2012 - Focal Points: Art and Photography

Photography is at the heart of some of the most significant works of art of our times.

This new display of around 30 photographs explores just some of the different ways contemporary artists have used photography in their work. It reveals how they have used the camera to explore traditional artistic themes in new and exciting ways.

Taken from the 1980s onward, the photographs explore the body, reinvent still-life, examine our cultural identities and explore the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time. The artworks often find ways of making the familiar strange and the ugly beautiful.

The display features work by influential photographer Keith Arnatt, famous British artist Helen Chadwick, Turner Prize nominee Catherine Yass and Young British Artists such as Sarah Lucas and Jane and Louise Wilson.

It also includes a number of photographic works collected by the Gallery over the last 10 years, with support from the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection scheme. By artists including Craigie Horsfield, Cornelia Parker and Thomas Demand, these works explore the themes of photography and sculpture and the connections between the two. They are the inspiration for this photography display.

The photographs in this display come from the collections of Manchester City Galleries, The Arts Council Collection at The Southbank Centre, London and other lenders.

For more information on the exhibition please visit Manchester Art Gallery website.



Installation views


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.