The Manchester Weekender is a day of two halves on Saturday 12 October: explore music, art and science along the Corridor, then join us as we do Guernica, protest art, cycling and sewing in Salford.
Saturday on the Corridor
We’ve always had a thing for Oxford Road. Now known as the Corridor, this is the smart part of the city: it connects the centre to the southern suburbs, taking in universities, galleries, research labs and medical facilities, theatres, cinemas and a whole lot of history along the way. It was here that Rutherford split the atom, for example, and here that the world’s first programmable computer was coaxed into whirring life. More recently, it was here that graphene was discovered, and today it’s home to some of Manchester’s epic Victorian collections: Manchester Museum hosts over four million natural history objects alone.
The Museum has been scrubbed up of late, its most recent restoration being Nature’s Library (10am-5pm, free), a Grade II-listed gallery where taxidermy and fossils rein supreme. The Corridor, meanwhile, has long been a place where art and science meet, as Two Cultures, One Corridor testifies (10am-11.30am, £6). This guided walk describes historical greats such as Walter Crane, LS Lowry and Alan Turing, along with present-day workers continuing to make art/science history. Itching to get creative? Try Pixels versus Pencils, two workshops that go head to head in a battle of analogue versus digital. Len Grant leads the photographic charge with a session (10am-4pm, £20) that gets snappers capturing Oxford Road. Sketchers do the same, with artist Simone Ridyard and the Manchester Urban Sketchers’ workshop (2pm-5pm, £5) capturing the goings-on in Spinningfields.
Much of Oxford Road’s campus is post-war, optimistically built during the “white heat of technology”. Discover the concrete dreams of the post-war city via What is a City but the People? (walk 10am; film 12.30pm, from £3). Here, Manchester Modernist Society leads a guided walk, while the North West Film Archive screens a 1947 documentary that reveals a fascinating picture of the Manchester of sixty years ago. Old school too is The Radical Pop-Up Print Shop (11am-5pm, free), which gives away 1,000 pieces of handmade print created especially for the Weekender. Posters, prints, chapbooks and ‘zines: it’s all there to play for (but not to pay for). Man-made or Hand-made (11am & 2pm, free) also describes the objects on display at MMU Special Collections; this small museum hosts product design show, The Language of Process, and today gives you a chance to handle the work of designers such as Tom Dixon.
MMU Special Collections sits on one side of the grassy Grosvenor Square. Opposite, the 175 year-old Manchester School of Art hosts The Un-Convention Manchester Weekender (11.30am-6pm, free). This remarkable event aims to record, produce and manufacture an album with 200 individual record sleeves – in just one day. The process takes place in front of a live audience, and features industry panels and live music alongside the album production itself. And it’s free. Further along the Corridor, the equally innovative Contact stages RashDash, a sinister and sensuous cabaret that uncovers the real story of Cinderella.
Hungry? Try the Deaf Institute for filling pub-style grub, or be more ambitious with the Corridor & Southern Quarter Taster tour (11.30am-2.30pm, £30), a guided walk that takes you through local history via ten small, signature dishes in the area’s best eateries. Or book a musical tour as Hey! Manchester Presents a Promenade Tour (2.30pm, £5). Here, a small group of fans traverse Whitworth Street West taking in pop-up, live sets from a range of bands – in some unusual locations. The tour starts at Cornerhouse; stay here for more eats and art (gallery open until 8pm) or take advantage of your proximity to good times by trying out the Deaf Institute (create your own playlist via #tweetmybeat, 5pm-10pm, free, or see Landshapes, 7pm, £6), Gorilla, or pub-in-a-WC, the Temple.
Saturday in Salford
Our alternative afternoon takes in protest banners, knitting, Picasso and pubs. Let’s start with Battles with Banners at Manchester Art Gallery (11am-12.30pm, free), where Ed Hall discusses an unlikely career, one that went from office to art and includes new work in Jeremy Deller’s exhibition, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. Protest art of a different kind is at the Working Class Movement Library; here, activists re-make Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece, Guernica, by gently sewing its image onto a huge banner. In Darn that Picasso (2pm-5pm, free), add your sewing skills or drop in for a chat. To help you get there, tour guide Suzanne Hindle leads a walk from the People’s History Museum (1pm, free), weaving tales of local creativity and activism along the way – and following a bespoke trail knitted by the King’s Arms Knitters.
Talking of which, the walk back could happily form a pub crawl. The WCML is close to The Crescent (so called because it’s, er, on the Crescent), or make a detour to Bloom Street to the King’s Arms, an art pub that you may recognize from Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. En route you could also swing by the ever-excellent Islington Mill. Alongside the hand-pulled ales and jukebox, the arts organisation currently stages Plan For A Ruin, a group exhibition featuring large-scale sculptural installations and sci-fi inspired mixed media pieces. Pop by in the afternoon to take part in One69a’s t-shirt printing workshop. Further along Chapel Street (look out for street art by Jenny Wu) and past the Sacred Trinity, is the Black Lion, a self-proclaimed counterculture pub, much of whose veg is supplied by the Biospheric Project and home to community theatre space, Chapel Street Theatre. You’re now close to Greengate Square, which hosts a Pedal Powered Cinema (7pm, free), where ten hardworking cyclists power an en plein air cinematic experience. Lycra and yellow jerseys optional.