Long Live City Culture

I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many films in such a short space of time as I have since arriving in Manchester – and that probably includes four years spent as an Undergrad at the University of Glasgow! Actually, my whole time here so far has marked something of a “cultural revival”. Just this weekend I went to see Steve McQueen’s “Shame” – a complex and difficult film which manages to be aesthetically cold and narratively detached at the same time as arousing deep sympathies for its two troubled lead characters; and then to a small exhibition of photographs by Kevin Cummins, in a little Northern Quarter gallery not far from me. The works on display were mostly of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, another troubled soul who died (by his own hand) at just 23 years old. There were also pictures of Curtis’s personal notebooks, his Vox Phantom – and a few of desolate 1980s Manchester roadways and streets. This was a striking reminder of how much regeneration work has gone on in UK cities in the decades since Joy Division were hanging around. Revealing in a different way was the fact that although each Cummins print was identically and expensively priced (Β£995 if you’re curious), the photographer has insisted that the dense, glossy hardcover book accompanying the exhibition be sold at only Β£25 a copy. Maybe that still seems a lot but this is a volume that would usually retail at say, Β£50, with a gorgeous design by a very hip Swedish studio. So at least fans and admirers are able to go home with something reasonable!

My first poster!



Back in the world of cinema, and I can report with great excitement that all the posters for this Term’s TRAUMA screenings are now “in the press”. My first ever season is all about Scottish cinema, but I must say that the last season – Impaired Cinema, presented by Tony Boffey – is going to be a tough act to follow! Still, I’ll try my best – and a little Whisky in advance of introducing the films to the audience seems only fitting, right? πŸ˜‰ One of my new jobs is putting the Trauma posters up on various walls around the University and (of course) in our favourite post-screening pub, the Sandbar. Would you believe that the MMU Vice Chancellor has apparently taken an intense dislike to the putting up of “unofficial” and “untidy” posters? This makes finding places to position the very beautiful A3 sheets (designed by resident Graphics Guru, Ben Wissett) tricky. I wonder if in future the sense of a vibrant, colourful, culture-dominated University and city centre so prevalent in Manchester will be replaced by a sterile and polished pseudo-corporate environment where only adverts for “student experience surveys” and private sector recruitment fairs are granted visibility on campus?

At the moment, you often find yourself walking past multiple hoardings around the perimeters of city centre building sites. These are covered in quotes from famous Mancunians and are all about the city and what it means to them. Much of this council-approved street art comes from musicians, including Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown. But right now, I think this quote from a former Manchester University lecturer and one of the 20th century’s most “brilliant historians” is pretty appropriate:

Manchester has everything but good looks…, the only place in England which escapes our characteristic vice of snobbery.” – AJP Taylor.


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7 responses to “Long Live City Culture”

  1. Jemster says :

    Seems like you couldnt have arrived in Manchester at a better time! It’s great that you are able to take in everything it has to offer, advancing your learning and future career AND getting lots of fun stuff packed in too. It’s really exciting to see your poster! Maybe Buckie and MD 20/20 would be more appropriate drinks to give out at your screening of Neds? Haha. Did you see that Noel Gallagher was just voted NME’s ‘Godlike Genius’ this week? Bet Liam will love that! Looking forward to hearing how the screenings go.

    • musingfrommanchester says :

      Hahaha. Ugh. Just the thought of Buckfast or that orange MD 20/20 makes me feel sick! You’re right though…it would be good to try and recreate a bit of the Glasgow experience. Maybe I should revise my presentation so it goes a little like this? πŸ˜€ BTW: I think Noel Gallagher is playing in Glasgow next month if you’re interested…although it’s probably sold out by now.

  2. Geoff says :

    The posters look great πŸ˜€ One small niggle though – there’s a spurious lower case V after your name on yours. Will this be in the printed versions? Will you need to take along a black marker when putting them up?

    I did a quick search and found Kevin Cummins’ website at http://www.kevincummins.co.uk/ – might be worth linking to?

    Wish I could make your film season – I haven’t seen Ratcatcher and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Local Hero either.

    • musingfrommanchester says :

      Oops! That was an earlier version of the poster…the error has been fixed now! Well spotted though! πŸ™‚ I’ll update the image, thanks. Ratcatcher is excellent, you should definitely give it a watch. And Local Hero is great fun. You can’t be Scottish and not have seen it!! πŸ˜‰ Ah, it’s always a tricky business deciding where to link to, isn’t it? I always figure that pointing at more obscure sources is better but maybe that’s just me…

  3. Jemster says :

    Hahaha! I remember that video!! Sooooo funny cos it’s so true. Have you seen any neds in Manchester? Are they the same down there? Xox

  4. Jemster says :

    Oh God! They don’t look nearly as hardcore as the Scottish neds imo! Funny how English people took a while to a cotton on and come up with their own names like ‘hoodies’ and ‘chavs.’ We had the term neds about a decade before they did! The term hoodies sounds so lame imo. Here it’s baseball caps, not grey jumpers with hoods! Hard to imagine britain without them, isn’t it? It would be paradise!

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