Focal Points: Art and Photography

31 works from 1989 to the present day exploring how artists have employed the camera in their work.

By Matthew Tyas | 13 June 2012

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Focal Points: Art and Photography is a new display of 31 works from 1989 to the present day. The display is the first project with Manchester Art Gallery under the new The Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s scheme. It explores just some of the different ways contemporary artists have employed the camera in their work.


The display features a group of 22 original works from The Arts Council Collection including work by influential figures from the 1980s such as Keith Arnatt and Helen Chadwick, work from the 1990s by Young British Artists such as Sarah Lucas and Jane and Louise Wilson as well as more recent acquisitions by artists Nigel Shafran, Lindsay Seers and Melanie Manchot.

Focal Points also includes a number of photographic works collected by Manchester City Galleries over the last 10 years, with support from the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection scheme. These works, by artists including Craigie Horsfield, Cornelia Parker and Thomas Demand, explore the themes of photography and sculpture and the connections between the two. They are the inspiration for the photography display.

The display as a whole reveals how contemporary artists have used photography in their work to explore traditional artistic themes in bold and insightful new ways. Their photographs explore the body, reinvent still-life, examine cultural identities and explore the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time. The artworks often find ways of making the familiar strange and the ugly beautiful.

Speaking about the display, Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries said: “We know the incredible appetite for contemporary art in Manchester and this partnership with the outstanding Arts Council Collection, supported by Christie’s, means we’ll be able to sustain and delight our audiences.”

Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection said: “One of the great things about this collaborative project with Manchester Art Gallery is the way it throws a spotlight on the importance and value of a sustained programme of collecting in public institutions in this country. In bringing together great works from across the two collections, Manchester Art Gallery epitomises much of what we hope to achieve with this exciting new partnership.”

Focal Points: Art and Photography is at Manchester Art Gallery until June 2013. It is an Arts Council Collection Partnership supported by Christie’s.

Focal Points: Art and Photography
Until June 2013
Manchester Art Gallery
Free entry