16 November – 23 December 2023
Launch party: Thursday 23 November, 7pm-9pm
Presenting the rich and varied breadth of painting taking place in northern England today, Mura Ma has gathered 14 northern contemporary painters for its final exhibition of the year. In the gallery vault, a second exhibition titled Paper Thin Skin, presents a series of works on paper by highly regarded Australian artist, Veronica Cay.
Precious Little will feature two paintings from each of the following artists;
Sue Asbury, Nan Collantine, Alison Friend, Rob Hall, Ghislaine Howard, Kate Jacob, Josie Jenkins, Joe Kiney-Whitmore, Jen Orpin, Joe O’Rourke, Georgia Peskett, Jayne Simpson, Helen Thomas, Mike Thorpe.
The exhibition will offer a dual encounter, as paintings collectively enter a dialogue with each other, and due to the size of the paintings, each presents the viewer with an intimate experience.
“Small compact works often contain a real sense of supressed energy and underlying tension. They demand close inspection, are they calling out or are they calling in? Do they present barriers or a glimpse of something fleeting. Time is trapped in painting, and it would seem even more so in a confined space. It will be interesting to view this collection of disparate works together and what sort of environment they will collectively invoke,” says artist and exhibition curator, Nan Collantine.
Paper Thin Skin works on paper by Veronica Cay
An exhibition of works on paper by Australian artist, Veronica Cay will be taking place in the gallery vault.
Cay’s arts practice engages with the contradictions inherent in contemporary life from a gendered perspective. She has spent many years developing a personal language as a vehicle to convey meaning and ideas, and as an endeavour to reflect upon what it means to be human; seeking connections, testing resilience and acknowledging frailties. Her drawings all stem from weekly life drawing sessions – her mark making is often intuitive, both responding to the marks and/or obliterating them.
“Drawing from life is central to my practice – it’s a very physical process and these portraits like most of the work I do is generated in these sessions. Whilst observational drawing is the beginning of the process it is usually quickly lost in my translations,” states Cay.
“My work is about opening conversations and distilling experiences through marks that can be revealed across the surface, utterances that can be swift and staccato in sound and rhythm or fluid and generous in their tone, substance, texture and form. I use a range of mediums and tools to help evoke a response or excite the imagination. I juggle between an expressive, uncontrolled process and a sensitive more emotive response. I seek to remove traces of certainty or perfection in the marks revealing transitory moments in time – an energy transfer that is never repeated; like fleeting shadows flickering across the ground.”
“It’s an absolute honour to exhibit Ronnie Cay’s work in the UK,” continues Collantine. “Cay is a fascinating artist with a rich and complex practice. Working in drawing, painting and sculpture, along with her background in textile art, her sensitive and delicate works on paper seem to contradict a powerful thematic around the complexities of the female condition and the societal pressures women face.
All work in the two exhibitions is available to buy. For a catalogue of works please follow the link in the button below.
Read the review by Desmond Bullen in Northern Soul
Cara MacWilliam and Candice Swallow
2-11 November 2023
Preview: Wednesday 1 November, 6pm-8pm
A joint exhibition of artwork from Cara Macwilliam and Candice Swallow entitled Instinctive Energies, invites you to share the spirit and vitality of their art. Their work unfolds, nothing is planned, instinct and senses come to the fore. Layering is intrinsic to their work: the subtle quietness of Macwilliam, the eruption of energy from Swallow, their work flourishes and evolves over time.
United in their use of distinct colours and revealed marks, Swallow uses both hard and soft lines in subtle tones or rich juxtaposing colours whilst Macwilliam uses the layering of paler shades to create rich vibrancy, with just the gentlest, intricate touch, featherlike at times. Through the monochromatic works the focus shifts to the powerful presence of the line, with Macwilliam’s work revealing hidden depths.
Cara Macwilliam (b.1972) is a Manchester-based self-taught, disabled visual artist. She started being creative in 2018 during a severe relapse. Living with an energy limiting illness, her work allows her to reconnect to something lost long ago. The repetitive patterns and meticulous details in watercolour pencil and pen, evoke a sense of rhythm and meditation, allowing her to travel into surreal landscapes and mythologies. Macwilliam finds solace and tranquillity within the creative process.
Candice Swallow’s (b.1975) primary practice features layered marks in delicate lines or eruptions of energy across her drawings. Losing her sight aged thirty-one, Swallows has developed a unique way of working with a paper block, allowing her to maintain her independence. When drawing, all her senses work in tandem especially her sense of touch, often touching her face when working. Swallow is part of the pARTnership, an art studio linked to the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool.
