Indieterria presents A Very Insecure Exhibition

Dear Readers,

A Very Insecure Exhibition flyer #1

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the place was packed!

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition

Vanadian Avenue has always been about music, pop culture and art. We absolutely adore any artistic activity and when we are notified that something interesting and unique is going to take place, we cannot help ourselves but to check it out. After hearing that two legendary music photographers, Karen McBride and Shari Dawson are going to do a collective exhibition, we booked hotel, tickets and off we went to see what was happening in the kingdom of Mancunia.

Before arriving to Manchester, we spoke to both artists about their exhibition, but they were mysterious as Sphinxes and didn’t reveal anything about it. They were so adamant not to let things slip, that they refused to name the place of the exhibition until the last day and even then, they had to be convinced by the BBC DJ to do it.

In the days of social media and constant bombardment by notifications, such attitude may be surprising but knowing both ladies, we can understand why they chose to promote their event in this way.

Thomas Haywood of The Blinders – the most popular print at the exhibition

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the famous Elbow image!

First of all, both Karen and Shari are fiercely independent. They don’t follow any trends and they don’t look up to anybody else. Secondly, they take the Manchester motto of “doing things differently” very literally and always come up with something fresh and exciting. They are also trend setters, always a step ahead of the game. When the rest of the world is busy printing stage times to the last seconds or sending invites, Karen and Shari do the opposite. They provided their fans with minimal information and encouraged them to patiently wait for the right moment. And this tactics worked like a charm! When we arrived at the PROJECTS MCR skate park venue where the exhibition took place, we found out that the place was tightly packed. It was really fascinating to watch – people queued eagerly, exchanging ideas and being excited like  group of kids before unpacking their presents on Christmas morning. We have never seen anything like this before. In a world over-saturated with news, being told only the bare minimum, suddenly seems radical and very punk!

Shari Denson and Karen McBride – photo by Simon Lee https://www.flickr.com/photos/strangelove20/

Skatepark MCR is a very specific place, full of concrete pillars, fantastic graffiti (the portrait of Princess Leia is probably one of the best we have seen in our lives!), slops and ramps. It is located under Mancunian Way and is separated from the main road by a fence. Holding exposition in an open air venue can be tricky on a chilly  February night, but the organizers made sure that the cafe was opened and served hot drinks and cakes to those who needed a little something to warm them up. There was also another drink bar, crafty built from recycled pallets and placed among the pictures that served cold drinks and ice creams.

John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) who also conducted interview with Karen and Shari at the opening

At the bar

Since learning about the location of the exhibition, we were speculating among ourselves how Karen and Shari’s pictures are going to be displayed. After many guesses, we reached the conclusion that the venue is so unusual that the set up is probably going to be very traditional. We imagined rows of white, elegant boards with pictures displayed in even rows and the visitors passing from one end of the venue to the other with a glass of wine in hand, admiring them. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the final layout! Absolutely nothing traditional, no boards, no elegant browsing! The images, although beautifully printed on large scale billboards, were plastered alongside the slops, hang from the ceiling and were displayed on the walls or even covered the ramps and the floor! To get to see them, we had to move really close. We were forced to bend down, get on our knees, climb and walk around the uneven edges. And in that moment, we truly understood the genius of both photographers. Their art is not to be displayed in a museum or just glanced over. It needed to be felt, touched, breathed in. It was supposed to be in-your-face, it was supposed to feel like you had to work to earn the right to see those images. Only then we could truly appreciated them. The images are strictly linked to the city of Manchester. They portray musicians, artists, cultural icons and regular people frozen in  a single moment in time. They are not static, they are expressive, moving, they feel alive. They would still look beautiful in an art gallery, but it would never be the same. And the title finally made sense. A Very Insecure Exhibition was exactly that – vulnerable, chaotic, unique yet inspiring and very much alive. It felt true and one of a kind. By the end of the evening, the public could take the prints home and the exposition was gone. One time event only, one evening, something brief but beautiful. Just like real life.

Malicia and Keith Higgins

Musicians Against Homelessness Manchester Manager – Andy White

Malicia and photographer Neil Winward

Malicia and music promoter Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Rita and Mancunian poet – Karl Hildebrandt

Admiring, or taking the photographs home was not the only attraction of the evening. John Robb, punk rock legend and editor of Louder Than War magazine interviewed Karen and Shari for nearly half an hour and we had a chance to listen to their anecdotes, stories from working behind the stages and experiences as professional photographers in one of the most competitive and difficult industries. In the end, Karen and Shari received small gifts form the grateful visitors – two chocolate cameras!

