Manchester scene: culture is not cancelled
Updated: Feb 3
9 November 2020
Cities are beguiling places. That is, if one looks upon them as rich canvases revealing the artful minutiae of people's everyday lives.
I've not lived in a city for a while, but I can still appreciate tuning into the details etched upon the walls of buildings and tucked away on dirty side-streets.
Such sights lack the joy of an earthy palette. Yet, I love to immerse myself in the grit of the city every now and then, enjoying a spot of street photography as I go (1).
In late summer my path took me to the Manchester 'Messages of Hope' on Deansgate. This is a small inspiring gallery of local people's artworks that looks to be in place of a doorway.
It was put up early into the first national lockdown in the UK and is a worth a visit if you're in the area.
I visited the area on this day to gather jewels of inspiration from Manchester Art Gallery.
My plan was to see what caught my attention on the way there and back from the car. What could I fascinate my gaze upon?
The answers for me lay in the graffiti colouring the walls. Some hid in the shadows skirting the edges of polished buildings or unsightly building sites.
A business that was currently closed used the windows to share emotive messages with the world. The frustration tasted sour and sharp, yet laced with an elixir of hope.
On the day I ventured into Manchester, it was soon after the area entered Tier 3 lockdown rules.
The presence of new signs enforcing the rules to distance could be seen everywhere, including the pavements.
It was tiresome having to shuffle away from people approaching, those who were 'too close', whilst crouching the street to get some shots.
It felt like I imagine the graffiti feels if it were sentient, visible but unseen.
A few weeks later as I write this, the UK has now entered the second national lockdown of the year.
It's a simple joy to witness everyday happenings and given the global context, which makes me grateful to have taken this precious time to go on my photography adventures.
I wonder how those who aren't able-bodied or whose circumstances aren't well suited to such trips are negotiating 2020, the year the world stopped.
So, an account of a story in conjunction with this set articulates a language of everyday life as I saw it that day.
There is an intentional juxtaposition of writing (literally) on the walls with messages adorning the faces and bodies of passers-by.
The set may be less palatable than the tourist attractions and rising skyline, but who wants plastic food anyway?
I hope you've enjoyed this unconventional look at Manchester and wish you well.
1. For street photography inspiration please see Vivian Maier's (1926-2009) work. She produced over 100,000 negatives and slides for her own pleasure, often whilst walking around New York. She wasn't recognised for her photography until she died a few years. See http://www.vivianmaier.com/ for more information and to see some of her work.