MANCHESTER ARTISTS' BONFIRE. This is the project space for the 2012 research project, all pledges to the bonfire will be housed here.

EVENT: 26 January 2012. Bonfire 6-9pm, After Event 9pm-1am. Islington Mill, James Street, Salford.

From main page click bottom section (date) of image for full pledge.

North West Visual Arts Open 2012

Rosanne Robertson will be talking about the Manchester Artists Bonfire (as well as sneaking in something about a new project) at the Manchester Salon Weekend 19-20th May as part of the North West Visual Arts Open 2012. This is two days of artist led discussion, curator insights, technology and popcorn with the ‘Artist-Led Platform #1’ being held at Castlefield Gallery 19 May 6-8pm. 

Brilliant photo of the 2012 Bonfire during the Future Foundation Collective’s epic Head Burn. 
Pledge #29
Meg Woods
Practice: Miscellaneous
Description of art work: Twenty four screen printed money notes that began as crude collages, on newsprint paper.


I feel that my work is visually quite self explanatory and would welcome interpretations and meanings from others, though here is what I have taken from the work. 
 The face of “our” PM on the money note links to the opinion that we are not controlled by just one person, or just money but there are so many more people behind the scenes who use politics as their mask and justification for condemning us to a life of repetition and monotony, which we are all too happy to stand by and watch. I’d also like to seize the opportunity to burn something which encompasses many issues I disagree with.

Manchester Artists’ Bonfire 2012 Research Project- Collection of information by Rosanne Robertson.

This document is a collection of links, articles and resources which have formed much of the research that has gone into the Manchester Artists’ Bonfire. This forms part of an extended research project which will result in a publication post bonfire event.

It is encouraged that those interested use this document as a resource.

By Rosanne Robertson (Manchester based artist and director of Manchester Artists’ Bonfire)

Download the document here.

creation>reception>destruction>creation>reception>destruction by Lauren Velvick

In January 2011 the first Manchester Artist’s bonfire happened. It was spurred on by, but not entirely dependent on anger, confusion and panic at cuts in governmental funding which were being inflicted on the cultural sector. This element of the event  was emphasized in the official literature, and in some ways it felt like an extension of protests which had been taking place as a reaction to a rise in tuition fees. The question of funding for non-compulsory education is, of course, another issue whereby much of the argument relies on qualitative judgements and abstract concepts, such as ‘education’ and ‘culture’ versus the arguably more ‘real’ issue of cost versus yield. However, whilst the historical and political context of the event is important, there are  fundamental art historical questions to do with iconoclasm which the Artist’s Bonfire raises, as well as evoking forms of sacred art whereby the destruction of a piece is as important as its creation. It is this which I seek to address; how the event functions as a collaborative performance, and what the destruction of a work of art means in terms of it’s status as art, and especially what this means when it is destroyed by the artist themself…

To read more download HERE

This is a new short essay written by Manchester based curator and writer Lauren Velvick as part of the extended Manchester Artists’ Bonfire Research Project- which will form part of a new publication post bonfire.

Art Mollification by Richard Shields.

Burning Art is no new thing; in fact it is arguably as old as ‘Art’ itself. It can be in protest against corruption and abuse of power or an attempt to wipe the slate clean to path the way for a new order, but does it do any good? Destroying the fruits of artistic labour pales in comparison to the effect of self- immolation but we can’t have that sort of thing, can we?…

To Read More Download HERE.

This is a new short essay written by Manchester based artist, curator and designer Richard Shields as part of the extended Manchester Artists’ Bonfire Research Project- which will form part of a new publication post bonfire.

Pledge #28
Elizabeth Murphy.
Title of art work: Dont Hate – Congratulate
Description of art work: DVD


The work submitted is a DVD which contains a list of names. The names on this list reference everyone I have fallen out with in 2011. This list has been translated into Morse code and sequenced together to make a split screen animation. The animation will then be burnt at the bonfire. What will remain will be an animation coded in the same way however the names will be removed with only punctuations and line breaks remaining.  Its time to pull together. Its time to get over it. You don’t see the Walton’s harbouring this kind of shit.
Pledge #27
Richard Shields
Practice: Artist
Title of art work: Art for All at Every Level

Description of art work/Pledge:

