The sky is not the limit, Babs Smith responds to Deansgate Vista residency

I am delighted that artist Babs Smith has responded to my installation at the Great Northern with a digital pop up exhibition called  The Sky is Not the Limit, and is now live.

My site specific response was created over seven days during a residency at the Great Northern Warehouse on Deansgate in Manchester earlier this month. I was interested in painting the Manchester’s colour palette and the dramatically changing vistas that I witness on my daily walks through the city, the gaps between buildings and how new developments were affecting the light. I painted abstract compositions onto blocks and presented these in a 3D format to reflect the architecture of red brick buildings blushing under the blue-green gaze of glass towers.

Babs Smith’s response has also focused on the evolving landscape, she uses AI algorithms to explore and reimagine the negative spaces appearing in the city. These abstract forms morph into AI impressions of an imaginary landscape. The process removes the hand of the artist creating numerous images from which the artist regains control by her final selection. The work explores the human element in the programming of AI through painterly styles, photography, and sound, presenting an online offline experience.

Babs’ online exhibition, created in Virtual Reality software Tilt Brush (a medium adopted by the artist during lockdown) is artist’s impression of a partly constructed tower suspended high in the night sky by an iconic crane. The viewer travels around the virtual artwork and ultimately descends a pulsating glassy column to recent sounds of construction recorded in Manchester.  An electronic sound sculpture maps three towers where once it would have only registered the stars. This work is easily viewable in a video format on a QR code alongside the paintings in Deansgate.

Online exhibition link:

Physical exhibition site: No.285 Deansgate, Manchester | Exhibition

Current – extended to 8th August 2021

Babs Smith/The Sky is not the limit









Nan Collantine/Vista: tales of shrinking skies and life within the city grid








Nan Collantine and Babs Smith