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Mary Kelly at The Whitworth

Another must see show by an important feminist and political artist.

Fabulous exhibition that reveals Mary Kelly’s attention to detail and love of using really beautiful materials to create her work.  Mary is back today to do an interview with Art Monthly and for a major symposium tomorrow.

Mary Kelly's MultiStory House during installation when The Culture Show was there

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Anish Kapoor: Flashback

Renowned artist and Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor took part in a photocall with Her Blood (1998), a major sculptural work selected by the artist specifically for Manchester Art Gallery’s exhibition space and being shown for the first time in the UK.

Anish Kapoor is known for his sensual and beguiling sculptures, creating his work using a range of tactile materials including pigment, stone, polished stainless steel and wax. Filling Manchester Art Gallery’s main exhibition spaces, this show (5 March – 5 June 2011) gives a unique opportunity to explore Kapoor’s earlier works alongside recent pieces lent directly by the artist, with a selection of significant sculptures on loan from UK collections, and from the Arts Council Collection.

A fantastic must see exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery launched at the start of March with a fine number of press in attendance and lots of great coverage.

Renowned artist and Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor with Her Blood (1998), a major sculptural work selected by the artist specifically for Manchester Art Gallery’s exhibition space and being shown for the first time in the UK.

Photocall at exhibition launch

Anish Kapoor interviewed by Jonathan Schofield


Great video by Littlestar

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It’s been a busy time…

…and I’ve not been able to update this site as much as I’d liked but we’ve been occupied with working on Creative Tourist’s Manchester Weekender, RNCM, Manchester Christmas Markets & Christmas Lights Switch-on, and Manchester Literature Festival.

AP photographer capturing the amazing Shrink performance at the launch of The Manchester Weekender

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I must be touched…

Letting the dust settle a little and then looking at who has come to review or interview is always an important factor in any media campaign and Liverpool Biennial is no exception.  It’s been over a week since the media descended on Liverpool and on the whole I’ve had some pretty positive feedback.

I spent Wednesday making sure that Rachel Campbell Johnston saw as much of the Biennial as she could in a day – exhausting but a necessity as her review was out in Friday’s issue of The Times.  This was great timing for us as that was the day all the arts professionals arrive in the city.  I have also finely honed my radar for where to find parking meters or even free parking (thank you Anglican Cathedral!) as I drove her about to try and cut down on the minutes walking.

Thursday is D Day as we accredit over 80 media. This seems to go very smoothly despite one member of the press being delayed at London Bridge meaning he misses the train at Euston.   He makes it later in the day and catches up with the Biennial and even fits in a football match!

Hollyoaks actress is prepared for her BBC North West Tonight interview in Lee Mingwei's Mending Project at 52 Renshaw Street

BBC North West Tonight plan a series of vignettes on different commissions and have chosen to film Lee Mingwei, Daniel Boshkov at The Bluecoat and Laura Belèm’s Temple of a Thousand Bells. By Friday the news editor decides they would also like to run a montage of what visitors can expect to see using vox pops from lots of our visiting guests.  Granada Reports run an overview with Andy Bonner posting his ‘Director’s Cut’ online that evening – he’s even been tweeting along the way as he and his cameraman film!

Mark Lawson & Touched artist Rosa Barba for Front Row special on Liverpool Biennial 2010

BBC Radio 4 Front Row ran Thursday evening – it was a tight edit for producer Helen Roberts as they recorded right up to the wire with Mark Lawson doing all the programme links from different parts of the Biennial. We have lots of comments the next day as the Biennial piece took up most of the programme – brilliant exposure for all featured.

The BBC’s imminent move up to Salford has also proved beneficial with national arts and entertainment online and BBC Radio 2’s arts show both covering the Biennial in depth. (link).

It was great to see both arts editors from Post & Echo at John Moores Painting Prize.  Catherine Jones and Laura Davis have supported the Biennial with some amazing coverage in the run up to the launch, managing to get their heads around the vastness and complexities of the Festival as a whole.

It’s early Friday morning and I have to go on BBC Radio Merseyside breakfast show where they are running a debate on their Facebook page about “Is It Art?”  I’m happy to say that Tony Snell was very much of the opinion that it is, especially when it’s Liverpool Biennial time!

Still plenty of critics from broadsheets and magazines out and about and Creative Times turn up to film Rosa Barba and Lorenzo in the Marx Lounge. Lorenzo manages to looks as if he has had a full night’s sleep even though he hasn’t, as it was the artists’ dinner the night before!

