7 July 2023

Aviva Studios by Factory International - Manchester

There’s a new cultural hub in the north and I for one can’t wait to visit. Innovators Factory International, who have a long history of curating cutting-edge events and exhibitions now have a permanent and impressive cultural space in Manchester, Aviva Studios (the insurance company paid 35 million for the privilege). 

As well as showcasing the arts, they plan on training the next generation of artists and adding 1.1 billion to the local economy over ten years. Factory International are also the people behind the biannual Manchester International Festival (MIF) which has been going since 2007. 

The inaugural installation is You Me & The Balloons by nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a sure-fire crowd pleaser and known the world over for her polka dots and pumpkins, her version of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. This is the first large-scale presentation of her work since Tate Modern Retrospective in 2012 (although you can see her Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Tate Modern until April 2024). And large-scale it is, an inflatable wonderland showcasing work from over the past thirty years - many of which are new to UK audiences. The majority of sculptures are over ten feet tall - giant pumpkins, blow up dolls (not the dodgy ones) and huge spheres, creating a much needed escape from reality/childlike psychedelic wonderland. 

Visitors are treated to a number of previous well-known works including Dots Obsession, Kusama's first balloon series from 1996 and a recent 2023 version, featuring inflatable dots suspended mid-air. There's also a video performance - Song of a Manhattan Suicide Addict (2007) - where she sings about her experience of depression (incredibly she has resided in the Hospital for the Mentally Ill i Tokyo since 1977 - her studio is close by). Clouds (2023) - Visitors can sit on or lie down on the soft works of Clouds (2023) and explore Bouquet of Love I Saw In The Universe from 2021, inflatable forest of giant pink tentacles, an Octopus' Garden if you will. The installation is part of the International Festival and is an opportunity for audiences to explore the new venue ahead of its official opening in October 2023. It's an Instagrammer's paradise and looks like a memorable experience for kids and big kids alike. I can't wait to visit! 

You Me & The Balloons by Yayoi Kusama - 30th June until August 2023 - book here (£15/£10)

Find out more about Aviva Studios here

Find out more about Factory International here

Find out more about Manchester International Festival here

No comments:

Post a Comment