MIF21: I Love You Too

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Artist Kemang Wa Lehulere.

I Love You Too at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 2 — 10 July 2021 Entrance is free — Visit now

Kemang Wa Lehulere collaborates with 11 Manchester writers and over 100 residents of the city to create a surprising collection of love letters – a new book for Central Library.

Head to Manchester Central Library as a brand-new tome is inaugurated into the permanent collection. The first in an international series, I Love You Too is a powerful and personal book of love letters rooted in our city and inspired by the time the South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere spent in residence at Manchester International Festival two years ago. Together with the publication, the magnificent domed Reading Room at Central Library will host an exhibition of Wa Lehulere’s new sculpture, created especially for the space – the installation will be in situ 2 to 10 July, and is free to visit.

Eleven Manchester-based writers collaborated with the participants, putting their words on to the page and composing love letters that reflected and reinterpreted the individual contributions.

In early 2021, over 100 people from across Manchester were invited to share their love stories – to people, to places, even to possessions. Via online and in person interviews, a group of 11 Manchester-based writers collaborated with the participants, putting their words on to the page and composing love letters that reflected and reinterpreted the individual contributions to create the compilation that is I Love You Too. Involved were poets, prose writers and performers: Hafsah Aneela Bashir, Dominic Berry, Sarah Butler, Cathy Crabb, Ali Gadema, Zoe Iqbal, Shamshad Khan, Jessica El Mal, Jardel Rodrigues, Keisha Thompson and Louise Wallwein.

Lead I Love You Too artist Kemang Wa Lehulere was born in 1984 in Cape Town to a white Irish father and black South African mother, the product of a union considered illegal under the apartheid regime. Both had died by the time he was 12, and while he was told he would amount to nothing, he has a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and his work has been shown in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, in New York and San Francisco in the States, and in Bern, Switzerland, at the Biennale de Lyon, France, the Berlin Biennale and at Edinburgh Art Festival. He has won numerous awards, and was Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year for 2017 and artist-in-residence at MIF in 2019.

Wa Lehulere uses performance together with a range of media, including murals, painting and installation, to explore history – including the troubled history of his native South Africa – and events receding in collective memory, and collaboration is key to his work. In 2007, he co-founded the Gugulective artist collective, and he often incorporates other people into his pieces. “My practice […] has a lot to do with the various experiences that I have had throughout my life,” he has said. “Working in different forms with different people.”

I Love You Too was commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival in partnership with Library Live and Creative Spaces, Manchester Libraries’ cultural programmes, and is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery funding.

Part of Manchester International Festival 2021.

I Love You Too at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 2 — 10 July 2021 Entrance is free Visit now

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Word Central at Central Library

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Where to go near MIF21: I Love You Too

St Peters Square Manchester
City Centre
St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square is a public space in Manchester – home to the city’s iconic library, town hall, Pankhurst statue, art gallery and famous Midland Hotel.

Manchester Art Gallery. Photo by Andrew Brooks
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Manchester Art Gallery

The Charles Barry-designed, Grade I-listed Manchester Art Gallery is one of the city’s leading galleries and is back open for visitors once more.

Chinatown
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The Alan

This high-end city-centre restaurant has an excellent afternoon tea option that more than matches up to the superb main menu.

Salut Wines
Chinatown
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Salut Wines

Salut wines pride themselves in offering “wider horizons beyond the safe choices.” With 42 wines by the glass and a regularly changing selection of bottles in their Enomatic wine preservation machines (or  “wine jukebox,” as they’re colloquially known), this is one of be best bars in Manchester for exploring new vintages.

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Friska

Latest branch of Friska, the independent healthy fast food chain.

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Don Giovanni

Traditional Italian restaurant, serving everything from pizza to steak. All this in a large modern venue with floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Manchester Art Gallery Cafe

Summery bakes, seasonal salads and fresh light meals at Manchester Art Gallery’s in-house café, courtesy of highly-regarded Head Chef Matthew Taylor.

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Manchester Town Hall

Re-opening in 2024, Manchester Town Hall is a monument to Victorian Manchester’s ambition, and one of the city’s most-loved landmarks.

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Albert Square

A public square in the heart of Manchester which plays hosts to festivals and major events. Home to the Albert Memorial and statues of Bishop James Fraser, John Bright, Oliver Heywood and William Ewart Gladstone.

Contemporary Six, art gallery in Manchester
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Contemporary Six

Contemporary Six is an independent commercial art gallery in Manchester city centre, set up by Alex Reuben in 2010.

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