The West Art Collective again sieged Antwerp Mansion with another art and music exhibition, titled Pink, on the 16th of September 2022.
Antwerp Mansion is known by many generations of Manchester inhabitants, originally used as a nightclub, it is now offered out to organisations, independent to the venue, for art exhibitions and music performances.
The West Art Collective started in spring 2019 by Lucy Indelicate with the aim of creating financially accessible art related opportunities in the north of England as a reaction to the financial struggle and inaccessibility of aspiring artists. Vexed by application costs for exhibitions and building hiring fees, they
utilised a zero-cost exhibition programme and haven’t received any funding from the arts council. The team is an artist-lead organisation made up of ex-students, who wanted to try something different from the white-box theme of contemporary exhibitions, and instead created a uniquely D.I.Y atmosphere that blends an art exhibition and a music concert together. The ladder in the West Art Collective emblem embodies the team’s working-class background; It’s inspiring to see a local organisation giving opportunities to something that is often considered out of reach for working-class people.
The Pink exhibition was an open call application, accepting all mediums of art from performance art to painting. The requirements of the open call were that the artwork was pink, a simple but interesting theme for the night. The exhibition itself contained three gallery rooms that displayed the artwork,fifteen stalls in the ballroom upstairs, music in the downstairs hall and an art performance in the gig room.
I had the pleasure to speak to Lucy Indelicate online to find out more behind their thinking for the exhibition and their organisation.
Q: How did you decide on the theme pink for the Pink exhibition?
A: We chose pink because it's our collective colour. It was never meant to be on purpose, Tom created our logo and pink stuck. We completely associate the colour pink with our collective now so it made sense to do an entire show about it. We've started consuming the mansion in the colour too, starting with the excessive pink fairy lights outside carrying through to painting a whole room pink inside. The building owners just roll their eyes when I turn something else pink haha!
Q: What was your aim when creating the West Art Collective if you had an aim?
A: Our goal came before West was created. West was founded to support creating our Zero-Cost Exhibition Programme to support artists exhibit for free. We just wanted to do something different, we wanted a financially accessible space for artists to be allowed to exhibit work other galleries declined.
Q: What do you think the West Art Collective offers to artists and visitors that other organisations or galleries don't?
A: I think all galleries offer different types of creative things, I don't think there's a wrong or a right way to offer your space to artists because everyone wants to view art in different ways. We don't charge our artists to exhibit, we don't charge a commission if they sell work through us, we don't charge stalls to set up and sell their stuff and we've just started this past 10 months giving our space to artists to host their own exhibitions without having to pay building hire fees. They even walk away with money to help fund their next project! Overall we want the public to consume art in a way that's lively and fun!
Q: How did you come about working with Antwerp Mansion?
A: Back in 2018 Antwerp tried to put on their own exhibitions, I submitted my work and when I went to collect it they asked if I had any experience in exhibition organising. I'd just received a super high grade for this at uni. Myself (Lucy Indelicate) and Tom Kinloch put all our knowledge into a proposal for not only an exhibition, but for the Zero-Cost Exhibition Programme. They loved how organised and prepared we were and we went ahead with the exhibition. They were so shocked that the type of work I paint (explicit) was rejected for exhibitions for that reason. They wanted to give us the space to do something different. We've worked together ever since and now I live here in my van.
Q: What's your favourite thing about running the West Art Collective?
A: I speak for myself but I'm sure the rest of the collective agree. I love that I get to work with my close friends, most of us met in college or just after. We used to come to antwerps events back when it was a club. Tom brought me to my first night here and I met Mimi, Arron etc . We've done a proper full circle moment doing our own events now at Antwerp. With busy lives and jobs we get to see each
other regularly here. Getting to do what we do here for people, with your best mates, it's a dream!
Q: What artworks especially caught your eye in the Pink Exhibition and why?
A: One of my favourites was from Lula Box, we've exhibited them before here and every time it's another incredible piece. I never have favourites though haha!
Q: How has it been running a zero cost exhibition programme?
A: The programme has been running since the collective was formed in spring 2019, we started with just our Friday events and then created four more projects on the programme since then, including our
takeover exhibitions, cyber exhibitions etc.
Q: What caused you to create a space that is alternative to the more traditional white-space room of art exhibition?
A: Honestly at the very start we never liked to set out with the intention of creating a space like this and we never thought it would turn into this huge crazy experience, as cringey as it sounds this happened so naturally. Everything was the right place, right time kinda thing and a hell of a lot of hard work to keep it going. We just put our time and love into something that felt natural. We definitely had our own experiences and opinions on exhibition spaces and their rules and guidelines that can be restricted. We exhibit a lot of queer art, kink art etc. There's a space needed for it!
The West Art Collective ceaselessly provides entertaining nights of live music and art. The Pink exhibition was yet another example of that. Packed with people, it is clear that it is a hit with locals
and that Antwerp Mansion is still going to be in the consciousness of Manchester’s inhabitants.