The Empty Space at Manchester Art Gallery

The woke brigade at Manchester Art Gallery have struck again. Dramatically placing a frame over an empty space of wall, the following explanation is attached close by:

The Empty Space (For Black Women's Art Works)

This space has been left 'empty' to highlight the relative absence of black, ethnic minority and diaspora women's art in Manchester Art Gallery Collection. Women of colour across the world are not only generating the least of our environmental problems, they are among those most affected by climate change.

Despite recent acquisitions, Manchester Art Gallery collection has so few works by women of colour that not a single item could be found that had an adequate resonance with the subject of climate justice for use in this gallery.

Excluding the artistic voices of non-white women deprives us of narratives and world views of an important group of the population. It also ignores the histories of rebellion, resistance and resilience than can help create powerful tools for the much needed transformation to a more equal and sustainable society.

Wow. The authors successfully managed to combine feminism, racism and climate change in one short text; if they tried a little harder, they might have included a paragraph on LGBTQ+ art, too. Perhaps it has not occurred to the gallery’s curators that if the presence of black women’s art work was so important, they might have gone to the trouble of locating some and buying it. A little more expensive than an empty frame, of course, and not quite so self-righteous, but laying off some of these curators with too much time on their hands would pay for it. Furthermore, that so few black women are painting pictures about climate change might highlight my long held suspicion that it is a preoccupation of white, middle class people, the very kind who run art galleries. 

I am naturally disappointed, of course, that white evangelicals seem to be under-represented in the gallery’s displays. I also wonder if autistic people are suitably represented, or people who live in council houses, or those from the Traveller community, or the left-handed. I also found a distinct shortage of artistic offerings from aborted foetuses: now there’s a sizeable minority of human beings for whom smug gallery staff are unlikely to shed a tear.  

Morality without God is nothing but a hot cup of self-satisfaction, served with a side plate of cliches, with a light topping of outrage.