GK Gallery: Exhibition review

Melanie Young and Hannah Sawtell at GK Gallery, Salford.

Lovely. That is the word I would use to describe GK Gallery and Tea Room. It’s a lovely little space, decorated in a lovely way, with lovely, friendly staff. Anywhere that is decorated with fairy lights has me hooked. What’s not to love about a place that offers cakes, coffee and art?

The only, tiny niggle I had was the fact that the prices of the artwork on show were very prominent, which makes it more of a commercial gallery, but I guess that is common in this type of gallery cafe environment. So all in all, the space is very pretty and perfect for a Sunday brew and to check out some new artists.

Currently exhibiting at the gallery are Hannah Sawtell and Melanie Young. Here’s my review of the two.

Melanie Young:

The largest of Young’s paintings, I thought, was also the best – the bigger the better right?Named ‘Two Figures’ the piece is quite surreal, the figures themselves are like unusual cartoon characters, something you’d see in the Moomins (that’s one for the 90s kids there). The figures are holding hands which makes you wonder what their relationship is? Mother and daughter maybe? There’s a cute little blue heart on the larger, mother figure, which I guess represents love. I also wonder if the mother figure is pregnant? She has a hand resting delicately on her stomach and the smaller figure seems to look up at the larger one in a loving manner.

Looking closely at the painting you can see the paper has cracked through being over-worked, over painted. It adds a new texture to the painting, cracking with the weight and heaviness of the paint. There are drips, splashes and spots, and you can still see the pencil marks underneath. Overall, it is a fascinating and weird image.

Melanie has a very recognisable and unique style, yet I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it is the eyes of the women in her work, maybe its the shapes she uses, or the colour palette? I’m not quite sure. But I felt, looking through her brochure and the work on the wall, that everything collates together. You can see Melanie’s style and technique running through them all.

Her artist’s statement reads; ‘Universal themes of love, loss, isolation, frustration and hope are explored in a rich and patterned surface. Recently her work has journeyed from the familial and domestic to ritual, she explores a playful narrative to create emotive images…’

Hannah Sawtell:

My favourite piece of Hannah Sawtell’s work was ‘Manchester Rooftops’ (is that too cliché for a Manchester based blogger to say?!) This pen and ink drawing reminds me of one of those urban sketchers type pieces. There is a ridiculous amount of detail and colour, yet contrasted against spaces/buildings left white. There is some great line work on this piece and great perspective too. The colours used give it life, its like a sunny morning over Manchester, which used to be a rare thing but not so much in recent months!

I also throughly liked ‘Protein Pills’ a tribute to David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Sawtell uses his lyrics to create this space themed illustration. There is a ton of detail in the spaceman’s helmet, and the starry night is so pretty. It is like an inverted window, the space man looking out of the orb, with the starry infinity behind him.

Both the artists brochures were on display too which I found really fascinating. I loved the work in Hannah’s brochure, which included some collage images. There is some lovely pieces which mix coloured ink against pen line detail.

Hannah Sawtel’s artists statement reads; ‘Hannah explores combinations of conventional and non-conventional processes using colour to define elements of the composition with an appreciation of the line of the pen and the white space surrounding it remaining intact.’

Overall it was a very pleasant visit to GK Gallery and I’m sure we will return. It’s a perfect mix of an open space venue, (which is very cool as the gallery space is up on a mezzanine) and very prettily decorated. It’s one of those places you wish you could run yourself, a place you want to manage when you retire. It’s just, lovely.

Both Young‘s and Sawtell‘s exhibitions are on at GK Gallery from 13th July to 26th August. FREE.

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