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Still from A Visit to An Art School

Still from A Visit to An Art School

Exhibition shines light on University’s film and image archive

3 January 2019

'Life Room' by artist Simeon Barclay opens at the Holden Gallery

Simeon Barclay: Life Room 

February 8 – March 29, 2019 

Preview: Thursday, February 7, 2019, 5:30pm – 7:30pm 

An exhibition inspired by the North West Film Archive and the Slide Library at Manchester Metropolitan University is to open at the Holden Gallery.

The exhibition by artist Simeon Barclay will present a survey of existing work alongside new work, which will include a response to the historic collections at Manchester School of Art.

Life Room will be Barclay’s first solo exhibition in Manchester. He will produce new work in response to the North West Film Archive and the Slide Library at the Visual Resource Centre, both part of the Library Services Special Collections at the University. The exhibition title Life Room was inspired by the film A Visit to An Art School, made in 1929 and based at Manchester School of Art, which is in the North West Film Archive.

Simeon Barclay, What a charming name for a dog, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Simeon Barclay, Gatefold Series I wish I Knew Then What I Know Now, 2016. Photo Andy Stagg, South London Gallery. Courtesy the Artist

Simeon Barclay, Royal Flush, 2017. Courtesy of the artist

Barclay’s work operates at the intersection of contemporary art, fashion, music and popular culture and draws on an ongoing interest in how people develop a sense of self, how culture, and tradition, as well as personal experience, shape our identities.

In his youth, Barclay became fascinated with Vogue magazine, its glamour and theatricality, providing aspirational imagery in stark contrast with the everyday reality of life in small-town West Yorkshire.

Furthermore, Barclay’s background in manufacturing – having worked at a factory for 16 years – feeds into his practice, informing his glossy aesthetic and use of industrial fabricating techniques. Through these seemingly disparate and contradictory influences, Barclay encourages the breaking of rigid societal boundaries and challenges expectations of identity, gender, race, class and heritage.