Manchester. Art On The Street.

A few weeks ago a friend invited me along to his graduation ceremony for his Masters degree which was being held in Manchester. I think it now makes him some sort of Jedi.

The event was being held in the starkly elegant Bridgewater Hall across from the Victorian splendour of the Midland hotel, the hotel was acting as the dressing room for the students cap and gownery. So needless to say there was a certain amount of hustle and bustle between the two but in amongst all the celebrations and mortar board throwing etc. there was a small oasis of calm.

Carefully, diligently a gentleman was sketching away at recreating the Manchester skyline in a panorama of watercolours and pen strokes. From time to time small knots of the celebrating crowds would break off to admire his craftsmanship but never once did he break his concentration or step out of his zone.

I wonder what the finished image looks like and where it’s now hanging?

Bridgewater Hall Information

The Midland Hotel Manchester

My Electric Bookshelf

My Portfolio

Monochrome Manchester

I live in the North West of England approximately halfway between Liverpool and Manchester so both are easy for me to reach,usually by train. Yes it’s the big kid in me. I like travelling on the railway. The header image above was taken in one of the staircases that leads down from the carpark that sits over the roof of Manchester Victoria station. For a long time this was the poorer relation to Manchester’s Piccadilly station, about a quarter of a mile away on the other side of the city centre. Piccadilly has the glamour of handling the London train services but at last after many years of being the city’s Cinderella station, the sleeping beauty is being awoken, I like my metaphors mixed not shaken, by a massive rebuilding program which is mercifully preserving some of the Victorian/Edwardian features that have survived to the present. 

230610 MANCHESTER Victoria Station LYR War Memorial girl on a mobile 2

Manchester Victoria Station. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway War Memorial.

10/07/15 MANCHESTER. Hotspur Press Building.

MANCHESTER.The old Hotspur Press building behind Whitworth Street as seen from the new HOME building.

Building survival is a useful topic to keep in mind, whenever I visit Manchester I am never far from the shadow of cranes and other building works. The city seems to be in an almost constant state of metamorphosis and development. New springing up amidst the old, the old changing into the new or just disappearing altogether. I’m not for preserving cities in aspic so they they never change  but can we slow it down a little sometimes? The above shot was taken from the courtyard outside of the HOME building. This is the replacement for the long established Cornerhouse, a centre for the arts and film. Home is a new building, the old Cornerhouse building is still there but yes, it’s changing into something else. In Manchester the caterpillars that change are made of concrete and bricks.

30-09-12 MANCHESTER. Withy Grove Stores Dantzic Street.

Withy Grove Stores

One building that hasn’t changed is the Withy Grove Stores, tucked away on Withy Grove, which leads down from Shude Hill behind the ever expanding Arndale Centre.

29/06/14  MANCHESTER. New Cathedral Street.

 MANCHESTER. New Cathedral Street.

Across Corporation Street from Withy Grove you will find the newest street in Manchester, New Cathedral Street, which was born out of the redevelopment of the city centre in the aftermath of the bombing in June of 1996. A pedestrian thoroughfare it links the Triangle shopping area with St. Ann’s Square and is the haunt of some of Manchester’s tres chic shopping.

29/06/14  MANCHESTER. Mosley Street.

 MANCHESTER. Metrolink tram 3069 passing with an Eccles via Media City service. St. Peter’s Square in the background is currently being redeveloped as part of the second city crossing scheme for the Metrolink system. The work involves the relocation of the war memorial and the enlarging of the tram stop.

A very useful feature of Manchester is it’s ever busy tram network with the bright yellow trams buzzing regularly through the city centre and onto the suburbs. The network covers about 48 miles at present, with a couple more extensions on the way. The Metrolink as it is called is one of the better ways to get yourself around and about Manchester. 

05/12/13 MANCHESTER.  St.Peter's Square.

 MANCHESTER. Metrolink Tram 3052 at St. Peter’s Square.

Also threading through the city but in a less obvious way are canals, perhaps not as romantic or extensive as Venice’s they have nevertheless contributed greatly to the prosperity of the city, especially in Manchester’s heyday as ‘Cottonopolis’ when it was the centre of the Lancashire cotton industry.  One of the city’s major theatres, the Royal exchange sits in it’s futuristic pod on the trading floor of the former Royal Exchange where raw cotton and it’s products were traded.

30-09-12 MANCHESTER. Royal Exchange Theatre

Royal Exchange Theatre on Cross Street

A late Victorian building the Exchange dates from the 1870’s with extensions in the 1900’s and rebuilding after wartime damage. Closed to for trading in the late 1960’s it face the prospect of demolition but survived and prospers and from personal experience is an excellent theatre to experience.

01/02/15 ROCHDALE CANAL. Deansgate Locks.

MANCHESTER. Deansgate Locks on the Rochdale Canal.

One of Manchester’s canals is the Rochdale Canal which slides gently past the Deansgate Locks, now home to the Comedy Club and fashionable places to eat and drink. 

Royal exchange Theatre

Visiting Manchester Information

Travelling On Manchesters Trams

 

 

Ready When You Are Mr. DeMille

This image is a scan of a shot I took some years ago on a Sunday morning in Manchester. It was the weekend of the Gay Pride celebrations and the streets around the Gay Village area on Canal Street were littered with the survivors of the night before’s celebrations,  all in various stages of consciousness.  This trio were more than up for having their photo taken, in fact they called me over to take it. The camera I was using on the day was the wonderfully oddball Mamiya Press, if ever there was a camera which looked as if it was designed by a committee it is the Press. For all it’s looks it is quite a hi-spec piece of equipment, interchangeable film backs, extensive lens range and bellows extensions on the back for perspective corrections. I really wish I still owned it.  The film I used was Ilford’s HP 400 in the 6×7  rollfilm back. I’d settled on HP5 after  a bit of fussing around trying to find a film I could produce consistent results with. I found the best effect for me was to rate it at 200 ASA and amend the developing time accordingly, this gave me beautiful shadow details, when I got it right that is……….

Another rainy day project is to work through the neg files and produce a portfolio of shots from them and archive them onto disc, I’ve no wet darkroom now but I have an A3 printer which gives me really good results and I have been experimenting with various types of watercolour paper from local arts suppliers just to see what turns out. Somewhere on my cluttered desk is a notebook with jotted down notes about which papers are working best with a particular image.   I have digital shots from Findhorn Bay in Scotland which have given me very pleasing results both in the original colour and in desaturated form. 

Digitising a selection of negatives will also give me the opportunity to try and rescue some of the near miss images, I have one in particular which was taken in a hurry at the Clive House museum in Shrewsbury. It’s of a flower arrangement in an eighteenth century bowl. the flowers were on a wide window ledge on a half landing with the house’s gardens behind and the imperfections in the  old window glass broke up the light  beautifully. The museum was busy and the staircase was full of people going up and down so there wasn’t much time to set anything up so I grabbed a couple of shots when a gap appeared in the queues of people and hoped for the best. The camera I used was a 6×6 format  Mamiya 220, so shutter shake was nil and I at least had something to work with. The negatives are printable with a little dodging and burning, the glazing bars on the window panes are really fine and don’t come through effectively without some effort which and lead to the foreground disappearing into shadow. So it will be a scanner and photoshop session to correct those issues.