I visited Sloe Gallery in Manchester and had some thoughts…
In my opinion, artists should be responding to the world around them.
Unfortunately the world around many artists is often full of complicated rhetoric, awkward social functions, and more wine supping than you could shake a stick at. It’s sometimes hard for us to venture out beyond the white walls we’re so comfortable with (in our own unique uncomfortable art way).
Though Manchester illustrator Robin Sukatorn is braving the divide between art community and community. As I enter the basement area of the Sloe Gallery, he’s surrounded by fairy lights – grafting.
For the launch Sukatorn is documenting the happening – he’s chatting to people as he draws them, and the gallery space becomes an open studio, actually – friendlier than that – a minimalist living room. Blank papers hang on the space walls and a few drawings have been made already, replacing empty pages with colourful sketch like illustrations. People are excited to be drawn.
But this Artist has only just got started, and every week – deep breath – he intends to enter the real world, and document outside the gallery walls – ‘illustrating scenes and events of contemporary political, cultural and community life’. To me there is something so delightfully simple yet wholesome about the project.
We can only really understand our community and our city by being in it. By documenting the comings and goings of the everyday using illustration, Sukatorn is making a commitment to not just shuffling past Arndale shopping centre, eyes to the floor, on the way to the next gallery opening– but to spending time in places inhabited by art and non art folk alike.
I think for a moment that perhaps the idea is not as socially engaged enough for my liking. That the drawings being returned and displayed in the white walled room for the enjoyment of art world, wine drinking bohemians isn’t as satisfying an end, as it would be if there was further engagement with the people in the drawings.
But on second thought, perhaps this is exactly where this type of documentation should end up – reminding us artists that we are part of a wider community – that, if we admit it, we all buy chocolate at co-op when we only popped in for tea bags, that we all queue for buses that never seem to arrive and we all forget our umbrellas on the wettest days of the week.
To be reminded in an art gallery that there is more to life than art is of real importance, it grounds us. Sukatorn’s documenting of the art side of our community was off to a beautiful start, and I’m sure he will do a fantastic job of creating some delicate illustrations that depict the everyday of the real world in the weeks to come.
Let’s just hope he remembers his umbrella.
Northern Chronicle: A Live Drawing Exhibition by Robin Sukatorn will be on from 7th October to 11th November 2017