The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair: Art… and a shopping opportunity

Polly Checkland Harding
Pouring jugs

Whether you think of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair as an exhibition, or a shopping opportunity, the talent on show should have you reaching for a ticket.

Craft tends to hold an uneasy place in people’s minds. It used to come with twee, amateurish associations – or, at the upper end, share an uncertain frontier with art. That range still exists, but exhibitions like Manchester Art Gallery’s Eastern Exchanges are tipping the balance towards craft coming under the banner of fine art; although, of course, there will always be good and bad artisans. Galvanising Manchester’s designer-maker scene is the annual Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, winner of the Best Small Event of the Year at the Manchester Tourism Awards 2014: over 175 of the UK’s most talented designer-makers will be on show at the Old Granada Studios, ranging from a Graduates showcase right through to the critically-acclaimed Ornament exhibition, for which museums and galleries across the North have nominated those on show.

Galvanising Manchester’s designer-maker scene

Manchester Art Gallery, for instance, have put forward Jin Eui Kim’s delicately hand painted ceramics, shown as part of Eastern Exchanges and recently acquired for the gallery’s collection. The Whitworth, the Atkinson in Southport (where works by Antony Gormley are currently on show) and the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston have also nominated artists for this year’s show. One new addition to the bill is GNCCF’s Artist in Residence, a post taken up by emerging mixed media talent Harriet Lawton, who will be interacting with visitors to produce work – while the pop-up studio area will offer an insight into the practices of leading makers. The variety of disciplines in evidence this year is huge, with everything from jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, furniture and print-making on the programme; so whether you’re interested in buying something to take home, or in treating the GNCCF like an exhibition, it’s worth heading down. Craft is, after all, the new art.

Culture Guides

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

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Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Poet Helen Mort. Photo by Jan Bella

Literature

There’s live literature and book-buying opportunities a-plenty as November unfolds and Manchester – celebrating five years as a UNESCO city of Literature – and the wider North region welcomes some great writers, both in real life and online.

Music

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Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Alongside radical sci-fi adaptations and free arts festivals, we take a look at some of the Christmas shows happening in the North.

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 for autumn.

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022

Cinema

Classic pre-Code cinema, the Artist Film Weekender and the music of John Williams are amongst our highlights this month.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

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Compass Festival 2022
Activity Until 27 November 2022, FREE

Compass Festival 2022

sunny bank mills
Activity Until 27 November 2022, from £2.00

Sunny Bank Mills Christmas Art & Makers Market

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Pottery at Earth Pig Pottery and Fine Art in Buxton

Visual Arts Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Graffiti at Zap Graffiti

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £95

Blacksmithing at Forge Four

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £15

Embroidery with Sara Dennis at Lancaster Castle

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £59

Making silver stacker rings at The Old Granary

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £13

Candle making at Cheshire Workshops

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £60

Glass fusing at Glassmonkey Studio

Textile taxidermy
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £80

Textile taxidermy with Jaki Bogg at Craven Arts Studios