My original intention on Sunday was to head to the coast but a look at the webcam for where I wanted to go showed dull skies with lots of grey cloud so I decided to go to Manchester instead even though it’s only a little over a month since I was last there. Now the first train from my nearest station to Manchester Victoria is usually so empty on Sunday mornings that I can almost pick my own carriage but this time it was heaving and I only just managed to get a seat. Speaking to the woman sitting next to me it transpired that the Great Manchester Run was taking place and the city centre would be awash with thousands of runners and spectators, although I didn’t think they would be frequenting the side streets and back alleys I would be wandering round.
Sunday was also the 5th anniversary of the arena bombing when 22 people tragically lost their lives after an Ariana Grande concert and the usual corner of the station concourse contained recently placed photos, poems, cuddly toys and flowers, while festooned along the nearby railings were hundreds of hand crafted hearts made by people from all over the UK and as far afield as New York and Australia as gifts for anyone who wanted to take one or two.
The #AHEART4MCR group/campaign was set up in the days following the terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena on May 22nd 2017. Crafters from all over the globe came together to show their love and support for the city by making handmade hearts, with the group receiving a total of 26,435 which were then distributed throughout the city, handed to members of the public and sent on to the victims’ families. The campaign is run every year and strings of hearts are distributed in various places around the city centre on May 22nd. Each heart has a small ticket attached with the name of the person who made it and where it came from – of the two I selected the dark blue one came from Mary Jane Lennox in Hamilton, Scotland and the light blue one came from Vanessa in Stockport.
Now although I don’t normally photograph advertisements the first mural I found was so colourful I just had to include it in this collection. Round the corner from this one was a huge mural of Marcus Rashford, whoever he is, advertising something on a double gable end wall; now I don’t know what the guy himself looks like but this mural was seriously ugly so it was one I definitely didn’t photograph.
Round in Thomas Street the wooden hoardings surrounding a derelict plot of land had been given a makeover with a very colourful mural which stretched almost the full length of them and really brightened up that part of the street.
Unsurprisingly, as it was only just over a month since my last walk round the NQ, I didn’t find much new stuff but wandering round had occupied my time for a while and with no wish to go anywhere in the city where I might encounter hoards of people I made my way back to Victoria station and got the next train home, arriving back just over three hours after I set out.
After several cold, rainy and windy days the weather over the recent weekend turned out to be glorious and as I’d recently got wind of some new street art in the city’s Northern Quarter I took an early train on Saturday to go in search of it. Stevenson Square was looking very bright in the morning sunshine and though some of the artwork hadn’t changed from when I was there in January I saw that the previous parade of dogs had gone from the back wall of the old toilet block and had been replaced with a colourful geometric pattern.
Down in Thomas Street the hoardings surrounding a vacant plot of land had some new artwork; I don’t know what the first one was supposed to be but it was quite amusing. The second one looked like one big mess of paint at first but viewed from across the street it did look marginally better and I quite liked it, though it was hard to make out the name of the artist. I was also surprised to see that the pre-Christmas spaced-out chihuahua was still on a Hilton Street shop shutter and this time there were no barriers in front of it so I was able to get a shot of the whole thing.
Deserting the NQ for a while I made my way to a section of the Rochdale Canal to find some street art painted on the ground by artist Vanessa Scott. Part of the Rochdale Canal art trail which runs from Castlefield to Canal Street, the artwork is ‘inspired by the diverse wildlife and waterway plants and wildflowers found along the canal’, though unfortunately quite a large section of it was in the shade.
Heading back to the NQ I took a quick detour down a side road and found something which was so colourful I almost felt like I was somewhere in the Caribbean. The last time I’d seen this place, about two years ago, it was a cocktail bar owned by some z-list ‘celebrity’ from The Real Housewives Of Cheshire reality tv series (not something I ever watched) and it was decked out in pink, pink, and even more pink, but it now seems to have had a change of ownership and was undergoing a transformation.
While I was taking photos from the outside I noticed a maintenance man working inside and when he saw me struggling to take a photo with the camera through the railings he said he would unlock the gate so I could go in and get as many photos as I wanted; that was certainly an unexpected privilege and an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss. He went back to his work and left me to wander wherever I wanted although as the place was still undergoing work I could really only photograph the wall art, which was what I was originally trying to do. I didn’t get his name but he was a nice guy and it was really good of him to let me in to get my photos.
Back in the NQ I got my last two shots on the corner of Tib Street and Thomas Street. The kingfisher was done by Brezaux, an artist I hadn’t previously heard of, and though I couldn’t make out the artist’s name on the other artwork the vibrant swirls certainly made it stand out.
