After a mad day of dashing round Manchester, fighting my way through snow and ice, to get my Masters dissertation bound and submitted before Christmas, I briefly took refuge in Manchester Art Gallery. There, I happened upon an unexpected treat: Animalation, an exhibition of new animation work by artist Andrew Bracey.
Animalation is inspired by flip-book animation techniques, as well as animals both real and imaginary. As in so much of Bracey's work, there's a pleasingly playful and intriguing feel to this exhibition: bridging the gap between painting, installation, animation and video, you can't passively view this work, but must actively explore it, becoming a participant in a game of gallery hide-and-seek. Peeping into hidden corners, you discover unexpected surprises: a scribbled dolphin comes to life on a post-it note apparently left at random on a gallery wall; a “fluorescent disco creepy-crawly” appears and disappears upon an abandoned piece of paper; a rainbow snake slithers across the gallery floor. These doodles bursting into unexpected life also seem to speak of the creative process itself, which here is represented as exuberant, irrepressible, and characterised by a childlike playfulness: a vibrant and enchanting antidote to the often wearying solemnity of so much current contemporary art.
Animalation is at Manchester Art Gallery until 28 February: Bracey will also be leading a number of events, including an artist talk and an animation-focused art weekend. Taking the idea of active participation a step further, you can even find instructions on how make your own “animalation” on the Manchester Art Gallery website.
Find out more about Bracey and his work on his website here.
[Image and video: 'Hover' by Andrew Bracey via Manchester Art Gallery]