rest of the museum but there is always next time!

We Face Forward postcard: Meschac Gaba, Ensemble 2011

We Face Forward postcard: Meschac Gaba, Ensemble 2011

This short video gives a brief insight into some of the work on show. (Work by Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore)

Below are links to some of the artist’s work I enjoyed most;

Abdoulaye  Armin Kane, “Yaatal Kaddou/L’evenement (The event)” a really enjoyable animation piece, humorous in the way it highlights the problems of an irregular power supply network.

Barthélémy Toguo‘s “Redemption”, two large wooden chairs representing a meeting between North and South. On one chair wooden carved large-scale border control stamps, and the other bags and belongings of those migrating North. I loved the bold  imagery.

El Anatsui‘s hanging sculpture “In the World But Don’t Know the World?”,  I found the scale immense and the use of recyclable material refreshing.  Up close it draws you in to look at the detail and note the various components, standing back you really appreciate the image all over again.

Séraphin Zounyekpe‘s film Under the Bridge (Sous le Pont) was enlightening and the personal strengthen of the subjects was inspiring.

Abdoulaye Konate’s  textile work, Power and Religion (Pouvoir et Religion), 2011 was a very powerful display and got me thinking about the short piece I wrote (see below) following a trip to Nigeria.

The cock crowed.
The cock crowed soon to be followed by the call to prayer, and then the singing and praying began. An early morning tennis game – Muslims versus Pentecostal Christians – using racquets of prayer and gospel singing; hitting the ear of God from mosque to church hall.  Rain fell like heavy stones on the corrugated iron roof.  Low voices could be heard from the rooms adjacent.  It was morning but I’d barely shut my eyes.  Surely there was still time? I didn’t need to be anywhere special, I was on holiday.  A few minutes later the rain stops and the heat of the equatorial sun slowly began to warm the cool room. Soon all traces of the early morning shower would evaporate.

A door creaked open a smiling face appeared.  My young cousins were up and preparing for the school day ahead. Fresh water has been drawn from the well and other early morning chores completed.  Dressed in their school uniform they made last-minute finishing touches to homework.  As we, the visiting relatives arose, they left and then silence.  Out on the veranda past the banana trees, it’s possible to watch the neighbourhood also rising; people going to work, kids off to school, cars starting, go-slows and the rollercoaster rides through the rain-gouged roads in the distance.

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