As I ended up working most of last weekend I was able to get this Friday off. We caught the tram and went out for lunch. The new tramline runs through Exchange Square so we got off there and went to Wahaca in the Corn Exchange which is one of my favourite Mexican restaurants in the city. I especially like the Hibiscus Peppered Gin and Tonics which I recommend highly. And you won’t be disappointed by the food either. We did some shopping in Harvey Nicks and Selfridges, across the square, and had some tea and cake in Propertea, next door to the cathedral.

It was a wet afternoon and our tram tickets, which I bought on my phone, allowed us the run about in the city centre. This new route is just too convenient on a wet day. Distances I would have walked a couple of weeks ago, I now use the tram for. At one point we did the short hop from Exchange Sqaure to St Peter’s Square to go to the art gallery, then back to Victoria to visit the cathedral.

They were having an exhibition of models of a new statue for Manchester. It will be a focal point of the new St. Peter’s Square, just outside the gallery. Apart from Queen Victoria, Manchester’s statues are, mostly, of dead Victorian male grandees. So, in an effort to redress the balance the new statue will be female. And it’s not just an attempt to be politically correct, it will honour a woman from Manchester who did, arguably, more to further the emancipation of women in the UK than any feminist activist since. It will be of Emmeline Pankhurst, the woman who campaigned for and won the right for women to vote on equal terms with men. She is dead but she is a woman so at least she fits one of the criteria. They had a vote a while back as to which woman should be honoured. Emmeline Pankhurst won by a country mile. I voted for her.

We now get to have a say on which statue will be put up. Six models have been made and they are on show in the art gallery. You can vote online or at the exhibit. Here are five of them.

And this is the one we voted for. It shows Emmeline Parkhurst and two other women, possibly her daughters who worked with her, striding out, powerfully linked, with their ‘Votes For Women’ sashes across their chests. It’s a strong confident pose and I think it would look good in the square. Some of the others looked a little precious to be outdoors. This one fits in with the tradition of statues in the city. We voted for it and so did some visitors from America we got talking to. The pose reminds me of the pose in the statue of Boudicca, the ancient British Queen who burned Roman Colchester, London and St Albans after being treated badly by them, and her daughters by Westminster Bridge in London. I was able to do a history lesson.

Boudicca and her daughters statue for comparison. OK, there are no horses or chariots with blades sticking out of the wheels but there are the three women and there is a similar strength in the pose.

We also took in an exhibition of paintings by Manchester artist, Wynford Dewhurst. Born in Manchester he painted in France and, later on, back in England. I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of him. He painted in the Imprssionist style and they are calling him Manchester’s Monet. He did paint some of the same subjects as Monet in the Seine Valley where Monet painted. We liked them. This one, of the English countryside, was my favourite. You can practically smell the dampness of the autumn leaves on the ground and I loved how he got depth into the picture by the use of colour on the trees.

We also went into the cathedral. They are still ‘voicing’ the new organ and we were lucky enough to hear it yesterday. Not that you can hear it in these pictures of course. It sounded fine to me but someone with a trained ear might disagree. The original organ was destroyed in WWII during the Manchester blitz. Its restoration marks one of the final parts in the rebuilding of Manchester after that conflict, 70 years after it finished. We like to think about things in Manchester and get them right. It’s been paid for by an anonymous local doner. A very generous gift, these instruments are not cheap.

Another part of the bomb damage has also just been put right. We also found the new stained glass window, the Hope Window, that has been put in east end of the cathedral. The bombing that destroyed the organ, along with much of the cathedral, also destroyed all the Victorian stained glass. It has taken 70 years to put it all back, the last piece being the Hope Window. All the glass put back in is uncompromisingly modern and, I think, works well. There is 20th century glass in the medieval wing of the church and it looks great. I’ve never seen what the Victorian glass was like; probably like the glass you see in churches and cathedrals across the UK. All very worthy, beautiful but not exceptional. What you see in Manchester Cathedral is very special indeed.


« »