Category: Art


Kodō….

After months of living in a cultural desert, there were three outings in the same week. After ‘Strictly’ and ‘Guys and Dolls’ it was off to the Bridgwater Hall, last Friday, to see the Kodo Drummers from Japan. I’d heard of them and seen them on TV but never live. When I saw they were coming to Manchester I thought they would be perfect to take, good friend, Andy, and his lovely girlfriend, Leanne, to after they turned up at the hospital with a card and chocolate when I needed it most months ago. Andy is an accomplished drummer himself and I keep getting at him to do something with it. But running a house and a life needs a steady income so that has to come first. But, with a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time, I’m convinced he could do well. I’d hate him to get to 70 and wonder ‘what if?’

Andy and Leanne had no idea what they were going to see and I suppose it could have all gone horribly wrong. It didn’t. Well I doubt it did. We caught the train into Manchester and began the evening in my new favourite, Refuge Bar, at the Principal Hotel drinking cocktails. Life is hard.

It was then down to the Bridgewater for the concert. The Kodo Drummers are good on TV but are amazing live. They beat rhythms on drums of various sizes, singly, in pairs, in threes, the entire ensemble. From quiet, complex rhythms to great walls of thunderous sound from huge drums. We marvelled at how they kept together as the rhythms became more and more complex, till the sound filled the hall and your body rhythms meshed with the sound from the drums. It was thrilling. They must just go into the zone and do it. If they thought about what they were doing or where they were they would lose it. Lots of practice I suppose.

Some pictures of the tour from the Kodo Drummers. Many thanks to them for them…

We went to Homemade Burger Co. on Deansgate for some supper. Then it was home on the train.

Here’ s a little video of the Kodo Drummers in action. We saw some of this but I think they change the concert for each venue to keep it fresh and to rest the drummers. As you can see you need a lot of strength and physicality to be one of these drummers, especially the guys on the huge drums…

A few mornings ago I caught the end of a report on the news on the radio about an art gallery that had removed a painting from the walls of one of its galleries because the content of the painting, painted over 100 years ago, didn’t fit in with modern sensibilities in a post Weinstein world. I raised my eyebrows but it was only later in the day that I discovered that it was Manchester Art Gallery and they had removed a painting called ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ by the Victorian Pre-Raphaelite painter, J.W. Waterhouse. It’s one of the gallery’s most popular paintings and one of the city’s great, cultural treasures. Whenever, I’m in the gallery looking at something else, I usually go and spend a couple of minutes in front of it. Here it is…

A little about it….

Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas somewhere in Ancient Greece. He was a handsome lad it seems. Heracles had an argument with the king over a bull that Heracles killed and ate. The argument turned nasty and Heracles killed the king. He then took on the son, Hylas, as his companion and servant. The sort of relationship that went on a lot in Ancient Greece but might cause controversy today. Heracles took Hylas on the Argo to look for the Golden Fleece, a trip organised by Jason. On a stopover somewhere, Hylas wandered off and found a pool. The pool was full of nymphs who took a fancy to the handsome lad and pulled him into the pool and drowned him so he could stay forever with them. Note to self…avoid nymphs. Heracles was desolate and stayed on the island looking for his companion. In the painting we see the moment where Hylas, enchanted by the beauty of the nymphs (it seems he was very 21st century in his romantic entanglements) is about to be pulled into the pool. This theme has been portrayed in art, and continues to be so, since ancient times.

The gallery curators said the picture would be removed to ‘encourage debate’ about how we view women generally and how the Victorians viewed them and should we be still encouraging such views. The nymphs are quite young we’re told and is this appropriate? Well it certainly did encourage debate. The story went viral, first in Manchester, then across the UK and on around the world.

I’m not sure about the exact percentage of pro/con removing the painting comments but my very unscientific appraisal of what I have read has been against the removal of the painting. And the debate has been moved from a debate about how women are portrayed in art. A lot of the comments have been about the curators of the gallery censoring what the public can see as it doesn’t fit in with their political view of the world. Others commented about how legal was it for the curators of a publically funded gallery to remove an art work from the walls that is owned by the city? Others said it was a stunt to promote the gallery. If so it’s certainly done that.

The fact that the debate so quickly moved from what the gallery wanted to the subject of censorship was interesting. Politics has been shaken around the world by people, tired of being ignored by political elites, voting in such a way that has led to Trump in the US and Brexit over here. The curators of the gallery seem to have been cast as an out of touch political elite trying to foist their view of the world on the people who like to visit the gallery. As well as this incident there have been instances of some less than well received ‘art’ exhibitions.

