Today I went today to see Grayson Perry's 'The Vanity of Small Differences' tapestries at Manchester Art Gallery . The work was well documented both in video and text and further informed by a display of some of Hogarth’s engravings.
What I haven't resolved is whether by putting the spotlight on, and stylising the class differences between, his 'subjects' in Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds he hasn't added to the stereotyping of class. That said his observation is superb and I loved seeing these pieces executed as textiles rather than in paint. I'm not familiar with the detail of The Rakes progress so having some pieces on display meant that I spent a lot longer viewing the exhibition than I might have done because there was the opportunity to see how the tapestries were informed by Hogarth's work.
Before going to the Grayson Perry Exhibition I took a look at the Manchester gallery which used to be full of cases, full of 'stuff' - too much to assimilate usually. Currently on exhibition is 'Art for All: Thomas Horsfall’s Gift to Manchester' to quote the catalogue
"This display explores a selection of nature-themed artworks and
objects from the city’s little-known Thomas Horsfall collection. It is
co-curated by local school children from St Augustine’s CE Primary
School in Harpurhey, Manchester.
Thomas Coglan Horsfall (1844-1932) was a remarkable philanthropist
and pioneer of art gallery education from Manchester. He collected over
1700 objects and artworks for his groundbreaking Manchester Art Museum,
which he set up in 1884."
With associated quotes from Horsfall it was easy to see him as having clearly identified the benefits of providing people with examples of 'beauty' and of using the art gallery as far more than a safe haven for his collection. I'd loved to have spoken with the children who 'co-curated' the exhibition!