Salford Museum & Art Gallery/Mandy McCartin (2013)

The Fund made an award of £7,000, which facilitated the acquisition by Salford Museum & Art Gallery of the painting ‘Tube Girls’ by Mandy McCartin.

This is a large painting, measuring 183 x 137cm. Julian Spalding regards it as one of the finest and most exuberant of McCartin paintings of the ’90s: ‘…her images are always sparked by people and events she has seen, such as these two girls chatting on the London Tube. She is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant observers, in paint, of contemporary urban life. You have to see her paintings in the flesh to appreciate their brilliance and exuberance. I’ve rarely seen anyone use so much of what paint can do, scratch, drip, rub, scrape, dash, touch, brush, glaze, wipe, spread, mark and line. She works the surface like a superbly inventive, passionate lover, but that’s just on the skin. Beneath it, glowing through everything, is the colour.

‘Loving the world, she conjures up a whole spectrum. Rainbows reach down into the darkest corners of human life. Feeling the need for a flash of emerald, gold or amethyst, she strokes it in. And her pictures glow with a radiance that comes from within, scintillating blues, baking reds and troubled greys. But those are just the hues, the sunset, club-lit, night time air that breathes through her subjects. What are they? Tough people surviving at the rag end of comfort? Yes, but herself, really, and everyone, wanting to be hugged. Her art is a profound excavation into the wounds of loneliness and fear and a glorious celebration of the sealing heal of love.’

McCartin herself wrote ‘as an artist from a working-class background, I have always felt somewhat of an Outsider in the contemporary art world and this is reflected in my choice of image. I paint people on the edge of society, often struggling to fit in and survive. I try to… create direct and passionate imagery which will connect with a wide audience. For the past few years I have been painting urban tableaux derived from real street incidents and characters…’; ‘Tube Girls’ is one such work.