Hidden within the murky bowels of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, behind some bins, the determined traveller will discover, with the help of a loitering man who happened to be the bouncer, the Kraak Gallery. As last term came to an end, this fine specimen of a venue showcased the launch of the first issue of Black and BLUE, ‘a radical new publication for poetry, drama, prose’. Issues of the magazine were available for a fiver or, if you got a friendly vendor, whatever loose change you happened to have in your pocket at the time of purchase. Describing itself as ‘a new space for language’, the magazine is not particularly concerned with collecting works of a specific genre but is more interested in beautiful writing regardless of context, providing an enthusiastic and open-minded environment for young artists and writers to exhibit their work.
Inside the gallery we were confronted with a literal feast for the eyes. Whilst crossing a stretch of rustic wooden floor boards you were lucky not to tread on a wandering potato or a lost-looking roast chicken: part the ‘erotic cuisine’ spread across the floor that doubled as conceptual art by Couleur Cafe… all dranketh from one cup in the gallery: a shared glass of wine that was occasionally fed to you by one of the waitresses, if you were willing, which for purely research purposes I, er, definitely was.
The walls were hung with works inspired by the publication’s surreal and eclectic manifesto, an intriguing mix of illustration, photography, video art and sculpture submitted by new young artists from across the country. Drawing from one source of inspiration, the collection hung together well, and artists referencing from the same quotes produced an interesting divergence of interpretations.
After having eaten a lot of free beetroot and narrowly avoiding eating a free garlic clove, across the alley and up some stairs we found out where everyone had gone: a club space filled with comfy leather sofas to perch on whilst sipping gaspingly overpriced wine out of, controversially, their very own, personal glasses (next time I’m bringing my own booze). The atmosphere was relaxed, but social, with a delightfully varied selection of music and entertainment on the stage: poetry readings, a bit of spoken word and hip hop from Visceral, the brilliant Quarry Lads Skiffle Group, and one last band whose name I can’t remember (too much arty wine) but they were great and managed to unite the mostly segregated groups of people around the room into a dancing mass of synthy joy, bringing a refreshingly different, stimulating night to a lovely close.
Black & BLUE is a new publication for poetry, drama, prose and other, founded by three students from Manchester last year. Their aim was to show that beautiful writing emerges from anywhere including tweets, statuses as well as the traditional forms. They have released two issues of emerging writers’ work and their website is here www.blackbluewriting.com
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