Manchester should be thankful for all the rain it gets because I’m sure it’s in no small part responsible for the plethora of galleries and museums in the city centre. This blessing in disguise has given Manchester an historical edge when it comes to providing visitors with an inspiring and enjoyable alternative to sheltering in Marks & Spencer, but whilst the cultural deluge has flooded the city centre, the urban fringe has been a relative desert of creativity bar the occasional artistic oasis.
But there are signs that the levy might be about to break. Standing on the outskirts of the city, in baron surroundings of wasteland and make-shift car parks stands the Blank Space, part of the Blank Media Collective. The box of a building protrudes like a Mexican Cactus in a concrete desert, waiting for the first drops of regeneration funding to splash nearby. If you were trying to choose a less well trodden part of the city then you would have your work cut out and it certainly seems an odd spot for an exhibition space. I can imagine footfall is increased during the week as commuters occupy the parking space available, but on a Saturday afternoon the place is deserted and feels like a long abandoned ghost town from a spaghetti western.
Despite the unusual location, the Blank Space appears to be thriving. It has been open for 12 months and the will host a special event this weekend as the owners – Blank Media Collective – celebrate their 5th anniversary. The Collective, which operates as a social enterprise aims to support local creative talent by providing a space to exhibit works. They also provide exposure in their online publication Blankpages and hold regular workshops, mentoring and networking events.
The current exhibition ‘The Title Art Prize’ is displaying the work of shortlisted artists in contention for the accolade awarded to emerging visual artists. The exhibition will run until November 27th and the winner will be announced on November 12th to coincide with the Collectives 5th Birthday celebrations.
We’re lucky to have such a wide variety of indoor attractions to help us forget about the background of drizzle, and whilst the city itself might start to saturate over the winter, new additions to the creative landscape are always welcome. Hopefully the Blank Space will have a long and successful future.