After much hard work, we have enjoyed a superb year: with three large exhibitions, two smaller, and a handful of events, all culminating in a vibrant Winter show that comes to a close on Christmas Eve. Michael Ashcroft's solo show This is Manchester (pictured above) captured the imaginations of the city and even further afield, with nearly all his beautiful paintings finding new homes about the country. Anne Aspinall's solo show A Welsh Connection (pictured below) was a masterclass in colour and composition, light and texture, andChris Cyprus's wildly popular Northern Lights series won plaudits with his Northern Soul Awards-nominated exhibition in March. In amongst these large solo shows, the Gallery also hosted the excellent work of local artist Matthew Thompson for his show Marking My Travels, that of Germany-based artistFlorian Foerster for his show Places Drawn, Lost, and Reimagined, andNorman Long's accompanying series of paintings for his book launch.
Alongside our wonderful Gallery-artists, we have said hello to several new faces. The acclaimed St. Ives painter Richard Cook joined the Gallery earlier in the year, along with the abstract work of Cornwall acolyte Anthony Frost. The aforementioned Matthew Thompson and Florian Foerster joined after their respective shows in Summer and Autumn, and later in the year we welcomed one of the leading Northern artists Liam Spencer.
In the field
The Gallery's stand at Manchester Art Fair (pictured above) was visited by hundreds of people over the course of the weekend, with the work of Gallery-artists receiving warm words of praise. The show was one of the strongest to date — in no small part down to the strength of the selection of paintings we took to display. The Gallery also paid a visit to Richard Cook in his fascinating studio in Cornwall, to pick some brand new works to bring back to Manchester. Amongst towers of poetry books, and honeycombs of year-dried oil paints, were a huge selection of beautiful pieces — each of them logged in the memory of the artist with a staggering amount of detail and accuracy. You can see many of the selected works in the Gallery today.
- In October, the Gallery was nominated for not one, but two, Northern Soul 2018 awards. After a year of very hard work, planning and implementation, the Gallery was shortlisted in both the Gallery of the Year and, for Chris Cyprus's Northern Lights show, the Exhibition of the Year 2018 categories. The long term plan of the Gallery is to bring exciting, substantial, original art into Manchester, to provide work you can not find in the city at present. Over the past year we have made strides in achieving that, positioning the best of local artists alongside some of the best from the country.
- The Gallery's owner Alex Reuben was also nominated in this year's stand-out selection for Northern Soul's Great Northerners list, alongside such eminent individuals as World Cup hero Jordan Pickford; comedian Peter Kay; Doctor Who and Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker; and Dinnerladies, Shameless, Hamlet, and Peterloo actress Maxine Peake. Alex told the 4,000 people who asked for his autograph he isn't letting it go to his head.
- Gallery-artist Rob Pointon has been elected an associate member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (AROI) — a most prestigious accolade from an esteemed establishment in the art world. Rob also won the ROI's Paint Live 2018 prize, as well as receiving a Menena Joy Schwabe Memorial Award for an Outstanding Oil Painter, and the Paint Out Norwich 1st prize in oils.