Iconic Bowie – Dimbola Museum & Galleries

Iconic Bowie – Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Isle of Wight, 7th June – 18th August 2019

From the flame-haired glam and stacked platforms of Ziggy Stardust to the stark, dark persona of the Thin White Duke, David Bowie leaves an imprint of creativity, experiment and style that defies convention and comparison. A pioneer musically and visually, his imagery is instantly recognisable and has opened doors for future generations to have the confidence to be themselves, whatever that means and however it looks.

A new exhibition celebrating Bowie’s remarkable contribution to the world will be opening its doors at the Isle of Wight’s Dimbola Museum & Galleries just in time for this year’s festival-goers to drop in. The show includes photography, painting, vinyl art and sculpture and takes a look at some lesser known local connections as well as housing pieces from established industry contributors. It looks set to be a fascinating visit.

Bowie © Terry O’Neill

Details from the press release here:

Iconic Bowie is a major retrospective of the extraordinary life of David Bowie. A journey in which the Isle of Wight witnessed his first public musical performance at a Corf Scout Camp, Shalfleet in 1958 and Bowie’s last UK live show headlining at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004.

Iconic Bowie showcases both stunning and intimate portraits of Bowie by some of the world’s greatest photographers. The photographs, from the extensive Iconic Images archive, were taken over his phenomenal 50 year career and draw into focus the remarkable contribution Bowie made to culture, music and art. These portraits contain rare moments, the force of Bowie’s unique nature and his personality on film. Each image is an illuminating artefact of one of the greatest artists that has ever lived.

‘Great portrait photographers do a rare thing through extraordinary alchemy that renders light, exposure, emotion, soul, sorrow, joy and beauty forever fixed in time. Iconic Bowie contains images that startle the world and provide an illuminating insight into the astonishing career of David Bowie.’ (Brian Hinton, Chairman of Dimbola Museum and Galleries)

There is a brilliance in capturing the sound, spirit, aesthetics and unearthly metamorphosis of Bowie. The Iconic Images archive is one of the biggest collections of David Bowie imagery under one house. Terry O’Neill, Kevin Cummins, Markus Klinko, Justin de Villenuve, Milton H Greene and Gerald Fearnley all had important roles throughout the visual life of this singular artist. Through the collective lens of these creative photographers, a true visual image of Bowie the artist was realised.

Kevin Cummins first photographed Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour of 1972- 1973, went on to photograph and be influenced by him throughout his career and can remember the effect of seeing Bowie on stage… ‘I went to see David Bowie when I was in my teens. I had never seen anything like that on stage and I had seen various things which were all very flashy and very showy. Now, it may seem normal but at the time nobody really had that kind of theatricality in rock ‘n’ roll.’ (Kevin Cummins)

Bowie © Kevin Cummins

To celebrate Bowie’s influence on art and culture, Dimbola has invited contemporary British sculptor Guy Portelli to curate an artists’ response to Bowie in the Charles Hay Gallery. The collection, featuring artists Keith Haynes, Chris Myers and Guy Portelli, will show artworks inspired by the music and iconic imagery of David Bowie.

Exploring the Isle of Wight/Bowie connection there will be a rare display of ephemera tracing Bowie’s early footsteps on the island. These include copies of The Bowie Bureau (1977-1982), a magazine produced by two long-standing friends and sent from their Ventnor home to destinations throughout the world as well as adverts from Bowie’s three early appearances at Ventnor Winter Gardens with Davy Jones & the Lower Third in the summer of 1965.

The exhibition is kindly sponsored by Wightlink, Solo Agency, Style of Wight and The Seaview Hotel. All exhibition images are limited editions and available to purchase.’

Iconic Bowie runs from 7th June – 18th August 2019 – free entry

Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Terrace Lane, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight PO40 9QE
Opening times: 7 days a week 10 – 5 – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Dimbola Museum & Galleries and are copyrighted as credited

Words for introduction by Siobhan

21st May 2019

Joy for Ever (The Whitworth)

Exhibition – The Whitworth, Manchester, 29th March – 9th June 2019
Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market

A new exhibition opening its doors on Friday takes a look at the life, work and impact of artist and social reformer John Ruskin. The parallels between his quest for equality in the 1800s and current concerns around discrimination and accessibility in today’s society can’t fail to strike a chord. The content includes a huge variety of subject matter and artistic technique, all set in The Whitworth’s beautiful building and surroundings.

