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Last weekend, I followed a photographer down the lens and through the open doors of Green Walk, into Manchester’s transformative spaces to experience the work of more than 50 artists. Ten homes opened their doors; living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens were ‘re-purposed’ and turned to gallery spaces, jewellery displays, and side street boutiques. The art was home and the home became art.

Our minds tangled more and more. We asked, “What’s on exhibit and what really lives here?” These homes had good bones and offered themselves to the artists’ whims well. Lines were blurring everywhere: unfinished walls reimagined to blank canvas, vintage handbags hanging from trees, stepladders hosting drawings and etchings, dining tables modelling handmade jewellery and precious stones.

As I admired a framed black and white piece, the man behind the table offered with a smile, “That’s not for sale, although someone has tried to buy it once or twice today.” A vintage radio squatted low on a shelf. Churchill could have boomed out at any moment. Even the floorboards seemed wise, predicting what was just around the corner, as we navigated through the laid back crowd of fellow admirers. All the ceilings were high, the windows wide, and the kitchens open – Aga, vintage tile, bricks and islands, so much colour. Our plates were full.

The photographer captured every stained glass door, a jewelled frame, an invitation to love what’s inside—and we did. This was the most welcome I’ve ever felt at any art exhibition and I wonder if it had anything to do with the intimacy of walking into a stranger’s home for the purpose of experiencing art. I admired the blues and greys of ceramic pots, churning into some kind of ocean.

We arrived at the work of Christine Evans, the ‘Artist on a Bike’. The work itself was travelling, swirling, brilliant turquoise, gliding up to a swath of orange. Landscape and language catching a ride along the page. There was an artist book on display (part diary, part story, part canvas); it translated the sensation of travel. As I pondered the art I could see her, this artist, hovering above the spokes, flying down an asphalt road in Spain.

Through another door, in another room, there were etchings, black and white strong lines, inter-woven, speaking off the page. There were framed originals and beautifully made post cards, making the original pieces both affordable and accessible. The artist, Lisa Wigham, discussed the process of how creating the reproduction pieces made it that much easier to let the original pieces go. It’s a relationship: artists creating, loving, and letting go. We discussed the willingness to share, the impact social and digital media have on exposure and sharing, and how important it is to maintain the physicality of art and these physical spaces.

At Green Walk we could touch and see, ask and discuss. We could physically own art too. We could take this art, write on it, put a stamp on it and send it back into the world again. For the artist and the admirer the Green Walk exhibition is about experience and relationship, art as a process, and an act of love.

 

Photographs courtesy of  CJGriffiths Photography.

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