Digital Channel > Manchester Open 2020 Meet the Artist: Chester Tenneson

Manchester Open 2020 Meet the Artist: Chester Tenneson

In this week’s Meet The Artist, we hear from Chester Tenneson, who has the painting ‘Steps in the right directions’ and the sculpture ‘Out here on the mountain top’ on display as part of the Manchester Open Exhibiton 2020.

When did you first take up art? What’s your artistic background?

It’s a cliché, but as soon as I picked up a pencil when I was a child. Drawing and making has always been within me, which grew into a professional practice as I got older. I studied Fine Art at Manchester School of Art, graduating with an MA in 2004. Since then I’ve been based in professional artist studios in Manchester and Salford, exhibiting across the country. Three years ago, I returned to the School of Art as a Lecturer, teaching students on the BA Fine Art and Fine Art & Art History courses.

How did you feel when you found out you had been chosen for the Manchester Open?

I was very pleased! I’m honoured to be part of the show and what it represents, and at such a great forward-looking venue.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Often in what would be perceived as very boring, mundane situations such as, looking at a pair of slippers, eating a bag of crisps or waiting at a bus stop. I actually find these situations the most fruitful to play with, for me the most banal moments in life are the most exciting experiences and have the best beginnings for subversive artworks.

What do you think art brings to your life?

My art brings a lot to my life, foremostly it gives me an authority and a voice within society. As a transgender person the rules of everyday life can be difficult to navigate, especially through people’s use of language and gendering. My art practice helps bash down these norms and rules and turns them into a problem, rather than an assumed solution.

Which artists do you admire?

Many different types of artists, from varied fields. I mostly admire artists who use humour and absurdity in their work to challenge socio-political ideologies such as, Paul McCarthy, Maurizio Cattelan and Sarah Lucas. Historically, surrealism is also a key influence for me, my highlight being Luis Buñuel’s use of symbols within his films.

Tell us an interesting story about yourself & your work:

Generally, well…. that would be telling! Jason Orange, from Take That, once spent 20 minutes looking at my BA degree show, but sadly didn’t purchase any of the artwork.


Our Manchester Open Exhibition 2020 runs from Sat 18 Jan until Sun 29 Mar.

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.

Follow #mcropen2020 on all our platforms for sneak previews, artist Q&As and behind the scenes videos.