A man who comes into work, Lee has a lot of involvement with the LGBT and Manchester pride.
He approached me a few days ago asking if I would be interested in potentially exhibiting some work as part of Manchester Prides Fringe festival which runs throughout August.
LGBT art is not all about being controversial! Off Kilter exhibition at Manchester Pride Fringe Festival
By Ana Hine
The event may be called Off Kilter, but LGBT art doesn’t always have to be controversial or provocative, claims the curator of Manchester Pride Fringe Festival’s art exhibition.
Carefully curated by artist Ian Rayer-Smith, the exhibition features paintings, photography and sculptural pieces from eight different artists.
The dynamic show, Off Kilter, is part of Manchester’s rapidly expanding Fringe events, the arts and cultural arm of the annual Pride celebrations for the Big Weekend.
Rayer-Smith explained on his blog: “We have moved on, gay art no longer feels the need to be exclusively political or controversial.
“These artists show that their work can have a much wider appeal in our homogenous society. This exhibition shows that in Manchester there are a wide range of exciting artists living and working here.”
Yet featuring art made from the hair of friends and relatives of the artist, as well as David Hoyle’s powerful work, often adversarial towards mainstream gay culture and tackling mental health, the exhibitions are likely to be anything but run-of-the-mill.
Speaking to MM Rayer-Smith elaborated on the point that the show is not typically gay, saying: “Over the last twenty years our society has seen a gradual shift towards the general acceptance of minorities, gayness is now part of everyday culture. It’s a lot cooler to be ‘queer’ these days. Art that is deliberately provocative or which fights ‘the cause’ is not required anymore, that has been done.
“Off Kilter is the theme of this exhibition and yes, there are obvious connections with the ‘queer’ aspect as part of the Pride Fringe Festival. But this collection of work reveals a deep sensitivity of human existence that is very real, that may seem slightly off kilter with mainstream expectations.”
The artists exhibiting in Off Kilter are not from any single academic institution, studio or collective. Emily Pitts hails from Manchester School of Architecture, while David Hoyle recently finished a residency at Warehouse9 in Copenhagen.
Hoyle’s work references trauma, inequality and mental health in his raw and honest paintings. A Pro-Love Activist, Hoyle uses painting as a form of expression. The work he is exhibiting in Off Kilter is very powerful.
Pitts, meanwhile, draws on many different mediums – such as written and spoken word –to explore ideas of the body, of relationships and of issues that are socially uncomfortable. Among the work she will be showing in Off Kilter are ‘objects’ made from the hair of her family, friends and acquaintances.
Lee Baxter has a solo show running during the Pride Fringe at the same time as Off Kilter. ‘Gays of Manchester’ runs from August 19-27 at 2022NQ in The Basement on Dale Street.
The show features photographic portraits of members of Manchester’s LGBT community and looks at the way those within the community support people living with HIV. His pieces in Off Kilter will be of a similar nature.
Rayer-Smith’s own work explores issues of fantasy, human consciousness, adult play and themes of deviation. He works primarily in the medium of painting, particularly the ‘seductive physicality and colour’ of paint as well as the challenges and unpredictability of the media.
Speaking of the choice of artists, Rayer-Smith wrote on his blog: “I wanted to select artists who I did not just admire, but who created work with an underlying sensitivity which would challenge us to ask questions rather than immediately give obvious answers.
“The diversity of these artists’ backgrounds, working processes and approaches to art makes for interesting individual subjects which also make strong connections with each other. I am thrilled to have these artists showing together, and there is certainly something here for everyone.”