It’s not often when you search ‘what’s on’ on a gallery’s website that you find something you love. Occasionally you come across something that sounds like it could be interesting but never have I been so pleasantly surprised to see Matthew Darbyshire’s name on The Manchester Art Gallery’s website. He was an artist I discovered right at the end of my degree; he became a huge influence in the idea of the collection. The Fenwick Collection was born with his Exhibition of Modern Living in mind. I designed the layout of my plinths in the same style Darbyshire displayed his Exhibition of Modern Living– I allowed my viewer to walk around my grandma’s figurines just as Darbyshire encouraged his viewer to walk around his show room of desirable objects. So to finally walk around Darbyshire’s piece myself was something of a moment.
There was so much I could relate to in Matthew Darbyshire’s work. I could sense the notion of gentrification, the multitude of aspirational objects and the use of plinths to empower a humble object. I was slightly underwhelmed by the position of the installation Exhibition of Modern Living. It felt tucked away in a corner. It needed the whole room to itself. Regardless I walked around inspecting the carefully chosen and positioned objects. Darbyshire commenting himself that at this point you are “entering a curated space.” Louis commenting; at this point bored with the exhibition, “It’s just like being in John Lewis.” This, in a way, means Darbyshire has succeeded in showing his viewer the idealisms of Modern Living in a curated art space.