John Ruskin and Manchester – a synopsis:

Born into a prosperous home in 1819, John Ruskin travelled extensively around Europe with his parents, developing a keen interest in art and architecture. Over time, he became troubled by the comparison between some of the beautiful places he visited and what he considered to be a grimy capitalist environment on his return. In adulthood he became a famed art critic then began to speak out as a lecturer, berating property developers for prioritising profit over the wellbeing of their communities, industrialists for not treating their workers properly and the Victorian bourgeoisie as a whole for neglecting the welfare of the poor. In 1857 Ruskin voiced a particularly scathing attack on the city of Manchester in response to The Great Art Treasures exhibition, a huge collection of artworks amassed from wealthy private owners, epitomising everything he found unjust and unbalanced. His views were not appreciated by the conservative magazine and publisher he wrote for and led to his essays being pulled from publication; he proceeded to publish them instead in his seminal book Unto This Last. He went on to set up The Guild of St George (originally St George’s Company and still a charity today) to pursue his vision of a better society where communities would live more happily working within a network of rural, sustainable farms and be given access to education and museums. Quite what he would make of today’s society where the vulnerable have their benefits withdrawn and food banks are a growing trend is something to ponder. There is no little irony in the fact that the exhibition opens on the day that was due to see the dawning of Brexit but instead finds us amidst a political meltdown of enormous proportions. 

Facade of The Doge’s Palace, Venice – The Vine Angle, 1907.5, John Ruskin © Manchester Art Gallery / Bridgeman Images

Exhibition details:

‘In the 200th anniversary of his birth, The Whitworth responds to the artist, art critic, teacher and social reformer John Ruskin – in a year when his words seem as relevant now as they did then, in a climate of perceived ecological, political and social catastrophe. Ruskin was complex, difficult and flawed, as well as profound. He also hated Manchester, and therefore it seems fitting that the city responds with equal complexity and irreverence.

Joy for Ever combines The Whitworth’s renowned collection of art and design with archival documents, contemporary installations, a cast of the wall of Westminster Hall, a road building, textiles, politics, pictures, a protest on the EBacc by local school children and commissions from Manchester based design studio Standard Practice and Grizedale Arts from the Lake District.

Peter Hodgson and Laure Prouvost, Tile Panel, 2016, Photo by Adam Sutherland

In the first gallery, the displays respond to Ruskin’s question: how can an art collection be used for wider social advantage? Here some of the Whitworth’s collections are curated by the gallery’s Handmade group, who meet regularly as part of a city-wide campaign to develop Manchester as an age-friendly city, alongside Year 9 pupils from Hyndburn Academy in Blackburn in protest against the introduction of the EBacc that devalues arts education in schools.

The next gallery focuses on the relationship between art, architecture and ideas of good governance, speaking of how Gothic style was appropriated in the 19th century and became the architecture of state and commercial power. Ruskin admired the city of Venice as a model society, in which its Gothic buildings were created by the mutual cooperation of architect and craftsman, forming much of his thinking on the relationship between labour and happiness. Depictions of Gothic architecture by Ruskin’s favourite artists JMW Turner and Samuel Prout from The Whitworth’s collection will be displayed.

Jorge Otero-Pailos’ Ethics of Dust, a large-scale latex cast directly from the wall surface of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, will be displayed alongside wallpaper designs by Augustus Pugin and Alfred Waterhouse’s designs of Manchester’s neo-Gothic Town Hall.

Both images above: Jorge Otero-Pailos – The Ethics of Dust, Westminster Hall, London, 2016. Commissioned and produced by Artangel, Photos by Marcus J Leith

A new moving image work by Greek artist, Aikaterini Gegisian is included. This draws from the archives of the US Library of Congress and explores the breakdown of the European Union manifested in both the Greek debt crisis and Brexit.

Picture above & header picture: Third Person (Plural): Episode 1: Centrifuge, 2018-19 film stills courtesy of Aikaterini Gegisian

The final gallery explores art’s role in education and social design. Ruskin believed that drawing from nature helps shape our understanding of citizenship. He had a huge teaching collection, often making and commissioning copies of paintings and drawings of natural specimens as tools for instruction. Here a selection of drawings from Manchester’s collections alongside an original lecture diagram, plaster casts of leaves and models of feathers borrowed from The Ruskin Museum are presented. Manchester design studio Standard Practice has been commissioned to make a series of drawing lecterns for visitors to make drawings inspired by the collections on display.

Grizedale Arts marks its 10 year anniversary of projects in Coniston, the town where Ruskin lived for the last 28 years of his life and where he implemented many of his social experiments on craft, farming, water supply, dairy producing etc. This exhibition will present a mini survey of around 100 projects they’ve created to date, such as the Honest Shop, mini library and exhibitions of local crafts with a series of connected making workshops and talks.’

Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market runs from 29th March – 9th June 2019 – free entry

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
Opening times: Monday – Wednesday 9-5, Thursday 9-9, Friday – Saturday 9-5, Sunday 10-5 – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Whitworth and are copyrighted/owned as credited

Words for introduction and synopsis by Siobhan

27th March 2019

There Is A Light (Manchester Central Library)

Exhibition, Manchester Central Library 11th Oct 2018 – 22nd Feb 2019
There is a Light that Never Goes Out

(Header shot: Buzzcocks © Jill Furmanovsky)

Amidst the early furore of punk, Manchester’s Buzzcocks created arguably the first DIY record with their independently released Spiral Scratch EP. It is apt then that the opening photo in this exhibition of the local music scene is one of Buzzcocks, now complete with hastily scribbled neon post-it notes stuck to a board below, tributes to the late, undeniably great Pete Shelley. The picture shows the band standing in front of rows of library books – subjects Fiction and Romance, begging the question was the location carefully found to match the song or is this maybe where the title came from?

Mark E Smith © Howard Barlow

Featuring artists past and present, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (‘a photographic celebration of Manchester’s rock music history’) is currently making its home in the first floor exhibition hall at Manchester Central Library. Presented by Rockarchive, it is curated by their founder and acclaimed photographer, Jill Furmanovsky and music writer Jon Savage, a noted journalist and author of the rise of punk narrative England’s Dreaming. Here, Jill explains how the exhibition came about…

‘Manchester is a city inextricably linked to its musical heritage.

When my Oasis DNA exhibition finished showing at this library in 2017, the idea of a Manchester rock music exhibition seemed a natural follow up. So in collaboration with writer Jon Savage and with help from the Manchester Digital Music Archive, we pulled together this unique collection of photographs.

We decided to concentrate on showing gritty images of those bands and musicians whose music is so deeply rooted in Manchester, one cannot imagine rock music or the city itself being the same without their contribution. Many of these are the bands and musicians that formed in the wake of punk, at a time when Manchester’s music scene was expanding in a unique and inimitable way.

So long is the reach of the city’s collective musical talent, we could have created an exhibition twice the size of this one. However, sadly we have not been able to feature every band or image we would have liked and the curators had some hard decisions to make.

We are thrilled to be showcasing work by many of the UK’s most talented music photographers, including Manchester based Kevin Cummins and his brilliant colleague, Pennie Smith, whose pictures of The Stone Roses shown define the very essence of a band that gel together effortlessly. Other contributors either lived locally and recorded the scene, or worked extensively with Manchester bands. They include Paul Slattery, Steve Double, Peter Walsh and Howard Barlow, who all had strong relationships with the musicians they worked with. A number of historic photographs from my own Manchester archive are also shown here.

The final section of the exhibition reflects Manchester’s vibrant and diverse current music scene, with photos of many of the contemporary acts who continue to keep the flame of Manchester music alive today. We have also devoted a wall to the musical outpourings and audience response that helped people express their grief and defiance after the tragic events at Manchester Arena in 2017.

Manchester’s musical legacy continues to dominate even to this day in a city whose light will never go out.’

(Jill Furmanovsky and the Rockarchive Collective)

Oasis © Jill Furmanovsky

An excellent collection documenting artists who have had a huge impact on music in the UK and internationally, There Is A Light offers an opportunity to see first hand some classic, instantly recognisable shots of the likes of Joy Division, The Fall, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Oasis as well as lesser seen photos and numerous other acts who have played a part in the colourful history of the city’s music scene.

The final wall gives an indication of the ongoing talent in Manchester, including contemporary photos of Blossoms, Jane Weaver and Pale Waves to name just a few. Through the punk clubs and Tony Wilson’s Hacienda days with Factory Records, there are numerous reference points that will be of interest to fans of the music and the city alike. And for any music photographers out there – a chance to consider how some of these most memorable shots were conceived before the multitude of editing software available today came into play; lots to think about and take inspiration from.

A Guy Called Gerald and Graham Massey from 808 State play live at Victoria Baths during Tony Wilson’s Other Side of Midnight show © Peter J Walsh

Unsurprisingly, the exhibition has already attracted thousands of visitors and there’s still plenty of time to drop in. Oh, and that Buzzcocks photo? Back to Jill…

‘It was a typical music press type shoot in August 1977. No assistants, no lighting. Just me and the band with their press officer, in this case supremo Alan Edwards, walking about, stopping to take pictures by road signs, street art, in a fish and chip shop, on a climbing frame in a children’s playground, and finally in a local library where the band stood in front of two book shelves labelled Fiction and Romance. As scholars of punk will know, there is a Buzzcocks song of that name. The question that has still not been answered definitively, not even by the band themselves, is which came first, the picture or the song? I still maintain the picture came first…’

Joy Division © Jill Furmanovsky

Many of the photos in the exhibition can be purchased as prints from Rockarchive – with some already iconic images in the mix there’s no doubt these will be collectors’ pieces of the future. Further details are available on their website.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out runs until 22nd February 2019 – free entry

Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square M2 5PD
Opening times: Monday – Thursday 9-8, Friday – Saturday 9-5, Sunday closed – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images are reproduced with permission from Rockarchive and are copyrighted by the photographer credited

Additional words by Siobhan

8th January 2019

V&A Dundee

The Victoria and Albert in London is one of the largest design museums in the world as well as being one of the longest established, founded way back in 1852.

