On Sunday I went to see Manchester Art Gallery's new exhibition 'The First Cut' which is all about paper, mostly paper cutting, but also other techniques including making huge leaves out of seaweed and hemp.
These delicate cutwork birds made from old maps by Claire Brewster were my favourite, perhaps because they symbolised a freedom and lightness of touch that I felt the rest of the exhibition lacked. Apart from the seaweed leaves and an enormous, gestural piece by someone I can't now remember, I must admit to an uncomfortable feeling of claustrophobia while walking around. There is something very tight, controlled and almost slightly verging on madness about the process of cutting tiny work from paper, the sort of thing I have seen prisoners or mental health users produce. Very reminiscent of outsider art in its varying forms. Some artists such as the perennially popular Rob Ryan manage to capture a poetry and humour that lifts their work, but I'm afraid a lot of it seemed too intense and gave me a bit of a constriction in the throat - not really something I usually look for in an encounter with art! What a difference from the outdoor freedom and space of last weekend's trip to the YSP.
Do leave a comment if you have been to see the exhibition - I would be interested to hear other perspectives.