I was going to go into the gallery to photograph the space today but the picture has been restored to its position. The debate is rumbling on though.

I was surprised by the choice of painting. A couple of rooms along there is this, ‘The Sirens and Ulysses’ by William Etty, another Victorian painter but not a Pre-Raphaelite.

Guys, if you thought nymphs were bad, you really need to avoid sirens. What these voluptuous ladies like to do was sing a song so beautiful that it would drive men, on ships passing their island, wild and lure them to their doom. You can see some of their previous victims littering the shoreline. Ulysses, on his trip home from the Trojan War, wanted to hear the song. He had his men put wax in their ears so they couldn’t hear the sound and keep rowing and not be doomed. He had himself tied to the mast so he couldn’t throw himself to his personal doom but still listen. It worked. Their island was supposed to be off the coast of Capri on the Bay of Naples. We have been to Capri and we did arrive by boat. We didn’t see any of them. It must have been the sirens day off.

This picture was in a dreadful state a few years ago and we had the pleasure of watching it being restored in public, in one of the smaller galleries. It’s a huge painting and maybe they thought these rubenesque beauties could stay put because they were just too heavy to move.

What next? If we start removing pictures because they might offend people where will it end? How safe will ‘The Shadow of the Cross’ by William Holman Hunt be if it is seen to offend non-Christians and people of no faith? 

We have been living in something of a cultural desert since Christmas so we decided to do something about it and visit an art gallery. Manchester has an abundance of them but I suggested the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight on the Wirral Penisnsula. I had ulterior motives.

For people outside the UK, and some in it, the Wirral Peninsula is a piece of land between the estuaries of the Rivers Mersey and Dee. On the north bank of the Mersey estuary is the city of Liverpool. If you make a bit of money in Liverpool, it’s common for people to move out of the city. Some go north towards the pretty seaside town of Southport or into the pleasant, green Lancashire countryside. Others choose to cross the Mersey (either by the ferries or the tunnels) and move into the tree lined suburbs of the Wirral.

It’s not all pleasant, tree lined suburbs, around Birkenhead it is all docks and very industrial. A Victorian industrialist who came from nothing, Lord Lever, created a chemical company and made a fortune. He set up a chemical works on the Wirral where he made his various products including his famous ‘Sunlight’ soap. The plant, modernised, is still there. Lord Lever was very concerned about the welfare of his workers while others weren’t. He acquired a plot of land next to his plant a built a model village for his workers. He called it Port Sunlight, after his famous soap.The houses were head and shoulders above the standards many workers had in Victorian times. They were roomy and had three bedrooms so that the parents could sleep separately from the children and the boys and girls would have separate rooms. They had bathrooms with running hot and cold water, amazing in those days. They had gardens with lawns out front and back gardens where people could grow fruit and vegetables. The houses were built of the highest standards and had different designs.

The streets were wide and tree lined. He had churches, schools and community centres built and, at the centre of the village, he had the Lady Lever Gallery built which he used to house his extensive art collection and open to all so his workers could enjoy it and be inspired by it. He encouraged the children of his workers to strive for further education and financially supported them. Concerts and plays were put on in the village’s auditorium.

You could be out in a village in rural Cheshire but you’re actually close to the centre of the big city of Liverpool.

Here’s the Lady Lever Gallery.

A taste of Lord Lever’s art collection, still free and open to the public to enjoy.

Lord Lever actually had a house in the village as well. He lived here while his mansion, nearby, was being renovated. He had another estate near Bolton on the edge of Greater Manchester as well. It was also convenient for his office a couple of hundred metres away. It’s now a community house where people from the village come to meet up. Here it is. I was stood outside and was invited in for a little tour. All very interesting.

But I’d really come to see the house next door to the community house. In Peaky Blinders, when Tommy starts to make a serious amount of money he starts to launder it to make it respectable. Ada gets a rather nice house in Primrose Hill in London (actually it’s in a street in the Georgian quarter of Liverpool across the river from Port Sunlight). And Aunt Polly gets a nice house in tree lined Sutton Coldfield, a nice suburb of Birmingham I’m told. It gives her a nice place to house her newly rediscovered son, Michael. And she engages a maid. Here they are arriving to take possession. Aunt Polly leads the way followed by Tommy, sadly missed John and youngest brother Finn. Arthur must have been having one of his ‘issues’ on this day. Of course you can take the girl out of Small Heath but you can’t take Small Heath out of the girl. When the police noisily raid Aunt Polly’s house looking for assorted Peaky Blinders, she rushes out into the street telling them ‘Keep it quiet! This is a respectable fucking neighbourhood!’

