An afternoon at the Whitworth

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Yesterday I decided to travel over to the Whitworth gallery in Manchester. I hadn’t been there for quite some time and a visit was overdue. I thought I’d spend an hour or two looking around and then head into Manchester city centre. However, I ended up spending a full afternoon in the gallery

The main exhibition, taking over the ground floor, was “Cotton:Global threads” based around the natural fibre that was the basis of Manchester’s prosperity. It featured works by a number of contemporary artists and samples from Manchester University’s textile collection

to tell a compelling story about the production, consumption and global trade in cotton. With exhibits ranging in date from the late Middle Ages to the present day, the exhibition takes in Lancashire and South Asia, the Americas and Africa and is the region’s flagship exhibition outcome of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

It included some paintings and collages, woven pieces, historic examples of products made from textiles and, as always seems to he the case these days with exhibitions of contemporary art, some video works.

Upstairs there were three separate exhibitions,

Dark Matters: Works from the Collectionwhich showed a selection of works from the gallery’s permanent collection. It included works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore

Victor Pasmore: Transformations -  various abstract prints produced between 1965 and 1974

Idris Khan: The Devil’s Wall –  which features sculptures, literary texts, drawings and photography

The Idris Khan exhibition was particularly good and deserves its own write up

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The Three Crosses (1653-4) Drypoint by Rembrandt from the “Dark Matters” exhibition

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The Fortifications of Paris With Houses (1887) Vincent Van Gogh from the “Dark Matters” exhibition

While I was looking around the gallery I heard music coming from one of the large rooms on the ground floor. Looking over the balcony I could see chairs set out ready for an event and a group of three musicians, who were clearly practising and getting ready for a performance. I discovered that there was to be a poetry reading and concert that afternoon organised by Poets and Players an organisation supported by the Arts Council who run such events on a regular basis, mainly at the Whitworth.

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Jinny Shaw and friends

I’d never been to a poetry reading before, so while I was there (and it was free!) I decided to sit in. There were readings by three poets, Marius Kociejowski, Janine Pinion and Jeremy Over, interspersed by music from three musicians from the Halle Orchestra, led by oboist Jinny Shaw. I really enjoyed the music, most of it composed by Jinny Shaw (although they also played two movements of a piece by Villa Lobos), some of the pieces especially created in response to the poems read by Janine Pinion -  after each poem the ensemble  followed with a short instrumental response. I really enjoyed the music, which, to me,  was similar in style to the compositions  of Ravel and Debussy.

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Marius Kociejowski

I think that I enjoyed the Janine’s poems best. They were simpler than those read by Jeremy and Marius, both published authors. The others were, perhaps, more intellectually demanding and not as easy to relate to for somebody who had walked in off the street, so to speak.

But it was interesting to sit in on the event and I enjoyed the new experience. All in all, a good afternoon.

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2 thoughts on “An afternoon at the Whitworth

  1. If it was your first visit for some time, then you unfortunately missed the main Dark Matters exhibition. The “from the collection” part, while very good, was originally just a complement to the excellent display on the ground floor last autumn. There was some superb modern pieces about light and shadows.

    • Yes, it’s a pity I missed it. Browsing info on the web looks like it was interesting. I’ll have to make the effort to visit the Whitworth more often

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