Matthew Darbyshire at Manchester Art Gallery: An Exhibition for Modern Living

Polly Checkland Harding

Ten large-scale installations, reinvented Greek statues and a room made from flat-pack furniture – Manchester Art Gallery’s next exhibition is an ambitious look at the objects we live with.

If someone told you they have a Philippe Starck ghost chair at home, would you know what they mean? If you did, would you care? Artist Matthew Darbyshire’s largest solo exhibition to date, soon to open at Manchester Art Gallery, relies on the idea that ‘collecting’ is not just something that people in the art or antiques industry dedicate their time (and money) to: Darbyshire thinks of this term as also applying to how we choose the objects we have in our home or place of work.

An Exhibition for Modern Living (25 Sept – 10 Jan 2016) will include ten large-scale ‘environments’ created by Darbyshire; these installations look a bit like unusual, highly curated scenes or collections of objects that you might find in someone’s house. They are a way of investigating our relationship to our surroundings, and what informs our taste; the show explores the value these objects have by placing high street items alongside pricier pieces, like the Starck ghost chair, introducing the idea that the valuation of these objects can be influenced by something far more personal than their cost. Within the context of an exhibition, these installations also question what the price given to contemporary art is based upon.

Ten large-scale installations, reinvented Greek statues and a room made from flat-pack furniture

Darbyshire’s interest in how we attribute worth extends to his series entitled CAPTCHA; through exploring industrial prototyping and 3D printing, the artist has created strangely translucent polycarbonate versions of classical sculptural forms. One of two new pieces created for this exhibition, for example, is based on Doryphoros of Polykleitos, one of the best known examples of Greek sculpture from the Classical Era. Elsewhere in the exhibition, Darbyshire contrasts hand-made wooden artefacts from the gallery’s collection with flat-pack furniture – here, the desirability (or otherwise) of craftsmanship also comes into play.

It’s weird how an injury can make you see the world differently. Darbyshire’s exploration of lived-in spaces stemmed from a bed-bound year following a serious back problem – the work that’s resulted is both brilliantly visual and deeply layered. Don’t miss it.

Culture Guides

Backyard Cinema

Cinema

It only takes a quick glance at the film listings to realise that Christmas is coming, and quick. We’ve rounded up some of our festive highlights alongside standout seasons and festivals.

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

Manchester Christmas Parade

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean

Literature

There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Contemporary cabaret, powerful monologues and world premiere musicals. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Comedy 7 December 2022 8:00 pm, from £10.00

Tom Ward – Anthem

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Melissa Wan
Literature Until 17 December 2022, from £7

Ghosts at the Old Library

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks

Star of Wonder at Theatre Porto
Families Until 21 December 2022, from £0.00

Star of Wonder at Theatre Porto

Cinema Until 22 December 2022, from £20.00

Backyard Cinema