Manchester Urbis / Cornerhouse & Buses

manc-jan07-1.jpgOf course I love Liverpool much more than Manchester but that other place does have a few good points.
For a start, they always have much better Christmas lights than Liverpool and did you know there is a free bus service that goes round the city centre. Also ate in a very nice Korean restaurant but don’t know what it was called.

So after the photo-shoot at World Museum for Eid celebrations we got the train to Oxford Road and called into the Cornerhouse for coffee and a look at the Nick Crowe ‘Commemorative Glass’ exhibition. (Ends January 28 2007)

Commemorative Glass features a selection of new and recent works from artist Nick Crowe. Crowe’s practice encompasses a wide range of media, including film & video, sculpture and the internet. This exhibition focuses on Crowe’s specific interest in glass as a contemporary artistic material. Ranging from large scale sculptures to delicate hand-engraved panels, the work utilises the diverse material properties of glass together with its varied cultural connotations to explore issues relating to how we remember, from personal expressions of loss, to momentous political and historical events such as The Gulf War.

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I like the big bus shelter on the top floor. Its a full size contemporary design shelter but its beautifully crafted from English Oak. The glass though has been deliberately smashed so its a sort of opaque mosaic.
Also on this floor is ‘The Beheaded‘ which has 68 coloured glass headless figures rotating. The glass was developed by NASA with each sheet reflecting two distinct colours.
Gallery 1 and 2 are mostly drawing on glass, some lit from below others are framed so that the shadows fall onto the backing paper creating an interesting effect.

A few minutes later thanks to the free No 2 bus from Oxford Road station we were near Urbis
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The main show here at present is ‘The China Show‘ (Ends January 7 2007)

The creative and cultural explosion that has taken place in Chinese cities in recent years comes to Manchester in this groundbreaking exhibition exploring aspiration, image and identity, curated by Scott Burnham.

While the world watches the global economy shift towards China, Chinese society is witnessing its own transformation take place as society’s emphasis shifts from the communal to the individual.

Fuelled by a runaway economy, China’s new generation has become gripped with a newfound ability to design their individual lives, created through an emerging landscape of private apartments, new technologies, and personalised virtual spaces.

I particularly enjoyed Xing Danwen’s ‘Urban Fiction’ – large pictures of apartment blocks but they are actually models and each picture has a small dramatic or amusing scene going on in the otherwise very bland environment.

Also at Urbis is ‘A Celebration of Talent’ (Ends February 18 2007) Recent graduate works from the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. An inspiring exhibition featuring around 30 of the most innovative works created by the artistic talents of Manchester’s two leading universities. Selected works include: art, design, illustration, painting, sculpture, embroidery, fashion and moving image.

A Celebration of Talent acts as a springboard for young creatives in the North West, helping them reach the first rung in their career ladder.

Wouldn’t it be good if, say, Liverpool Tate did a similar thing for recent Merseyside art graduates? Its only a select few, of course, but it makes a really good show which should inspire new students as well as entertain and inform the general public.

Then, from seeing Chinese art we went to the Samsi Japanese supermarket to stock up with nori, sake and my favourite – wasabi peas before having our Korean meal and heading back to Liverpool.
A very cosmopolitan, rewarding and exhausting day.

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