Bankley Gallery in Levenshulme showcases work from 20 artists selected from annual open call

  • From over 350 entries 20 artists were selected

  • Local photographer Hannah Louise Foster awarded runner-up prize

  • Winners, Davies, Monaghan & Klein awarded Bankley Gallery solo show next year

Bankley Gallery is staging an exhibition showcasing the work of 20 artists in its first open call since the beginning of lockdown in 2019.

The past 18 months of lockdown has influenced much of the artists’ work which are all linked by what exhibition judge and Manchester photographer Simon Buckley describes as “a sense of melancholy, loneliness and fear”. 

Photographer and Manchester School of Art alumni, Hannah Louise Foster, was awarded runner-up which she says has given her back some of the confidence she lost during the pandemic.

Blood Test by Garry Young (left), Contamini by Reece Adair (centre) and Abandoned Car by Lee Shott (right)
Blood Test by Garry Young (left), Contamini by Reece Adair (centre) and Abandoned Car by Lee Shott (right)

Painter Jason Carr uses his piece to show the impact lockdown has had on his mental health. He says his inner saboteur came to visit more regularly and he lost a part of himself he is still working on getting back.

Abandoned Car by Lee Shott (left) and The Ghost of You (Part 1) by Jason Carr (right)
Abandoned Car by Lee Shott (left) and The Ghost of You (Part 1) by Jason Carr (right)

But within the darkness of these personal stories there is often a ray of hope to be found. Talking about her painting, Minjoo Kim says “the world seems like it’s in the dark with a tiny bit of dimming light”. 

Her piece, ANDO, meaning relief in English, is the name of Kim’s favourite café in her home city Seoul, which is depicted in her painting as her escape from experiencing lockdown in the UK away from her family.

ANDO by Minjoo Kim
ANDO by Minjoo Kim

The gallery saw more than 100 people through its doors on the opening weekend. Open every Saturday and Sunday until 10 October, the Bankley Open 2021 exhibition features some of the most talented artists in Manchester.

The spirit of Manchester is particularly present in the work of Catherine Hill whose embroidered auto-biographical piece, The Sound of the Kenwood Chef, is inspired by her memories of growing up in 1970s Lancashire

There is an interesting mix of work by established and emerging artists. Recent Manchester School of Art graduate Reece Adair described seeing his work alongside that of his elder local and international peers as an enlightening and humbling experience.

Many of the artists featured in the exhibition have moved to Manchester from other places in the UK, and others from even further afield such as Germany and New Zealand. 

Glass House by Aisling Davis (foreground)
Glass House by Aisling Davis (foreground)

The nature of an open call exhibition also allows the space to be shared by many different disciplines. Sculpture, painting, photography, ceramic, embroidery, music and film all come together to create a varied experience which aims to provide everyone with something to connect to.

Although there was no set brief to the open call, Bankley Gallery says the selected works all stir a sense of intrigue.

The winning artist, collaborative trio Davies, Monaghan and Klein, epitomise this with their incredibly mysterious piece No Tomorrows which is hidden behind a wall, allowing only one person at a time to experience the melancholic wonder within, through a small letterbox shaped hole.

Bankley Studios and Gallery is located on Bankley Street in Levenshulme 

The buzz of the opening weekend has reinvigorated the curators at Bankley after a long and painful 18 months of lockdown. 

“Nearly everyone who came through the door hadn’t been here before. There’s a curiosity and a hunger and we want to harness that enthusiasm.”

Bankley Gallery say they are committed to feeding that enthusiasm, by making all of their exhibitions free and open to everyone.