There's a picture, made up of nine segments, called Flats n' Men Walkin About The Wrong Way Round which just about sets the tone of the Ups and Down exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.
It's got those little dots for windows on the building blocks, and all around is multi-coloured mayhem and chaos when the art magnifies what the fuck's going on. Ask anyone who lives in a Salford socially rented highrise if they can connect, and the answer, after a bit of staring, should be positive...
...Heads are just done in...Bedroom Tax, service charge hikes, dodgy repairs, sanctions, skint-ness, long hours, noisy neighbours, zeitgeist shite...oh it's all here. If you don't look too hard. It's incredibly Salford. But, like the Happy Mondays' graphics that Matt Carroll defined with brother Pat, as Central Station, it's wazzed up. So wazzed up it could be Japanese.
Matt and Pat's sister, Maria, was also in on the Mondays' act, doing an inner sleeve for the album Yes Please. The flower theme that was used then is brought back on lots of work here, like Salford Sunflowers Roses; where the colours and vibrancy of the subject would brighten up any house on a wet Tuesday afternoon. And that's the theme throughout the exhibition. The art is not only incredibly Salford, it's also incredibly positive, in a quizzical kind of way.
...Kids' drawing book pages are coloured in with the hue volume turned up to the max and overlaid with brushed scribbled symbols...Batman comics are cut up and, Pow!, they're in a new dimension titled Wacca – the sound a Pacman makes as it eats stuff...Muhammad Ali is there too, titled Ali Into The Infinity and pop arted back into his prime.
And then there's more abstract figures just being themselves, divided by nine but happy in their united cuddly craziness that is so easy on the eye, if not on the psyche...This is art from Little Hulton but all of it would easily enhance the walls of luxury apartments. Which is where Lowry ended up...
There is a card full of blurb about the background to these works by Matt and Maria. Don't read it! It's irrelevant. The work stands up for itself, by itself...
It's just a shame that the curators chose to relegate this incredible exhibition to the 'Bluestairs Community Gallery', which is almost decoration for the stairs by the Victorian Street.
Yes, we get the Ups and Downs moods and literal steps. But surely this deserves its own proper gallery space against proper white walls rather than fighting with blue walls and steps – especially when the exhibitions in the proper galleries are so fucking dull...
Ups and Downs
An exhibition by Matt and Maria Carroll
Until 4th June
Salford Museum and Art Gallery
The Crescent M5 4WU
Open Tuesday- Friday 10am-4:45pm
Saturday - Sunday 12-4pm
The work is all for sale with prices ranging from £295 to £500 with limited edition prints at £175 and small prints between £10 and £30
Review by Stephen Kingston
Photos by Anya Samantha