Last Friday, John and I returned to Manchester for a very special occasion – we attended the successful launch of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, and more specifically, we were there to witness the highly regarded artist Bashir Makhoul’s exhibition in various locations in the city of Manchester.
We have known Profession Makhoul for a while now, ever since he took up the post of Pro-Vice Chancellor at Birmingham City University and has direct responsibility for BCU’s International development. So we were very honoured to see first hand his other great achievement as a practising artist, who makes creative work ranging from oil paintings to wonderful, gigantic installations.
It was a warm and bright day, rather unusual for Manchester, from my experience of that northern city, making our traffic heavy journey a little more interesting. Our first stop was the Imperial War Museum (IWM North) located in Salford Quays, next to the BBC and ITV. The sunshine was beautifully reflected on the waters right behind the museum.
On entering the museum, we were greeted by the most impressive art installation I have ever seen: Bashir Makhoul’s spectacular creation of a mock Gaza, which, as I understand it, was first shown at the 55th Venice Biennale Exhibition in 2013, entitled “The Occupied Garden”. The new and current exhibit was a village constructed out of ordinary cardboard boxes, embodying the temporary nature of human dwelling and encampment, created by the occupation of Palestine and her people. We could easily see the amazing amount of work that had been put into this installation by the artist himself and his hard-working construction team.
Whilst at the museum, our brief browsing took us to a painting depicting British medics collecting wounded soldiers from the bloody Battle of Ypres. By coincidence, John’s great granddad was among the wounded there and we visited his grave in Northern France three months ago.
We later met with the artist himself at Granada Studios where his oil painting collection “House of Cards” (The Netflix series with the same title happens to be our favourite TV programme too) and textile objects were on display. All of his works delivers emotionally-charged, powerful messages: occupation and colonisation of cities and countries. The mixture of different colours, the bullet holes in the cardboard boxes and through the textiles brought vivid images of war and today’s politics in the regions where the artist comes from. It was a heady and powerful combination.
This Exhibition is open until 23 of November 2014, so pop to Manchester and check them out. There are fabulous works from other artists too, in different venues across the city. For more about Bashir Makhoul and his work, visit his website.