Although I didn’t see as many new artworks as I’ve seen on previous occasions I was more than happy with the ones I did find. Being allowed access to a new venue in the making was a great bonus too, and looking at the photos I think overall this must be my most colourful collection to date.
Eight weeks after my last daytime wander round Manchester’s Northern Quarter, two days ago I made my first visit of this year to see what was new in the world of street art. Initially following my usual well-trodden route from Victoria Station my first stop was Salmon Street but the three walls often used for advertising had all been painted white or plain grey, obviously waiting for some new artwork. In Edge Street the picture of a real fox in the window of Yard & Coop chicken restaurant had been replaced by a cartoon-type fox, then round in Thomas Street the hoardings surrounding a vacant plot of land had some new funky artwork and an excellent portrait by an artist I haven’t come across in Manchester before.
The hoardings on the other side of the vacant plot had some new stuff with one mural obviously being left over from Christmas, and in a corner I found a shutter with some cleverly done artwork looking like different layers of paper which had been partially torn off. Just off Stevenson Square was a business premises with some funky window decorations (in truth they’ve been there quite a while, I just haven’t photographed them before now) and round the corner I found one of Liam Bononi’s distinctive artworks which I know is definitely new. Unfortunately the bottom of it was marred by a pile of very full bin bags but I managed to get most of it in the shot.
In spite of the dull morning Stevenson Square was looking very colourful with its recent makeover. The Christmas-themed artworks had been replaced with funky patterns and bright colours though I was glad to see that the procession of cute dogs, with a change of background, was still running along the wall of the old public toilet block in the centre of the square.
Away from the square my feet took me through the streets towards the canal and I ended up at the far side of Piccadilly Basin where I came across an artwork I wouldn’t otherwise have found. Property investor TCS, owners of several office and residential developments around the basin, commissioned the artwork last year to enhance the up-and-coming area and it was created by four well known Manchester artists including Qubek and Tank Petrol. Inspired by the flora and fauna around the Rochdale Canal the four artists were given an open brief to use their own creative flair and the mural was completed in four days.
Back in the NQ proper I continued my wander and down a narrow back alley I discovered two exotic looking young ladies, one either side of a shuttered up narrow doorway. They had obviously been there for some time but they were still good enough to take a photo of. On the side wall of a hot dog shack and bar was a hot dog with big boots and a toothy grin and across the street a rather ambiguous design on a shutter. I couldn’t make out what it was supposed to be but I liked it as it’s red, my favourite colour.
Finally, the main reason for my visit to Manchester. Before Christmas I’d found out that Qubek had put a Christmas-themed artwork on a shutter in Hilton Street; it looked so cute I just had to get a photo of it but up to now haven’t had the opportunity so I was just hoping that it hadn’t been painted over. I was in luck, it was still there, but unfortunately workmen had put some barriers in front of it so I couldn’t get the full shot, however one of the workmen was nearby so I asked very nicely and he moved a couple of the barriers to one side momentarily so I could get an uninterrupted shot of the main part of it.
According to the artist it’s a chihuahua ”spaced out on tequila and magic mushrooms taking itself for a walk through time and space”. It’s a shame I couldn’t get the whole artwork in one shot and it probably won’t be there when I go to Manchester again, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it is and there are no barriers in front of it to spoil the shot.
During the week of the Manchester Flower Show back in early June, when I spent two days trekking round the city looking for various floral displays and installations, I also photographed a lot of street art which, for one reason or another, has so far not made it onto the blog. Looking through my file of street art photos the other day I realised just how many haven’t yet seen the light of day so here’s the batch taken in various random locations around the city centre in June.
The artist of the next mural is an illustration lecturer with a focus on painting everyday people, friends and family or those he meets while painting in the streets. I’d never heard of him before and I have no idea why his work in the Arndale Centre was cordoned off but unfortunately it meant that I couldn’t get a decent straight shot of it. The following five were all roadside hoardings round a new development of apartments and penthouses being constructed not far from Angel Meadow park.
The Brazilian Waxing Company on Oxford Street seemed a bit of a quirky place. It was a double-fronted shop with the exterior flowery decor continuing inside and in the right hand window four pairs of gold coloured legs were hanging down from the ceiling but there were too many reflections in the glass for me to get a decent shot of the whole window.
The next mural was actually inside a shop and though I would have preferred to see it without the shadow from the internal window shutter I thought the pattern gave it quite an unusual appearance. The final artwork in this batch is Liam Bononi’s ”Inferno” – I’d been lucky enough to see him at work and chat to him while he was creating it a few weeks earlier so it was nice to finally see the finished piece.
