Boutique Weekender: February 2012

Creative Tourist

Creative Tourist Boutique Weekender: a one-off weekend of specially-selected events for your delight and delectation 

It’s February. It’s raining. Christmas was a long time hence; spring is a long time coming. Cheer yourself up this February with a pick n’ mix itinerary of fresh art, music, dance and fashion – all wrapped up into a single weekend in Manchester. Here’s what we have in store.

Thursday 23 February – after work. Your weekend begins early with a live performance by the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey. The art/music/video artist has form when it comes to Manchester – his just-launched exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery in part draws on his fascination with the city’s early 1990s underground rave scene. The exhibition features BigBoxIndustrialAction, commissioned especially for this Manchester show, a giant soundsystem meets three-tonne relic from the Industrial Revolution. On Thursday Leckey gives one of a series of live performances. Expect immense sounds (not quite enough to shake the gallery’s paintings onto the floor, but not far off – staff did have to check first to make sure), but don’t be put off by the ‘performance art’ label. As curator Matthew Higgs once said of Leckey’s work, it’s not pretentious; instead it possesses ‘a strange, non-art-like quality, operating, as it does, on the knife’s edge where art and life meet’. 6.30pm, Manchester Art Gallery.

Thursday 23 February – after hours. Continue the live performance vibe with an effervescent pop gig at the Deaf Institute courtesy of London four-piece Allo Darlin’. The Deaf Institute is one of our favourite music and event venues – its listed interior perked up by glitter balls and kooky interiors. Allo Darlin’, meanwhile, is the band that can turn a room full of musos into a joyous, jumping, pop mosh pit, or can spark hushed awe with a love song about cooking. They are BBC 6 Music darlings, have sold out tours across the UK – and this weekend bring their perfect, sophisticated pop to Manchester. With support from This Many Boyfriends and Standard Fare.7.30pm, The Deaf Institute.

Friday 24 February –after work. Friday takes a more considered turn thanks to an ethical event at the Whitworth. The Gallery’s latest exhibition, COTTON: Global Threads takes a look at how we produce and consume that most ubiquitous of fabrics, taking in everything from contemporary art to cotton’s seamier side. And it is just this dark side of cotton that Observer columnist Lucy Siegle wants to talk to you about. Lucy has written a book on ‘fast fashion’ and in her talk tonight provides that rarest of opportunities: the chance to find out how you can dress ethically without swathing yourself head-to-foot in hemp. 6.30pm, The Whitworth.

Friday 24 February – after hours. Let off steam later at favourite Manchester haunt, Big Hands (Oxford Road), or try the legendary dance-pop, nu-disco, electro night Clique in its new off-Oxford-Road home (Deaf Institute, 10pm-3am) – check out the Club Clique mixes on Soundcloud to get yourself in the mood. If all that sounds too strenuous, head instead to Cornerhouse at the other end of Oxford Road. Its galleries are open until 8pm (for the first major UK show by up-and-coming artist Samantha Donnelly), and its café-bar never fails to please.

FOOD & DRINK OFFER: The Deaf Institute is offering Creative Tourist readers 2-for-1 on burgers and buy 2 glasses-get-the-rest-of-the-bottle-free on all wines served between 5pm-10pm on Friday 24th Feb. Just say ‘Creative Tourist’ when you order to pick up your offers.

Saturday 25 February – after breakfast. Today is all about the art. First, get contemplative with a new work by Idris Khan at the Whitworth. The gallery continues its run of thought-provoking contemporary art shows with this, an installation called The Devil’s Wall. A mesmerising mix of colour, pattern, text, drawing and sculpture, The Devil’s Wall is Khan’s meditation on his own Islamic beliefs – more specifically, one aspect of the Hajj ritual (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) where pilgrims look inwards in order to bring themselves closer to the divine. Although The Devil’s Wall is a pilgrimage of self-discovery, expect to find yourself moved. 10am-5pm, The Whitworth.

BREAKFAST OFFER: The Deaf Institute is offering Creative Tourist readers 2-for-1 on all breakfasts served between 10am-12pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th Feb. Just say ‘Creative Tourist’ when you order to pick up your offers.