“A Very Insecure Exhibition” proved to be a very big success for both artists. There is a talk that another event will take place in 2020. We cannot wait.

Flyer for next year`s event.

See you shortly,
M+R

As usual – you can see entire gallery of snaps below:

The Exhibition:

 

 

The Opening:

All the best
M/R

Indieterria meets Karen McBride

Welcome again!

The grand opening of “A Very Insecure Exhibition” for two leading Manchester photographers Shari Denson and Karen McBridde, is approaching quickly.

In less than a week, the audience will be treated to a unique artistic experience: a one night only event combining photography, art and networking. Both ladies are fiercely independent and they are known for doing things the Mancunian way – being innovative and different. We can expect many surprises and many aces up their sleeves.

Karen McBride herself

We have a good news! The secret location for the exhibition has been revealed on the waves of the BBC Radio Manchester! Karen and Shari appeared on Mike Sweeney’s middday show on Monday, 18th of February at 10 am. Mike grilled them to get the information out and finally we know where the exhibition is taking place. It will open at 8pm, on Friday 22nd of February at Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way). We also know that a special bar has been built for the guests so please expect the unexpected!

Address: 97 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PG
Website: http://www.projektsmcr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/The.Pumpcage.Skatepark

Mike Sweeney Show

You can listen to the show online for 30 days at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06zvp9g
Also, you can listen to the recordings of the show below:

Yesterday, we have spoken with Shari Denson about her career and photography. If you’d like to read it, you can find it at:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/indieterria-meets-shari-denson/

Today, we have sat down with her co-conspirator and a fellow photographer, Karen McBride to discuss the beginnings of her passion for photography, first cameras and her many, many accomplishments. It is always a pleasure to speak to women that inspired entire generation of new photographers, artists and painters.

John Robb (Membranes) photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/theMembranes/

Staying up late with Robbie Williams on tour, working with Debbie Harry, winning a prize for aerial photography – you are one of the most exciting guests we have interviewed so far. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Karen McBride: My name is Karen and I take pictures. I love what I do and hope that you do too.

You hold a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and carved yourself a name as innovative and influential music photographer. Can you tell us what lead you from academia to rock and roll halls and tour buses?  

Karen McBride: Well, my brother was in a band and he needed some pictures for his album artwork. I’d been into photography from an early age and art too, he knew this and so I took his pictures. More bands found out what I was doing, they liked the results and it built up from there.

We heard that you found your first camera – a Kodak Brownie – in a bin. Is it an urban legend or a true story? And if it is, do you still have that camera? 

Karen McBride: It’s a true story and yes I still have it. The camera comes with me everywhere. I tried to restore it but you can’t get film for it anymore. But it’s my mascot.

JJ Rosa photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/JJRosaOfficial/

Over the years, you have photographed biggest names in the industry: Pink, Robbie Williams, Lou Reed, Liam Gallagher, Billy Bragg, Green Day, Debbie Harry, Elbow, Prodigy and your works have been used by Sony, Warner Music, NME, MTV, Classic Rock, Clash Magazine.  You have been called one of the most significant female photographers of your generation by Slash. When you started out, were you experiencing this level of success in a male dominated field?

Karen McBride: Starting out, you can never imagine where anything takes you, really. I could never have imagined, I’d ever be able to sustain a career this long, let alone, create images that bands and the general public still like. I’m glad they do though!

Despite your incredible accomplishments, you don’t shy from working with unsigned artists or young and upcoming bands – for example The Blinders. Not many photographers of your calibre would do that. Do you think it is important to support artists at the beginning of their careers?

Karen McBride: I could never shy away from them, they are exciting in my opinion it would be so wrong to ignore them just because I shoot bigger artists too. in fact I love the rawness of the new band.

Guy Connor of Paris Riots photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/theparisriots/

You enjoy a reputation of a local hero in Manchester. John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) described you as “Unashamedly Mancunian. While other contemporaries headed South, Karen has always resisted the lure of the bright lights of London for the unmistakable and unique vibe of her hometown”. It seems that you have influenced Manchester as much as Manchester influenced you.

Karen McBride: I’m deeply humbled that anyone would see me as all hero!