Its new family member, V&A Dundee, is a baby in comparison, a project almost 10 years in the making, opened to the public in September 2018. Designed by award-winning Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (also charged with designing the Olympic Stadium for Tokyo 2020), the striking building in made up of curved concrete walls supporting 2,500 rough stone panels, set to replicate a Scottish cliff-face and resembling the shape of a ship. Sitting on the waterfront with the River Tay as its backdrop, it somehow manages to blend in and stand out all at once.

V&A Dundee houses examples of Scottish design from fashion to furniture; music fans will appreciate the inclusion of record sleeves designed by Glasgow’s David Band for Aztec Camera and Altered Images. For fans of another famous Glaswegian, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Oak Room has been painstakingly reconstructed as it would have been seen originally in Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms in the early 1900s.

Additionally, temporary exhibitions, events and activities will run throughout the year and there is a cafe, restauarant and a range of suitably aesthetically pleasing items available in the gift shop all on site. It will be interesting to see how the museum develops and hopefully brings new business and tourism alike to the area and its community.

V&A Dundee, Riverside Esplanade DD1 4EZ

Free entry, some exhibitions have an entrance fee

Opening times: Monday – Sunday 10-5 – please check the website for further details and prices of current exhibitions before visiting

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th January 2019

Martin Parr (Manchester Art Gallery)

Exhibition, Manchester Art Gallery, 16th Nov 2018 – 22nd Apr 2019
Martin Parr: Return to Manchester 

‘Martin Parr shows how the lives of Mancunians have changed but also reveals how there is continuity in how we live our lives.’

(Header shot  above: Ashton-Under-Lyne, Yates Wine Lodges, 1983)

Manchester Art Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of photographer Martin Parr’s work. The collection offers a wry, observational social commentary on the city and its characters. Parr has a knack of capturing the ordinary in an extraordinary way; each shot suggesting a story to be told.

Manchester, Moss Side, 1970

Parr studied photography in Manchester in the early 70s but was hooked in much earlier whilst accompanying his amateur photographer grandfather, learning how to use a camera and helping to develop and print the shots at home. His pictures are honest and far from glamorous at times, but reflect an affection and respect for his surroundings and a place that has clearly had a significant impact on his life. His earlier black and white photos carry an air of nostalgia, some proudly posed, others caught in a moment. The picture below is from a set taken with the residents of June Street in 1973 in collaboration with Daniel Meadows. The pair set about finding the ‘real Coronation Street’ and gained agreement from the families living there to take portrait shots in their front rooms. It’s fascinating to see the variety of furnishings and ornaments on display and obvious to see the subjects’ pride in their homes; moments that wouldn’t have been available for much longer as the street was scheduled for demolition at the time.

Salford, Greater Manchester, ‘June Street’ in collaboration with Daniel Meadows, 1973

A variety of other early projects included in the exhibition document patients at the Prestwich Mental Hospital, ‘Love Cubes’ (in which Parr photographed couples separately and you can play the game of trying to match them up before seeing the shots of them together) a photo set depicting some of the regulars at Yates Wine Lodges and another portraying bad weather, where his use of flash brings a clever contrast to the dark and wet surroundings.

The introduction of bold colours into his work documents the changing environment around him up until the present day. The birthday party shown below is celebratory in its focus and brightness. The tattooed barber underneath gives a nod to traditional cut-throat shaving in modern surroundings, slightly threatening at first glance but with the subject actually using the most delicate of methods. Both shots draw the eye with their vibrancy and careful composition.

Manchester, Levenshulme, Royal Nawaab, 21st Birthday Party, 2018

While some photography exhibitions only show a small number of pieces, there are hundreds of photos here spanning Parr’s career and filling the entirety of the second floor. Some of the later colour shots will remain as part of the gallery’s permanent collection but you would be wise not to miss out on the ones that won’t. This is a captivating stroll through the decades with one of the UK’s finest photojournalists and well worth setting aside some time for.

Manchester, Barton Arcade, Barber Barber, 2018

Martin Parr: Return To Manchester runs until 22nd April 2019 – free entry

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
Opening times: Monday 11-5, Tuesday – Sunday 10-5, first Wednesday of every month open until 9 – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images are reproduced with permission and are © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery apart from ‘June Street’ which is by Martin Parr and Daniel Meadows

Words by Siobhan

2nd January 2019