Manchester Open 2022: People’s Choice Award Winner Luke Armstrong

We finally managed to catch up with this year’s Manchester Open Art Exhibition 2022 People’s Choice Award winner, Luke Armstrong.

Keep reading to discover more behind the artwork that won the hearts of this year’s visitors to The Manchester Open.

The Manchester Open is an award-winning biennial open call exhibition that celebrates the diverse creative talent across Greater Manchester.

A every Manchester Open Exhibition, The People’s Choice Award is voted by the public in the first five weeks of the exhibition. This year, the winning artwork is Paper Samurai, by Luke Armstrong.

As the winner, Luke will receive a bespoke development opportunity with Castlefield Gallery and HOME *to be agreed with artist), a £250 Cass Art voucher, and the opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the Cass Art Manchester Art Space. Cass Art sponsored this year’s Manchester Open and we are grateful for their support.

David, Manager of Cass Art Manchester Art Space, said:

“It’s really important for a company like Cass Art to be involved in The Manchester Open. The main focus of Cass Art is to encourage local artists and give them exposure. This is something Cass Art does across the UK but this was a particularly important thing to get involved in – to give someone like Luke the opportunity to use our space and to really showcase his talents.”

Interview with People’s Choice Award Winner Luke Armstrong

How did you feel when you found out you’d won The People’s Choice Award?

I was absolutely shocked, to be honest! It was a full circle moment because I made Paper Samurai in the first lockdown and then I couldn’t come to the awards night because I had Covid, so it all felt kinda funny that it happened. But yeah, completely shocked, especially because a lot of my family don’t live up here, they couldn’t make it because one of my family members is quite ill. So I wasn’t asking my friends and family to come and vote, it felt really nice to know that I’d not pushed for it to win.

People's Choice Award 2022

The 2022 Manchester Open Award was designed by 2020’s People’s Choice Award winner, George Fell

Looking at Paper Samurai, it’s evident that you’ve been working with paper sculpture for a while now, what got you into working with paper as a medium?

Well, not that long!

I did printmaking at university, so I am a printmaker. My job is I make props for TV, but I started off printmaking and then three years ago, from home, I started doing Lino prints and wood cuts again. I’ve started doing a lot of monsters and I’m really inspired by computer games and movies and when you’re a child, your imagination that kinds goes when you’re older. It took me 12-13 hours to make this piece. I didn’t do any drawings or designs, it just came straight from my imagination.

An then during the first lockdown, I just started making Paper Samurai, it just happened. And from there I can’t stop making them!

Is this the first piece you made out of paper?

No, there’s one before this that was a robot with a little house on a hill that I made. My partner, in lockdown, he was working at home trying to save his company, and I was across the way saying “look at this!” with all these paper models that he doesn’t quite understand.

This is probably the second one I’ve ever made. I’ve probably got nine or ten of them now, in different styles, well they’re obviously all the same style because it’s me, but they’re not all colourful. Some are just made out of plain cardboard. But yeah, I just ran with it. I just love doing it. I find it very therapeutic as well and relaxing.

Cutting all that grass is a chore! But you actually kinda switch off when you’re doing it.

(L-R) Luke Armstrong and David Greenwood

Do you have any ideas for your exhibition at Cass Art?

I don’t really, I think we’ll have to discuss ideas. I’ve seen the space on the website. I’ve never done a solo exhibition before, so it’s very exciting. I’ve done exhibitions with bits and bobs but never my own so I’m going to go crazy!

I hope you’re ready! (Luke says to David)

Do you work from your own studio?

I’ve got a studio at my own house. In one of our spare bedrooms, which was brilliant with lockdown happening over the two years. It meant that I could just continue working. After work, I just go up there and potter around.

How has winning the award encouraged you to develop your creative practice?

It’s definitely given me more confidence. I think I’ve always struggled with, I’ve always done art, but I’ve never had the confidence to kinda put it out there as much. And winning The People’s Choice Award has definitely given me the confidence to believe in my art a lot more. You know, if people like to see that then I should carry on doing it!

Want to find out who the other Manchester Open winners are? Click here to find out.

The Manchester Open is open to all, including those who may already identify as artists and those who might not, the Manchester Open will bring together artwork including paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more.

It’s 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.

The next open call will be in the summer of 2023 with the exhibition taking place in early 2024. If you’d like to hear about HOME’s forthcoming visual arts programme, events and creative opportunities, you can sign up to our dedicated mailing list here.