Manchester art space TwentyTwentyTwo may only have been open six months or so, but it’s already developed a reputation as the sort of place where the city’s young, creative community can get its work out there. Current exhibition Made in Mancunia #2 is a case in point. A group show, it features original art, design, and illustration from some of the city’s most interesting emerging artists. Among them is Barney Ibbotson, an illustrator whose work you may have seen at Un-convention, and Manchester art graduate David Rankin, who in 2007 won the Mercury Art Prize. But this exhibition isn’t about artists you may already have heard of. It’s about new and emerging artists, just as 2022NQ is all about creating a place and a platform for them to show their work.
It’s typical of the 2022NQ approach. The hybrid art and music space was set up by a group of five friends, all of whom have a music industry background. Unsurprisingly, they know a thing or two about running a venue; it thus follows that 2022NQ has quickly become one of the city’s hottest after-hours clubs, its flexibility meaning that it can be hired out by big brands wanting to make an impact or on a commercial basis by anyone who needs a creative space to play with.
I thought there was a gap in the market before we set up 2022NQ – now I know there is
What’s interesting, though, is how this approach – familiar territory to anyone who has worked in music – has been applied to the creative community. “We initially set up Made in Mancunia as a website to promote young, creative talent in Manchester and enable them to get paid work and experience off the back of it,” says Jamie Scahill, one of 2022NQ’s directors and the man behind Manchester’s longest-running club night, Funkademia. “Our approach is partly due to our backgrounds: we’ve worked with young designers on club night promotion and it made sense to use our experience to promote the work of designers and artists more widely.”
“I did think there was a gap in the market before we set up 2022NQ and now I know there is,” says Scahill. “It is really hard to find work if you are a young designer or artist – paid or unpaid. This is all about giving them a chance, it’s about building relationships and getting out there, talking to people and showing them what you can do.”
The fact that Scahill and co. might be on to something is backed up by the fact that they now work closely with the city’s universities. Its print magazine, for example, features Darren Newman’s intricate illustration, as well as profiles up and coming artists and writers such as James O’Connell and Jenn Ashworth. As for the artists showing work as part of Made in Mancunia, the exhibition is not just the chance to get their work out there. With everything on display for sale, and 100% of the price tag going direct to the maker, it’s also a chance to make some much-needed money.
As for 2022NQ, the future looks good. An exhibition from architecture blog the Skyliner is scheduled for late January, while in February graphic designer Dave Sedgwick presents an ambitious showcase of the work of five design agencies based in Barcelona. “Opening 2022NQ was a risk, but the reception we have had has been amazing,” says Scahill. “The difficult part will be the fact that we’re not the new kid on the block anymore. We have to keep moving and stay one step ahead with new exhibitions, new music nights, club nights – but this is familiar territory. In music you always have to stay one step ahead. People come to us with ideas and our experience means we can help people put ideas into action.”