Mrs Butler's eldest interviewing Mingwei in the Mending Project at 52 Renshaw Street

BBC Radio Merseyside have fallen in love with the visitor centre and its enchanted forest feel so Billy Butler’s show comes live from there in the afternoon. Lots of artists and curators are interviewed but Billy is really taken with Lee Mingwei and his project declaring it to make a lot of sense to him.  Catching up with Mingwei this week and it seems plenty of Butler fans have turned up to participate in the Mending Project.

BBC Radio documentary maker extraordinaire Bob Dickinson gets stuck into Transfer

Meanwhile Tania Bruguera and Lorenzo with a host of artists and curators carry out Allan Kaprow’s action Transfer during Lewis’s speech at St George’s Hall. Bob Dickinson from BBC Radio 4 is part way through making a documentary about art happenings and ends up helping out too.

Saturday breakfast at Novotel where many media and artists are staying which gives me the opportunity to catch up with a few writers about their experience over the past few days.  Lots of positive reactions so keeping my fingers crossed about the reviews.  It might be the weekend but the requests still flow in…plus more press visiting – from Russia, China and even Creative Tourist from down the road in Manchester.

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Liverpool Biennial is launched

I love it when I’m on the home straight toward the launch of another Liverpool Biennial. Having lunch with a journalist the week before the Biennial opened, he remarked that it seemed like only yesterday that it was last on. Two years do seem to pass quickly but the great thing is that every Biennial is different and I can never predict what the media reaction is going to be like.

This year we had over 100 press accredited to attend the launch days on Thursday and Friday with a great mix from international, national and regional media outlets. A big group of critics and feature writers from Vogue, Monocle, Time Out, The Independent, The Guardian, Art Review, Art Monthly, Frieze and the FT planned to visit from Thursday giving their verdict on the new commissions, the prize-winners and even the city.

So what did my week look like?

Monday: I’m helping a producer from Front Row, BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts programme plan how she’s going to get presenter (and reviewer of past Biennials) Mark Lawson round most of the Festival on Thursday, taking in interviews with Laura Belem, Rosa Barba, Daniel Boshkov, Tehching Hsieh and Gary Hume along the way. And get back in time to edit it do into a whole programme to be broadcast that night! I don’t envy her.

Tuesday: I’m meeting with Tania Bruguera about all her media requests – she’s very much in demand so I need to make sure that we can schedule her interviews alongside the performances she’s planning. Laura Johnson from NML has volunteered to meet the press group and bring them up from London. I’m meeting with her to let her know who’s coming up and what they’ll need from her on the trip up: whether they want to be left alone or if they need lots of information about Liverpool and the Biennial.

Visiting Sachiko Abe's magical installation at A Foundation with The Times

Wednesday: the chief art critic for The Times is coming up a day early to review as she needs to file early for the weekend paper. As she only has a day I need to plan how she’s going to cram in a whole festival across multiple sites in 8 hours without exhausting her and making sure she has a fair idea of the depth and diversity of it.

Thursday: the day we’ve all been building towards is the day we reveal Liverpool Biennial to the press. Front Row are in town from 9am so it all has to be ready for their recording. We’ll have a team of interns, some of whom worked on the press desk in 2008, waiting for the first press to pick up their passes from 9am too. It’s the day I really look forward to, seeing the city awash with critics and feature writers.

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The Moomins are coming…to Bury!

Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley Collection. Photo Jari Kuusenaho. Copyright Moomin Characters TM

As ever the vision and aspirations of Poet, Curator and Bury Arts Manager Tony Trehy know no bounds as he has managed to secure an exhibition of Moomins creator Tove Jansson’s gorgeous illustrations for Bury Art Gallery.

The Moominvalley of the Tampere Art Museum is a museum devoted to original works by writer and artist Tove Jansson. Its unique collections comprise around 2000 works. The two Galleries have also confirmed exchange exhibitions of Finnish and British art to celebrate the cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Games.

Magical Moominvalley:

The Illustrations of Tove Jansson from Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley Collection Finland

23 October 2010 to 15 January 2011

Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley Collection. Photo Jari Kuusenaho. Copyright Moomin Characters TM

The world of the Moomins from Finland has delighted and captivated children and adults alike for the last 65 years.  This Autumn Bury Art Gallery will bring this magical world to the town as the first exhibition of a unique cultural partnership between Bury and Tampere in Finland. It will be the only exhibition in the UK that coincides with the 65th anniversary of the Moomins.

