Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Deviation Posting – Manchester: the Belly and the Guts

George Orwell called Manchester “the belly and the guts of the nation”. He’d have liked the exhibition currently running at the city’s innovative Urbis museum and gallery, a space in the city centre dedicated to exhibitions detailing city life. The exhibition is called Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester and features the photography of Andrew Brooks. The show is worthy of a Deviation Posting.

Brooks has managed to penetrate the hidden parts of Manchester – the old buildings, the forgotten spaces, the sewers (literally the “guts” of the city) – and produced some wonderful images of these places. As you’ll know from yesterday’s posting on Dalian and others on the rather forgotten or obscure parts of Chinese cities I like this approach to seeing cities.Brooks captures the places we either never get to see, though we may be merely yards from them, or those places that we glimpse but hurry past and then forget to return and explore, to find out more about.

Quite how Brooks, himself a Mancunian, manages to capture these places is somewhat beyond me technically, but they are startling. At Urbis they are blown up to large size and are all the more impressive. The photographer himself describes his work: “The crucial element to my work is atmosphere…No matter how much digital application is going on, the atmosphere and feel of a picture is always the most important thing…The large scale of my stills photography enables a viewer to enter and explore each scene in depth and to constantly find new elements and hidden layers within the jigsaw…”

Whatever he’s doing the pictures are quite stunning and should be of interest not just to photography buffs (a group I’m not a member of) but to historians, urbanists, sociologists and anyone who lives in a city with a past and occasionally wonders about it.Anyway, you can see more of Brooks’s photography by clicking here and more from the Hidden Manchester exhibit by clicking here and here. The exhibition at Urbis in Manchester runs until May this year.


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