A Visit to Manchester Art Gallery
Yesterday seemed like a good day to explore the Manchester Art Gallery and it really was worth the trip. A black-tie function blocked me from getting a look at Lowry and Valette but of course, with three floors, there was plenty more to contemplate and admire. There were some examples of Scottish Colourism: John Duncan Fergusson’s impressions of Paris, for instance. But it was Ken Currie’s “On the Edge of a City” in the Modern & Contemporary Gallery that really reminded me of home. Burning cars and grim-faced Gorbals gangsters. What sums up Glasgow better?
More seriously, there is a fantastic painting by Mervyn Peake, author of “Gormenghast” and “Mr Pye”, titled “The Glassblower“. He was commissioned to do this during World War II by the slightly Soviet sounding “War Artists Advisory Committee”. It’s fiery and atmospheric at the same time as the figures are balletic and delicate. The poem he wrote to go along with it is included in the record I’ve linked to. Sadly the image isn’t yet public domain but you can look it up!
The Gallery is notable for its amazing Pre-Raphaelite collection. That meant I could go home with a nice little postcard of D.G. Rossetti’s “Astarte Syriaca” (a “more malign” Syrian Venus, whatever that means) – the original being sadly a bit too big to sneak into my bag.
But, reminding me why I am really here in Manchester (and what my next post should really be about), I was struck by one of the portraits on the balcony: “The Student” by Welsh painter Gwen John.