And here is the actual house. I tried to stand where the above picture was taken but couldn’t as I’d have been on someone’s garden.

The ‘church’ appears in Peaky Blinders. It’s not actually a church but was used as one for a while, while they built to actual church on the other side of the village. It’s been a school and is now a community club called The Lyceum.

Tommy has a moment’s reflection on this bridge close to Aunt Polly’s house.

Here’s my picture of the actual bridge.

The lovely people at HOME, Manchester’s theatre, cinema, art gallery complex on First Street were kind enough to invite me to see two of their new season’s productions a couple of weeks ago. And very fine they were too. Look back a few posts and your will see what I thought about them. This blog, which started as a way of organising a few photos for family and friends, is read by many more people than I ever thought. It has been touted as one of the top ten blogs to read if you want to find out about Manchester. I am humbled by this. Social media is huge, something not lost on HOME, and I suspect that’s why I’ve been invited to review somethings. It’s taking my blog in a new direction and I’m grateful for that. It also makes me go see things I might, otherwise, not go to or completely miss.

However, the blog doesn’t pay the bills and work has got busy again and I’m off to Barcelona for a few days soon (hope it calms a little) so I haven’t been able to find time to see other things just yet. Which is a shame because HOME is having its annual ORBIT festival. A series of theatrical events, a lot handpicked from August’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, have been brought to Manchester to entertain, educate and make us think. I’m not sure if I can find the time to see any so I’m not in a position to review any. So, with their permission, I will use their own words to describe the festival…..

Orbit Festival 2017 brings together innovative new work from theatre makers across the globe who want to explore our place in the world. Many of these shows come straight from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, exploring our relationship with the past, how we remember, the stories we tell ourselves and what it is that makes us who we are.

How do we navigate today’s world, forging and challenging our economic, political and social circumstance? What about our plans for the future and the threats to our ideals and aspirations we hold dear and hope will keep us safe?

Like you, these artists are extraordinary. They have their stories; all they need now is you. They want to talk to you about where we are now, where we’ve been and where we are going.

So join us for a journey through what it means to be human in these unstable times.

HOME is a very different arts space. You, probably, won’t see the latest blockbuster movie or one of the huge West End musicals there. The city is well served with venues that do that. And there’s nothing wrong with those particular pieces. I’m happy to watch WICKED as many times as someone wants to take me.

What is shown at HOME is, of course, entertaining. If it didn’t do that people wouldn’t go. But you will also leave having had an experience you won’t get elsewhere in the city. You will leave enriched by the experience, you will have had food for thought and it will certainly give you something to discuss on the tram home.

When you read through the prospectus for an up and coming season at HOME, maybe everything isn’t instantly recognisable or appealing. The thing to do is to be brave and take a punt on something new and provocative. Just give it a go and broaden your mind and experience.

The ORBIT Festival started on 28th September and runs to 14th October. PLEASE, give yourself a treat and log on to https://homemcr.org/ follow the link to the ORBIT Festival and try something out. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Photo Credit: The Other Richard
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Greg Wohead

Back to my Mini adventure….

Elisabeth Frink was a British sculptor. She lived, at the end of her life, at Blandford Forum which isn’t too far from Winchester. She was very popular while she was working but then her work became unfashionable as can happen. Her work was often displayed in those Modernist, Brutalist developments that we are tearing down now. She’s being rediscovered and reappreciated these days. She drew and painted but is most famous for her bronze sculptures. She liked to sculpt certain things. Birds and horses were a thing of hers. And she liked muscular, naked men as well.

On my walk from Winchester Cathedral to the Great Hall of Winchester I came across this sculpture of hers that brought together two of her passions, the horses and men. There’s an identical one somewhere in Mayfair, London apparently.

I didn’t see this one in Winchester but I’ve always liked this head that she did of this guy in his cool shades. Another theme she returned to many times.

