Making, A Life @ Castlefield Gallry


Emoji summary: 🤝❤️🐑

Making, A Life @ Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (Peter Hodgson with Maria Benjamin, Fernando Garcia Dory, Karen Guthrie, Joe Hartley, Tom Philipson, Juneau Projects, Laure Prouvost, An Endless Supply, Graham Taylor, and Heidi Hodgson)

i am sitting on a bench in the exhibition Making, A Life at castlefield gallery, n I’m writing some notes to understand things, bc although i know where I am (in a basement in manchester) i feel very floaty like I’m still lying in my bed. exhibitions can be so transitional, like, You know when you get to the bottom of the stairs but don’t cleeearly remember walking down them?;; the train I got over here has gone from my mind and i have fallen into art again. it fits me comfortably today.

Castlefield Gallery is one moment in a touring exhibition of work made by Peter Hodgson ‘and artists that have long admired his work’ (why is this so sweet) including Maria Benjamin, Fernando Garcia Dory, Karen Guthrie, Joe Hartley, Tom Philipson, Juneau Projects, Laure Prouvost, An Endless Supply, Graham Taylor, and Heidi Hodgson. A documentary at the entrance introduces u to Peter, le main event, born 1950. a nice old man living in Ambleside, Cumbria, he grew up on a farm where he says he got on better with animals than people;; that animals aren’t hiding anything, they just get on with their lives. The video shows him making bits n bobs in his workshop like spoons, and taking them to a local restaurant to sell. it shows him drawing animals too, with the very tip of his paintbrush. he mumbles on.

down the stairs, past small plants in white ceramic pots with the same animals drawn on their sides, the space opens out into a room furnished gently with a little desk and bench, a fireplace, a flat double bed w a headboard; there’s a dresser to one side, a table, a few other shapes with leather bags and pouches hanging off them, and an L shaped screen with shelves for paintings and such. Where most exhibitions put forward a definite sense of Art over there and Visitor over here, not rly here, I just feel like I am in somebody’s sweet home. it’s that brief look when you walk past someone’s house and the curtains in the front room are drawn and the light is still enough, has stopped glaring off the windows for a second, that you can see right through the room to the back wall, see what colour it has decided it is; see the cardigan hanging over the arm of the couch and the Sky remote on the table before it. and you never really stopped to take all this in, you are moving past and onwards down the road. Except in this exhibition, I did stand still, in fact i climbed thru the window and into the room, and its funny because no one has realised I’m there yet.

the specifics I want to show through the photos I took: of the little animals carved onto glasses and jars, the way the fireplace tells a story in drawings on tiles (of an owl flying away with a dog). there’s the intricate and exhaustive quilt decorated in Hodgson’s style, and a slight flowery painting on a cheap canvas. a shelf up from that has a postcard line painting of a giraffe leaning over to kiss the top of a child’s head, and along from it, two foxes shaped vaguely like letters or chairs, I can’t decide. It is hard to distinguish who did what visually, so the handout has a map to guide you - for example, one part is ‘with’ Laure Provoust, and another ‘for’ her. i really love that. This is not a solo show (doesn’t have the loneliness of a solo at all), and not ur typical group show either;; what u have in Making, A Life is a gathering of kind artists together in a circle, bowing low with their foreheads to the ground, and Peter Hodgson is standing in the middle of them with his curly white hair. its tru collaboration, it’s going ahead and splitting the bill instead of figuring out exactly how much each person at the table owes. everyone is just happy to be there.

The other week I went to the Hepworth in Wakefield and I just sat v quietly on a hidden couch having a think about life. It was in front of one of the big big windows, overlooking the river where you could u see the heads of trees; and i realised the water must have been redirected at some point, because how did the trees ever get past the stream and into the light - but anyway. Every so often someone would find me and then shuffle away to leave me in peace. I enjoyed it so much, I was there for an entire hour just watchin the water and I thought: gallery buildings are so peaceful when u have your back to the art. But with Peter Hodgson’s show i was looking it in the eyes and finding the same calm, we were leaning cheek to cheek, i honestly didn’t want to leave. i know this review is my affect and less the art itself but that’s as it was, i was affected. I spoke to a curator in Castlefield on my way out who told me it’s going to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art in the autumn. i am just going to follow it up there ok.

a tiny makeshift table with a hair brush and a pot and a toothbrush on it, with black tiles where the mirror might be on a bedstand

a white tile with a tiny rough bird painted in a light blue, and the bird has something in its feet - it looks like a mouse but they are similar sizes

a painting of dogs and cats and rabbits in thin colourful outlines surrounded by flowers on a plain bare canvas

a wider shot of the gallery shows wooden boards held up by wooden colums with more artworks on them, plus a flat bed made of wood in the background too

tiny white ceramic plant pots with animals drawn on them in black outlines

a watercolour of a giraffe bending down to touch a kid on its head

the wooden bed is in focus with a big patchwork quitl on top of it

the patchwork quilt also has hexagonal shapes with animals stitched onto them, cats in different poses and colours

in the same wooden, tiled style as the other things in the same, there is a fireplace with glass jugs and fire bellows on them, and each tile has another animal painted on it or people too