The countdown to Manchester Art Fair, one of the UK’s largest and most significant art fairs, is on as it prepares to return to Manchester Central next weekend (November 17 – 19).
The event, which this year celebrates its 15th edition, has attracted over 90,000 visitors since inception amassing almost £6m in art sales.
It’s an incredible success story for the show’s Managing Director Sophie Helm and Executive Chairman of Manchester Art Fair, Thom Hetherington, who back in 2008 were told that an art fair would never work in the North. It has not only defied the critics, it has played a critical role in contributing to the North’s now burgeoning art sector.
Now, with just one week to go to the return of the acclaimed art and cultural event, organisers have unveiled the full programme for 2023, and it is the event’s biggest and most inclusive art fair on record.
Over 170 UK and international individual artists, galleries and artist-led spaces are confirmed to show including the works of some of the world’s most celebrated artists Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Grayson Perry, and Banksy.
They feature alongside new entrants for 2023 including Demif Gallery, British Art Portfolio, Art Court, and First Contemporary, and returning favourites Hidden Gallery and Carnes Fine Art. It is one of the most diverse ranges of work to be exhibited catering for every style and taste.
Providing the opportunity to learn more about some of this year’s exhibiting artists and developments in the art sector will be the fair’s Art Talk programme. Headlining is artist and disability and arts rights activist, Tony Heaton OBE, who joins curator at Grundy Art Gallery, Paulette Brien, in conversation as they unpack some of the key concerns within the artist’s practice and explore the arts disability rights movement, past and present.
Further inviting discussion regarding inclusivity in the arts is a conversation with Rogue Women chaired by curator and creative consultant Polly Checkland Harding. In this 45-minute passionate talk visitors can hear the thoughts of some of the North’s most prominent female artists including Rogue Women founders Jen Orpin and Margaret Cahill on the subject of gender imbalance in the arts. The two sessions are part of a robust programme of talks running across the Saturday and Sunday.
In an exclusive for Manchester Art Fair, renowned street artist, AKSE P19, has produced a limited-edition print of the photograph of his iconic Ian Curtis mural on Fairfield Street in Manchester to help support mental health charity Shout 85258.
The mural pays tribute to the lead singer of the band Joy Division and is based on a photograph of Curtis performing in Brussels in 1979, taken by acclaimed Belgian photographer Philippe Carly. It is the first time in ten years that the artist has made a print of his work available for sale, having previously painted live at Manchester Art Fair in 2013.
He is joined by local artists Ian Rayer-Smith, an accomplished painter whose work draws from the old masters and contemporary culture to create paintings which deliver a powerful and emotional impact, and Burnley born artist, Liam Spencer, who is known for his vivid portrayals of urban landscapes, particularly of Manchester. Both will also be releasing rare, limited-edition prints exclusively for Manchester Art Fair raising funds for Trussell Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust respectfully.
Featuring alongside Manchester Art Fair and widening the breadth of work to be discovered at this year’s fair is The Manchester Contemporary, a collegiate art fair for young galleries, artist-led spaces, charitable organisations, and partner institutions providing a critically engaged environment for artistic exploration and development.
Curated by Nat Pitt from Division of Labour Gallery, this year’s edition will feature large scale sculptures and installations including Pallet Show 12, informed by the mass transit of artworks in the art market and global economy. A special feature, connecting the 200th anniversary of Manchester Art Gallery and the largest ever Manchester Contemporary Art Fund, which this year has raised £20k in donations to purchase work from the fair to place in the permanent collection of Manchester Art Gallery, will also be unveiled.
Speaking ahead of Manchester Art Fair’s return next week, Helm said: “We’re inclusive and that’s incredibly important to us. We wanted to make art accessible and are committed to catering for all. This year we’re further broadening our reach with a huge increase in floor space enabling us to showcase even more work from some of the very best Northern, UK and international artists. It’s our biggest and most impactful edition to date and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to the event.
“We have worked hard to make it an art fair for the collector, the curator, and the simply curious.”
For visitors of all ages looking to get hands-on at the event, there’ll be a host of adult and children’s art classes and demonstrations throughout the weekend courtesy of Creative Art Courses, Cass Art, and Hot Bed Press.
Learn the art of Gyotaku and the history of this art form from its roots in Japan and watch how a line caught Anglesey Bass is prepared for printing with artist Jane Evans. Or why not travel the journey from realism to abstraction to create your own abstract art with inspiration from one of Europe’s most influential artist’s Piet Mondrian?
Manchester Art Fair is a uniquely diverse mix of acclaimed galleries and independent artists, with a rich programme of artist talks, panel discussions, performances, and installations. Returning bigger than ever with over 170 exhibitors, it blurs the boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary, creating a friendly and unpretentious Northern art-buying experience. Immerse yourself in art on 17-19 November 2023 at Manchester Central.