Micah Purnell’s Street Eyes exhibit brings together the biggest names in illustration, photography and typography

Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda

Micah Purnell has been curating the outdoor art project Add-Art for the last ten years. And to celebrate this momentous milestone, he’s bought together 30 pieces for Street Eyes, a special retrospective taking place in the heart of Manchester this December.

Where does art belong? Tucked away in a gallery or kept safe behind a velvet rope? While these may be art’s usual haunts, graphic designer Micah Purnell takes a different approach. Through his Add-Art project, Micah has been moving art outside for everyone to see and improving people’s lives in the process.

Thanks to purpose-built sites, Micah and Add-Art have taken works by industry-leading illustrators, typographers and photographers and plopped them in the spaces usually occupied by adverts. It’s a clever and innovative way of showcasing global artists, and it’s been keeping passers-by entertained for the last ten years.

“Once I became aware that advertising held an aesthetic monopoly on commercial space, I wanted to get involved and mix it up a bit,” says Micah. “Rather than having to see something that plays on your emotions to get to your pocket, we can offer something light and easy on the eyes, mind and soul.”

Gemma O’Brien

Fuchsia Macaree, in association with Creative Boom

Since its inception, Add-Art has tripled in size on its mission to provide the public with uplifting visual narratives. “The ethos is simple’, adds Micah, “offer a cheery tone to people’s days, using the humour, beauty and humanity found in the revealing, curious and clever work of artists and designers who see life in illuminating ways.”

And it’s these works which will be on display at Street Eyes, a retrospective looking back on the last ten years of Add-Art’s output. Taking place on 5 December between 6 and 9pm, Street Eyes will see Manchester’s Chatham Mill taken over with 30 pieces of work, many of which will be available to buy in order to further support Add-Art’s cause.

Visitors to the Street Eyes exhibit can look forward to seeing works from illustrators such as Matt Blease, Supermundane, Murugiah and Stanley Chow; typographers including Anthony Burrill, Gemma O’Brien and Dave Towers; and photographers Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda, Yener Torun and many more.

“Add-Art’s values are about high quality, local and global art, of varying disciplines, mostly hopeful visuals, amidst the difficulty of day-to-day life,” says Micah. “The works are gentle, friendly, and fun; they may say everything, and nothing at all, with a sprinkling of social critique and a good dose of wit and charm.”

Murugiah, in association with Creative Boom

Nash Weerasekera

Alongside the featured artworks, Street Eyes also celebrates the construction of Chatham Mill’s latest outdoor gallery, which includes three newly installed exhibits. Among them are designer Sarah Boris’ piece titled Subverting the Rainbow, Al Maser’s expressive abstract painting Compass, and David Towers’ fun, hand-painted type piece Nope. Each will be displayed at Chatham Mill, the Giving Tree and the Mustard Tree, respectively.

Accompanying the visual artwork is an improvised musical piece by Epiphany. Designed to respond to some of the artworks, they will also perform several Sound Sketches for attendees, as an accompaniment to their favourite pieces. These moving scores will “offer an opportunity to experience an impression of your individuality through improvised music” and have been described as the musical equivalent of getting your portrait painted.

Street Eyes is a one-night-only event, so if you want to snap up a ticket, see some of the world’s best artwork and support a worthy cause, click here to book your place.

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