If you haven’t visited PAPER, then this hidden gem is an essential stop on any art crawl around Manchester.

Located in the city’s Green Quarter, near the Arena and Victoria Station, the intimate gallery is open every Saturday. PAPER, as the name suggests, specialises exclusively on artworks on paper, focusing on small, affordable work and offering the Manchester public an opportunity to bring original art into their homes. Prices range from £25 to £1,500 for an artwork so it’s a great opportunity for any aspirant Charles Saatchi to start their own collection. PAPER even boasts a couple of artists who have work in his collection.


Artists David Hancock, Andrea Cotton, Simon Woolham, and Rachel Wrigley set up PAPER in 2012. The impetus came from a lack of opportunities in the region for artists to sell their work to the public. The region is a hotbed of local talent and the founders believe that it’s important to retain this talent in the North West.

PAPER is committed to providing opportunities for artists to express their creativity and, as such, is focused on sharing skills and experiences with the next generation of emerging artists. Though it presents the work of artists from all over the UK and abroad, PAPER is still keen to develop the careers of local artists. In 2013 PAPER instigated an artist-in-residence programme, Exploring PAPER, to provide a supported workspace for local artists and, in 2015, set up Tracing PAPER, a mentoring scheme for artists based in the North West of England. Both initiatives are funded by Arts Council England.

After six months on the Tracing PAPER mentoring scheme, the nine artists from the North West are now exhibiting new paper-based works. The exhibition opened last week at PAPER and visitors can view how the artists have progressed over this intense period of support. The exhibition marks the end of months of professional mentorship, development, and critical discourse. Throughout the mentoring period, each artist had the opportunity to meet and discuss their work with each other and the PAPER team. Arts professionals were invited to critique the artists, such as Paul Stone, director of Vane in Newcastle, and Liverpool’s Bryan Biggs, artistic director at the Bluecoat. The scheme has been a great success and it is hoped that it will be a regular source of support for local talent.

PAPERIn July, to coincide with the Manifest Arts Weekend, a locally-organised alternative to the Manchester International Festival, PAPER has organised a performance by one of the Tracing PAPER artists. Naomi Kendrick will set up a huge sheet of paper in the courtyard at PAPER and, over the period of an hour, will create a drawing in response to live, improvised music by David Birchall, a Manchester-based experimental musician who has appeared on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music. The performance will start at 3pm on Saturday July 11.

This September will be PAPER’s three-year anniversary and PAPER is planning to celebrate with an auction to raise funds to support the 2016 programme. Over the past three years PAPER has participated in a number of art fairs and projects nationally and internationally: Trajector Art Fair (Brussels), Sluice Art Fair (London), Supermarket (Stockholm), Project Space Collective at the Affordable Art Fair 2014 (Battersea), Exchange Rates (New York), Art Projects at London Art Fair 2015 (UK) and Koelner Liste 2015 (Cologne).

In addition, PAPER was one of the commissioned projects in the Barnaby Festival (UK) and is also a regular exhibitor at The Manchester Contemporary and will be there in September. An internationally recognised art fair situated within the old Granada Studios off Quay Street, PAPER will be one of a number of UK galleries at the Manchester Contemporary promoting a range a high quality, critically engaged artworks. The continued presence of this fair in Manchester highlights the city’s commitment to creativity and the position the visual arts play in Manchester’s rebirth as a destination city. With the re-launch of The Whitworth and new cultural centre HOME bringing art tourists to the city, PAPER believes that it offers an entirely different experience – shifting the experience away from the spectacle and allowing the viewer to experience the art intimately, upfront, and on a personal level.

By David Hancock


For more information visit www.paper-gallery.co.uk

Tracing Paper is on until July 18, 2015