Jamie Hewlett at the Contact
This week I’ve been busy, what with work, play and suffering a great artistic disappointment. I was sitting on the tram on my way to the office and happened across an advertisement for a new exhibition at the Contact Theatre in Manchester, a favourite haunt for arts students and fans of general creativity alike. To my joy, I discovered that one of my favourite artists, Jamie Hewlett, was featuring some of his work in an exhibition there – and still is, in fact, until September 25th.
However, I wouldn’t bother going. Not because the artwork isn’t fantastic, there’s no denying that Hewlett knows what to do with a paintbrush, or, indeed, really any kind of medium whatsoever. Have you ever come across Tank Girl? Or Monkey: Journey To The West? You’ll at least have heard of the Gorillaz, I’m sure, in which case you’re at least a little familiar with his artistic output and will know how good it is. The reason I would steer clear of this particular exhibition, however, is the venue itself.
I, as a former arts student myself, used to love the Contact. It was a short walk away from my university building, had a Space Invaders arcade game and coffee was only £1. Perfect. However, as I sadly discovered, not everything stands the test of time. Upon entering the building for the first time in six years, my friend and I were made to feel as though we were interrupting something, as though we shouldn’t have been there, with the receptionists barely giving us a cursory glance as we shuffled in apologetically.
In fact, you’d think they would have been glad of the custom as we were the only ones there and the only ones to come in at all as we stumbled about in the dark trying to find Jamie Hewlett’s prints. That’s right, the dark. What kind of crazy art gallery holds an exhibition in near pitch black? Needless to say, I was befuddled.
Having bitch-slapped that, however, what we could see of the show was great and for a very good cause, with Hewlett inspired to paint scenes from Bangladesh following a visit to the region with Oxfam. Too bad the Contact couldn’t make the most of it – hang your head in shame.