The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund

Words by Thom Hetherington, Founder of The Manchester Art Fair

Many of us will have walked around Manchester Art Gallery and marvelled at the incredible works on display. Priceless, world class art, right there on the walls for us all to enjoy, entirely free of charge. But how many of us have ever stopped to consider who initially paid for all those masterpieces, which are owned by the gallery and thus the city of Manchester, and therefore by at least some of you dear reader.

Although pieces are often acquired through corporate donations or philanthropic trusts, much of Manchester Art Gallery’s incredible collection – think particularly of its pre-Raphaelites and Valettes – was bequeathed in the Victorian era by proud local industrialists giving something back to their home city. Nowadays though it is a challenge to ensure that the collection remains current, with new additions needed on a continual basis.

Some may ask why that matters, but it is the role of contemporary artists to capture and represent how the world is at a given point in time, and it is vital for a major institution like Manchester Art Gallery to provide an unbroken temporal thread for future generations. It provides not just an insight into history, but a prism through which to re-interpret the present day. And let’s face it, with the way the world is now we could do with all the help we can get!

As I sit on the board of Manchester Art Gallery and also founded Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair, one of the country’s most ambitious art fairs, I decided to establish ‘The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund’. This pot of cash, donated by locally-based private individuals, is used by the gallery’s curators to acquire new works from the ‘The Manchester Contemporary’ section of the art fair, which features critically engaged works from emerging artists.

On the 17th of May the works selected for the fund from last year’s fair were put on display. Pieces by artists Benoit Aubard, Juno Calypso and Ian McIntyre have been carefully sited within the gallery, responding to the historical masterpieces alongside which they sit. By the time the next Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair takes place later this October the fund will be in is third iteration, establishing a new wave of Mancunian cultural patronage.

In fact, this year the fund has acquired six new members, doubling its size and creating the largest such philanthropic fund outside of London. Fund members are successful local entrepreneurs and businesspeople, drawn from sectors as diverse as marketing, property, hospitality and law, and including Private White V.C.’s own CEO James Eden. They are united by a pride in Manchester, a passion for backing young creative talent, and a belief that inspiring, great art should be available to all.

The curators will select from works by over one hundred artists, which will be shown at The Manchester Contemporary by more than thirty exhibiting galleries. There is an emphasis on spaces outside London, and a particular focus on local galleries, including Castlefield Gallery, Pink, Proforma and Venture Arts in Manchester, and Paradise Works in Salford. In addition, the fair is gaining an international reputation, with galleries hailing from Madrid, Hamburg and New York.

 

One particular encounter inspired me to start the fund. It was seeing ‘A Basket of Roses’, an oil painting by Henri Fantin-Latour, on show in Manchester Art Gallery as part of their record-breaking New Order exhibition, ‘True Faith’. The image appears on the cover of the band’s 1983 album Power, Corruption and Lies. But here was the original, with a small gold plaque on the frame to say that it was bequeathed to The National Gallery by a Mrs M.J. Yates, in 1923.

Could she ever have imagined that the piece she had generously given would still be publicly shown and enjoyed almost a hundred years later, and in such a contemporary context? What a legacy. In effect the Manchester Contemporary Art Fund isn’t just gifting vital and inspiring contemporary art to the people of Manchester, it is buying a kind of immortality for the members who support it. And who could put a price on that?

Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair, including The Manchester Contemporary, takes place on 11th-13th October 2019 at Manchester Central. Private White V.C.’s customers can receive free weekend tickets by using the following link: https://mcrartfair2019.eventbrite.co.uk?discount=PWVCWE

 

The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund

Words by Thom Hetherington, Founder of The Manchester Art Fair

Many of us will have walked around Manchester Art Gallery and marvelled at the incredible works on display. Priceless, world class art, right there on the walls for us all to enjoy, entirely free of charge. But how many of us have ever stopped to consider who initially paid for all those masterpieces, which are owned by the gallery and thus the city of Manchester, and therefore by at least some of you dear reader.

Although pieces are often acquired through corporate donations or philanthropic trusts, much of Manchester Art Gallery’s incredible collection – think particularly of its pre-Raphaelites and Valettes – was bequeathed in the Victorian era by proud local industrialists giving something back to their home city. Nowadays though it is a challenge to ensure that the collection remains current, with new additions needed on a continual basis.

Some may ask why that matters, but it is the role of contemporary artists to capture and represent how the world is at a given point in time, and it is vital for a major institution like Manchester Art Gallery to provide an unbroken temporal thread for future generations. It provides not just an insight into history, but a prism through which to re-interpret the present day. And let’s face it, with the way the world is now we could do with all the help we can get!

As I sit on the board of Manchester Art Gallery and also founded Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair, one of the country’s most ambitious art fairs, I decided to establish ‘The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund’. This pot of cash, donated by locally-based private individuals, is used by the gallery’s curators to acquire new works from the ‘The Manchester Contemporary’ section of the art fair, which features critically engaged works from emerging artists.

On the 17th of May the works selected for the fund from last year’s fair were put on display. Pieces by artists Benoit Aubard, Juno Calypso and Ian McIntyre have been carefully sited within the gallery, responding to the historical masterpieces alongside which they sit. By the time the next Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair takes place later this October the fund will be in is third iteration, establishing a new wave of Mancunian cultural patronage.

In fact, this year the fund has acquired six new members, doubling its size and creating the largest such philanthropic fund outside of London. Fund members are successful local entrepreneurs and businesspeople, drawn from sectors as diverse as marketing, property, hospitality and law, and including Private White V.C.’s own CEO James Eden. They are united by a pride in Manchester, a passion for backing young creative talent, and a belief that inspiring, great art should be available to all.

The curators will select from works by over one hundred artists, which will be shown at The Manchester Contemporary by more than thirty exhibiting galleries. There is an emphasis on spaces outside London, and a particular focus on local galleries, including Castlefield Gallery, Pink, Proforma and Venture Arts in Manchester, and Paradise Works in Salford. In addition, the fair is gaining an international reputation, with galleries hailing from Madrid, Hamburg and New York.

One particular encounter inspired me to start the fund. It was seeing ‘A Basket of Roses’, an oil painting by Henri Fantin-Latour, on show in Manchester Art Gallery as part of their record-breaking New Order exhibition, ‘True Faith’. The image appears on the cover of the band’s 1983 album Power, Corruption and Lies. But here was the original, with a small gold plaque on the frame to say that it was bequeathed to The National Gallery by a Mrs M.J. Yates, in 1923.

Could she ever have imagined that the piece she had generously given would still be publicly shown and enjoyed almost a hundred years later, and in such a contemporary context? What a legacy. In effect the Manchester Contemporary Art Fund isn’t just gifting vital and inspiring contemporary art to the people of Manchester, it is buying a kind of immortality for the members who support it. And who could put a price on that?

Aviva Investor’s Manchester Art Fair, including The Manchester Contemporary, takes place on 11th-13th October 2019 at Manchester Central. Private White V.C.’s customers can receive free weekend tickets by using the following link: https://mcrartfair2019.eventbrite.co.uk?discount=PWVCWE

 

 
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