There is something unique about your style. The aesthetics, colour palette, the dynamics remind us of  the classic images on the record sleeves of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Accidentally, your first book was also called “Elvis Would Have Really Liked Me”. Is it us or has The King been an inspiration?

Karen McBride: That book is still a work in progress. The guy who designed the cover and content was a long standing friend of mine and passed away last year. It will get published and it will be dedicated to him. I miss him deeply. He understood my creative approach. He would be so proud of this exhibition. It’ll be the first one he’s missed.

And yes, the King has provided my backdrop. Everything I ever photographed came from being inspired by American music.

Flyer promoting A Very Insecure Exhibition

You are known for unusual photography projects and expositions. In 2011, you held a talk at The Deaf Institute during Photo-book Month Manchester, to which you brought a model and ended the meeting with a real life photo session exercise for the audience. In 2015, you held another talked about exposition “Stripped Back” that combined photography and collages with live music and artistic performance. You also launched your own clothing brand during that event. You like to keep your audience on their toes.

Karen McBride: Thank you! “Stripped back” was performed in The Green Room, which is now called Gorilla. In 2007, the venue was sold out and it was much smaller than it is now. It had a capacity of 200 back then. I try to do things differently and I think when you see the new exposition, you will know first hand what all the others exhibitions were about.

On 22nd of February, alongside another female photographer Shari Denson, you will hold an photographic display entitled “A very insecure exhibition”. This is a special, one night only event and the venue still is not disclosed. We are told to expect a true celebration of creativity. Tell us more about it. Where does the unusual name come from?

Karen McBride: I was planning a solo exhibition and my friend, Shari Denson offered to do a press shot for me. We started talking and laughing and talking again…and we ended up photographing each other!  So I said to her that I’d found a very interesting venue and that it would be selfish to do the exhibition on my own as her work is stunning too! She jumped at the chance and here we are. It’s very exciting to work with her, as I admire her so much. It really makes perfect sense for us to do it together.

 

Cover of A Very Insecure Exhibition book produced by Karen McBride and Shari Denson

The exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully printed art-book. Apparently it can be open from both sides and will contain 50 pictures: an even split of 25 images for each one of you. Will it feature any of the photographs from the exhibition or is it to showcase your newest works? Will it be possible to purchase the book after the exhibition?

Karen McBride: (laughing) Yes I think it might do! and You can order the book online: https://ukgiclee.co.uk/avie

It is only the beginning of the year and your calendar is already full. Please tell us what have you planned for the spring and summer? Any tips where can we see your works?

Karen McBride: I never discuss my diary. I take every day as it comes. For now you can see my work alongside Shari’s’ on the 22nd Feb in Manchester.

The famous last question at Indieterria: let’s say that you can photograph any person or any event in the world. No time or space restrictions. Were are you going and who’s going to be immortalised by your camera?

Karen McBride: Elvis, anywhere he wants!

Cover of A Very Insecure Exhibition book produced by Karen McBride and Shari Denson

A Very Insecure Exhibition:

22nd February
Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way)
Manchester
20:00 pm – 23:30 pm

Tickets costing £6 – £8 can be obtained from the address:
https://www.universe.com/events/a-very-insecure-exhibition-tickets-manchester-5K0X7V

There are daily updates to the event (please remember that the location of the event is still not disclosed)- so keep your eyes open
https://www.facebook.com/events/1180667978750896/

The exhibition is proving to be very popular – and the media take notice. You can safely say that the event will be a success when Visit Manchester and national music magazine both pick up the story!

https://www.visitmanchester.com/ideas-and-inspiration/blog/read/2019/02/a-very-insecure-exhibition-the-underground-photography-of-two-of-manchesters-finest-photographers-is-coming-to-a-secretive-city-centre-location-b741
https://louderthanwar.com/2-manchesters-best-photographers-announce-photo-book-launch-party-conversation-john-robb/

 For those who enjoy a bit of additional reading, we have found a bunch of articles about Karen and her work.

https://www.bobbooks.co.uk/blog-post/an-extraordinary-photobook-month-manchester-with-karen-mcbride
http://aboutmanchester.co.uk/who-are-the-women-behind-manchesters-music-success-a-new-exhibition-explores-them/
https://ilovemanchester.com/women-manchester-music-times-changin/
http://www.aidan.co.uk/article-karen-mcbride-stripped-back.htm
https://www.mudkiss.com/karenmcbrideinterview.htm

You are cordially invited to the exhibition and we hope we will see many familiar faces in Manchester!

M/R