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Manchester creatives celebrate identity, community and queerness at the 2023 Bound Art Book Fair at Whitworth Art Gallery

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Featured image and photography: Anna Klekot

The Bound Art Book Fair returned to The Whitworth art gallery this month, featuring over 65 exhibitors showcasing a range of creative work including zines, books and posters.

The gallery was filled with independent publishers and artists showcasing creative projects, and featured free artist talks open to the public, including Indian-born Canadian photographer Sunil Gupta and ‘Sports Banger’, a British fashion collective made by Jonny Banger.

The programme harmonised with the main Whitworth exhibition titled ‘(Un)Defining Queer’, which examines how we can use a queer lens to define what the term ‘queer’ means.

Manchester School of Art presented a collective stall at the event, featuring an assortment of art, ranging from zines to handmade coasters. Their stall included work made by photographers and artists and incorporated a playful picnic design and an ‘artist menu’ to introduce the exhibiting artists.

The collection aimed to “strike a balance between covering complex themes of identity, community, philosophy and queerness with a playful exploration of bookbinding and risograph prints”.

At the top of this mountain the foxes still roam

Recent Manchester Met photography graduates Elliott Howard and Joe Flynn were among the self-published artists at the Fair. Their collective presented a project titled ‘At the top of this mountain the foxes still roam’, which focuses on their individual artistic development after graduating university this year.

Joe, a Welsh artist based in Manchester, said: “My work focuses on youth culture through contemporary design, film photography and narrative storytelling.”

Reflecting his own experiences in the city, Joe creates a narrative in the form of zines: “I always worried that I would not have one single image that would stand out. I decided to work in the zine medium as it allows you to take 20-30 photos that may not be the strongest and create one body of work that stands out.”

Elliott, who born in Manchester but grew up in Spain, discussed how his upbringing translates into his work, which is highly focused on exploring identity and culture.

Elliott explained how portraiture, paired with landscape and text, are two prominent ways in which creates work. “This varies from social documentary to tongue-in-cheek football culture,” he said.

“For me, a lot of that has looked at simply the things that I’ve done since I’ve left university, be that going on holiday, creating work from there. A big piece of it [involved] looking at the people who I’ve spent a lot of time with since leaving university.”

For more from The Whitworth check out their events calendar and follow @whitworthart.

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Anna Klekot

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