There are a few things in life which I wish I liked and understood. The first is green tea (it tastes like ash to me). The second is running and the last is art. While I have made my peace with the fact that I will never like the taste of green tea and running is nice if you aren’t as blessed in the chest department as I am, I refuse to give up on art.
I want to like it, I want it to make me feel something. Recently I found a half way point, something that allowed me to go to galleries and actually enjoy it- photography. On the hunt for something to do over Easter weekend (and avoiding doing all work) I ended up coming across the Strange and Familiar exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.
The British photographer Martin Parr has curated the exhibition, bringing together over 250 moving portraits and images that explore what modern British culture is from international perspectives.
Artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson , Evelyn Hoffer and Rineke Dijksra are featured with pictures dating back as far as the 1930’s being exhibited.
As someone who is generally interested in people (a nice way of saying I’m nosy) this exhibition was so interesting. Rather than just showing the elite or the body beautiful the photographs portrayed people from all over the UK, in normal walks of life and exposed the stories of those that may not have been heard otherwise. It was powerful.
Post- Brexit Britain feels like a nation divided, it is difficult to say whether there is a national identity anymore. However, Parr highlights (through the work of the photographers) that there has always been unrest in Britain- from the world wars to the conflict in Northern Ireland. As a journalist I think words are really important (obviously) but there was something very poignant about seeing the graphic interpretations of these photographers.
The exhibition ends with a series of specially commissioned photographs from Romanian photographer Alex Beldea capturing contemporary Manchester as it is perceived by those who live there.
The exhibition will run until the end of May 2017 at Manchester Art Gallery and if you can get yourself there I completely recommend it.