Category Archives: Cultural events

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.


Get wordy with Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester Literature Festival has some really great events this year, and I’m gutted that I’ve been too busy to get to any of them yet. The city has an incredibly rich history of writing and literature, including A Clockwork Orange writer Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Gaskell, Janette Winterson and one of my favourites, Withington-based writer Melvin Burgess.

We’re smack-bang right in the middle of this year’s event, which runs from Thursday, October 15 to Sunday, October 25. The MLF team have done good this year, with an impressive line-up of celebrated authors and writers including Martin Amis, Simon Armitage, Kate Atkinson, Joan Bakewell, Eoin Colfer, Marilyn Hacker, Val McDermid, Jimmy McGovern and Fay Weldon.

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Angels With Manky Faces, Library Theatre Manchester

UPDATE…I’ve just heard the play is being performed again which is great news for anyone who missed it first time round because it was sold out. Angels With Manky Faces will be performed at the Dancehouse on Friday, November 6 at 8pm and Sunday, November 8 at 3pm and 7pm. Tickets are £10 (£9 concs).

Dancehouse Theatre, Oxford Road.
T: 0161 237 9753
W: Dancehouse Theatre

Inspired by the book Gangs of Manchester, the play Angels With Manky Faces is about the gangs – or scuttlers – that roamed the streets in the ninteenth century. But more importantly, the book and the play both remind us that binge drinking, casual sex, gang warfare and
street crime are far from being modern phenomena.

I bought the book, Gangs of Manchester, which was written by historian Andrew Davies, before I went to the play and it was fascinating. And it makes you realise that when people hark back to the good old days, they certainly weren’t these times. Manchester during the Industrial Revolution times sounds downright scary – and however much I say I’m skint, my standard of living is just pure luxury compared how the factory workers used to live.

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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.

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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Cutting Room activities launched

Cutting Room art low res
The next phase of the innovative event Cutting Room Experiment has now been announced, with the winning ideas and schedule going up on the website last week. I was really excited to find out which activities were going to go ahead, and in the end there were 103 ideas generated and 1,166 people counted in for activities.

This is such a unique concept, and it’s been fantastic to see the message being passed around the web on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. I’ve been tweeting about this event under @cuttingroomexp and it’s really cool to see people talking about an event you’re involved in.

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The Best of Manchester Awards are upon us again

Bestof Manchester
Do you want to be crowned Best of Manchester? I love that title, what an accolade. To be the king or queen of Manchester, you have to do something worthy in the categories of art, music or fashion. Now, I have already put forward the suggestion that these awards are re-named the Manchester Is Ace Awards, so I’m just waiting to hear if that will go ahead (ahem).

Organised by Urbis, the Best Of Manchester awards launched in 2007 and do a marvellous job in rewarding creativity and innovation in this great city of ours. And there are now just 10 weeks to drum up as many applicants as possible.
Manchester has always been noted for creativity in its people, so it’s important to encourage and develop this as much as we can.

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