“As a working-class Mancunian of the 1970’s, my home town means the world to me. To have my first showing here is poignant. I’ve been blessed to have my work shown in London, Paris and NYC but it’s just as important that artists are able to be seen in their own regions. It also means that many family and friends will be able to access my work for the first time. Showing alongside Candice Swallow from Blackpool makes it even more special for me, she’s an astonishingly accomplished artist.” Cara MacWilliam
Friday 3 November, 7–9pm – Supper Club with local chef Claire Woodier. Book here, for a three course menu & welcome drink, inspired by the artwork of Cara and Candice. BYO wine/beer/spirits, soft drinks provided
Sunday 5 November, 11am–12:30pm – ‘Exploring the unseen’ clay workshop with Cara Macwilliam. Book here for a workshop looking at your internal self and emotions, with polymer clay provided. £10
Thursday 9 November, 6:30–8:30pm – In-person richly illustrated talk about automatic drawing with College of Psychic Studies Curator and Archivist Vivienne Roberts, followed by Q&A with exhibiting artist Cara Macwilliam. Book here for the talk, to include light refreshments. £10
About the Gallery
Jennifer Lauren Gallery is run by Jennifer Gilbert – a Manchester-based gallerist, freelance producer and curator, working with disabled, neurodivergent, self-taught, and overlooked artists. In 2017 she launched the Jennifer Lauren Gallery to internationally showcase these artists, having previously spent years managing a national arts charity for under-represented artists. Jennifer is passionate about showcasing the voices and artworks of these artists to wider audiences, allowing their true artistic language to shine.
Live with it - artists' house and art takeaway
“It’s not just a question of how to live with art, but how to live in it,” Katie Evans, Creative Tourist
Mura Ma has invited more than 30 artists and designers to co-create an imagined home environment within the gallery, to explore the idea of the home as an artistic practice.
“Somewhere between an expanded still life and a stage set-an invitation to participate in an imagined occupancy. A mise-en-scene.” Kirsty Bell, author of Artist’s House
Facilitated by artists Jane Fairhurst and Nan Collantine, who have handed over the installation process to the artists themselves, Live with it will begin with a series of unseen performative elements, starting with the activation of the space with sculptures by Kat Button and Jane Fairhurst.
The gallery will be divided into rooms, intimated through the placing of items of furniture. Each room is then developed, as artists respond through the placing of an artwork and an object within their chosen space in a given time slot of 30 minutes.
Viewers will be invited to enter the created space to experience the imagined environment that mimics the ‘artists house’.
An accompanying programme of events and activities will investigate home as a place of creative endeavour, observe and discuss the practice of collecting and arranging, and explore how domestic labour and caring can be reframed as valuable creative capital.
The exhibition will evolve as art and all objects in the exhibition are available to buy and taken away, as you would in a shop. Sold objects and artworks will be replenished on a weekly basis and different artists will be invited to place work within the installation.
“Jane and I wanted to explore ideas around creative and artistic practice in the home and questioning who gets to be the curator. We believe that anyone who creates an environment, however small, be it a shelf, a studio flat, shelter or a house does so with their own artistic, aesthetic, and cultural sensitivities. Reading Shaun McNiff’s book, Trust the Process in the early days of my own practice, helped me tune into this idea that domestic space, arrangements, physical activities around the home, each offers insights into our unique expression as humans.
“Collecting objects is associated with building meaning into our lives and the things around us are vessels for memory. The way we display those objects is vital to our creating a world in which we feel safe and sheltered from the outside world and in that becomes an expression of our inner world.”
“Rethinking, re-imagining the gallery space as a place not only to experience artworks but to participate in this mise en scene as actors performing their roles. As a modern gallery we want to show people that art offers a multi-dimensional value to life, whether that is art, or a handmade item or even something given to us with all that embedded meaning and memory. It is about creatively constructing our own reality and bring together objects that help us to create that world, express who we are and to act as memory holders.”
“It seems a simple act to place my work in an empty space but there is something profound and quite daunting in the act of choosing, as the first actor on the stage setting in motion the scene for what is to follow.
In activating the space within a freeform concept lays the foundation for an unknown structure and that is exhilarating. Like a seed whose DNA has been scrambled and knows not what it will become but knows that from its germination something new and wonderful will bloom.
I’m excited to play my part at the start of the construction of a stage setting to which each artist will bring their own flavour and when the viewers arrive to take their part the mise en scene will be complete.”
image credits from the top: Nicola Hood, Jude Wainwright, Michelle Oliver, Jane Fairhurst, Emma Jackson.
title page image: Kat Button
Thanks to our sponsor, Ashley Aspin Decorator and Colour Consultant for supporting this exhibition.
Read the review on Creative Tourist
MYE PAINTING COLLECTIVE exhibition residency
10-20 August 2023
SUBTLE REBELLION exhibition residency
HELEN AND DAVID ROSCOE-RUTTER
21 July -5 August 2023
HANG EACH NIGHT IN RAPTURE
9 June -15 July 2023
13 April – 20 May 2023
18 March – 1 April 2023
A solo exhibition of new work by artist-printmaker, Joey Collins.
20 January – 20 February 2023
We opened our brand-new gallery space with an exhibition of painting by Rachael Addis, Suzanne Bethell, Nan Collantine and Kate Jacob.