Manchester Walking Tours & Whitworth Art Gallery

I took a notion to go to Manchester and see the Cornelia Parker exhibition at the newly re-opened Whitworth Art Gallery before it closes on May 31. While I was in the city I braved the rain and hail to walk a couple of routes of the Manchester Walking Tours app.

I started with the Architecture Highlights tour – having downloaded the app at home, it was a case of zipping up my waterproof over my headphones, burying my phone in my pocket and heading out into the streets to discover and rediscover some of the key buildings of the city. The tour is trigged by GPS and takes account of your position, as you hit each location, the relevant information plays.

manchester buildings
New York Street, Manchester Art Gallery, The Free Trade Hall, Great Northern Warehouse.

Along the way I learned about buildings including the Portico Library, The Midland Hotel, The Free Trade Hall and the Beetham Tower.

After an hour of rain dodging I found a shop/ cafe on the edge of the Northern Quarter called Oklahoma, it appealed to my love of all things colourful and kitsch. If I had a shop, this is probably what it would look like!

Later I picked up the route of the Cultural Tour, which at 150 minute was considerably longer that the first one. Narrated by 6 Music DJ Mary Ann Hobbs, it takes in a wide variety of locations and was compiled by local tour guides. I explored the Northern Quarter and then found that the route crossed over with the Architecture tour. Having the GPS tracking you for over an hour absolutely kills an iPhone battery, and as I needed my phone for meeting friends later and I wanted to get to the Whitworth in time to see some art, I hopped on  bus down Oxford Road.  As the GPS locates you and triggers the tour when you reach each point of interest, I was able to miss out a section and pick up the trail further along.  This method takes a little getting used to, and is frustrating if you need your phone for anything else during your day out, but once I got used to moving about to find the exact spot that set off the commentary, the system worked. I need a pedometer-powered battery charger…

The Whitworth Gallery has reopened after an extensive refurbishment, and it is quietly impressive. The majority of the open plan space was taken up by a solo show by Cornelia Parker, the show included one of my favourite pieces, the exploded shed – Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991).

cornelia parker
Work by Cornelia Parker: War Room, The Distance: A Kiss With Added String, Cold Dark Matter, Thirty Pieces of Silver

After an impromptu night out with Manchester friends, I crashed on a sofa and returned the following day to pick up the section of the Cultural Tour that I missed. The Cultural Tour added a little more to the story of the Bridgewater Hall, where I found the intriguing  “Talking Statue” of Halle Orchestra conductor John Barbirolli voiced by Timothy West. Apparently there are more of these statues around, it’s a really good idea well carried out and I’d like to find the rest of them.

I carried on following the tour route to see the site of the original Hacienda club, the newly opened Home arts centre and then stumbled upon the headquarters of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. I don’t know much about Burgess beyond ‘A Clockwork Orange’, but this little place is home to a library, archive and a cafe- bookshop providing a little haven from the bustle of Oxford Road.  I’ll definitely have to go back to Manchester for more exploring.

manc 3
Music Pavement Northern Quarter, Beedham Tower & Bridgewater Hall, the back of the Hacienda building, Rain by Lemn Sissay – Oxford Road.

 

Glasgow Cinema City

The Regal Glasgow Cinema City

I’ve written a guest post for Walking Heads on the Glasgow Cinema City strand of the forthcoming Glasgow Film Festival.

I had great fun taking part in their Cinema City Treasure Hunt and you can still have a go with their app. Be sure to check out the exhibition at the Mitchell Library and the rest of the GFF programme.

Postcard from Nottingham

Postcard from Notts

I’ve been “Tied up in Nottz” for the past few months… here’s a postcard from “Nottingum”

Rough Trade have just opened the doors of their new record shop/ café bar on Broad Street at the heart of Hockley, and Nottingham gains another hip hang out to add to the Broadway Cinema, Lee Rosy’s Tea Shop, established record shop The Music Exchange and an ever growing selection of cafés and independent shops.

With industrial chic inside and free air for your fixie outside, Rough Trade arrives just in time for vinyl junkies and lovers of cult fiction to fill up their Christmas stockings.

Rough Trade Nottingham

Down the road, more music emanates from a street piano. A chap known as ‘Dave Keys’ knocks out some tunes under the ‘Nottingham Legends’ mural where local luminaries such as Jake Bugg and Samantha Morton are immortalised alongside literary creation Byron Clough and the legendary Su Pollard.

notts heros

The Hockley area along with the Lace Market and the redeveloped Sneinton Market is being marketed as Nottingham’s Creative Quarter – “Nottingham’s flagship project for economic growth, enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit.”

It will also soon be home to the National Videogame Arcade (opening next March) with five floors of games themed archives, exhibitions and activities to compliment the annual Game City Festival.

Meanwhile check out the array of vintage clothes shops including old favourite Wild Clothing, White Rose and Oxfam in the original Boots the Chemist building on Goose Gate and the massive Sue Ryder charity shop a couple of doors down.