Like any open show, the work shown at HOME is mixed – a mixture of different themes, mediums, and of quality. After sifting through the work on show to determine the best, a metric formed on use of materials, unexpectedness, artistic vision and – most importantly – aesthetic appeal, here are CONCRETE’s favourite entries to the show. Catch them at the HOME Open Show for free before 27th March.

Jacqueline Taylor, Chippy Tea, 2021

CONCRETE says: Taylor is from Manchester and mainly works in oil paint. The large size of the canvas, the intricate realism of Taylor’s style and the consistent use of people in her work makes them easy to return to again and again. Taylor was featured in the Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition in 2018, in Grayson Perry’s Art Club Exhibition in 2020, and is listed on Other notable paintings by Taylor include Morning Sun and Miles Away.

Amelia Welbourne, Morning Routine, 2021

CONCRETE says: Welbourne’s practice rejects the historic treatment of the naked female form as a passive body. Modern in outlook and in content, Welbourne here presents a recognisable moment preserved in oil on MDF. Regardless of the subject’s situation (she may be rushing to work post-shower, or this could be a lazy Sunday morning), the post shower-scroll is depicted as it happens. Welbourne’s figure is unposed, unwatched and transfixed on her phone. The umblemishedness cleanliness of the canvas – indicated through the white of the wall, sink and cabinet – give the ritual of checking your phone in the bathroom a stillness; it would be contemplative if the nature of the morning-phone-check wasn’t one of mindless absorption. Committing this moment to canvas implies its universality and its circadian role in the day-to-day routine.

Kieran Healy, HAPPINESS WORKS, 2021

CONCRETE says: Healy is the curator of Manchester’s Stock Gallery, the artist-run project showcasing emerging art in Manchester. As an artist in his own right, Healy’s work has a sense of humour and peculiarity. This is shown through his film, HAPPINESS WORKS which watches like a TED Talk in the sky. Healy subverts the jargon of corporate wellness and instagram psychology to put it up for mockery. Children’s tv-informed aesthetics clash with gibberish (“progress is progressively progressing giving me an erection”), as Healy blames the viewer for their shortcomings and tries to tell them how to be “haaaapier”. Commissioned by HOME, this video is gloriously weird, successfully satorising the fad of mindfulness and the corporate wellness it’s difficult not to be cynical of.

Annabelle Richmond-Wright, Alexa, 2021

HOME says: ‘Annebelle’s politically charged sculptural and installation-based practice revolves around the phenomena of the human condition. Her latest work seeks to explore the disharmony between human consciousness and the sociopolitical concerns of capitalism and digital technologies.’
CONCRETE says: Richmond-Wright does what Sarah Lucas did in the 1990s, only better. The work looks like it uses found objects, but instead of using mass produced things like Lucas did, Richmond-Wright’s work includes components made by the artist. This is work made with the ‘terminally online’ condition in mind. Take Alexa as an example; what was presumably once an office chair has its seat removed, replaced with a headless doll wearing stilettos and no bra. As headlines of inhumane conditions in Amazon warehouses routinely crop up in the news, and
humanised virtual assistants like Alexa become commonplace, Richmond-Wright’s half-human half-object sculpture hits the nail on the head.

Petronio da Costa, Engenho Falcao, 2021

HOME says: ‘Petronio da Costa is an artist originally from Alianca-Pernambuco, northeast Brazil. His artwork is influenced by the fascinating world of Maracatu-Rural, a performance genre that originated in his province. It’s normally seen during the annual carnival and is a truly enchanting sight’.
CONCRETE says: This impressively embellished Maracatu-Rural cloak offers welcome respite from the Open’s slew of text-based and quasi-political works. Traditional cloaks like this give power to the wearer and protection to the other performers around them. The size of this item, the opulence of the tassels, and the beauty of the item’s all over pattern celebrate da Costa’s roots and his home community.

Hathaikan Kongauruan, Born to Run, 2021

HOME says: ‘Hathaikan is a sculptural artist who creates works by recycling discarded furniture
into whimsical creatures reacting to their salvage from landfill. Hathaikan elevates the chair’s intrinsic existence by exploring its position between form, function, and the body’.
CONCRETE says: Kongauruan’s anthropomorphised chairs flip Bauhaus sensibilities of aesthetics and function on their head. Perfectly comfortable chairs are transformed into gravity defying sculptures with clearly defined personalities. At the Open, Born to Run is eyecatching enough to stand out from other sculptural entries – owing to its minty green colour – but it is made more interesting on Kongauruan’s website. The chair is seen running all over it’s environment, its short legs inviting a humorous comparison with an overly energetic lap dog. Kongauruan works from a studio at 1520, one of the most important contemporary art studios in Manchester.

Gwen Evans, Portrait of a Woman, 2021

HOME says: ‘Gwen Evans strives to create images that are familiar yet alien at the same time and combines classical painterly language with contemporary imagery to create tension in the work. ‘Portrait of a Woman’ is inspired by profile portraits and miniatures from the fifteenth century, often commissioned after marriage or given as gifts of intimate remembrance of loved ones.’
CONCRETE says: Evans paints portraits – a recognisable subject matter – with a dose of the surreal. Faces are treated with realism and Evans deftly creates light and shadow which brings her characters to life while maintaining a painterly quality to the work. This realism is juxtaposed with wallpaper-like backgrounds which make the work seem placeless. As HOME points out, Evans nods to the art historical canon with her work, but subverts these references to give her paintings an unsettling mystery. A particular favourite by the artist is her 2020 Bathers.

Jasmir Creed, Other Home, 2021

CONCRETE says: This editor’s personal favourite from this year’s HOME Open. Creed’s work explores urban alienation in contemporary transcultural contexts – unpicking the experiences of seeing parts of the self in more than one culture. In Other Home, the grey left corner depicts a street of tired white faces trudging in a seemingly British town centre. To the right, a woman in a traditional sari looks at the viewer. The images Creed overlays form a composition of abstraction and figuration suggesting the self experiences aspects of Western and Eastern culture simultaneously. Unclear perspective created by amalgamating these images adds to the confusion of the painting. A woman and baby are in one room, but the baby gestures to a window overlooking the busy street. The places’ difference is indicated through Creed’s contrasting palettes. The only figure in colour, the baby beneath the image of a crowded British street could allude to the experience of displacement from familial culture.

BANKSIE, Isolated Canvas, 2021

CONCRETE says: Drag Queen BANKSIE is rising in Manchester’s queer club scene. A true performer and party girl, this video has a more confessional tone to it than her polished visual performances. The viewer earwigs on BANKSIE’s phone call to Grace Oni Smith, fellow queer artist and performer activate in Manchester’s club scene. Isolated Canvas was born out of lockdown and BANKSIE’s struggle with the discontinuation of “the club system” due to Covid-19 restrictions. To watch Isolated Canvas is to look behind the glamour of conceptual drag in Manchester and to see BANKSIE as a frustrated practitioner, isolated from the environment which shapes her work.

Andy Maher, Keepsake, 2021

CONCRETE says: Maher is a painter based in Manchester who just graduated from Central St Martins. Keepsake is a reflection of Maher’s interest in capturing ‘characters that remain stagnant and absorb the world they live in,’ as the subject slumps, tilting his head mournfully and refusing to meet the viewer’s gaze. This work was created in the artist’s student living room, which became a studio as well as a social space. Keepsake’s deep red colour palette and the title’s connotations of cherished possessions imply an absence as Maher’s painting carries a
despondance with it.

All images are property of the artists. Words by HOME from the exhibition hand-out. You can watch HAPPINESS WORKS and Isolated Canvas on HOME’s online screening resource here.