Inside this Box is the perfect work of art. To see it would be to gaze in amazement at it’s beauty and conceptual depth. It is truly art for everybody, however if you open the box you will immediately destroy the work for yourself, never to experience it again. The box has now been nailed shut and will be consigned to the flames intact.
Pledge# 26
Jessica Mautner.
Practice: Multidisciplinary
Title of art work: daeth is not ceratin
Description of art work:
Sixteen 15cm x 15cm black origami-paper squares, with unfinished incorrect versions of poems about death by e.e.cummings, philip larkin, seamus heaney and charles madge typed on them, folded into 16 zhezhi sycees. Remnants from the process of making a performance called ‘Try to eat everything’.
I am burning my mistakes. Not because I want to forget them, or to move on, but because I don’t want to indulge them.  Most of my pieces are made over quite a long time, the result of an intense process of reading, exploring, experimenting, talking, doubting, building, destroying, thinking and feeling. People often ask me: but will the audience get it? By which they mean will all these references and ideas and concepts and theories and factoids be readable in the final work. The answer of course is no. And to me that is only a good thing. In this age of blogging and webcams and open-studio-artist-in-residencies, I feel oppressed by the expectation to reveal every stage of my process and explain myself constantly. What’s more, ‘process’ seems to have been elevated to an artwork in itself. This is not an argument for slickly finished articles or unfathomable abstraction, but a concern that the capitalist cult of personality, identity and individualism, coupled with fashionable relativism and kooky homespun pseudo-eco aesthetics, have come to revere the perceived offkilter charm of errors and slips. While we can all learn from our errors, I am sceptical of a trend in art to commodify glitches and mistakes as art objects in themselves. It just seems too easy. This trend makes artist-celebrities and implies a mystical attitude to human actions. And we are all so broke these days, I think perhaps many of us have learned a certain deep-set commodification-drive which can interfere with our ability to tell if art objects are actually good, or interesting; to decide for ourselves, as artists, what is art. I ‘made’ these papers during a kind of sausage-mill process of creating 100 identical ‘gifts’ (strange reminders of death, invitations to reclaim autonomous agency as mortals, part of a performance in Liverpool city centre) over two nights in November. They are a record of the ‘process’, direct evidence of the artist’s struggle to create/labour while half-asleep and after making 90 identical biscuits and individually typed origami-folded wrappers. It was late, and I kept making mistakes, trying to type out great Modernist poems on an old typewriter. At first, I kept the mistake-papers just to recycle - into plain old non-art origami which I often do to take a break from writing or thinking. Getting them out the other day, though, I found myself thinking that the sheaf of half-written pages with all kinds of unfinished mistaken phrases about death seemed somehow…. quaintly poetic, aesthetically appealing, meaningful. I thought they might even look good as an artist’s book or exhibited in a grid formation in a large frame. That’s when I knew they had to go. The piece I made in Liverpool, like most of my work, was very site-specific, linked exactly to that place, that time, those feelings, the people I worked with, the time of year, that me, etc etc etc. Exhibiting ‘accidents’ somehow related to that piece simply weaken it, and would be self-indulgent. I’ve chosen to intentionally hide the aesthetic appeal of these papers, so I am going to burn them not as I found them, but folded up into zhezhi sycees. Zhezhi is the original Chinese art of paper-folding, and sycees are the ur-zhezhi form. Sycees are ingots, an ancient form of currency, and golden paper sycees have long been part of a traditional Chinese funeral, where they are burned for the deceased to benefit from them in the afterlife. Nowadays, convincing fake banknotes, huge paper constructions of fast cars, tv sets, houses etc are more common at those kind of traditional funerals. But with the sycee, I feel I am burning the currency I thought of gaining when I envisaged exhibiting or selling those papers for that split second. There’s something very powerful about burning money; a direct attack to the capitalist system by literally removing some currency from circulation. Maybe I will inspire someone to actually do that. —- The texts to be burned are inextracts from the following poems:  e.e.cummings, “one x” Philip Larkin, “The North Ship” Seamus Heaney, “The Digging Skeleton” Charles Madge, “The Hours of the Planets”
Pledge #25
Josef Minta.
Practice: Painter
Title of art work: Effigy
Description of art work: Effigy of myself stuffed with artwork which I have done nothing with in the past year.


Burning of an effigy has long been used as a representational destruction of the person themselves. Our fairly recent tradition of burning the guy has only picked up where earlier civilisations left off. Human sacrifice made palatable? The relationship between the audience or creators of the effigy and the person they are ceremonially burning is complex and difficult to pin down, like fire itself, the meaning shifts and moves depending which side of the flame you find yourself on. I made an effigy of myself for the Manchester Artists Bonfire last year, and filled it with art which had become a physiological millstone around my neck. In burning it I also vowed to burn the person who would not share their work with anyone and that I would seek to exhibit more and develop my own practice. In that year I have done more creatively than I had for a long time, have exhibited and am constantly trying to drive my work forward. This year the effigy of myself that I will burn will again be full of redundant work but it is more of a celebration and a symbol of renewal and regeneration that I hope will continue to push me forward in the year ahead. I also take this opportunity to renew and strengthen connections with the wider arts community, to be more active and be more involved. This year it’s time to get fired up.
Pledge #24
Eve Marguerite and Charles Stanton-Jones.
Practice: ARTISTS
Title of art work: CITY MAP #1
Description of art work: CITY MAP #1 is a map of a fictional city. The map is a representation of what will be a meticulously built-to-scale model of a city, also destined for destruction by the artists. The paper map will fold out and be thrown into the flames.

