Twelve by Melanie Manchot at Castlefield Gallery: Review

Megan Walsh

How do you capture addiction – and its impact – on film? Artist Melanie Manchot provides a mesmerising insight.

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition, Twelve, intimately explores the stories, repetitions and ruptures of lives lived with addiction. For two years, artist Melanie Manchot worked with twelve people in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London; the result is a series of multi-channel video installations inspired by their personal experiences.

Haunting and sometimes difficult to watch, Twelve is a true depiction of the fragility of addiction and the turbulent road to recovery. One woman’s heart-rending letter to alcohol leaves a lasting impression, as she tells of how her “best friend”, for whom she still aches for, slowly turned into her “worst enemy”. The personification of her dependency helps to encapsulate how demanding, manipulative and life-ruining addiction is by nature.

Manchot worked with twelve people in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London

There are sequences shot in continuous takes, like the footage of a pair of hands frantically scrubbing a single kitchen tile, which offer an unswerving eye on the process of recovery. If you don’t know your Austrian movie scenes, though, there’s a good chance you’re going to be left feeling somewhat bemused.

If you’re familiar with Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent, for instance, you’ll recognise the carwash scene mimicked in Manchot’s final installation. The characters in the original are disengaged with society; they have forgotten how to feel, how to love and how to care; there’s a similar implication here, with the carwash sequence drawing attention to the isolation and alienation the Manchot’s subjects face. But if – like us – you’ve never heard of the film, the chances are you’ll be left wondering what two men in a carwash have to do with addiction and recovery.

If anything, you could say Twelve lacks a certain sort of closure; in the end, there was a strong feeling of bafflement at the fragmented scenes. And yet it is powerful, playing on your mind long after you’ve left Castlefield Gallery. In Twelve, Manchot has managed to capture the raw emotion, vulnerability and true honesty of the highs and lows of recovery. We just wish we’d done our homework beforehand…

Culture Guides


David Bowie, Japanese classics and some early spooky screenings all feature in this month’s cinema guide.

Jadé Fadojutimi at The Hepworth Wakefield


Enjoy these brand new exhibitions (and hide from the late summer downpours) opening this month in Manchester and the North.


As we say bye to the summer holidays and begin to welcome in the cooler months, Manchester’s events and activities continue to bring joy and fun to families.

Author Thea Lenarduzzi


There are plenty of online readings and live launches as Manchester and the North welcomes some great writers with book festival season getting underway, and there are loads of new spoken word nights and open mics to check out…


We head into August with a whole lot of musical goodness to look forward to, from massive indie gigs to inner city electronic festivals.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


As the new theatre season gets ready to launch, we champion some of the star performances happening over the next few months.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North as we head into autumn.

Tours and Activities

Every season change is an excuse to try something new, and when it comes to tours and activities, autumn delivers!

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts