BNC 2007, Cornerhouse, Manchester

2007 / Exhibitions & Events / Exhibitions

BNC 2007, Cornerhouse, Manchester


23 November 2007 - 20 January 2008

If someone were ever to organise a contest to find the most important annual exhibition in Britain, I think my vote would certainly go to New Contemporaries. Certainly, it would be in my top two, with only the Turner Prize as serious competition. The show's guiding idea is such a simple one: every year it selects the most vigorous students graduating from out art schools and displays their wares. It therefore performs two valuable functions. First it talent spots for the nation and sieves out the best artistic hopefuls heading into the art world proper. Second, it illuminates the tastes and thought processes of the student mind, thereby allowing us oldies to keep up with our times. If you get New Contemporaries, you get the zeitgeist.
- Waldemar Januszczac, Sunday Times Nov 07

There was a time when the annual open studio was about the only prospect for young artists to exhibit their work, now Britain is a place where small towns like Walsall have magnificent public galleries of contemporary art. The art world is post 'Brit-Art', post-Tate Modern, post-Frieze Art Fair, and there is an abundance of small galleries hungry for new artists. So, is there still a need for New Contemporaries? The answer, it seems, it yes; it combines a professional (rather than educational) attitude with a non-commercial ethos. To this end, its selectors are primarily artists (this year Michael Landy and Nigel Cooke) supplemented by writers or curators (Linda Norden), and the continued quality of these ever-changing selectors ensures that the exhibitions focus on the battles that young artists will always have as they wrestle with the art of the past and the world of today.
- David Barret review of 2007 exhibition at New Art Gallery Walsall, for Art Monthly Oct 07 no 310.

The tour to three regions embraced a range of different types of venue with potentially differing types of public audiences. New Art Gallery Walsall is a magnificent custom-built space, specially commissioned from architects Caruso St John, to house the Garman-Ryan collection and to provide spacious temporari exhibitions of contemporary art. It is a municipal gallery, serving a local community and building an ambitious programme of contemporary work in a particular context.

Walsall has a strong sense of place and social purpose with an expressed commitment to art, community and education programmes. The venue is family friendly with active participation from local schools. The audience figures reflect this, with an estimated attendance of 22,000.

Club Row is a non-gallery venue and the new regular London base for the exhibition. Timed to coincide with Frieze Art Fair, the exhibition attracts a smaller hard-core audience of artists, art professionals and art colleges. Frieze brought an International art market to the show, with many purchases made from International Collectors on the opening night, including a collectors group from the Whitney Museum. The audience figures for Club Row are estimated at 4,000 and reflect a professional art audience and core audience for the show.

Cornerhouse is a loyal venue for New Contemporaries and has regularly presented the show over the last 20 years in its programme. It is an independent space, with a specialist programme of contemporary art and independent film and is a vibrant social space well served by cafes, bars, and active cinema and gallery programmes. The show is well supported by the Cornerhouse audiences and the show always receives a very positive reception. The audience figures are estimated at 12,000, making it one of the most popular exhibitions in their programme. The North West has good access to a number of important Universities and Fine Art Schools in the region, including Manchester, Liverpool, Salford, Preston and further afield to Sheffield, Nottingham, Stoke on Trent.

A total of 1150 applications were received from the national submission draw from over 70 art schools across the UK. From this, over 100 artists were shortlisted and there work brought to Club Row for further deliberation and from this 37 artists were selected. Recent years have seen a dramatic shift in the nature of the submissions; from slide and video to digital formats and DVD. In future years it is predicted that the submission process may become entirely digital.


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