Julian Gray: Stories For Us at the Lowry

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Julian Gray

Julian Gray: Stories For Us at The Lowry, Salford, 19 March–2 May 2022, free entry - Visit now

This month, The Lowry is celebrating the work of Manchester-based illustrator and comic creator Julian Gray in the exhibition Stories for Us.

Julian Gray is a queer, trans, disabled and mixed-race artist and utilises his personal experience to create characters that represent marginalised groups through beautiful illustrations, fantastical storylines and touching narratives. Of his work, Julian says: “I create my comics and the stories within not just for myself, but also for people like me, people who don’t see themselves reflected in the media around us.” This is indeed the most important element of Gray’s work: it directly depicts the people who have so far been inadequately represented in the arts and media.

A self-portrait illustration of Julian Gray
Julian Gray

 

Although we may have slightly moved away from the rosy-cheeked heroines with flowing blonde locks that remained the focus of most older Disney movies, representation of marginalised groups continues to be a constant work in progress. Displaying this body of work in a gallery setting allows it to reach audiences who perhaps wouldn’t usually seek out artwork that is often most prominently displayed in the online realm. Julian hopes it will encourage conversations about representation of minority groups in fiction and shine a light on the multitude of characters that are still missing from the stories we encounter in popular culture. Not only do his comics address this issue but they also focus on the stories of their characters, with depictions of their hardships giving way to romance, defiance and fantasy.

A page from Julian Gray's comic 'The Invalid’s Valet'
Julian Gray

 

There is also a strong sense that this is the work in Stories of Us is that of a very skilled artist who has the ability to portray even the most delicate of expressions. The pieces range between monochrome line drawings to lusciously coloured panels of magical, glowing plants. Gray clearly has a deep understanding, not only of the art of comic-making, but also of light and colour, and uses it to great effect in both the longer visual stories and the one-off illustrations. In other words, the pieces on display are simply gorgeous.

Panel from Julian Gray's comic 'Witch & Warrior, a Sapphic medieval fantasy'
Julian Gray

 

The comics in the exhibition include Witch & Warrior, a Sapphic medieval fantasy and the queer Victorian romance The Invalid’s Valet, featuring trans knights and disabled aristocrats. Visitors will have the chance to closely examine Gray’s artistic process, with development sketches and time-lapses illuminating the process of creating and refining a character. Alongside these, you will also find a number of comics and graphics novels displayed in the gallery, including references to film noir, 80s comic art and other queer creators that have inspired Julian’s work.

Cover page from Julian Gray's comic 'Witch & Warrior, a Sapphic medieval fantasy'
Julian Gray

 

If encountering Gray’s work encourages you to try your hand at comic creation, get ready – you’ll have a chance to show off your skills, display your finished pieces in the gallery space and personally contribute to the growing collective response to Stories for Us.

The exhibition is accompanied by multiple events, including a conversation between Julian Gray and fellow comic creator Olivia Hicks.

The show is part of the venue’s EDITS series. EDITS is a strand of the exhibitions programme that enables artists and performers to develop previously unexplored ideas in a gallery setting. Previous EDITS include installations and live performances by Igor+Moreno, DJ Paulette and Girl Gang Manchester.

Julian Gray: Stories For Us at The Lowry, Salford

19 March–2 May 2022
Free entry

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry
Dance Until 26 November 2022, from £17.00

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry

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

Cinema Until 22 December 2022, from £20.00

Backyard Cinema

autumn season at z-arts
Families Until 30 December 2022, FREE

Autumn season at Z-arts

Families Until 30 December 2022, from £6.00

Glow at RHS Garden Bridgewater

OUTDOOR ART CLUB AT THE WHITWORTH
Childrens Until 31 December 2022, FREE

Outdoor Art Club at The Whitworth

skyliner
Activity Until 31 December 2022, from £9

Skyliner: Alternative Tours of Manchester

Craft Beer Tour Around Manchester
Activity Until 31 December 2022, from £35

Craft Beer Tour Manchester