Apollo Magazine

Situation terminal: can an artist improve Manchester Airport?

Rakewell ponders why an airport would install an artist in residence


Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

In need of some (purely metaphorical) sunshine? Allow Rakewell to suggest you jet off to Manchester Airport, which has commissioned its first ever international artist in residence. Following in the mould of thinkers including Alain de Botton and, er, Tony Parsons at Heathrow, Cheshire born artist Rob Pointon has been chosen as Manchester’s aeronautical laureate. Pointon’s figurative oil paintings of Hong Kong (created to mark the historic first anniversary of Cathay Pacific running direct flights between Hong Kong and the Big M, no less) will be on display to travellers from next week, and the Rake for one is excited. 

‘It’s such a vibrant campus,’ Manchester Airport’s commercial director Stephen Turner says of his place of work. And while at first glance the airport might look more like a holding pen for Costa outlets and duty free shops than a first class art school, Turner’s words are not to be mocked. As the press release states, Pointon’s inauguration will ‘capture the buzz of [Manchester’s] expanding global route network’. Move over, the Whitworth: there’s a new venue in town. 

Readers may recall the last time Manchester Airport created a ‘buzz’, when it trialled full body X-Ray scanners back in 2010. Despite vocal concern over privacy from civil liberties groups, passengers who refused to be subjected to the new security kit were not permitted to fly. But after the European Commission failed to come to a decision about the scanners, they were scrapped three years later. Rakewell wonders how on earth Pointon resisted the temptation to present the airport with a nude series. 

Oh well. The officials behind the residency programme can sleep easy in one respect: at least the city’s newest arts venue will be guaranteed queues…

 Got a story for Rakewell? Email tips to rakewell@apollomag.com

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