Salford Art Club: Exhibition Review

‘Salford Art Club’ a group exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Written by Veronica Cordova de la Rosa

Images provided by Salford Art Club and Salford Museum and Art Gallery

If art has a function, it is for calming the mind of the curious people. To comprehend what is beyond what we see. Art materialises what we believe and think we experience in a daily basis. Art materialises what we think is real.

In ‘Salford Art Club’ exhibition at the beautiful and majestic Salford Museum and Art Gallery, there are sketches of flowers, landscapes with Pre-Raphaelite influences, drawings of trees, urban and country side paths. There are portraits of solitary people or in group playing in teams on a sunny day. Here are some of the stand out pieces.

The first is ‘Disquiet’ by Cywrad Curran Dumez. There is a portrait of a man which really attracted my attention, the man’s clothes look quite old, and comfortable in a eerie way. The man has long hair and he is holding his cheek, looking thoughtful, however, we do not really know what he is thinking. Although, the title of this drawing, ‘Disquiet’ suggests that he may be worrying about something so important that it is draining his body.

Although, we observe every where we go, people in the streets and in our daily lives, we do not really know what others are thinking even if we can recognise some of their facial or body expressions. This is refelcted in Dumez’s painting.

‘Walk in the Snow’ by Joan Raftery is a portrait of a woman who is not facing the viewer but she is looking at the road covered by snow that seems to lead somewhere further than the ladies position. She seems to start to walk away from the viewer, following the path to nowhere. The title suggests the walks in the north of the UK may be excellent opportunities to reflect on who we are and how others perceive us.

To add to the story of the woman in the snow, she is dressed in red. For some people the red colour is the finest and brightest of all the colours. Also, it is commonly related to sensuality and sexuality and when it is juxtaposed with white or the absence of colour, it has the potential of highlighting the contrast in between the cold environment suggested and the warm presence of this woman.

‘Grass War, Salford’ by Sass Wilson. Another example of the variety of different mediums that the exhibition displays is the Drypoint etching print ‘Grass War, Salford’ by Sass Wilson. For those who are not familiar with the history of Salford like myself, the image may not contain any recognisable information about a war because it is an abstract image. An image with different lines and a composition of different tones of grey, black and white. This painting reflects on how people remember conflict and how it is remembered in our present day.

Another beautiful example of the life in Manchester and its inhabitants is the oil painting ‘Chip Shop’ by Joan Raftery. Happy children who looked engaged with their food, outside the Fish and chip shop are the main characters of the narrative of this painting. This painting is a very cheerful reminder of the place where people gather to eat, the colours suggest the particularity of Manchester, dark red bricks, the light is particularly dark and the greys suggest a city that is transforming into a cosmopolitan city different from London.

Another collective activity portrait in ‘Salford Art Club’ is the drawing ‘The Rose is Complete’ by Tony Eason. This drawing captures the sense of movement and organisation in between bodies that is required for this type of folk dance. These dancers are known as the ‘sword dancers’ and they practice their dance in a variety of pubs.

The sketch book ‘Coal, Cotton & Canals’ is one of the best sketch books that I have ever seen. ‘Coal, Cotton and Canals’ being the three driving forces of the Industrial Revolution are the title of this beautiful sketch book. The handwriting is clear and it welcomes readers to go through the pages and feel engaged with the history of Lancashire, and the mining museum.

Finally, I would mention two artworks that I would like to compare, one is the painting ‘The Salford Street’ by Edith Le Breton (1912-1992) purchased by the corporation of Salford in 1949. A portrait of the street where we can observe different people walking by. This painting looks as if time was frozen, or as if you were stepping out of an old film. People are in dark colours, we cannot see their faces. We can just observe their postures but not their facial expressions.

The second artwork is the collage ‘Towards the Cathedral’ by Moira Glover. The collage is made of different newspaper and some sort of mixed water painting. There are buildings completely covered with glass along the canal. Just at the end of the composition, there is a historical building, the cathedral. In contrast with ‘The Salford Street’ by Edith Le Breton, there are no people on the streets. There are no bodies we can observe in this collage. For me, this collage, reflects on the changes happening in a city that is not reluctant to change, a city that is becoming more horizontal than vertical and which economy is growing according to the numbers of buddings that seem to be under construction right now.

The collage by Moira Glover is more varied and if the observant looks closer, there are depictions of women taken from the newspaper advertising of some sort, of commodity such as clothes or make up.

Both artworks depict different times in Manchester, its past and its present. Art allows us to travel backwards in time as well, to see reality under a different perspective, under a different lens that than our own.

All the people exhibiting their work in this exhibition are members of the Salford Art Club who are presenting their latest work in a variety of covered media. New members are always welcome. The club meets at Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Wednesday evenings.

Everyone is welcome and especially for those who just arrived in Manchester from a different part of the country or even the world, and for those who would like to have a better idea where they are living right now. An exciting city with multiple ways to look at it and a promising constant transforming city. I invite readers to choose their favourite ones and see something in them that resonates in you.

Salford Art Club‘ is on at Salford Art Gallery from 21st September – 3rd December

Our Guest blogger is Veronica Cordova de la Rosa, an artist whose practice is varied but mainly focuses on performance art and crafts. Both are very different but both are rewarding and life savers to her. Veronica likes to work with the community she lives in.

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