Joana Vasconcelos Time Machine Manchester Gallery

A Day out at the Manchester Art Gallery!

I caught the Virgin train from Euston to Manchester early on Sunday morning. Sadly not the pink ostrich feathered ‘Lilicoptère’ pictured above. According to Joanna Vasconcelos, this would be the kind of helicopter Marie Antoinette would fly, were she alive today.


Manchester gallery is walking distance from the station, surprisingly badly signposted the gallery comes upon you in Mosley Street. Old imposing doric columns support the formal entrance, a reminder to  a time when Manchester was the primary center for cotton manufacture and was involved in the global textile trade. Befittingly Joana Vasconcelos for this exhibition has chosen to show her intricate and fabulously decorative textile installations. I m there on the last day of this major exhibition and not to miss this show was the prompt for my first time visit to Manchester. Spoiled by what London has to offer by way of culture most of the time,  I enjoyed exploring Manchester a lot and have come away wanting to go back in the future. Check out : and how vibrant and friendly a town it is.

Manchester Art Gallery holds amongst others an extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the curator very sensitively curated Joana Vasconcelos pieces in order to instigate a dialogue between the old and new and opens up issues particular to how woman’s roles are represented in the arts then and now. Her works say so much about both her native Portugal where the crafting of crochet is a national occupation. Her intervention in the traditional art museums rooms  raise issues about global feminism about art making itself and art that is as much about the process of making and where the means become equally as important as the outcome of a piece.





Walking through her show also brought to mind  Beatrice Milhazes an other woman artist who’s work I saw in Lisbon see: ttp:// and who when I was visiting Lisbon brought that upbeat  breath of fresh air into the formality of the square whiteness of the gallery space and  beautiful dimensions of the contemporary space there.

Joana Vasconcelos work is not shy about being playful and colorful outrageous and opulent while shaping and discussing issues of identity and feminism in history. The marble lions decorated with flower pattern crochet seems an  absurd idea, so is her ornamentation of the helicopter with ostrich feathers  but is a great attempt at questioning  the heavy idealism and general conception  what art should look like and she undermines and enhances the formal power images we are still preoccupied with. Joana Vasconcelos also reminds us warmly of the importance the hand made, the woman’s craft that unite and inspire and link woman all over the world , invests it with humour and adorns it with the absurd and I m sure her work is many a feminists favorite. I really glad I went all the way to Manchester to see it!  

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