Manchester Art Gallery

Future Creatives 2021

Using Protopia as a model for change and working towards a better future

Manchester Art Gallery is commissioning visual art students from Manchester College to create a series of art outcomes and activities that will form a day of positive collective action. This will be hosted at the Gallery on Friday 9 July 2021. The commission will involve you working with your peers and making outcomes that will become part of your portfolio and provide a platform for you to express what matters to you.

As emerging young artists and designers of the city, we are asking you to consider and share what kind of world you want to live in and use creative processes to call for change. You will develop your understanding of art as communication and use this to challenge in inventive and creative ways. The Gallery’s resources and spaces will be available for you to use to help amplify your voice, speak to power and encourage others to think, talk and make.

Using the idea of Protopia (see below) for change and working towards a better future, you will decide as groups what ideas you want to encourage. How these are shared are up to you but you could consider workshops, poster campaigns, a manifesto, social media campaign, lecture series, film screenings, exhibitions, fashion shows and performances.

Any student who wants to be involved can be. Working with your tutors and peers you will develop a series of proposals that will be shared with gallery staff and creatives from Manchester, who will use their experience to help make sure they are achievable and offer practical support to realise them.




We don’t want to go back to normal, do we?

This project takes place in a time of major change, Covid 19 has fundamentally changed the way we live and how society operates. With the arrival of vaccinations, many feel that is light at the end of a very hard tunnel. What do you want recovery to look like? What issues will need addressing? Can we use the day of action and call for change to create a manifesto to share with those in power?

Protopia is an idea developed by American thinker and Futurist Kevin Kelly.

“I think our destination is neither utopia nor dystopia nor status quo, but protopia. Protopia is a state that is better than today than yesterday, although it might be only a little better. Protopia is much much harder to visualize. Because a protopia contains as many new problems as new benefits, this complex interaction of working and broken is very hard to predict.

We will again begin to generate plausible visions of a desirable future, ones that are slightly better than today. These protopian visions won’t be as thrilling as either dystopias or utopias, but they might be thrilling enough to aim towards. “




Jan/Feb – Introduction to project and research phase. Key themes/messages agreed

March – Groups will form to work on specific themes and identify activities

April – Proposals for key activities (including budgets and locations) to be presented and agreed

May/June – Work developed. Marketing and event planning subgroups set up and working on tasks

July – Materials/spaces prepared. Event takes place Friday 9 July 2021




Here are a series of films and resources to help start your thinking about issues you may wish to explore and art as activism. They aim to help you consider visual literacy, history and politics and how these shape how we communicate, exchange ideas, create agency and navigate the world.


Introduction to Future Creatives and 2021 brief – Emma Carroll


Jeremy Deller – Everybody in the place – an incomplete history of Britain 1984-1992

The themes and ideas explored in this film have been the key influence for this brief. It joins the dots between ideas of community, the agency of young people, social justice, urban and rural life, who writes history and the power of counterculture.

Importantly Deller’s work resonates with current issues raised by Covid – inequity, education, politics and the vital role that different cultures have in shaping a healthy society for all. The film is about community, people coming together to socialise but also to make change. This crisis has highlighted the basic human need to be together and reinforced the importance of creativity, community and belonging.


Jade Montserrat – Nikita Gill

Curator Nikita Gill introduces the evolving exhibition, Constellations of Care, and shares insight into how she and Jade programme activity in the space.


Derek Jarman – Fiona Corridan

Curator Fiona Corridon introduces the work of Derek Jarmen – whose exhibition Protest will be at the Gallery during summer 2021.

Grayson Perry Art Club – Fiona Corridon

Curator Fiona introduces the Grayson Perry Art Club exhibition that has developed from the TV show.



Students portraits