The Manchester Open Awards 2020 at HOME are made by On The Brink Studio in Stockport, home to furniture designer and craftsman Gareth Batowski, with his partner, stylist and photographer, Elle Brotherhood.
The awards accompany 5 individual artists bursaries with a combined value of £10,000, with bespoke artist development managed by Castlefield Gallery.
The shape of the awards is inspired by the frontage of HOME. It was our wish to provide an artwork and functional object in exchange for the hard work of the winning entrants; not simply a trophy but a desirable item with a story and meaning attached.
It is formed from Manchester Black Poplar, ancient bog oak and beeswax.
The Manchester Black Poplar was sourced from a dead standing tree in Alexandra Park that was seen yet unseen, standing amongst our community. It was always beautiful but perhaps not perceived as such and is becoming increasingly rare.
The bog oak is carbon dated to 4980 years old +/- 150 years. Approximately 5000-6000 years ago a rise in sea level relative to land level caused the rivers to back up and flood the fens, consequently the trees died standing and then fell into the silt of the forest floor and many have been preserved under anaerobic conditions. The land is now being farmed and trees uncovered. The timber itself is strangely persevered, not brittle or coal-like, it works and responds very similarly to newly felled oak.
A final polish has been applied using beeswax from the hives of HOME’s bee colonies on the roof of the building, cared for by HOME apiarist team, nestled in a hidden garden made from re-purposed theatre lights, stage props and exhibition materials, turning them into planters. The bees themselves fly up to two miles across canal towpaths and railway line cuttings, backyards and local gardens to source the nectar for their honey production.
From a dead standing tree in a Moss Side park to ancient, buried treasure and glossy wax from HOME’s own bee hives, the Manchester Open Awards tell of the possibility of forming art and inspiring creative practice where perhaps we haven’t looked before.
The winners of these awards will be announced on the evening of Thursday 20th February at the Manchester Open Awards Night.
The Manchester Open Exhibition 2020 opens on Saturday 18th January and runs until Sunday 29th March. Join us for our preview event on Friday 17 Jan.
This is the first region-wide exhibition of its type to welcome entries from people of any background and level of experience, including established professionals, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.
Featured images: Elle Brotherhood