The exhibition will capture the magic of The Moominvalley of the Tampere Art Museum, which creates the feeling of visiting the Moomin valley itself. Dimly lit with pools of dappled light with the Moomin boat and islands of stepping-stones, this enchanted space will provide the perfect backdrop for these original Moomin illustrations.

Tove Jansson was a prolific illustrator and less well-known for her work produced in newspapers. Depicting the cherished characters of Moominpapa, Moominmama, Moomintroll, Little My, Hemulen and The Groke, her beautiful drawings will be shown alongside a collection of rare examples of Jansson’s illustrations published in Finnish daily newspapers.

The exhibits appeal to children who are fascinated by tales of the Moomins but also to adults who can appreciate Jansson’s expressive drawings and the darker subtexts of the images and stories.

Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson created the white hippopotamus-looking creatures whose adventures were translated into 34 languages. Jansson wrote and illustrated eight books about these eccentric creatures, the first of which The Moomins and the Great Flood was published in 1945.

The exhibition coincides with the re-printing of the Moomin stories in English and the opening of Moomins and the Comet Chase, the latest Moomin movie, launched at the Cannes Film Festival, with a soundtrack by Bjork.



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Urban Moves International Dance Festival

This July, the third Urban Moves, an international dance festival with a difference returns to Manchester and Bury, Friday 23 – Sunday 25 July, with an outstanding line- up of dance from the UK and Europe.

Urban Moves has put together three days of professional, contemporary dance performed outdoors, against the architectural backdrop of the city.

Twenty companies from the UK and Europe will perform in variety of venues:  Castlefield, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, Piccadilly Gardens and Piccadilly railway station.

The weekend’s highlights include: Beau Geste from France – prepare to be amazed when Transports Exceptionnels brings to life the ultimate children’ s fantasy – a duet between a dancer and a giant mechanical digger!

Etant Donne from France,  Aspecto’s shop window in The Triangle comes to life with naughty antics, as dancers mercilessly send up the word of fashion and the hard sell in La Vitrine.

Dancing in the air, from Circo Delicio from Spain performing daring aerial feats in walls and in the air and UK based Gravity and Levity with Re-Flex.

A journey back in time  – local company Resonance Dance perform Forgotten Ghosts, an Urban Moves new commission, a taste of romance on the platforms and escalators of Piccadilly Station.

The Bicycle Ballet, a 30 minute dance performance, celebrating the dance that is cycling, will take place on Sunday 25 in Castlefield, Manchester. See bicycles dance in a performance reminiscent of Busby Berkeley’s stunning synchronized film choreography, illustrating the highs and lows of city cycling: the sheer joy of swerving downhill on a bike, the wind behind you and the sun on your face, tempered by the gritty reality of urban cycling. The performance is funded by Manchester City Council as part of the Cultural Olympiad open weekend

For performance times and a full programme visit

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Manchester Literature Festival 2010 brings literary gems to the city

The UK’s most innovative literature festival reveals that Orange Prize-winning author Lionel Shriver will launch its fifth edition on 14 October. The packed programme features celebrated writers such as Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, as well as some specially commissioned new work including the inaugural Manchester Sermon to be delivered by Jeanette Winterson at Manchester Cathedral on 21 October. Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney will close the Festival on 25 October.

60 events with outstanding writers spread across 12 days, Manchester Literature Festival 2010 continues to develop its three main strands – READ INDEPENDENT FREEPLAY – as well as featuring new projects linking up with other arts organisations around the city. Since 2006 the Festival has staged a highly innovative series of events around the city in a variety of different locations including Manchester Cathedral, the gothic splendour of Manchester Town Hall, Manchester Art Gallery and Chetham’s School of Music.

History, from the turbulent court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II to the cloisters of a renaissance nunnery, is brought to life at this year’s festival with renowned historical novelists and historians Sarah Dunant and Alison Weir. Best-selling author and creator of the Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell will be making his only UK appearance to talk about his latest novel, The Fort set in the American War of Independence.

In her anniversary year, the work of Elizabeth Gaskell will be explored through a literary coach tour taking in the recently restored Gaskell House, where she penned many of her works as well as visiting The Gaskell Memorial Tower and finishing with afternoon tea in Knutsford, the inspiration for Cranford. BBC TV Producer Sue Birtwistle and scriptwriter Susie Conklin will also launch the Cranford Companion while this year the ever-popular BBC Writersroom features Cranford scriptwriter Heidi Thomas.

Award-winning TV writer and producer Paul Abbott and Patron of Manchester Literature Festival said this week, “I am delighted to be a patron of such a ground-breaking festival that brings writers of international repute to the city. Since the festival began, it has not only nurtured emerging local talent, but has also provided these new writers with a valuable showcase for their work, which is so important in today’s competitive market.”

