Flight Club for Artists
12th Sept 2013
Manchester’s rich cultural history is synonymous with creative types who aren’t afraid to lay themselves bare in front of the watching world. In recent decades it is the musicians that have deservedly stolen the most plaudits. However, you only have to look at the volume and calibre of art appearing on walls and doorways of the Northern Quarter, to see that the city is enjoying somewhat of an art renaissance.
Last week, ten brave artists headed to the city to lay themselves bare in front of over 200 revellers and compete in an underground ‘Art Battle’.
Described by one punter as ‘art for the people by the people’, Art Battle Manchester saw an eclectic mix of artists go head-to-head with the unenviable task of creating a masterpiece in only 30 minutes with the added distraction of the close proximity of 400 beady eyes, background tunes and their competitors just feet away.
The first battle of the night saw five of the artists reveal every intimate detail of their creative process. Local artist Danny Cawley said, “It was exhilarating, I never paint in front of people…but once I got started I forgot anyone was there just lost myself in the dances my colours were providing…..”
Round two was equally intense, with hugely popular artist Jay Smith using a novel approach, taking his art into the audience, encouraging others to add their fingerprints, whilst smearing himself in paint in the process. It was rather apt considered Jay signs all of his work with his own fingerprint, testimony to a large chunk of time spent in prison, before art turned his life around.
The winners of each round were democratically selected (this was Manchester after all) by the audience with artists; Emma Norman, Dave Goodwin, Lisa Rose and Jay Smith all making the final.
Although some artists brought a sizable fan club, it was the unassuming Dave Goodwin, who runs a studio at Manchester’s Craft Centre, who stole people’s hearts to become crowned winner of the first ever Art Battle Manchester.
Even those that didn’t make the final seemed to thrive off the experience of live competitive painting. Ex-professional cage fighter, Graham Hudson said, “It was a little like getting into the ring, only a little less chance of serious injury”. I’m going to get down to my fighting weight for the next “Battle”. Kirsty Latham sold her displayed Bridget Bardot painting that brought many new fans of her amazing work.
All of the work created on the night was auctioned off for local charity Mustard Tree, which raised over £500 towards the remarkable work with they do with 14,000 homeless and marginalised people (and the numbers are rising thanks to our ‘empathetic’ government) across Greater Manchester.
It was probably one of the most civilised fights in Manchester’s illustrious history. Time will tell whether the next Lowry will emerge, but either way, the fight uncovered ten of city’s the bravest Art Stars.
See more photos from the event below.
All words and photographs copyright Elspeth Moore. More writing and photos by Elspeth can be found at her author’s archive.