West Art Collective is an artist-led organisation based in Rusholme. Known for their impressive art and music displays, The Collective hosted event does not disappoint. Found at Antwerp Mansion, you can attend events every Thursday night. But what exactly does the venue have to offer? The Mancunion took a trip down to find out.
The building- formerly a student club of choice and recording studio, has been through many life stages. Antwerp Mansion was formerly home to a Belgian prince, a Gentleman’s club, then a regular club, and now houses West Art Collective.
The Collective itself aims to develop a sense of community in the Manchester art scene, often pushing the boundaries of their events to reach their full potential. We caught up with the director behind West Art Collective, Lucy Indelicate, at their recent Stupid Cupid event to discuss all things Antwerp.
The Collective have so much to offer. They hold events regularly, either as exhibitions every Thursday – which showcase new rising talent in Manchester. In addition, they hold an extra event once a month on a Friday which is always an all-out bash. If you’re looking for real drama, music, and energy, Fridays are for you.
West receive no arts funding and aims to be fully self-sufficient. Additionally, all events are BYOB, making this a low-expense night out perfect for all budgets. the Collective has certainly worked hard to ensure that the Mansion is open to all. A charming attribute of the Collective is their clear focus on accessibility. All featured artists and creators exhibit for free, with the events supported and funded by attendees. The ticket price, which ranges from £6 – £11, is partially funnelled back into the building, and partially into running the event.
They have also committed to ongoing renovation and restoration in the building. The flooring (an original feature of the building, made from the wood of old ships from Liverpool Docks) is being repaired. Dazzling pink lights now hang in the outside area: a remnant of the Collective’s pink, queer-themed love event Stupid Cupid.
Since the pandemic, the Collective has grown its following, with Friday nights now attracting over 300 people. These events are heavily advertised on the Collective’s social media sites, and each have a different theme. The West Heads decide the theme rather spontaneously based on “whatever they can think of at the time.”
The mansion’s walls are a safe space for queer, sex workers, and POC artists. Submission is easy and free. If selected, artists benefit from a free exhibition, as well as any profits made from the artwork they sell. By holding events as open and lively as they do, the Collective have moved art from an abstract sphere to one you can interact with.
The mansion has a real sense of place as you enter – perhaps because of the shared love of the venue by contributors, or perhaps due to its rich history. When visiting the venue for Stupid Cupid, Lucy informed me that the venue has been rumoured to be haunted!
These unique features undoubtedly promote a more relaxed party atmosphere, allowing the Collective to host unconventional art often rejected by galleries, such as queer, fetish, kink, and performance art (and other themes that don’t monetise so well).
While doing so, the Collective provide direct artist support, enabling visitors to meet the creators, buy their artwork, and have a dance.
As West’s vision continues to expand, make sure you keep an eye out for your next extravaganza (which lives off Curry Mile)!