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Review: Unland Exhibition

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By Rachel Cook
Interviews by Neal Menhinick
Images by Shannon Sumner

Students from the Manchester School of Art recently showcased their work in a new exhibition in Manchester’s Northern Quarter: Unland. The students displayed a broad range of artwork in response to the word. They all explored the theme via a range of mediums, which, in some cases, strayed from their usual practices and included many forms of art, from photography to sculpture to etching on metal. The artists said that experimenting with a variety of mediums helped to inform their decisions and passions within their art practices.

The artists used their own experiences to influence their work which gave visitors an insight into each individual. Tanica Powell’s display was a very personal interpretation about being mixed race. Tanica explained that she often feels displaced, yet at home at the same time. She said, “People push the idea that you’re from somewhere else.” Her distorted imagery and etching on steel focuses on hair as a key signifier for different races which gave us an insight into her experience of feeling like an outsider.

Sam Draffin’s art work stems from his interest in walking and taking himself away from his usual environment to explore new places. His passion for photography is influenced by this as he is able to document what he is experiencing, which was reflected in the exhibition by his beautifully, high contrast photography and moving images. Sam spoke to us about film development processes, and how to manage big art projects and exhibitions for the public on a student budget when there are lots of material, studio and technical costs.

The artists also shared with us what they learnt from curating an exhibition and explained how it was interesting to see the variety of views different people have on the work being displayed when it is put in front of an audience. Tanica enjoyed the fact that her work got people to question the things she had intended them to, and relate it to themselves and their backgrounds. Emily Harding, whose work represented countryside landscapes from Ireland, also explained how the exhibition has helped her to take risks, push her work further and connect with a wide range of people.

Unland was a thought-provoking exhibition curated by artists who clearly have a lot of passion about what they do. They had each invested a lot of time and effort into the exhibition and all were rather emotional when the project came to an end. For more information about Manchester School of Art exhibitions, see the school website.

Artists: Sam Draffon, Tanica Powell, Emily Harding, Rowan Jones, Dominika Hrtusova




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