In the essay ‘How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later’, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick confessed that he liked to create universes that fall apart, in order to see how his characters would adapt to change.
 CITY MAP #1 is a new piece created for burning. What initially seems full of dark intent, we wish to announce as an inaugural celebration! It is an exercise in getting started. We want to share the act of burning the map as the opening ceremony to this joint venture. The project is built on the destruction of something that is painstakingly made. It is a cathartic and certainly not an unpleasant act. Destruction by fire: a launch pad to a new trajectory!
Pledge #23
Scarlett Pimlott-Brown.
Practice: Fine Artist
Title of art work: Ø
Description of art work: An empty nest, approx. 25cm in diameter, woven from a variety of scavenged natural materials intended to burn at different rates -supplemented with intertwined Sparklers to add to the mechanics of the burning.
 This is predominantly a process piece, rather than one with any loaded metaphors. And I intend to document both the construction, and deconstruction, through a series of photographic stills, and etchings.


Initially I began to think about why I’d be comfortable with the regression of something I’d shaped turning back into it’s pre-existant materials, why burning my work did not come from a dislike of it, or a need to take action against something I had created. Making the decision to burn it feels like as much a part of it’s organic cycle as creating/forming it in the first place did. My practise primarily entails working with analogue photography, and 19th century techniques, supported by drawing, print making, and painting; this shift into spatial three-dimensional work has come about through an inquisitiveness about place and space, both in the physical and metaphysical. I’ve become interested in situational and location-specific works. And by taking away from the bonfire photographic images of the event, I will begin to further question why it is that I always revert back to where I feel most comfortable within art -working with flat mediums. There have been continuous themes of the Specimen, and Ornithology -the study of birds, throughout my work for the past year or so now, I like their patterning, and how repeating patterns can change in scale so dramatically throughout nature. I will be looking at the weaving structures used in nest building to inform this piece. Bonfires originated from the act of burning a dead body to crack the mortal shell open, allowing the soul’s release and ascension. Putting ourselves back into the natural cycle by force, rather than decomposition. In this context the nest will be reduced to it’s purest form, but not without a display in the process.
 Following on from this action I intend to weave a much larger one around myself in the woods on the first day of spring, thus enclosing myself within the physical object that at an earlier stage was externalised and could have been thought to symbolise that I felt within; whilst simultaneously juxtaposing a man-made object in the image of a natural one, back into it’s original intended habitat. This is similar to when eggs hatch, yet are still encased within a larger protective environment. “Ø” could be seen to touch on allusions to the hierarchy of the art world, and the development of new ideas and movements relying on the renewal and stemming-from of previous forms. However, throughout my time as a political activist and an artist, I’ve found this a very uncomfortable coupling of my interests, and so choose to refrain on a base level from mixing my art with my rejection of particular current structures.
Pledge #21
Lucy Jackson.
Practice: Photography 
Title of art work: Galaxy/Mould
Description of art work: A3 Photographic print


I am pledging this piece of work to be burned in order to try to get some sort of catharsis after becoming jaded and disheartened with my practice since completing university last summer. I am hoping that my personal reaction to seeing my work being burned may help me to decide what to do next in terms of my practice and my life.

Pledge #20
Ash Van Dyck.
Practice: All available formats


Title of art work: The Liar

Description of art work: Using Mixed media on canvas, newspaper, toy soldier and paint,

This piece was created as a reaction to the worldwide deception that led us all into an unjust and inhumane war.


I have created protest pieces in many different formats over the years, cut and paste zines, found object mixed media and graphic design as well as photography, it seems there is always something to protest and art is a very strong way to get this message across.
There are many reasons why I chose to incluse this piece in the bonfire.
If we hold on to the anger and resentment of the past and those who perpetrated it we are doomed to repeat it so let it all go up in smoke and we can clear our lives of this and move forward, being one reason.
As an artist I have moved into more digital media and feel this fire is a good way to define and farewell one part of my artistic life to make way for another.
As the saying goes, an artist only sells work when he runs out of wall space, well I ran out of wall space long ago and have always sold and given away a great deal of my work, I have not freely given away an artwork for a long time and this is a cleansing of sorts and a reminder of my priorities.
I am also really looking forward to talking to other artists who are doing the same and learning from and being inspired by one another.