In the summer of 2019 we travelled from York to Hebburn, just outside Newcastle.
The brief was simple: provide the pupils of St Aloysius with a creative experience after which they could bask in new skills AND provide the school with a permanent work of art to exhibit in their hallway.
Long time followers of New Visuality’s approach to creativity will be aware of how much onus we put on the power of illustration. Not just any old style of illustration, mind. We have forged in the flame of Fineliners and Graphic Marker Pens a fusion of Hergé’s ‘Ligne claire’ (clear strong lines all of the same width and no hatching) and vintage Manga. The resulting artform is a celebration of figurative art, facial expressions, crisp black lines, and confident colours. We like to call it McManga.
The McManga we hit upon with the pupils of St Aloysius was a game-changer, and this had more than something to do with the adrenalised response of the pupils. Energy, humour, determination to create a work of art that left all previous creativity in the dust – this was the manifesto of that hot, hazy week in June 2019 just outside Newcastle.
The artwork created was testament to not only the power of creativity but the direction of the school and the pupils found therein. Art is indeed a life force, and when it’s handled just right it subordinates political statements or protests or diatribes against other social tribes: it is first and foremost about FUN, and if anything heavier than that follows in its wake, then that’s all well and good, but the first factor is the ‘Wow’ factor – we can, if you insist, talk about Brexit, the whales, and Trump AFTER you you have been in thrall to the figures, the colours, the stories in the art created from nothing but a glittering imagination and hard work.
Thanks Mr Conway! Thanks Mr Rushto and Miss Reddington! Thanks too, most of all, to the creative, attentive and above all, sensitive pupils, without whom this project would have been nothing.
When it’s in your hands, young people of Hebburn, Art is in the hands of people who know exactly how to harness its power.
Hope to see you in 2020!
Greg McGee, Director and Man with the McManga, January 2020