04 Feb ‘Tracing Presence’ Portrait Exhibit, The Mustard Tree Charity and No Fly Posters
Visiting art exhibitions and coming home to a steaming mug of hot chocolate … I do love the perks of being self-employed. 🙂
Today I went out to see some beautiful paintings by Elizabeth Kwant, artist in residence at the Boaz Trust – a Manchester based charity that works with destitute asylum seekers. With an estimated 2,000 individuals facing utter destitution in Manchester, because they have been refused asylum but have not been deported, it is a vital work that Boaz do, providing accommodation, basic essentials and support.
The portraits of ten women, painted over the past year, give a very tangible presence and dignity to these lives whilst hinting at the traumas the women have faced. For those who are denied any kind of ‘living’ existence in the country where they are, it must be such a debilitating thing and a constant challenge. You can read a certain amount from these women’s faces, their strength, and I love the light that shines from their eyes, and small smiles, but I longed to hear more of their stories.
I was fascinated by the chairs present in each picture. Each woman is posed behind a different chair, which, despite their inviting faces, adds such a guarded feel. Are they resting their hands on the chairs, or holding them, for stability or support? Are they hiding behind them, or do they long to just sit down?
Boaz are situated in Mustard Tree‘s building – another fantastic Manchester charity – so whilst there, we were able to look around some of the art studios and facilities they had, guided by Graham who runs the art department. It’s a charity I’ve known about for a while, but had no idea just how large they are! Both in terms of space and capacity and also the number of projects going on and people they work with. Mustard Tree as a whole, supports 10,000 people who may be homeless, ex-offenders, struggling with drug or alchohol problems, suffering domestic abuse, or simply those who find themselves in need of some extra help or someone to talk to.
These five studios Graham showed us, have recently been set up and Mustard Tree are hoping to house a mixture of artists there, as well as generate some much needed income from them. Just last week, this article reported on how the charity is struggling to stay afloat with additional financial burdens and more people being referred their way from job centres at the same time. They are working on a month to month basis currently, not sure if they will be able to stay open or, even if they are, if they will be able to continue the same level of service or help the same number of people they do.
If you are interested in renting studio space, get in touch with Graham on 0161 228 7331 or if you feel you could become a regular donor, donate here.
On the way back to Piccadilly Gardens, we stumbled across the infamous No Fly Posters wall. I tweeted about this story last week – it is an interesting dialogue between the council and a lot of creative Manchester types. The council just seem to keep saying the same thing though … Read the full fun story here! And the ongoing call for artworks here.
The Tracing Presence exhibition only continues until 7th Feb 2013 (this Thursday, so get your skates on!).
Opening hours: 9- 5pm Mon- Fri.
Location: The Boaz Trust, 110 Oldham Road, Manchester M4 6AG (1st floor of the Mustard Tree, entry via red door off Bengal St.)