Other patrons of Manchester Literature Festival confirmed this year are Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, broadcaster and anchor of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Jenni Murray, broadcaster and journalist Miranda Sawyer, and highly-esteemed poet and publisher Michael Schmidt.

Other confirmed festival highlights are:

Carol Ann Duffy & John Sampson

17 October The Whitworth Art Gallery

Carol Ann Duffy together with the multi-talented musician John Sampson present a special family poetry event with music.

Amanda Craig & Michele Roberts

20 October, Waterstone’s

Two of the UK’s foremost women writers will be discussing their latest works. Amanda Craig’s Hearts and Minds is a thrilling and thoroughly contemporary tale about the invisible lives of immigrants.  Michele Roberts short story collection Mud: Stories of Sex and Love, takes the reader to nineteenth century Venice, 1970s England, modern-day France and beyond, exploring women’s desires, memory, grief, love and betrayal.

Caryl Phillips

22 October, MMU

Novelist and Yale University professor Caryl Phillips will talk about his latest novel In the Falling Snow.

Women and Crime Fiction with Val McDermid & Sophie Hannah

22 October, Whitworth Art Gallery

Two of our most popular crime writers discuss gender roles in crime fiction, female protagonists (on either side of the law) and the ongoing debate about women as authors and originators of crime fiction.

Poetry continues to be an important component of the festival with performances from Fleur Adcock, Daljit Nagra, Pascale Petite, CK Williams and Desert Island Poems with Michael Schmidt & John McAuliffe at Chetham’s.

There will also be a healthy spread of literature in translation events, featuring leading writers from China, Spain, Norway, the Czech Republic and Morocco.

The hugely popular Manchester Blog Awards will take place once again in association with partners Manchester Digital Development Agency and Arts Council England.  Details of how to enter will be available on the Manchester Literature Festival website.

Manchester Literature Festival also features a series of events especially for children and families including: Children’s Bookshow with Michael Rosen, a Moomin storytelling event with Tove Jannson’s niece Sophia Jansson, in association with NICE festival, and a puppetry and music show, Strange Stones, exploring the life of Mary Anning, the unsung heroine of 19th century palaeontology.

There are a number of trailblazer events for the Festival this year including Postcards from Manchester as part of The Manchester Weekender at venues across the city, 1 – 3 October 2010.


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The Manchester Weekender

Forty-eight hours of art, culture, music, film, food, festivals, literature, walks, politics, poetry, photography, theatre and spectacle all wrapped up into a single weekend.

The Manchester Weekender is a weekend-long snapshot of some of the best of Manchester’s art and culture. From 1-3 October 2010, The Manchester Weekender stages a series of one-off, intimate events that sum up the city, pairing international artists, musicians, festivals and writers with some of the city’s most beautiful settings. And it does this for one weekend only – forty-eight hours of some of the most unusual cultural experiences found anywhere within the UK.

Timed to mark the launch of Abandon Normal Devices (AND) and Recorders: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Manchester Art Gallery, The Manchester Weekender features the following highlights and with more to be announced:

AND Festival launch. After its smash-hit inaugural year in Liverpool last Autumn, this year’s Abandon Normal Devices comes to Manchester. A festival of new cinema and digital culture, it includes the UK premiere of Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing’s first feature-length film, Self Made. New commissions from a clutch of internationally renowned artists, filmmakers and cultural provocateurs includes Phil Collins in a continuation of his critically acclaimed work Marxism Today. Vacuum packed and vertically suspended volunteers feature in artist Laurence Malstaff’s latest live performance while temporary outdoor cinemas pop up across the city. Midnight Mass from New York drag artist Peaches Christ will encourage bad cinema and even worse behaviour!

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Manchester Art GallRafael Lozano-Hemmerery. A major new exhibition of interactive digital artworks by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, including the world premiere of a large-scale installation People on People a co-commission with AND festival and at least four specially adapted interactive artworks that have never been shown publicly in England before, including the seminal Pulse Room, the artist’s contribution to the Mexican Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2007.

Manchester by water. A family boat party that connects the Manchester Ship Canal with the River Irwell; that puts food by one of the Northwest’s top chefs, Robert Owen Brown, on the menu; that links up one of Salford’s finest pubs, the Mark Addy, with two of Manchester finest museums (MOSI and the People’s History Museum); and that takes you from one city to its sister – Manchester to Salford – finishing up at one of the UK’s top ten architectural sights: Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North.

