art and revolution

last week when i was in manchester and west yorkshire, i had an amazingly synchronous day of seeing a whole bunch of revolutionary art – art as inspiration for movements of change. in manchester.

i actually never would have made a direct link between manchester and revolution, but after seeing shows by both walter crane and emory douglas, i’ve realised how politically motivated the mancurians have been.

walter crane, whitworth gallery

Whitworth Crane Woman Worker

i popped into the whitworth just for a quick squiz before heading to some of the more contemporary galleries in town. boy was i pleasantly surprised and ended up hanging out there for almost an hour! the main exhibition which caught my fancy was the walter crane work – beautiful fin de siecle works to illustrate and support the labour and suffragette movements. they’re not really the aesthetic that i love, but they’re still really beautiful works and a testament to the link between art and revolution.

Whitworth Crane Suffragette Flyer

emory douglas, urbis.

Emory Douglas

before i talk about the exhibition, urbis is the fucking bomb! oops – bad joke. it is an amazing building, built to regenerate and venerate the IRA bombing in manchester. it is a really spectacular, yet utterly usable space – manchester seems to really use it, with a great lift section, awesome live TV studio that you can see into, and a great view of the whole city.

back to the exhibition – the show was full of the graphics he made for the black panther party for self defence, both before and after he was minister for culture. i really knew very little about the development of the party, so it was great to get a quick lowdown on it (including the fright of my life when i set off the sensor which triggered the sound of JFK being shot. i almost needed to change my jeans after that).

Emory Douglas

i didn’t have too much time to check out the show, but did enjoy the chunky black lines and super cool style of the graphics and to see how valuble art was to the movement. none of this art for arts’ sake business. 😀 in fact the gallery are trying to encourage people to see the value in art for political purpose and have started a flickr group of revolutionary art.

radical cross stitch

so, having seen both those shows on the same day, i came home to read my current read, Virginia Woolf‘s Night and Day, and then some posts and twitter by australia’s very own radical cross stitch, who stitches all of that together for me: art for politics, with a particular focus on rights for women. i’m loving the blog/tweet combo at the moment and looking forward to the next installment of her public x-stitches

i got all inspired again to make works about stuff that matters. not that i’m particularly ace at it, but it helps to keep it in my mind. and hopefully yours too.

image credits:
walter crane, the woman worker, image courtesy whitworth gallery
suffragette flyer, image courtesy whitworth gallery
emery douglas works from
bell hooks’ image from

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