If you cross the river from Manchester Cathedral you find Greengate Square. Turn left out of there and it takes you into Chapel Street which runs west into Salford and eventually becomes Salford Crescent before turning into the East Lancs Road, the old, wide road to Liverpool before the M62 was built. I’ve heard rumours that, with all the redevelopment of Manchester jumping the river onto the Salford side, it was becoming the new Northern Quarter as the old one has found itself firmly on the tourist trail and the N4 Hipsters have found themselves tourist attractions. We have a lot of this going on in the city at the moment. The Heatons are the new Didsbury. Monton/Prestwich/Levenshulme (you choose) is the new Chorlton.

I went to have a look. Do not be deceived. The new N4 it is NOT. It may have the odd independent café but hipsters were thin on the ground when I went. Chapel Street can be very busy with traffic which isn’t what you want to sit by while you are drinking your small batch, artisan gin and tonic or your locally brewed craft beer while eating crushed avacado on sour dough toast. And as you get further along Chapel Street you get uncomfortably close to bits of the city where bad things happen to Mobikes and nice boys from the suburbs with Fossil bags full of desirable technology if they are not careful.

But it does have its moments and, as estate agents say, it has potential. I liked especially the bit between Salford Cathedral of St. John (the Roman Catholic one, the one I usually post is the Protestant Church of England one) and the glorious St. Philip’s Church.

St. Philip’s Church is one of the most beautiful in the city. It’s a real stunner and if it was a few 100m to the east in the city centre, fashionable weddings and jazz concerts would be queueing up to use it. It was built between 1822 and 1824 which makes it Regency I think. In those days this part of the city was the home of the rich and the church reflects that wealth. An almost identical church was built in London atnthe same time. The rich have moved on but the handsome church remains. I’ve never been inside, it’s never been open when I’ve been there. I may have to go some Sunday morning.

Between the cathedral and the church they have built some streets of modern, but rather elegant town houses in grey brick that echo some of the grand Regency, red brick houses that still exist in the area. It’s called Timekeeper’s Sqaure. Why? No idea! The wrought iron, sycamore seed sculpture was put up in a previous, but failed attempt, to revive the area. It looks good in its new surroundings. The people’s cars, if you have to have one so close to the city centre, are behind the houses leaving this rather nice space in front for people to enjoy.

Celebrated local artist, L.S.Lowry was a fan of the church and painted it. Here’s a drawing he did of the area. The corner of St Phillips is on the right and we are looking at Salford Cathedral.

And here’s one of his paintings of St. Phillips Church with the street in front thronged with his trademark ‘matchstick’ people.

There was this memorial to Lowry is the paving. His very simple style was loved by people but derided by the, mostly London, critics who called him a ‘Sunday painter.’ He said ‘If people call me a Sunday painter I’m a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week.’ He’s now regarded as one of the greatest painters in our art history and the most famous painter to come from Manchester. His deceptively simple pictures sell for £millions. The huge art gallery/theatre complex in Salford Quays houses the best collection of his work in the world and is named after him. The words from his quote are carved into the paving stones of the street in this attractive new development as you walk through it, a word on a stone every so often for you to find.

In places, where they remain, the red brick, Regency town houses have been refurbished and, in places, joined to the modern, grey brick ones. I think it works well. The older houses would not look out of place in Bath or York. They would make fabulous, family homes.

Just beyond the church, a huge development of apartment blocks is going up along the river. Another testament to Manchester’s resurgence as a city. 

And if Chapel Street isn’t the new Northern Quarter, where is? Well my money is on Ancoats…

Manchester has a new sculpture. Brought to the city by Turner prize nominated artist, Phil Collins (not that one), it’s a statue of Frederick Engels. It’s been a controversial statue to say the least.

Frederick Engles was the son of a wealthy German family who sent him to Manchester in 1842 to work in a cotton thread mill that the family had here. He was a bit of a revolutionary figure who wasn’t happy with the capitalist system that provided his family with their comfortable living. While in the city he befriended Karl Marx. They would meet up in the little reading room at Chetham’s Library where they talked about all things socialist and wrote The Communist Manifesto. This document was taken on board by the Soviet revolutionaries who used it as a basis for their system of government . I’ve always thought it ironic that the world’s first ‘red in tooth and claw’  capitalist city also gave birth to the doctrine of Communism. For a while Communism was a powerful force in the world and, those chats around the library table in Chets (still there if you visit) almost brought the world to the brink of nuclear war on a few occasions in the last century. 

Engles stayed in the city for twenty years. He saw at first hand the appalling conditions that the people working in the mills had to endure to provide the fabulous wealth sloshing about the city in those days. That his stay in the city, as an important figure in history, should be acknowledge is not disputed. It’s the manner in which it has been done that has caused problems. There is the matter of us commemorating a man whose thoughts lead to the death of 100,000,000 people for a start. Hitler, by comparison, saw off a mere 17,000,000.

