A night jam packed with art

Did you miss our Art Night last week? Digital Reporter Beth Curran went along to see what it was all about…

As I read through the list of events that art night would have to offer, it was obvious from the outset that it would be a busy and exciting evening.  As I entered the doors of Cornerhouse there was already a buzz in the air. I am greeted by a queue of jostling people waiting to take part in the Sketch-O-Matic booth, one of the main attractions of the night. Part photobooth, part artist studio, the idea is the same – you sit down, close the curtain and wait – except instead of a passport photo you receive a piece of art. A really fun project which I was excited to try out, clearly I wasn’t the only one. The rest of the exhibitions beckoned as I decided to skip the queue (for now) and explore what else was on offer, luckily the evening didn’t disappoint. In fact it was very difficult to fit everything in!

Leaving the animated crowds who were gathered  downstairs I decided to make my way to the annexe to witness the launch of Jan William’s and Chris Teasdale’s new book – Is Britain great? 3. The artists, who have already released two books in the series through Cornerhouse, came in and gave an insightful talk on what inspired their work and shared stories from projects past and present. For those who don’t know, Chris and Jan tour Britain and capture, through the camera lens, a perspective on everyday life in Britain that we often overlook. There is no airbrushing and no rose tinted glasses. The juxtaposition of cultures, featured in the photos is eye opening and often ironically humorous.  They display the misspelt shop signs, run down pubs and everyday scenarios that we don’t often appreciate, and put it forth to the viewer as a means of celebrating its existence.

They also brought along their ongoing art project, the caravan gallery – which, as you might have guessed, is a converted art space within a caravan. Not just any caravan though, we are talking a small, mustard, sixties number with bags of character which they kindly parked outside and opened its doors later in the evening.  They describe it as a ‘social club/confessional on wheels’, and travel the length and breadth of the UK (and abroad) to explore new areas to photograph and to invite locals in for a chat to discuss the area in which they live. It is a rather weird and wonderful space which complements Chris and Jan’s photography to great effect. Their enthusiasm for the project rubbed off on me. It is the little imperfections that make life interesting.

As part of the Art night, Cornerhouse also collaborated with the Suite Studio group, a collective of artists based in Salford who put together a small selected exhibition in the downstairs cafe area. The work on offer was fresh and modern, with a mix of different styles to suit all tastes. I was particularly impressed by the work of Lesley Halliwell, whose large scale spirograph patterns brought back memories of my childhood (and arguments with my sister as to who could draw the neatest one). All of the art on show is definitely worth a look next time you enjoy a drink at Cornerhouse. I also decided to take a look upstairs at the Rashid Rana exhibition Everything Is Happening At Once in the main galleries. Blown away by the scale and detail of some of the pieces, it is a stunning collection of visual puzzles and moving subject matter.

For the lovers of vintage comedy, there was also a screening of Tony Hancock’s film The Rebel, a satire based around the sometimes ridiculous aspects of the art world.  A perfect rest bite for tired minds, after the nights previous events.

As the night came to a close and the hustle and bustle had settled, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have my very own portrait created in the Sketch-O-Matic booth.  Feeling very self aware and a little intimidated at the prospect of having someone judge the way I look, I took a seat with my friend as we half perched on the stool and glared at our reflection in a two way mirror. Whereas the artist can see you in all your blushing glory, you cannot see them – for the most part at least – if you focus really hard you can make out a scribbling hand or a moving pencil. A slightly eerie feeling, to be reminded there is another person opposite you, only a metre away. After five minutes of giggling (it’s a real wonder how the artist managed to draw us at all!) it was done, and we were met with our very own original work of art. On seeing the result, I look somewhat Angelina Jolie-esque which I am incredibly pleased about; I shall pretend (until my next portrait) that is how I am perceived by other people. It was a great experience being the inspiration for a work of art and with a range of different illustrators and poets getting involved, Sketch-O-Matic looks set to be a popular attraction at Cornerhouse.

It was a really entertaining evening with lots to see and do. The biggest success of art night in my opinion was that it made art more accessible to the general public; there was no entry fee, no secluded areas and no ridiculous price tags. You didn’t have to be an expert in the field of the arts; all you needed was an open mind and there was something on offer to engage your imagination.

If you missed the event – fear not, much of what went on can still be enjoyed in your own time. To pick up a copy of ‘Is Britain great? 3’ or to have a little browse through the pages, the Cornerhouse bookshop is open Monday to Sunday from 12:oo to 20:00. Be sure to check out the Rashid Rana exhibition in the main galleries also, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12:00 to 20:00 and 12:00 till 18:00 on Sundays – it definitely will not disappoint. Sketch-O-Matic, however, produces its final portraits on Sun 4 December. So if you want your very own work of art, I suggest you make your way down to Cornerhouse as soon as possible, it is definitely an experience not to be missed.