Three daring new works from artists in the Greater Manchester region have been unveiled as part of Manchester Collective’s first ever Northern Voices programme.

Launched in Spring 2021, Northern Voices is a new commissioning scheme that provides a platform for bold and underrepresented voices in Manchester Collective’s home region. From musicians to visual artists and filmmakers to photographers, the Collective searched for creators to make fearless new work that explores the connection between music and other artforms.

Following a call for applications, musician and producer CURRENTMOODGIRL, artist and curator Chris Alton, and writer and director CourtsWrites – all based in the Greater Manchester area – were commissioned to make new pieces which take inspiration from the Collective’s recordings. Spanning film, music and visual art, their works explore topics such as grief, creative blocks and female empowerment.

The commissions are available to view and experience here.

CURRENTMOODGIRL has created a new track for voice and electronics, using manipulated audio samples from a Manchester Collective recording of Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. In the 19th-century poem that inspired the piece, a woman confesses to her new lover that she bears another man’s child. Her words are full of shame and regret, echoing societal expectations of the time. The resolution is a happy one, with the man vowing to look after the unborn child. In Skin Stretch, the story is reimagined from the woman’s perspective – enabling the protagonist to reclaim her agency. You can listen to Skin Stretch here.

Responding to Manchester Collective’s music and the memories it has evoked, Chris Alton has created a collaborative artwork with Emily Simpson which explores bereavement, grief and language. Words to Grieve, Part #1 stems from conversations with a community of people with shared experiences, and the artists’ own reflections on society’s cultural distancing from death. The resulting six posters point towards the creation of new words and definitions – a starting point in the expansion of the vocabulary for grief. You can view Words to Grieve, Part #1 here.

CourtsWrites interweaves film, spoken word and photography to explore the turbulent journey creators experience when faced with a blank sheet of paper and the possibility of having a ‘creative block’. Set to a Manchester Collective recording of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 2, and featuring contrasting visual styles, Blink explores the highs and lows of that process. The piece touches upon themes of vulnerability and substance abuse, self-belief and determination – opening up a window into an artist’s life. You can watch Blink here.

In addition to being available to view online from today, the artistic commissions will also be showcased at a live event at 7.30pm on Friday 10 December at The White Hotel in Salford, prior to the Collective’s Heavy Metal show.

As part of Northern Voices, Manchester Collective and Salt Magazine have throughout the year also commissioned authors from a diverse range of backgrounds to present new critical writing on art in the North. Manchester-based writers Mymona Bibi, Vivien Holmes and Avery Dire have written on topics ranging from how music can shape relationships and Northern identity, to a critical response to Manchester Collective’s audio-visual installation Dark Days, Luminous Nights. You can read their articles here.

Manchester-based photographer Brandina Chisambo took the commissioned artists’ portraits as part of the project.

Applications for the next round of Northern Voices will open in Spring 2022.


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