What Phil Collins (again, not the one you think) has done has gone to some obscure town in the depths of the Ukraine and found an old Soviet era statue of him. During the Communist era, Eastern Europe was bestatued with ‘heroes’ of the Communist ideology. When those countries got freedom from their masters in Moscow, one of the first things they did was to tear them down. They were left to moulder in out of the way places. Mostly concrete, that takes a while. Phil found this one, acquired it, put it on a flat back truck and crossed Europe to Manchester. He filmed the progress as he went, choirs singing to it in the Ukraine, a visit to Berlin and then onto Barmen where he was born.

It was erected in Tony Wilson Place, outside Home, as part of the closing ceremony of the Manchester International Festival last weekend. Manchester has a large Ukrainian population (or people descended from Ukrainians). Many came to Manchester to escape the oppression they experienced in their home country because of the ideology devised by Engels in Manchester all those years ago. That a piece of art that glorifies that oppression has been erected in the city hasn’t gone down well at all.

If you look carefully you can see blue and yellow paint on the statue. That’s part of the history as well. When the Ukraine fought from freedom from Moscow, the statues was daubed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. And, although it’s gone a bit quiet, relations between Kiev and Moscow are far from cordial.

Interesting that Mr Engels has been put where he can keep an eye on the new offices of the Russian energy giant, Gazprom, nearing completion across the square.

I’m not good with my Russian or the Cyrillic alphabet but I think this says Engels.

I’m well ahead of what I should do for the next target day on Monday and my team, mostly, are on track. I got up early and did my daily allocation. It’s good to finish early and it means I can concentrate before all the banging and vehicle moving starts on the building project next door. It was sold to us as a little extension but it is huge and the garden looks like a scene from the Battle of the Somme. They assure us that it’ll all be over and done with by mid September. We will see.

So work finished, I’ve been able to come into the city for a bit of a mooch and I don’t need to feel guilty about it as work for the day is all done and dusted. 

The Manchester International Festival is drawing to a close. It’s the final weekend then it’s all packed away until 2019. Sad, but the Manchester Jazz Festival is waiting in the wings, starting at the end of the month. And I won’t be so snowed under with work so I can actually enjoy it. My good bud, Andy, and I are planning an entire day at it with lunch and beer.

In St. Ann’s Square there was another of the MIF music installations happening, Music for a Busy City. It was new music but had a bit of a classical vibe to it, rather than the ethereal, New Age music I’d heard outside Selfridges a few days ago. People were stood about just enjoying it.

I went for a beer on the roof of the pop up bar at the festival hub in Albert Square. It will, sadly, be my last chance to do so until 2019. 

It’s cool to sit among the tree tops and see the architecture on the Town Hall at close hand. The Town Hall, which is Grade 1 listed and one of the most important buildings in the country, behind the magnificent façade, is feeling its age. They are about to start a restoration project to sort out the mess and bring in 21st century technology without changing a thing visually. It’s going to be a seven year project and will cost £350,000,000. And then some I’d imagine. The Houses of Parliament in London which is a similar age, is also going to have a massive restoration. They’re wondering where the government will be housed while it goes on. Answers on a postcard please….

When I set up this blog seven years ago, its’ birthday was July 1st, I did it as a way of organising my photographs. I’d been given a digital camera and the pictures were piling up on memory cards and on my computer where no one could see them. Even I had to make an effort to view them. The blog also gave me an opportunity to do some, not work, writing. I like to write but the opportunities just to do it for pleasure are few and far between. I thought a few family and friends might be interested in looking at the blog but, once you’re on the Internet, it’s open to all. Seven years later and millions of hits, it’s still going strong.

I had an idea that it would be a travel blog but it turned into something that chronicled the goings on and development of my home town of Manchester which has gone through some staggering changes in the last seven years. And it’s got me involved in all kinds of things in the city that I wouldn’t even know existed. I’m honoured when this happens.

My latest invitation is to write a review of a theatrical production that is part of the Manchester Fringe Festival. It will be interesting. I’m not sure what sort of critic I will be. I do know that I have been to some performances that critics have raved about, usually those dark and worthy things, that I have been bored with. On the other hand some critics have loathed things that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I seem to remember that Les Misérables was panned by the critics when it opened but the public loved it. I think this says more about critics than the productions they review.

