Constellations: Care & Resistance

November 5, 2020  -  January 29, 2023

Free Admission

Jade Montserrat creates works on paper and performances exploring race, the body and language. She has made a major new work which will enter the city’s collection. As part of this process, we have created an active research space, showing her previous works on paper alongside artworks from the collection. Part gallery and part studio, we are also presenting her notebooks, research, and art materials, which give us a unique insight into her artistic process and creative thinking.

Constellations: Care & Resistance references the star clusters and patterns of constellations that have often been understood as a way for past cultures to explore multiple stories, share memories and spark curiosity. This creative constellation seeks to do the same and expands the conversation about Montserrat’s practice to include works by other artists in our collection, Claudette Johnson, Mark Titchner and Ian Hamilton Finlay. The title also relates to the idea that care can be an act of resisting oppression and silence as demonstrated by the work of these artists. Montserrat is interested in structures of care in institutions, initiating urgent conversations about how works of art and people are looked after.

Montserrat interrogated the collection as she created her new work. Constellations: Care & Resistance is not an end...

A Return to Breath 2021

Watercolour, pencil (mixed media), crayon, gouache, metallic roller pen on paper

These 12 new works on paper are the culmination of the Future Collect commission. Each painting is individually titled and collectively they form A Return to Breath. They depict those who have advocated for fair and equal treatment of people alongside examples of negligence by those in positions of power.

Montserrat takes inspiration from the painting of Ira Aldridge by James Northcote and makes visible the unspoken language that eyes express. These include the eyes of Shukri Yahye-Abdi and Sarah Reed, two victims of police negligence whose treatment caused nationwide protest and demand for police reform. Also represented are Bobby Sands, who protested human rights abuse through hunger strike, and Marcus Rashford, who campaigned against child hunger, homelessness and racism. Six accompanying texts allow us to pause and think about what it means to care including the words collected, collective, communal and cultural object through ritual.

A Return to Breath is a proposition for a means of resistance and resilience. The 12 new works are a companion to the performance Rehearsal Methods 2021.

Jade Montserrat A Return to Breath install ion view against a yellow painted wall

Future Collect public engagement programme: Act I

A livestreamed writing/drawing performance: Curator Nikita Gill inscribed artist Jade Montserrat’s words directly onto the gallery wall took place on Thursday 12 November 2020, 12pm–1pm

Marking the opening of Constellations: Care & Resistance, this performance explored the symbiotic relationship of trust held between artist and curator. Standing in for the artist, who could not be present due to lockdown, Gill inscribed Montserrat’s words onto the gallery wall with charcoal. This act of live writing/drawing evoked intimacy despite the lack of physical proximity. Connecting via Zoom, Montserrat read her prepared texts aloud, while Gill fixed her words in charcoal onto the wall. The performance invited us to consider what it means to inscribe text directly onto a gallery wall.

Future Collect

Future Collect is a three-year partnership between Iniva (the Institute of International Visual Arts, London) and British public galleries to co-commission British born or based artists of African and/or Asian descent. These contemporary commissions will become a permanent part of the collection, giving young artists an opportunity to be exhibited and collected, as well as contributing to a wider public debate about collections and whose heritage is being preserved.

Funded by Art Fund, Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Future Collect seeks to transform the culture of collecting by providing a vital sustainable long-term platform to ask questions about power, representation and the civic role of public museums and galleries today.

Manchester Art Gallery was Iniva’s first Future Collect partner. Together we selected Jade Montserrat as the first British artist to be commissioned for Future Collect. Nikita Gill was the first Future Collect Curatorial Trainee, based at the gallery.