I set out wanting to open an art gallery in Manchester about three years ago, after realising the city didn’t have many significant galleries in comparison to the five hundred plus that London had to offer.
With the initial desire to open a gallery, I have since come together with my business partner and we have pushed that idea way beyond more than just a gallery, to a concept with a true vision – to inspire more people to love and collect art.
UNIVERSAL TOMORROW wants to change people’s perceptions of an art gallery. We want to demonstrate an art gallery is more than ‘a space’ to sell art and show art can be enjoyed by everyone.
We don’t believe in being defined by convention. Whilst we have a gallery at the heart of our business, it’s only one of the stages we will create to help artist showcase their work. To us anything can be a stage for anyone to enjoy; from city spaces; to digital billboards; to publications and brand collaboration.
So many think you need an education or an extensive vocabulary to enjoy art. We want to challenge those preconceptions and show that art can be enjoyed by everybody.
Our focus will be on the experiences we create; the beautiful spaces we curate and the conversations we start. Through the sharing of our knowledge, we want to bestow that same passion we have for art up on others and inspire people to love and collect art.
Universal Tomorrow will initially have three main elements…
THE CONTEMPORARY GALLERY – a programme of 8-10 exhibitions a year, from both national and international artist at different stages of their career.
THE ON & OFFLINE ART STORE – that will be dedicated to affordable art, from prints and sculptures to books and publications.
‘UT PROJECTS’ – the element committed to showcasing artists in various settings outside the gallery space.
With the current lockdown situation, we have had to push back our planned opening, but as soon as we can, we hope to be welcoming everyone to Universal Tomorrow, until then, do reach out and say hello, we are happy to share what and where we are up to.
I remember when I was young, my dad and I would ask ‘what’s your perfect three-car garage?’ Like most kids my age, mine were Ferrari’s and whatever Top Gear declared the fastest car that year.
At Universal Tomorrow, my business partner and I still have these ‘list like’ conversations. Artists from history we’d love to have met? Artists we’d love to host in Manchester? And our perfect 3 piece art collection. We thought we’d share some of the questions and answers.
If we could host five street artist in Manchester, who would they be?
French artist JR has been a personal favourite for a few years now. His site-specific installations are amazing. One of his photo-based aerial pasteups over Piccadilly gardens would be incredible and just what that concrete gardens need.
No top five list would be complete without Shepard Fairey. He is one of the biggest names in the street art world and has been for the last 30 years. His ‘Hope” poster depicting Barack Obama was widely described as iconic, represented Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and was responsible for making Shepard a household name. One of his iconic murals would look great on the side of the Manchester One building on Portland Street.
Conor Harrington’s murals are hands down some of my favourite works to find on my travels. His loose brushwork, seemingly unfinished works are remarkable and even better in the flesh. We have identified at least half a dozen walls in Manchester that would be perfect for one of his figurative works.
Brazilian identical twins Os Gemeos are some of the most respected painters in both the street art and graffiti scenes. Inspired by Hip Hop and Brazilian culture, their yellow-skinned characters always put a smile on my face. I would love to let these guys loose in Manchester to paint as many of their characters as possible.
I will be honest, I have also liked but never loved Aryz work, but he has made a significant change to his style in the last couple of years and now stands pretty much on the top of my favourite list. Manchester has some beautiful red brick walls that would make for a great canvases for a unique colour pallet, Aryz mural.
As well as the five artist, we couldn’t help but add Martha Cooper. Martha isn’t a street artist, but a photojournalist and is possibly one of the most important individuals to the street art scene. Martha has been documenting graffiti, street art and street culture since the 1970s. In 1984, with Henry Chalfant she published ‘Subway Art’, known by many as ‘the bible’ of graffiti. No important piece of street art would be complete without it being documented by Martha Cooper.