Reviewed: Strange and Familiar, Manchester Art Gallery

I went to take a look around Manchester Art Gallery’s latest exhibition, and here’s what I thought.

It’s hard to look at Strange and Familiar and not think that the title is incredibly apt.

The exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, curated by British photographer Martin Parr, is a look at Britain through the eyes of a collection of international photographers.

The list of photographers include Henri Cartier Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Rineke Dijkstra, Bruce Gilden and Evelyn Hofer. I can’t share some of the work on display as you can’t take pictures inside the exhibition, a rule which I followed but others around me didn’t.

There’s over 250 photographs on display, all offering commentary on different aspects of society, architecture and class. There’s definitely something you’ll find striking and interesting.

We are brought up to believe that things “aren’t like how they used to be”, and whilst that is the case for many things, it’s actually inaccurate for others.

The exhibition showcases how British life was from the 1930’s up to only a couple of years ago, and there’s one thread that seems to connect them all together: familiarity.

In some cases, it’s hard to believe that the photo was taken in 1930. touched up with a bit of colour and a fancy instagram filter, you would definitely guess it was taken recently from only a few yards away.

Technology may have helped us adapt to a more innovative feeling planet, but the pubs, stores, faces, interactions and locations somewhat remain.

Eighty years on, we’re still able to make strong connections with these candid and intimate encounters into British life and that’s a great feeling. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel associated with the past. We can often look at our origins like a distant folktale, up there with the dinosaurs. Whilst we most certainly are a far way away from the mining and factory lives, our blood still connects us to those times.

If nothing else, it’s encouraged me to get my camera out and document the things around me. Basically, what I’m saying is, we can often take advantage of who and what’s around us. We’re not as far apart as we thought. Get out there, see the world and see it for what it is – you may be more impressed than you think.

Strange and Familiar is at Manchester Art Gallery until Monday 29th May 2017. More information here.

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