Trip to Manchester Art Gallery

 Posted by at 01:23 on 30 January 2014
Jan 302014
 

As I mentioned last week, I went to Manchester Art Gallery with Glossopdale WI, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Gallery of Craft and Design. I got completely absorbed in that section, and took a ton of photos.

Upon arrival, we stopped in the cafe for a drink first, and then made our way upstairs. Be sure to click on the photo & then the right arrows to follow the narrative.

First round of photos …

I’ve done what I can with these photos; they’re not brilliant, but these things are just too neat to not try to share. The lighting is absolutely terrible in that room – I was struggling to see many things with my eyeballs, forget about through the lens. Things behind glass are always difficult to photograph; moreso when they have no opaque backing, making the background difficult to control. I tend to prefer not to use my flash on old things, though I except certain materials like silver where I don’t think it makes a difference. And then, just for kicks, my camera batteries ran out at lunchtime, so the rest of the photos were taken with my cell phone – thankfully it usually takes acceptable photos.

Thoughts on Grayson Perry’s exhibit …

That’s all I had time for in the hour before we were meeting back in the cafe for lunch. After waiting an eternity to pay for a simple pre-made sandwich, I listened to the others discuss the tapestry exhibit they’d gone to see. I’m glad I did; one friend observed that she feels like the artist is trying to shake Britain by the shoulders and tell us to wake up and realize how petty and vanishingly small the differences that we latch onto are. Later, after I’d gone to see it myself, I found I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. Included in the exhibit was also the set of drawings A Rake’s Progress, which was very interesting (you can see the whole thing there at that link).

I found the tapestries, which are very garish and cartoonish, giving caricatures really, illustrative of what the perceived differences are between classes. When the mother and father feel like they’ve moved from working class to middle class, the cleanliness of their place is highlighted, particularly by the mother vacuuming the astro-turf lawn. Apparently everything being perfectly clean and tidy is a strong impression the working class has of how the middle class is.

I don’t expect I’ll ever understand the signs for classes here – in large part because I don’t actually care about social class, but rather whether an individual is a classy and decent person. I also find class is something that won’t be discussed, generally. Apparently there was a strong message put out in the 80s and 90s that modern Britain is a classless society, classes no longer exist, etc. It didn’t work, of course. Instead, now class simply isn’t talked about. When I raise the subject for possible discussion, I’m always met with the refrain that Britain doesn’t have classes anymore, and the conversation moves swiftly to some other subject. And yet, when I observe closely, I see that social class is very much still noticed and very much affects opportunities and people.

I do wish it wasn’t this way. I fervently wish we could just take individuals as they are, and not feel this need to put them into bins, stereotyping them in order to simplify and hasten our process of (mis)understanding them. This is what underlies all stereotypes, whether they come from class, occupation, sex, age, weight, color, height, proclivity to wear polka dots, or anything else under the sun. We won’t, of course, because there are many people and our energy is finite. *sigh*

After lunch photos …

After lunch, though, I went back to the Gallery of Craft and Design to pick up where I’d left off. I got to the Grayson Perry exhibit later on, and then to the Dutch paintings exhibit. More photos from the craft and design gallery:

I didn’t take photos of anything else in the building; I was tired of taking photos by then.

After gallery photos …

I left the gallery at about 3:30 because I was tired and because I wanted to make it to a shop to price fabric for a project I’m considering. I wandered through Chinatown, and then groped fabric, and then headed home. A few more photos:

Then I headed home! Hope you enjoyed my day out as much as I did!

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