Catching up on street art

The day I took the short train journey to Blackburn to see the Knife Angel was actually my second attempt to go there. I’d originally set out to see it the day before, only to find there were no trains running on Sundays between here and there due to maintenance work on the line, so Plan B came into force. I’d recently found out about some new street art in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and as I hadn’t been there for a while I decided to seek out the artwork while it was still new.
A short walk from Victoria Station I came across a couple of artworks which were so new that the hydraulic platforms used while painting them were still in front of one of them. These particular gable end walls seem to be used specifically for advertising and though I wouldn’t normally photograph adverts I did like these, especially the larger of the two with its creatures and colourful foliage. Not far away was an advert for Dr Martens but the rendered surface of the wall was so rough I had to stand well back to see the detail of the picture properly.
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Away from the advertising walls I roamed the NQ’s roads, side streets and back alleyways and though I’d seen quite a lot of the street art before I also found quite a lot which, although not recently new, was certainly new to me. Walls, shutters, window decorations, even a section of road – nothing escaped the camera lens.
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In Stevenson Square a section of the road had been painted with a colourful Christmas tree design and only a few days previously street artist Hammo had gone to town on the walls of the old redundant public toilet block, with one side looking like a gingerbread house and the other side complete with a line of dogs with a sleigh full of presents. Unfortunately the whole block was surrounded by steel barrier fencing so I couldn’t get any unobstructed close-up shots without poking the camera lens through a couple of gaps.
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Close to Stevenson Square I found a couple of fantasy murals on the windows of a game store and down a narrow side alleyway just off Newton Street I came across a mural by Liverpool-based Brazilian artist Liam Bononi. Liam is well known for the very expressive eyes and hands in his artworks and this one was instantly recognisable before I saw the signature at the bottom. My final shot as I made my way back to the station was one of Akse’s excellent murals, his most recent one and apparently a character from Squid Game, whatever that is.
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My last visit to Manchester had been in August (and I still haven’t got round to sorting out the photos I took then) so I could possibly have missed a few artworks between then and now, but finding so many new ones turned what had started out as a disappointing morning into quite a successful one.

12 thoughts on “Catching up on street art

  1. Some wonderful art work there. Not being able to make your train journey certainly had an upside. Obviously I love the line of dogs, I think I spotted Tilly and Snowy sort of lookalikies πŸ™‚

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    1. I think I was almost glad there were no trains to Blackburn, finding so much new street art in Manchester really made the day. I love that line of dogs, it’s the sort of artwork that makes you smile when you see it πŸ™‚

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  2. When I started reading your post – I thought that the work would be more ‘street’ and not as much ‘art’ but wow – the work is amazing.
    Some were very recognisable as adverts (you did mention that there were advertising walls) but others are worthy as examples of stand alone art – you had a very good day!

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    1. Street art is evolving all the time Kate and there’s a world of difference between senseless graffiti and proper art. There are some very talented artists producing work around Manchester’s NQ, I’ve been photographing street art for over two years now and I’ve come across some amazing murals in that time – and my interest all started after a visit to a cat cafe πŸ™‚

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  3. Wow indeed. Some of that artwork is absolutely stunning – the talent on show is phenomenal.

    I wish we could find the location of that artwork we saw on I/G . . . I’ve been doing reverse look ups of screen grabs, image searches, cannot find the darn thing anywhere 😒

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  4. I’ve looked for that one too and can’t find it. A lot of the I/G comments are in a foreign language so I suspect it’s abroad somewhere. Also the cynic in me thinks there’s a bit of Photoshop or computer-generated trickery about it – if it is genuine then it’s amazing. I was really pleased to find so much new stuff in Manchester this time and all the ones in Stevenson Square really brighten the place up πŸ™‚

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  5. These artists are so talented, yet they presumably put up their murals for free. That guy, Liam Bononi – fantastic.
    Your collection of pictures over the years of the street art in Manchester will become an important historical documentation. Is there anyone else recording them?

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  6. It always seems odd to me that new street art seems to appear mysteriously overnight, you never see the artists doing these things, however back in early May I caught Liam Bononi in the process of painting one on the side of a cafe/bar. I had quite a chat to him and took a photo of him at work (my ‘New street art in the city’ post from May 3rd) then in August I took a shot of the completed work – I’ve not got round to posting that one yet.

    To answer your question(s), I think many artists put their murals up for free, especially if on a random wall down a side street somewhere, or with permission from a property owner. Some do it in conjunction with certain charities to highlight their cause, but the more established ones like Akse, Qubek, Hammo, Liam Bononi etc seem to work on commissions although they also do free stuff if something is worth bringing to the public’s attention, like Akse’s Tom Moore mural earlier this year. The advertising murals are commissioned by big-name companies who rent the wall space from the property owner(s) for a certain length of time.

    There are several blogs with photos of various artworks, some even have directions and maps telling you where to find them but (a) they all seem to concentrate on a few more popular works and (b) the blogs are all hopelessly out of date. Admittedly it’s not easy to keep up with some of the street art as it can change so quickly – what I saw last week may not be what you see tomorrow – but these other blog writers don’t seem to have bothered updating their blogs at all. Up to now I haven’t found any other blog where the writer has photographed any of the (very often excellent and little known) artwork down the side streets and back alleys.

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