Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Northern Quarter Street art tour, Saturday 13 February (for the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art)

The Shrieking Violet ‘zine was founded in the summer of 2009 to show the fun that can be had in the city for free, and the beauty and creativity that surrounds us everyday. From buskers, gargoyles, grotesques and public art, to street names recalling Manchester’s historic links with science, the textile trade and industry, all you need to do is look (or listen) to what’s around. Let the Shrieking Violet be your guide and starting point for adventures in the city!

Next Saturday (Saturday 13 February), the Shrieking Violet will be leading a street art tour to celebrate 30 years since the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (formerly known as the Chinese Arts Centre) was established, and to coincide with an exhibition featuring artists from RareKind illustration agency, which opens on Friday 5 February.

The Shrieking Violet calls for an expanded definition of street art, to include not just what we might usually regard as street art, ie that which is covert, transient and wall-based, but to situate street art within a wider context of all art which is publicly visible on the streets of Manchester, from mosaics and architectural adornment to statues and sculptures. Street art is something which we have all seen, and about which most of us have an opinion. The tour will be informal, accessible, flexible and participatory, with participants invited to share, reflect on and challenge their own perceptions and experiences of street art and to disclose any particular favourites in the area. The tour will invite discussion on questions such as: Who gets to decide what is art, and who is an artist? How do works of art on the street influence perceptions of a place, both by the people who live/work there and externally? What is ‘beauty’, and who decides what’s beautiful? Does art need to be beautiful? Can a value be placed on street art?

The tour will visit two distinct areas of Manchester city centre – Chinatown and the Northern Quarter – as part of a broader narrative of change and evolution. Manchester has transformed from an industrial Victorian city to a modern city known for its entertainment, creativity and leisure/shopping opportunities, and this can be read through the art on its streets (or lack of it in certain places). Street art may have different motivations, from self-expression and ownership of spaces to decoration, celebration and commemoration of heritage, but all contribute to the identity, atmosphere and demographic of different areas and show how people have shaped Manchester over time.

This is also a tour of contrasts and comparisons, from public art which is official and council-endorsed, and commissioned from high-profile artists, to gallery-supported initiatives and local businesses promoting local artists, to corporate sponsorship of street art, and street art techniques which have been co-opted for advertising purposes, to that which is unsolicited and illegal.

Tickets cost £7. To book, click here.

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