So I approach my first ever attempt at being a critic with an open mind.

The Marriage of Kim K is a modern, one act opera for millennials by local theatre duo, leoe&hyde and featuring a talented young cast. It’s being performed in the old Bauer Millet car showroom in the arches by Deansgate Castlefield Station renamed 53two and repurposed as an intimate performance space.

Taking centre stage are a millennial couple, she a competent lawyer, he a struggling song writer whose music seems at odds with what the publishers want. Their relationship has hit a rocky patch and the problems are manifested around the control of the remote control. She wants to Keep Up with the Kardashians while he wants to watch The Marriage of Figaro.

To their left are Kim Kardashian herself and her former husband, basketball star, Kris Humphries. For those of you, like myself, who haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians, Kim married Kris (does everyone in Kardashian world have to have a name beginning with ‘K’?) in Las Vegas after a whirlwind romance and filed for divorce seventy two days later. Kim hasn’t be the first to do something in Las Vegas they lived to regret and she won’t be the last. I’m looking at you, Prince Harry! Over the performance we follow the marriage of Kim and Kris from  ‘love’s young dream’ to nasty divorce.

To the right of Millennial couple we have another couple in crisis, this time the Count and Countess Almaviva from the Mozart opera. We switch from one couple to the other as their relationships become increasingly fractious and acrimonious.

So we have three different couples with three stories and three different styles of music interwoven with craft. The libretto, by Leo Mercer, is witty and clever, funny in places, poignant in others. The music, by Stephen Hyde, is masterly and controlled, styles slipping from one couple to the other with ease. There was a little help from Mozart in places of course. I don’t want to spoil the end but the final part brings both words and music and all the cast together into a piece that would not have been out of place in a Stephen Sondheim musical and you can’t get much better than that.

The orchestra moved from one style to the other with consummate ease. And, while it’s hard to choose between the talented cast, I did enjoy the soprano voice of Emily Burnett as Countess Almaviva.

This reviewer, and the rest of the audience, enjoyed themselves immensely. It’s all gone off to Buxton for a couple of days but will be back in Manchester again for more performances at the Greater Manchester Fringe this July. If you haven’t got a ticket yet (sold out last night) you would be well rewarded to secure one.

Mojo…

After what might be described as a ‘difficult’ few weeks for Manchester, we seem to be getting our mojo back. Friday saw the last, I think, funeral of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack. It was Manchester lad, Martyn Hett. He was a typical Manchester guy enjoying his life and recording it all on social media. He was good at it as well, having a huge number of followers. If fate hadn’t intervened she would be half way through a 2 month trip to the States now. He was due to fly out a couple of days after the Ariana Grande concert. 

His funeral was, like his life, spectacular. It filled Stockport Town Hall with screens outside for people who couldn’t get in. Roads were closed to cope with the numbers of people attending. The police were on hand to crowd manage. He was a great fan of Manchester based soap, Coronation Street, and actors took time off filming to attend. Stars of the music world attended and Maria Carey sent a video tribute. As one of his family said, ‘Martyn would have loved all this.’ This picture was on the order of service and encapsulates his approach to life. He was a fun guy and the city will be poorer without him.

But life moves on and as I said, Manchester is getting back its mojo.  The biannual Manchester International Festival has started. It’s the one where everything showcased has to a world premier. It started in 2007 and has become an important fixture of the city’s, and the art world’s, calendar. Sadly it always coincides with my really busy time so I don’t have a lot of time to enjoy it. It’s also spawned a healthy fringe festival and I’ve been invited to review one of the productions for that on Tuesday. Looking forward to that. 

Albert Square is converted into the festival hub. Many of the productions are in the big venues across the city but there’s a pop up theatre in Albert Square surrounded by pop up bars and restaurants. Weather permitting, we can dine and drink alfresco in the square while listening to live music in the outdoor theatre. Like we did on Saturday afternoon. 

The BBC have a pop up studio that they do daily programmes from, interviewing the people involved in the productions.

The iconic teepee is the central point of it all.

Inside the teepee…

I like the pop up bar that always appears. You can buy your drinks at ground level and then climb onto the roof and enjoy it surrounded by the tree tops. It’s a popular spot and I shared a sofa with a lady from Atlanta, Georgia. Her husband is over here working for a company in Spinningfields and she continues to work, remotely, for a law practice in Atlanta, all very third millennium. We had a good long chat with me pointing out some less well known places in the city they might like to visit while they are here.