PAPER is an innovative and unusual gallery based in Manchester’s Mirabel studios, near Cheethams Music School and Victoria Train Station. PAPER first opened in August 2012, aiming to represent artists and sell their work, but also to interrogate the concept of ‘paper’, with artists who work with the medium in traditional ways – by drawing and painting on it – but also artists who slice, copy and fold, or who consider the word ‘paper’ in terms of its’ meanings and connotations.
All of the exhibitions and events at PAPER Gallery take the medium of paper as a starting point – but where the curators and artists go from there is up to them. For instance, in a previous show; COPY, which focused on the photocopy as a theme, garlands of colourful drawn, copied and cut-out paper chains were strung from the ceiling of the gallery. One of the gallery’s four directors; Simon Woolham, also revealed how in an exhibition planned for later in the year, called ‘Interim’, he will be exploring ways to present his PHD research towards an ‘academic paper’, along with his colleagues on the interdisciplinary MIRIAD program at Manchester Metropolitan University. Unusual and intriguing methods of display are often employed by curators and artists at PAPER Gallery, in part due to it’s comparatively small size, which at first might seem like an obstacle, but can in fact serve as an opportunity to experiment. Director David Hancock explained that the size of the space creates an intimacy between the public and the work; with visitors encouraged to rummage through drawers and portfolios.
Of the artworks for sale at PAPER gallery, one innovation in particular stands out; the affordable ‘Artists’ Trading Cards’ which can be viewed in the drawers of an attractive vintage cabinet. These are small artworks on paper or card – 88mm x 63mm (3.5 x 2.5 inches) – that will always be priced at less than £50. PAPER currently represent 25 artists, and consider themselves to be a ‘stepping stone’ commercial gallery, as the directors are all practising artists themselves, and understand the challenges and difficulties of trying to make a living from your art.
We found that the more time we spent in the gallery, the more comfortable we felt, and that being surrounded by the delicate and subtle artworks which go to make up PAPER’s current show, ‘Exhibition #6’, enabled us to interact with the work in a way that would be impossible in conventional space. PAPER Gallery is open to the public 12-5pm every Saturday, with Andrea Cotton and Naomi Lethbridge’s ‘Exhibition #6’ running until June 15th.