Distance at Manchester Home Open Exhibition 2022!

MCROPEN2022 Home open exhibition artist John Cooper

This weekend I'm dropping off my artwork for the Home Open Exhibition 2022 in January. Don't mind saying I'm super chuffed to be picked for it, and I sincerely hope that no pandemic related grimness gets in the way of an amazing exhibition.

Home is Manchester's independent gallery and cinema, a very popular cultural hub for arts in the city (some Distance strips were drawn in the bar there), so it's great to be chosen for their event alongside other artists in Greater Manchester.

Over 2000 artists submitted and from that 400 get picked to be displayed. It's Home's most popular exhibition showcasing new and unsung talent in and 2 pages from last years Distance comic strip will be part of it.

MCROPEN2022 Home open exhibition artist John Cooper

Picking two pieces to submit wasn't hard as it happens. One strip features the home venue and another with a big splash panel talking about the cancelled Edinburgh fringe I'm quite proud of. However, they were both digitally produced...this was a dilemma.

Many of the Distance strips are hand-drawn, it's 'real' art. Why didn't I submit that? Much better in a gallery to look at that than a digital reproduction? Also, the Edinburgh splash image of all the acts on the royal mile was hand-drawn at A3 and shrunk down to fit the page, with the rest being all digital on a wacom.

The rules of the Home Open exhibition state you can't change up your submission pieces once selected, which makes sense, but I was kicking myself for a minute. The strips would need printing out high quality to the all detail, but also keeping the imperfections and have the look and feel of hand-drawn tactile art.

I know nothing about this kind of stuff. zero. Fortunately, back in 2020 I reached out to Nick Burton, a fellow illustrator who had been commissioned by Home to create his own pandemic themed webcomic strip. The quite excellent 'Our Plague Year' (check it out). I'd seen Nick's work exhibited and was really impressed by the reproduction quality.

MCROPEN2022 Home open exhibition artist John Cooper

It was as close to a hand-inked-on-paper look as you could get. Nick pointed me to Klein Imaging a Manchester-based art print shop that specialise in that sort of thing and have wonderfully named papers like "Hahnemuhle bright white", they did a great job for what was essentially 2 pieces of A4.

Frames were also a thing. Clip frames are fine for my walls but not an art gallery! After faffing around on the internet for an hour looking at all manner of efficient minimalist frames I wandered into town to the ever-reliable Fred Aldous art shop, which had exactly what I needed. Solid white frame, nothing fancy, let the art do the talking.

For the duration of the exhibition, you can read Distance for free on my website, or order a print copy here.