Posted on June 7, 2010

Exhibition of behind the scenes photos of The Bridgewater Hall by William Ellis opens Thursday 10 June

Elbow bringing the house down with the Hallé; Joan Baez blasting stripped-down, politically-charged folk rock; the slick blues roll of mid-flow Buddy Guy; Liza Minnelli giving it both barrels in a trademark showstopper – The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester’s state-of-the-art international concert venue, has hosted them all in the last couple of years.

One of the few other factors linking this diverse roster of artists is world-renowned music photographer William Ellis, who – as his imminent exhibition at Manchester’s Richard Goodall Gallery attests – has been a stage-side fixture at these and many other recent Bridgewater Hall shows.

Commissioned by The Hall in 2008 to produce a body of work reflecting the range and dynamism of their year-round concert programme, Ellis set about capturing an arrestingly intimate series of performer portraits. Noting one further trait shared by his disparate Bridgewater subjects, Ellis describes the project as “a challenging and exhilarating assignment, working with so many different artists with at least one thing in common: a total commitment to their art.”

What makes Ellis’s resulting shots particularly fascinating is the contrast in moods captured, particularly between the quiet intensity of his backstage subjects and the kaleidoscopic bombast of their public performances. This exhibition’s overarching theme is one of peculiar intensity – whether evoked by Herbie Hancock’s unwavering focus during a piano rehearsal, or KD Lang lost in the orchestral swell of a full-blown live show.

As Bridgewater Hall chief executive Nick Reed confirms, “We are excited to be working with such a great photographer – William’s images really capture the essence of live performance, and this long-term project has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity of music and artists appearing at Manchester’s iconic concert hall.”

Held in conjunction with The Hall, Ellis’s resulting exhibition finds a natural home at Richard Goodall Gallery, the Northern Quarter contemporary art space that has long occupied a unique position at the cultural crossroads of fine art and music. Recent rock-related solo shows hosted at the Gallery include such names as Leonard Cohen, Kevin Cummins, long-term Oasis associate Michael Spencer Jones, and Colombia Records head Mike Smith.

William Ellis’s exhibition opens on June 10th and shots from the artist’s singularly extensive archive of jazz photography will also be available throughout.

One of the world’s leading music photographers, William Ellis is widely recognised for his visual documentation of the contemporary jazz scene in Europe, Africa and The Americas.

Commissioned over 18 months ago by The Bridgewater Hall to capture the life of the venue and its visiting artists, Ellis has created a unique and compelling collection which provides a fascinating glimpse behind-the-scenes of the Hall. With exlcusive access to the artists both in performance and backstage, Ellis has been able to create a compelling portrait of live performance as well as a fascinating testament to the diversity of The Bridgewater Hall’s programming.

During his time at The Bridgewater Hall Ellis’ subjects included Elbow, The Halle, Christy Moore, Buddy Guy, Herbie Hancock, Buena Vista Social Club, KD Lang and Liza Minnelli, amongst many others.

The collection will be at The Richard Goodall Gallery on High Street from10 June through to 10 July. The Exhibition is sponsored by The Bridgewater Hall, Vitamin Water, Barefoot Wine, and supported by Linn Products and Chris Brooks Audio

See a slide show of the exhibition on the BBC Manchester Website

Read more about William Ellis at the Richard Goodall Gallery