Saturday 25 February – after lunch. To mark the opening of its COTTON exhibition, the Whitworth hosts a one-off dance performance, Walking the Warp. The strangely meditative performance mimics the process of making fabric; the weft and weave required to turn thread into woven cloth. In it, a group of young dancers (from The Lowry), choreographed by the artists Anne Wilson and Bridget Fiske perform over the course of the afternoon. Their ‘dance’ will be filmed and shown in the COTTON exhibition alongside similar performances that took place in Chicago and Houston. 1pm-5pm (drop-in), The Whitworth.

Saturday 25 February – afternoon. If the sumptuous textiles at the Whitworth whet your appetite for fashion, take a break in town with the new solo exhibition by Chen Man at the Chinese Arts Centre. This is Chen Man’s UK debut, and it’s a chance to see work by one of China’s best known fashion photographers. Her hyper-real, heavily manipulated snaps – a mix of sci-fi, street culture, pop and traditional Chinese culture – have featured in Elle and Vogue, while her clients include Adidas, Nike and Motorola.10am-5pm, Chinese Arts Centre.

Saturday 25 February – after hours. An offbeat evening of art, history, culture and live music that marks both the opening of the Whitworth’s latest show, COTTON: Global Threads and the start of the Manchester Histories Festival. With both gallery and bar open late, previous after-hours events have proven rather lovely – a winning combination of late-night art, drinks and sociability in one of Manchester’s most beautiful art spaces. 7.30pm-10.30pm, The Whitworth, free.


Thursday 23 February

6pm-8pm- Mark Leckey: audio art performance from this Turner Prize winner at Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street. Free. (Exhibition Work & Leisure runs 17 February-18 March 2012; performances also on 1 & 8 March. Note all performances 30 minutes long; pay bar in the Gallery until 8pm)

7.30pm – Allo Darlin’: effervescent pop from this London four-piece at the Deaf Institute, Grosvenor Street. £7.50 advance. Tickets are available from the Deaf Institute, Common (both no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange,, and on 0871 220 0260.

Friday 24 February

6.30pm – Lucy Siegle: insight into the underbelly of fashion and lessons in ethical living at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Road. Free, but booking essential on 

Midday-8pm– Samantha Donnelly: Contour States: first major UK show by this up-and-coming artist at Cornerhouse, Oxford Road (free, note galleries close at 8pm, café open until Midnight. Exhibition runs 28 January-25 March 2012).  Or try Big Hands, Oxford Road. Free.

10pm-3am – Club Clique: Manchester’s ‘club night of the year’ offers hands-in-the-air dancing at the Deaf Institute, Grosvenor Street.

Saturday 25 February

10am-5pm – The Devil’s Wall: mesmerising art with an Islamic take at the Whitworth, Oxford Road. Free. (Exhibition runs 24 February-13 May 2012.)

10am-5pm – COTTON: Global Threads: contemporary art, history and textiles all rolled into this take on a ubiquitous fabric at the Whitworth, as above. Free. (Exhibition runs 11 February-13 May 2012.)

10am-5pm – Chen Man: hyper-real fashion photography that mixes Chinese tradition with pop culture at the Chinese Arts Centre, Thomas Street, Northern Quarter. Free. (Exhibition runs 10 February-7 April 2012.)

1pm-5pm – Walking the Warp: artistic take on the traditions of the textiles industry at the Whitworth, as above. Free.

7.30pm-10.30pm – After Hours: off-beat art and music social to mark the opening of the Manchester Histories Festival at the Whitworth, as above. Free.

FOOD & DRINK OFFER: The Deaf Institute is offering Creative Tourist readers 2-for-1 on burgers and buy 2 glasses-get-the-rest-of-the-bottle-free on all wines served between 5pm-10pm on Friday 24th Feb. Just say ‘Creative Tourist’ when you order to pick up your offers.

BREAKFAST OFFER: The Deaf Institute is offering Creative Tourist readers 2-for-1 on all breakfasts served between 10am-12pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th Feb. Just say ‘Creative Tourist’ when you order to pick up your offers.

Images (top to bottom): Samantha Donnelly, Contour States; Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore 1999, Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London, Photograph: Mark Blower, © 2011 Mark Leckey; Allo Darlin’; Lucy Siegle; Idris Khan, The Devil’s Wall 2011, Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York; Anne Wilson, Local  Industry Cloth, 2010; Chen Man, Chinese Arts Centre; Samantha Donnelly, as above; Grace Ndiritu, Still Life, courtesy the artist. 

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