A VERY INSECURE EXHIBITION was an exhibition that took place on Friday, 22 February, 2019 in a skate park under the Mancunian Way flyover in Manchester.
It featured the photography of music photographers Karen McBride and Shari Denson, who joined forces to create this remarkable event.
A Very Insecure Exhibition was a very unconventional exhibition, in fact it was totally different to any exhibition I’ve ever been to.
I travel on or under the Mancunian Way almost every day and have walked past the skate park on numerous occasions. Never would I have imagined a photography exhibition taking place there.
The choice of venue was kept secret until the week of the event, when it was first announced on Radio Manchester’s Mike Sweeney Show.
The Mancunian Way is a by-pass road in central Manchester that was first built in the 1960s. This flyover was a later addition, opened in the 1990s. It carries the A57(M) urban motorway over the A6, where it continues as the A635(M) for a few hundred yards. I include these nerdy details as they are important in setting the scene and I know a bit about the history of Manchester.
This is the first time a photo exhibition has taken place underneath a motorway, at least in Manchester. The skate park with its walls of see-through wire netting has an air of New York.
It took about four hours to set up the exhibition. Shari and Karen worked with a team of assistants to place the photos on the sloping and curved surfaces of the skate park. Some of the pictures were cut out to fit into the available space. The photos were printed out at large format in black and white. Some were printed on conventional photographic paper at smaller size.
“Wow, they look great!” I thought as I peered through the wire netting into the skate park, transformed into an exhibition space. We waited in the hut that serves as a cafe and reception area for users. More and more people arrived, including John Robb, Badly Drawn Boy and others from Manchester’s music scene.
At 8pm we were allowed through into the exhibition space. It was great to walk around and explore all the photos – some photos familiar to me, others unfamiliar photos of famous people.
A lot of people came – more than 350. A mobile bar was set up and it provided an air of glamour and a focus. I thought the air might be cold but it was quite mild. It was surreal, looking at photographs while cars whizzed by along the slip road outside, and above, evening traffic moved in both directions on the flyover, drivers unaware of the art event going on underneath.
The music went quiet and John Robb started his In Conversation with both photographers. He asked the right questions, and we learned a lot about their respective interests, shooting techniques and preferences. At the end the crowd clapped, just like a gig. And then there was a surprise.
All attendees were invited to take away the photographs. But there was one condition: People had to put the photos up all around Manchester and beyond and take photos of them for social media.
We managed to find some superb prints which now adorn our walls. That’s not something you can do at the National Portrait Gallery – rip the pictures off the walls!
But this was more of a ‘punk’ event than a photography exhibition. It was meant to be like a gig, and people could walk off with photographs just like the set list at a gig.
Songwriter and guitarist Dave Fidler performed some of his songs. It was great to see a real life artist performing amongst the many images of performers.
The book of the exhibition was on sale and both photographers signed copies.
All I can say is – it was a fantastic event and totally unique. Karen and Shari truly did something new and amazing. Congratulations to them! And thanks for the great photos now taking pride of place on our wall!
A Very Insecure Exhibition was held at Projekts MCR Skatepark (The Pump Cage) · Manchester.
The PA and furniture were provided by James Casper-Mason and The Worx
Photos were printed by Entwhistle.