Well this has just about brought my June street art photos up to date. I have several from August which haven’t yet seen the light of day but I’m thinking that the next couple of blog posts should have more of a festive theme. That all depends on the weather though – fingers crossed this continual rain will clear up soon and give me a couple of dry days to carry out my plan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another day in Manchester over the weekend and this time I was on the Looney Tunes art trail. Now to be honest until last week I’d never heard of Space Jam and hadn’t a clue what it was supposed to be but apparently it was the first full-length film produced by Warner Brothers featuring a combination of human actors and well known Looney Tunes cartoon characters.
To celebrate 25 years since its 1996 release, and ahead of the new Space Jam film coming to cinema screens next month, several Looney Tunes characters have been painted in different locations around the city by street artist Captain Kris in collaboration with Warner Bros. UK and Manchester Business Improvement District, and for those with smart phones each piece of art includes a QR code (whatever that is) leading to a virtual map of the trail.
Now, I don’t have a smart phone and nor do I want one, so I had the fun of seeking out these artworks for myself. Armed with a list of characters and locations and the street knowledge gained from many hours spent roaming round the city centre over the last few months I set off from Victoria Station with my first stop being inside the Printworks where I found Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian, and Daffy Duck.
Next on the list was Daffy Duck at the nearby Exchange Square tram stop but I wasn’t sure if he would actually be there. The art trail only officially opened last Wednesday but a report in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday said that Daffy had already vanished – apparently he had been mistakenly removed by a council cleaning team. Luckily the artist had reinstated him fairly quickly and there he was, on one of the platform’s central pillars.
Round at the top end of Market Street I found Bugs Bunny popping out through the front wall of Primark then over in the NQ I found Marvin the Martian and Lola Bunny on the front of a pizza restaurant in Edge Street. A short walk through the streets took me to the Pen And Pencil bar where Porky Pig was doing battle with a leaking pipe on the outside wall then I found Sylvester stalking Tweety Pie round the corner of 111 Piccadilly.
Next on the list was another Bugs Bunny in Canal Street then a walk to Circle Square found Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner round Symphony Park. A short walk from there took me to First Street where I found the Tasmanian Devil bursting out through the wall of Junkyard Golf then another short walk found the Looney Tunes gang skateboarding through Deansgate Square.
After another visit to Castlefield across the main road (more of that in a future post) I had quite a trek along Deansgate to look for Speedy Gonzales somewhere in Spinningfields. He took some finding as Spinningfields is a big area – 23 acres apparently – and just like the website details for the flower installation at Deansgate Square earlier this month the location details for finding Speedy bore no relation to where he actually was. Thanks to a patrolling security guy who knew what I was talking about I finally found him sliding down the rail at the top of some steps and I got my last Looney Tunes photo – that was it, I’d found them all.
According to the website the Looney Tunes art trail actually started with Speedy Gonzales and finished with the characters in the Printworks so technically I’d done it the wrong way round but it didn’t matter in the slightest; I’d been to all eleven locations and happily I’d found all the characters. Making my way back to Victoria Station I popped into a cafe in the Royal Exchange Arcade for a coffee and a snack then stopped off in the Corn Exchange for a quick bit of photography there before catching the train back home – after almost five hours walking round the city centre it was definitely time for a rest.
With the weather not being good enough for me to do what I had planned over the weekend my Monday walk this time catches up with some street art photographed three weeks ago when my wanderings round Manchester took me away from the Northern Quarter for a while. On someone else’s blog I’d recently seen a photo of a ‘green lady’ artwork located in the vicinity of the Great Northern shopping/entertainment complex and though it was a fair walk from the NQ it seemed to be worth looking for.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find the green lady anywhere in spite of walking round the area more than once so I came to the conclusion that the photo I’d seen had been taken some time ago and the artwork had since vanished. I did however find a leafy mural at the entrance to a currently closed restaurant and some street art under a railway bridge, then as I made my way back to the NQ I found Spiderman on the windows of a corner building.
Back in the NQ I was passing though Stevenson Square on the way to Ancoats when I saw something on the side of a bus shelter. As an advert it wasn’t really street art but it was amusing enough to take a photo – although having found out what it actually is I certainly don’t fancy drinking the stuff – then tucked in a corner down a narrow side street I found a colourful hotch-potch of all sorts which had obviously been there for quite a while.
Ancoats isn’t really known for its street art as it has very little compared to the NQ but one thing I did want to find was a big colourful bird known as the Guardian of Ancoats. Featured on several blogs and websites as a ‘must see’ it was supposed to be situated just one street behind the main road separating Ancoats from the NQ but it proved to be just as elusive as the earlier green lady so presumably it had been painted over some time ago.
Encouraged by finding a couple of Qubek’s bees on the wall of the Manchester Creative Studio and some colourful shutters nearby I decided to explore a few more streets in the vicinity and was quite surprised when I found far more street art than I expected.