Krysko & Kashiwagi. A one-off gig, that’s part performance art and part club night, all taking place in the distinctly unusual setting of The Whitworth Art Gallery. DJ Matthew Krysko (The Warehouse Project/Sankeys/Tribal Gathering) and the award winning performance artist Naomi Kashiwagi use the Victorian gallery as the backdrop for a new collaborative work that combines electronic music with wind-up gramophones, and 70 year-old shellac records with the latest in digital DJ technology.

Guestrant. Out of the suburbs, one of Manchester’s best kept pub-and-dining secrets runs its famously fabulous Guestrant, in a secret location. Electrik is the bar in Chorlton run by Electric Chair/Electric Elephant DJ duo Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford. The concept sees a talented local chef visit the bar to cook a surprise three-course meal for one night only. Intimate, unusual and communal, each Guestrant is a chance to sample food by top name chefs and get-to-know-your-neighbours.

‘Close Up’ featuring Jonathan Franzen. The celebrated American novelist Jonathan Franzen heads to the Whitworth Art Gallery to read from his latest novel, Freedom, as part of an ‘in conversation’ event with DJ/writer Dave Haslam.

The Land Between Us. The Land Between Us brings historic and contemporary art together on equal terms to engage with today’s notions of landscape and identity. Works by artists including Nikhil Chopra, Olafur Eliasson, Cyprien Gaillard and Larissa Sansour and Rachel Whiteread, come together with others from The Whitworth Art Gallery’s extensive historic collection, from William Holman Hunt to Samuel Palmer and J.M.W. Turner. It will be the first time that the Whitworth has shown all 50 Turners in its collection at the same time.

Creative Manchester Map.  A specially commissioned creative map of Manchester, designed by the artist-activist organisation Manchester Design Corporation with Laura Mansfield, the map plots project spaces, temporary, artist-led and mainstream galleries, contemporary arts organisations, artists’ studios, independent publications and curatorial groups – all those shadowy, often unknown agencies whose collective might provides much of Manchester’s creative capital. Walking tours all weekend take in not just art and culture but the cafes, bars and festivals that run simultaneously during the Weekender – the perfect way to enjoy the city’s hard-to-find and underground arts scene. The map coincides with the launch of Creative Tourist’s new iPhone app. – a guide to the art and culture of Manchester.

Urban wandering. From a sensory tour where families get to taste, hear, smell, see and touch Manchester to unusual creative activities ending in an urban picnic, and from psychogeography and parkour tour to the hidden museums collections and artefacts held in the city’s museums, galleries and archives. This series of tours explore Manchester with intelligence, wit, creativity and in some cases athletic prowess.

Postcards from Manchester. Don’t just visit Manchester – imagine it. As part of Manchester Literature Festival, the acclaimed and award winning poets Mandy Coe and John Siddique will be at Manchester Museum writing and helping visitors to write, poetry postcards, a unique way to capture the sights, sounds and smells of the city.

Hidden Manchester. A guided walk created and led by Manchester’s most popular guide, the broadcaster and historian Jonathan Schofield, especially for the Manchester Weekender. Schofield leads a very special, secret tour to one of the city’s most spectacular, but rarely seen by the public, buildings.

Beating Wing Orchestra at Imperial War Museum North. Best known for their sell-out performances at Manchester International Festival, Beating Wing Orchestra brings together artists from across Manchester’s musical spectrum, and from communities as diverse as Kurdistan and Cameroon, Bangladesh and Brazil, into joyful and life-affirming performances.

Black electronica. Contact Theatre hosts a three-day music, dance and arts festival that focuses on the influence of black music within the UK. Launching as part of the Manchester Weekender, Friday includes an evening of black electronica, while Saturday features a live dance link-up with New York.

Participating individuals, organisations and festivalsThe AND Festival, Beating Wing Orchestra, Castlefield Gallery, Chinese Arts Centre, Clarion Cycling Club, Contact Theatre, Cornerhouse, CUBE, Dave Haslam, Electriks, Family Friendly Film Festival, Imperial War Museum North, John Rylands Library, Jonathan Schofield, The Lowry, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Comedy Festival, Manchester Design Corporation, Manchester Food & Drink Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, The Manchester Museum, Manchester Science Festival, The Mark Addy, MOSI, NICE Festival, The People’s History Museum, Robert Owen Brown, Studiomama, Un-convention, Whitworth Art Gallery, 24:7 Theatre Festival.

The Manchester Weekender is organised by Manchester Museums Consortium and Creative Tourist.

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