Sunday 16th October 2011
10.47 a.m. With sleep in our eyes, we stumble to the nearest greasy spoon, order up two full Englishes, and take our seats, with the music of Denis Jones still ringing in our heads (and our ears). Before the food arrives to be promptly devoured, we scribble down some thoughts after a night and a day of Manchester Weekender. Three things stand out: how family friendly the whole thing is, how many well thought out free events there are, and how it has succeeded in getting people to venues and places they might otherwise not visit. Good work, Manchester Weekender!
11.56 a.m. Case in point: Manchester Town Hall’s Great Hall (pictured below), which houses Ford Madox Brown’s captivating murals. Indeed, we loved them so much that we almost immediately decided we would be dedicating an entire post to them. The hall itself lives up to its billing; beautifully lit throughout, the splendid ceiling illustrates the nations Manchester traded with at the height of its mercantile power.
12.48 p.m. A quick catch up with friends who have been kept occupied with other events in and around Manchester. It’s one of those weekends, where everyone we know seems to be doing something different, spread across the city engaged in various pursuits, and everyone we pass in the street seems in a rush to get to something or other.
2.40 p.m. We head back over to the Royal Exchange Theatre, not for a play this time, but to see a very unusual collection of clothes. Primitive Streak depicts the first 1000 hours of human life in a series of dresses that take inspiration from the fundamental biological processes. This exhibition, which is part of Manchester Science Festival, is the work of designer and artist Helen Storey and biologist Kate Storey.
The collection uses a minimal pallet to tighten the drama surrounding the biological processes that are being depicted. A particular favourite of ours was the Spinal Column Dress, a halter neck fish tail ball gown with a metal spinal column adornment running the length of the model’s back. The dress displays a biological structure, and the print mimics the results of a DNA test.
Several pieces of the collection are on display at Debanhams, so you’ll be able to catch some of Primitive Streak even if you can’t make it down to the Exchange.
3:45pm Just before leaving the Exchange we heard some music start up from the floor below the gallery. Looking down, we were lucky enough to catch the last stop of the Mala Procession, part of the Asia Triennial, which is featuring at various locales across the city until the 27th November. Here’s a snap of the dancing in action:
4.24 p.m. We swing by the Manchester Food and Drink Festival hub at Albert Square, mindful that after Monday the whole shebang will be leaving us for another year. The desire to spend every remaining penny we have to our name is overwhelming, but in the end we restrain ourselves, and say our goodbyes for another 12 months.
5.22 p.m. Our feet hurt. Our bodies ache. But we’re hardy souls, and swing by the Northern Quarter to get in on some of the hustle and bustle that was so apparent earlier in the day. To see the city so full of life is one of the best things about October in Manchester. So much to do, so little time…
7.11 p.m. Manchester Cathedral is a truly magnificent setting for anything, the type of space you’re happy to find yourself in regardless of what’s taking place. That we’re here for the Sacred Hearts event is entirely fitting, given that Sarah Dunnant’s novel is something of a rumination on religious faith. As we take our seats, we’re not quite sure what to expect.
8.13 p.m. A brief intermission gives us time to stretch our feet, take a few pictures, and scribble a few notes. Combining a reading from Dunnant herself, a dramatisation of parts of the novel, and a live performance from the highly accomplished Musica Secreta choir, Sacred Hearts turns out to be very interesting. Whilst the odd technical difficulty reared its head during the spoken interludes, the choir is perfect; their songs echo around the interior, every bit as harmonious as one would hope.
9.56 p.m. Once again, it’s time for a long walk home with music having had a significant impact upon us. There’s something about music in a holy setting; you can’t help but be moved a little, regardless of the genre or the circumstances. We’re exhausted but content, and shuffle homeward to get some much earned kip. For us, and for the city as a whole, Manchester Weekender was a rousing success.
Part three of a four part series in conjunction with All Points North, providing coverage of Manchester Weekender and other regional festivals.