The process of creating work in this project has been a pleasant change of pace for me. Whereas in the past I have been caught up in these huge concepts in my head that I have not yet developed the ability to the standard that I wish, taking a step back and just recording what I see was a well needed step out of my comfort zone.
Not only was it a change just recording the world around me but the subject of my work was a big change as for the past 5 years my work has mainly been focused on portraits and abstract ideas related to the human experience, the simple change from portraits to buildings was challenging. However after I stopped worrying about the realism of what I was creating and focused more on just trying to create the impression of what each building and street was to me I began to enjoy my work a lot more.
Creating my work on site for a majority of the time was also a change that I am glad I tried, even if it was not always producing the most aesthetically pleasing outcomes. Usually I have been working in studios and in my bedroom, only using photos as a reference and spending much longer creating pieces that often ended up being overworked, so the change of taking my creative space to the streets and being forced to change how i created each piece was a huge learning curve for me.
I was also excited to try out using photography as a means of creating art rather than just using it as a starting point, this has definitely spiked my interest in using more photography in my work next year and possibly finally taking the plunge into more digital based art.
For my final work based on the back streets I discovered I decided to take different elements of the main buildings and parts of the back streets that I loved to create an impression of how they felt to me. The towering, abandonned industrial buildings, the flashes of colour from painted bricks and the small glimmers of life found in trees growing out of walls.
The international work of Alexandre Farto aka Vhils is another form of street art that I found beautiful yet haunting.
His technique of scratching away the often abandoned buildings seem to leave a haunting homage to the life each building must have housed at some point. The use of further destruction as a form of creation is awe inspiring as you think about the skill each piece must require.
The stripping away of facades and surfaces to create these mesmerizing portraits further reinforces the feeling of reminding us of what has been lost from these often quite back streets.
One of my favourite things about this project was taking the time to find and research the people behind the amazing street art in the northern quarter.
My favourite pieces in order presented are by
- Manchester based artist Kelzo who is well known for his amazing use of colour and more traditional graffiti work which ties in with Hip-Hop culture.
- Mancsy, again a Manchester based artist who creates limited edition prints and posters which are then used to decorate parts of Manchester, often being placed alongside other famous pieces of Northern Quarter Street Art
- Subism Collective who transformed a wall to create one of the most famous pieces of street art in the Northern Quarter
- Yorkshire based Faunagraphic who created the biggest mural in the Northern Quarter
The completely different styles of each artist, ranging from the more traditional graffiti work of Kelzo to the giant artwork created by Faunagraphic shows the amazing diversity and limitless possibilities street art can bring and the fact that each style cosexists beautifully in the Northern Quarter is just a testiment to the amazing art and how it adds to the eclectic beauty of the Northern Quarter.
The attitudes each artist takes is also intriguing to me as each artist has their own approach to the legality and process of their art. While Subism and Faunagraphic were both comissioned to create their giant works of art, Mancsy’s anonymous style of tagging regardless of legality contrasts greatly. Kelzo’s roots in graffiti and Hip-Hop culture means that he has also expressed an acceptance and peace with the transcendent nature of street art, especially as cities grow and as buildings change and are destroyed.
Out of all the streets I’ve explored my favourite backstreet is Back Turner Street. It’s awkward uneven turns, a street that doesnt match up all the way down and its imposing abandoned buildings make it so interesting to walk up and down and explore
Since drawing on site is a lot harder than I am used to, I have begun to use a more simple minimalist style of drawing in order to finish and not ruin my work by going into too much detail. I am also trying to not throw away as many pieces of my work as I would do, which means I am becoming happier to make mistakes in work and just go with it.
Since the streets I have been looking at are so narrow, they often get very little light as the buildings tower over you. I wanted to experiment with only painting negative space and highlights.
Since for a change I have been recording more directly what I see and experience in the Northern Quarter I have begun to use photography a lot more in my work. This is a nice change since for the last year I have mainly been focused on using a mainly illustrative style using a lot of watercolours and pen drawings. However since I have been wanting to record most of what I see on the site I have been resorting to quicker methods of recording things or photography, which has been an interesting experience as I previously almost never used photography.
The abandoned buildings where plants have started thriving in the walls are particularly fascinating as despite the vast expanses of concrete and brick and little sunlight in many of the narrow streets nature still finds a way in this city center.
Even the recently ripped and torn down posters and flyers reveal the great history (even if it is recent) that makes the Northern Quarter what it is.