Just recently it seems that Manchester’s street artists have been painting things faster than I can photograph them. Less than a week ago I found out about two new artworks in progress and soon to be finished so early yesterday I went out to the city to photograph them, however I actually found more than I expected.
Although it’s nothing to do with street art I’d read recently that the exterior of the Printworks is classed by some as being very Instagrammable so I took a slightly different route from Victoria Station to find the suggested spots for photo taking, then never having been in the place I crossed the road and went to take a look.
Originally the home of several newspaper and printing businesses dating from the late 19th century the building was bought in 1986 by publishing magnate Robert Maxwell who immediately closed it down. It was left unused and derelict for over ten years then as part of Manchester’s redevelopment following the 1996 IRA bombing it was bought in 1998 by Shudehill Developments and converted into an entertainment and leisure venue which includes a cinema, fitness club, nightclub and several eateries.
During the redevelopment the original frontage was retained and part of an internal railway from the newspaper business was incorporated into the new ground floor walk-through from the main road to the street behind. It was actually quite dark in there and it felt a bit odd with everywhere closed and no-one around so I didn’t linger too long.
Coming out of the back of the Printworks I followed my previous well trodden route to find the new street art I wanted to see but before I got to it I unexpectedly came across a new work in the process of being painted. Liam Bononi is a self-taught Brazilian street artist based in Liverpool and his artwork can be seen in many cities in other countries; expressive eyes and hands are apparently distinctive features of his work so it’ll be interesting to see this one when it’s finished.
The next artwork, which is one of the two I especially wanted to see, is on the side of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre and has quite a sweet little story attached to it. The Design Centre was once a Victorian fish market where, over many years, the fishmongers would always welcome the local cats as a way of deterring any pests, for which they were rewarded with treats of fish. The market finally closed down in 1973 but the cats kept returning although there was nothing there for them, however one dedicated fishmonger, Jimmy Kelly, would also go back regularly to make sure they got their dinner.
It was just a short walk from there to Tib Street and the next artwork I wanted to see, and though it had been completed I was surprised to see another artist at work on the wall next to it. The two walls form part of the boundary of the Northern Quarter Car Park and though I’ve been past there many times I didn’t realise until recently that one is a memorial wall. To brighten up what has long been a bit of a redundant corner all the artwork had been commissioned by the Northern Soul Grilled Cheese place across the street, though unfortunately Qubek’s work was partially obscured by a couple of notices and stacks of tables and chairs ready to be laid out.
From Tib Street I made my up to Stevenson Square as I wanted to photograph something for a future post, and though I wasn’t expecting to find anything new since my previous visit two weeks ago I actually did. A series of shutters on a corner building had undergone a very bright makeover, and while they weren’t advertising any particular product they seemed to signify mobile phone usage.
Having recently found out about a place which was considered to be highly Instagrammable, and thinking of shots for a future post, I headed away from the NQ. Via various streets and pedestrianised squares I finally found what I was looking for and though I couldn’t go in it was certainly worth several shots from the outside.
On the floor in the window of a vacant shop nearby, which appropriately had been a tailoring and alteration business, I spotted an old and very decorative Jones sewing machine though light reflection on the glass meant the shot wasn’t too clear. Enlarging it later on I made out the words “As supplied to Her Majesty Queen Alexandra” on the shoulder of the machine and research tells of a reliable account that she did indeed use a Jones machine during her days at college.
Along the street was a tall narrow 4-storey building with a very flowery front facade and though the direct sunshine made photographing the whole thing difficult I did manage to get a shot of part of it. Round the corner was Crazy Pedro’s bar and pizza restaurant and as well as one of Qubek’s well known bees there was some really bright art work round the side.
With the sky clouding over again I made those my last shots and headed off on my long walk back to the station – not a moment too soon either as just as I got there it started to rain. Although I hadn’t spent as much time in the city as on previous occasions I’d got most of my planned shots and more and it had been nice to chat briefly to the two artists I’d seen working, but now it was time to head back home for a good brew and a late lunch.