Category Archives: Art

Shopping-tastic at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

As I mentioned, October is always festival month in Manchester, with loads of different events going on. My favourite is Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair because it’s full of beautifully-stunning handcrafted work for you to buy.

I think it’s because I would love to be creative and crafty, but I just don’t have the skills or the patience. So I really appreciate the craftsmanship and handwork when someone else IS crafty and arty. And I get to buy pretty things, which I also love. Jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles and homeware from designer-makers across the UK are all piled into one venue from October 20-23.

GNNCF has just won the Best Small Event at the Manchester Tourism Awards, which is very well deserved seeing as the whole event is put on by the just organisers, Ann-Marie Franey and Angela Mann, with a team of volunteers.

Now in its fourth year,  this event is taking place at Quay House at Spinningfields, instead of the marquee of the last two years.

Some of you know that I did the PR for this event for the first three years, but had to step down this year as I had my little boy in March. So this year, I’m attending purely as a fan and seeing as it’s right near my birthday I’m looking forward to spending some birthday pennies.

One of the hardest things to get across the the press and consumers is that craft doesn’t necessarily mean knitted tea cosies made by someone in their spare time (although there’s nothing wrong with making tea cosies in your spare time!). This contemporary craft is the work of professional artists and designer-makers, who dedicate their lives to perfecting their craft.

This event is perfectly placed for Christmas, and it’s lovely to buy people individual gifts made by craftspeople from all over the UK, instead of some tat from Primark.

Many of the makers return year after year as Manchester is such as good market, and there’s a lovely atmosphere. Last year the organisers also added a Graduates section to showcase the best work from all the degree shows. This is a great way of supporting new makers and is returning this year.

There’s a massive variety of work on show at this event, but I’ve just pulled out some of my favourites:

Hannah Nunn

Hannah Nunn
Hannah run Radiance Lighting in Hebden Bridge and also creates these stunning papercut lights with botanical designs. She also does gorgeous fairy lights and children’s lamps with names on them, which I have my eye on!

Lucy Elsie Harvey

Lucy Elsie Harvey

Lucy Elsie Harvey is another regular at GNCCF and her unusual and striking jewellery and pieces always make an impression on me.

Jane Dzisiewski

Jane Dsisiewski

Janes creates these beautiful resin bangles and stones for necklace pendants, with intricate and subtle designs. All of these are the result of lots of labour with the sanding machine!

Jane Blease

Jane Blease
Another lighting maker here. Jane is based in Manchester Craft and Design Centre and makes these impressive wooden lights, with cut-outs and embroidery.

Sarah Thirlwell

Sarah Thirwell

Last year, one of my favourite purchases was one of these small wooden vessels by established maker Sarah Thirwell. All of her work has a beautiful simplicity, and much of it is made using recycled materials.

Check for all the details. See you there.
Directions to Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.


Manchester’s Open City photography day

Photo by Andrew Brooks

Now this is an event which is right up my street. After spending a considerable amount of money on a beautiful Nikon I still haven’t read the instruction booklet (much to the amusement of my friends).

Manchester’s Cityco has organised an Open City photography day which gives up to 100 people the chance to be taken on a free two hour photography tour and tutorial around the city centre on Sunday, May 23.

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Spencer Tunick: Getting naked in Salford

That famous nudey artist Spencer Tunick is coming to Manchester on May 1 and 2. But no, he doesn’t get naked himself. He wants YOU the people of Manchester to whip off your togs and show some skin.

Does he not KNOW how cold it is in Manchester? Well, dear reader, I’d love to tell you I was going to take part in this piece of art history in the name of journalism. But erm, I’m busy that day. And I’m not stripping off, especially when I’ve been eating Easter Eggs all day (yes I know it’s not Easter Sunday yet.) read more »

It’s a wrap

So Christmas and New Year are over, but Peter Saville’s limited edition wrapping paper is still available to buy.  Originally designed as part of the ‘See what Manchester’s made of’ Christmas campaign, there are now only 1000 rolls left of the unique design.

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Not Part Of New Year’s Eve

not part of festival new year's eve
Not Part Of is having an alternative New Year’s Eve – on January 16! With 25 acts over seven hours, this is a a great way to liven up a dark and miserable month.

The fringe festival to Manchester’s International Festival is putting on a one day festival at the Dancehouse Theatre with comics, hip hops acts, a choir, poets dance and theatre.

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Buy Art Fair back in Manchester


Buy art! Yes, that’s a command as well as an event. The Buy Art Fair premiered last year in the uber-cool surroundings of Urbis, memorably with my favourite tipple, Tuaca, providing welcome cocktails.

And now it’s back for a second year and I’ve just signed up and registered. The three day event runs from Thursday, September 24 (preview evening) to Sunday, September 27 and showcases the work of more than 300 artists, presented by 75 selected galleries.

Partners this year include the Castelfield Gallery, the Northern Quarter’s amazing Craft and Design Centre and the Chinese Arts Centre and Cornerhouse, among others.

In addition to this year’s event is the first presentation of The Manchester Contemporary, a new platform within the fair, featuring 15 leading cutting edge galleries from across the UK.

And even better, if you register now online you will get free tickets, which otherwise would be £5 on the door. Get in there quick – it’s good.

Cornerhouse: loving the pizzas


Cornerhouse -
where to start eh? I luckily used to work right near this centre of
arty-cultural goodness so its delights were ready available. But last week
I met an old work colleague for some Cornerhouse pizza action, and I
realised how much I missed it.

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East 1-10: a retrospective

Pat allwoodPat Allwood, from East 4

East Manchester is an area that has seen dramatic changes from Ancoats being the first industrial suburb in the late 18th century onwards to the decline of the whole area in the 1930s as industry dried up, leaving it a no-go zone for many. As a Manchester journalist I’ve always been fascinated by the rich history of this area and have always followed the work of New East Manchester, which was set up in 1999 to develop and regenerate the area.

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Urbis Creatives launched

Urbis creatives manchester

Did you know staff at Urbis were such a creative bunch? No, I didn’t either, but a new website has just been launched to showcase the collective creativity of Urbis staff in their outside-work projects.

Encouraging creativity and out-of-work interests is a fantastic idea, and of course it promotes Urbis itself because it is supposed to be a forward-thinking hub of creativity and new thinking.

Have a look at the website, which was launched last night with a party (which I wasn’t at but it sounds great). The evening showcased the varied creative talents with original artwork as well as live music, DJ sets and burlesque.

The site tells you a bit about each staff member and their outside talents, which include a freelance community musician, film installation, photography, and of course art.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other work and ideas come from this collective in the future.

E: urbiscreatives at

(Image take from the Urbis website)