GREY AREA at PINK / Manchester

GREY AREA at PINK / Manchester

A site-specific installation and exhibition at 86 Princess Street by Kevin Hunt featuring works by Simon Bayliss, Caz Egelie, Aitor González and Kevin Hunt

29 January - 27 February 2022

86 Princess Street, 
Manchester, M1 6NG 

PINK is delighted to present GREY AREA, a site-specific installation and exhibition at 86 Princess Street by Kevin Hunt. Following on from his booth concept at The Manchester Contemporary 2021, GREY AREA has developed in response to the building’s history as a former textile packing and shipping warehouse and is the artist’s first large-scale artwork since 2019. 

Historically, 86 Princess Street traded ‘greige’ (pronounced grey) cotton cloth, which refers not to its colour, but to a type of unprocessed, unfinished woven cloth that underwent many subsequent processes such as dyeing and printing. In essence the textile was in flux. Transitioning; its purpose to become something else. This industrial heritage has become a springboard for Kevin to question binary, fixed, ‘straight’ ideas - considering what it means to subvert the established narratives architectural histories instil by presenting a soft and colourless, transitional and malleable exhibiting environment for a variety of Queer objects and ideas. A grey area... 

Combining printed and textile elements within a wooden set-like structure, an immersive photocopied wallpaper reproduces and repeats a motif based on the heavily gestured washed-out windows seen when businesses close. Itself a reproduction (a reprint of a monotype made by the artist), this fluid gesture is reframed by its duplication as ongoing and open rather than fixed and closed; a symbolic motif for new beginnings, re-emergence and change. Furthering this free-flowing dialogue, transit ‘packing’ blankets commonly used to cushion and protect are strewn across the floor - destabilising the ground beneath the feet of both audience and artworks. 

Within the installation, Simon Bayliss’ ceramic teapots, jugs and wall-based ‘pasties’ reference aspects of South West England’s rural heritage and art history, which he playfully explores from a Queer perspective. Based in St Ives, Simon works on a potter’s wheel and decorates his ceramics with colourful clay slips and glossy transparent glazes. Loosely based on a design by William ‘Bill’ Marshall (Bernard Leach's right-hand man at the renowned Leach Pottery in St Ives), a recent series of teapots feature slogans in a rave-poster font, humorously inviting new conversations around identity and activism within the traditionally subdued world of studio pottery. Proposing that the ritual of brewing tea in a handmade pot is imbued with the power to effect change. 

Caz Egelie’s multi-disciplinary practice plays with a game of real and fake, fact and fiction, reproduction and authenticity. References to art history and art's archetypal figures play a large role in the artist's work; which often attempts to defy categorisation by engaging in an institutional critique from the position of the ‘jester’. Resulting in what one might call 'institutional jest’. Caz's masks, costumes and sculptural objects (made from a diverse range of materials such as resin, fabric and 3D- printed objects) offer a view into a parallel (art) world. In this world characters and symbols are made transhistorical, archetypes take on new meanings and props activated by performances show the possibility of disguise, misdirection and taking on a new identity. 

On closer inspection, the abstract gesture seen in Aitor Gonz├ílez’s doodle-like, marker pen drawings reveal an array of naturalistic motifs like animals, flowers and insects. Although their identity as natural forms isn’t entirely clear, instead, rather romantically, they are evocative of intimate emblems of the artist’s uniquely Queer perspective on the world. Several drawings presented within sloppy, sculptural enclosures disrupt the formalities of what we come to expect from works in frames. Playing with the hierarchy of the frame as a container to preserve, their uneven surfaces become extensions of Aitor’s drawings; gesture spilling from the page, embracing error, chance and free interaction between bodies and materials. A new chair-like sculpture also sits within the installation. Itself heavily gestured, its moist and greasy surface rendering it unusable, blurring the ‘straight’ edges that usually allow such objects to function. 

Alongside Simon, Caz and Aitor’s works; Kevin Hunt’s recent series of wall-based, waterjet-cut metal sculptures CLOSETOTHEEDGE are scattered throughout the installation. Compounded together, the phrase ‘close to the edge’ reveals other pertinent words hidden within the expression. Grappling with complex emotions like loss and repression, the works articulate the artist’s experience of the last two years via cutting up pre-existing stainless steel buffetware. Resulting in sharp objects (their original smooth edges removed) that reflect upon the complexities of the artist’s Queer identity. 

GREY AREA hosted by PINK at 86 Princess Street, opens on Friday 28th January 2022, 7pm - 10pm 
Saturday 29th January - Sunday 27th February, Friday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm or by appointment 
A free and accessible public programme of discursive events and performance will punctuate the installation and exhibition. Dates, times and details can be found via PINK’s Instagram - 

With special thanks to SEESAW and 86 Princess Street for making this project possible.