In Bengal Street a new multi-storey building was being constructed on a large corner plot and two sides at ground level were surrounded by hoardings covered in brightly painted street art. They were certainly a good way of brightening up a construction site and well worth getting a few shots.
Across the main road in Addington Street I found a lovely paste-up on the side of an old disused building then back in the NQ I discovered a shutter and another piece of artwork down a narrow alleyway which I’d somehow missed on my previous wanderings.
Back on Thomas Street I took the final four photos of the day (featured in a previous post) then made my way back to the station. Four hours of constant walking round the city’s streets were enough for one day, it was time to go home, make a brew and a late lunch, then relax for an hour or so.
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.
For someone who doesn’t ‘do’ cities I don’t seem to have been able to stay away from Manchester just recently. Less than two weeks since my last visit, and only a few days ago in some cases, I found out about some new street art in the Northern Quarter, so an early start yesterday morning saw me in the city for 9am on a mission with the camera.
My first port of call was the section of Thomas Street which was in the process of being pedestrianised when I was there two weeks ago, and without all the barriers which had previously been in place I was able to get several uninterrupted photos. In an alleyway just off the street was a large artwork stretching along two walls of a corner building and only completed last Friday, and though there was nothing to say who the artist was I’ve been informed since then that it was done by otto_schade.
A bit further up Thomas Street was Cane & Grain, a New York style cocktail bar; two weeks ago the frontage was surrounded by scaffolding so I could only get partial shots of the shutters but now with its makeover complete and the scaffolding gone I could photograph the whole building.
The old Tib Street/Thomas Street substation had gained two new artworks to accompany the recent Tom Moore mural, and a few yards further along was a newly painted wall which I assumed had been commissioned by the Northern Soul Grilled Cheese place just across the street.
At the junction of Thomas Street and Hilton Street the shutter of Fresh Bites takeaway had undergone a makeover by Qubek while round the corner on Oldham Street another couple of shutters had new words painted on them. Up the road the lower part of Stevenson Square had been blocked off to traffic and had new artwork in several places; even the bollards, metal barriers and the lower parts of some of the lamp posts had been painted in wacky designs and bright colours.
Most of the new artwork seemed to be concentrated in just a couple of small areas so once I’d found as much as I could I went walkabout round the side streets and alleyways to see what else I could find. Some of the alleyways were the type of places most people wouldn’t dream of going down but then you never know what you might miss if you don’t, and I actually did find a few things which I hadn’t seen before.
My wanderings had actually taken me away from the NQ for a while until I’d come full circle and ended up back on Thomas Street. That was where I took the last four shots of artwork on a series of hoardings surrounding a patch of disused land then I made my way back to the station for the train home; after four hours of constant walking it was time to relax for a while.
A very quiet Easter Sunday morning and once again I was roaming round Manchester’s Northern Quarter with two things in mind. I’d recently seen an Instagram video clip of a new artwork in the process of being painted and I wanted to see it while it was new, plus it would probably be my last chance to photograph some more shutters before various shops started opening up again.
Coming out of Victoria Station I knew roughly where I was heading and at the very bottom of Thomas Street I found three shutters together, though it seemed like the artist of the first one was having a bit of an identity crisis.
Further up Thomas Street I found more than half a dozen brightly painted shutters but photographing them properly was difficult – that section of the street was in the process of being pedestrianised and barriers along both sides were obstructing the full view of most of the shutters.
Further on still and I came to one of the reasons for going back to the NQ, and though it’s not a shutter it’s so well done and so new I think it deserves a place in this post. On the side wall of the Tib Street/Thomas Street substation, where only three weeks previously I photographed an orangutan, was Akse’s latest artwork – it was only completed the day before Good Friday and definitely needs no introduction or description.
Round a few of the nearby side streets, a couple of which I’d somehow missed on my previous visit, I found several more shutters, then on Oldham Street and Newton Street I was able to photograph a few on shops which had been open on my last visit but were now closed for Easter.
In Stevenson Square I found a new artwork in the process of being painted, and though it wasn’t finished it still looked good enough for me to take a shot for a future post. From there I headed down to Church Street and with another five shots taken at the bottom end I’d just about photographed all the shutters which I thought were photo-worthy so I made my way back to Victoria Station.
There’s just one more photo to include in this post and that’s the final one which I snapped on the way to the station on my previous visit to Manchester. Rather more than an actual shutter it was very colourful and it covered almost the whole frontage of an unoccupied retail unit at the rear of the Printworks building.
On my wanderings round the NQ yesterday I saw two large double gable end walls which have recently been repainted in plain colours, presumably ready for the next murals; it will be interesting to see what eventually gets painted on them so it won’t be long before I make another visit. And for someone who doesn’t ‘do’ cities I’m becoming quite familiar with Manchester’s Northern Quarter!