Blog: Hilary O’Mahony

Manchester artist’s exhibition puts National Lottery under the spotlight in disused bank

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“Those with their sights set optimistically on the National Lottery jackpot have a one in almost 14 million chance – the same odds of temperatures soaring beyond 30C in London on Christmas Day.” Ladbrokes, cited by BBC News 2013.

I work at a school in Wythenshawe, south Manchester, and was struck by the vast amount of scratch cards that litter the streets here every day. This observation was the starting point for Whatever It Amounts To.

This body of work addresses a number of ideas, including identity, value systems, self-pursuit, community and social situations in western society today. The show uses the National Lottery as a means to explore these topics.

The work is full of contrasts – it has a bittersweet tone. The lottery is an emotionally charged game, creating many conflicting feelings, most notably luck, hope and disappointment. These associated feelings are encapsulated in the work, raising questions about the ethics of the game.

Statistics show there are a particularly high number of players in less affluent areas. It’s been referred to as a tax on the poor. Lottery funding is invested in numerous good causes, most notably the arts. Where would be a more suitable place to question the ethics of the game than in an art context given this?

The exhibition will be held at 3space in Manchester. I’m delighted to be working alongside Partisan Collective. It’s a Manchester-based project that has co-ordinated a variety of independent political and cultural events across the city. 3space, Partisan’s home, is a great spot. It’s a massive, abandoned building that used to be a bank. The work questions value systems in society today so I love that I’ve got an opportunity to show it in a space with this history. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate setting.

The building is also situated directly across from the Midland, a hotel I associate with last year’s Tory Party conference. I think it’s great to see such a positive and independent cultural project springing up next door!

The show is multidisciplinary, with prints and sculptures. A work that constantly catches attention is Desire Lines, a large-scale sculpture modelled on a chandelier. This piece is made from PVA and glitter. I was walking around with a glittery face for weeks!

The private view is taking place on 15 July 15 at 7-9pm. Partisan Collective will be serving drinks and music. The show continues on 16-17 July 16-17, 10am-6pm. Do come check it out!

Hilary O’ Mahony is an Irish artist living and working in Manchester. She has exhibited extensively in Ireland and the UK as well as France and Nepal. Whatever It Amounts To, free, 3space, Mount Street, Manchester, M2 3NN

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