Sunday, 26 August 2012

Salford Museum and Art Gallery

The first time I visited Salford Museum and Art Gallery I was volunteering for the Family Friendly Film festival. While helping out on a crafty workshop, and handing out questionnaires to parents there was little time to explore the museum, so I returned to have a proper look around the current exhibitions. These include, 'The Wondrous Collection of Encapsulated Time: an exhibition by Sue Platt,' and 'Lost Salford Streets.' The former exhibition displays a collection of ornate clocks, which have been transformed from their primary function, into a piece of art. In each clock a different treasure, or strange object can be found. The work is eerie and magical, reminiscent of the Victorian 'freak show,' displaying jars of strange oddities. I later discovered that the artist Sue Platt is inspired by this era, and in particular the fascination the Victorians had with collecting strange artefacts to display in glass cabinets.

'Lost Salford Streets' is a historical exhibition, displaying photographs and original metal signs of street names, from the lost streets of Salford, which have now been replaced with apartments, shops and housing estates. This was a very nostalgic exhibition, which I visited with a friend whose family, as far back as her grandparents, have lived in Salford. This was therefore very relevant to her family history and also gave me an idea of how my own family would have lived during the earlier part of the 20th century, not to far from these streets, in South Manchester.

I had not known on my first visit to the museum of a secret Victorian street hidden away down some stairs, via a corridor or two. This was something my Salfordian companion led me to, with great glee, knowing that I had no idea where she was taking me. Surely enough I was taken back in time to the Victorian era, on a cobbled Salford street with a horse and carriage, windows into shops, and Victorian homes, and a pub full of the sounds of rowdy punters, and joyful piano music.

Although the museum is not as 'flashy' as the museum and galleries in Manchester it still has a charm about it. I do however hope that eventually the museum will gain some funding so it can be on equal terms with it's friends across the river.      

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Pinteresting All Day Long

The word Pinterest has been popping up on Twitter a lot recently. This is perhaps down to how fast the social networking site's user base has grown in such a short space of time. The website launched in 2010 and already has 13 million users, and is now one of the top 10 social networking websites. But what is Pinterest? In its simplest form Pinterest is a virtual pin board. It allows users to save any image they find on the Internet and add it to their Pinterest pin board. Images can be stored in various boards, which the user can title, such as ‘fashion’ or ‘home ideas.’  Users are able to search and browse other members' boards and 'repin' the images to their own ‘pin board.’ 

The idea is similar to Tumblr, which I use as a virtual scrap book, but what makes Pinterest more effective for this purpose is how easy it is to organise your images, instead of a long feed of often unrelated images. The way the website displays other user's pictures, shown below, makes it easier to quickly scan for relevant 'pins.'  

I have been spending less time on Tumblr since I created my Pinterest account, but the one major down side is the lack of a Pinterest app for Android phones, and therefore still spend time on Tumblr via their app when I am away from my computer. There has also been a major debate on copyright infringement, as users are essentially taking other people's images without the owner's permission. However I don't see how this is any different from what Tumblr or other social networking/social bookmarking sites have been doing for years. Not to say that I condone it, but the popularity of the platform must surely bring a lot of traffic to the owner's website, as every image on Pinterest is linked back to the image's location, and therefore this must help to promote the artist/photographer/designer/illustrator. The images are always credited this way, unlike Tumblr, which often does not link back to the image's original online location. Pinterest responded to these concerns by releasing a short line of code, which can be added to a website to stop users pinning images from that site.

There has also been a buzz within the digital marketing industry regarding the benefits of Pinterest for brands. Vikki Chowney recently wrote an article for Econsultancy about ways in which Pinterest could be used by brands. Chowney gave Kate Spade Pinterest as an example of a successful brand account, which is filled with images that inspire the designer brand, reinforcing its vibrant, colourful and retro branding, with board titles such as 'dress colourfully,' 'travel colourfully,' and 'think colourfully.' Chowney writes that the titles of the boards 'might just be a naming convention, but the repetition means that the message sticks.'

Pinterest is flexible, and simple to use, and will thrive on our ever growing consumer culture and obsession with beautiful things. I just wish they'd hurry up with their Android app!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cornerhouse Manchester

Yesterday I visited Cornerhouse, a arts funded exhibition space and independant cinema in Manchester. There current exhibition is 'Lost is Found,' which showcases work by nine northern based artisted who explore found 'beauty in the redundant and discarded, delving into past lives, finding new stories in transformations and fleeting identities.'  I always find exhibitions at Cornerhouse to be often too conceptual for my simple tastes, I much prefer a good old design or print exhibition, but saying that I did like this show. The idea behind the exhibition is simple and easy to relate to with ideas of past and personal experiences. Emily Speeds' piece, which is pictured, explores the idea of the physical place, the home, which is shaped and tied to the memories and lives lived by the occupiers. The pieces are like small little memories you can carry with you, but they have an eerier feel, a feeling of coldness presented by the stark whiteness of the pieces.

After viewing the show me and my companion had a swift couple of bevies in the very trendy and buzzing bar at Cornerhouse. I enjoy drinking and socialising here, even though it is often difficult to find seats due to the popularity of the venue, which isn't surprising since the atmosphere is so nice. The only downside is the expensive prices, but to be fair these are standard for the city centre. The venue also contains a cinema showcasing art house films, and has a much more personal & relaxed atmosphere compared to the big cinema complexes.  

Before leaving Cornerhouse I picked up one of their programmes, and inside I found a section called 'Creative Industries,' which included several Digital Skills workshops. The workshops are aimed at the creative industries, showcasing how social media can be used within the sector. Most of the workshops are targeting social media novices, and as a previous Social Media Specialist I imagine they would cover most of the areas I already have knowledge of. However the next workshop taking place is called 'Tools & Trends on the Horizon,' and is presented by The Next Web’s European Editor, Martin Bryant, whose name I recognised through my engagement with Twitter and digital events within Manchester.  The workshop looks at new tools, such as apps and devices, which can help to improve the way we work. The workshop takes place on 20th March and cost £4/£3 Concs. If you are interested in doing other creative courses, and gaining some new skills then you should look at the many projects Cornerhouse has to offer on their website

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Museum Meets: After Hours

Last Thursday I attended my second Museum Meets: After Hours event at Manchester Museum. This time the event took place in the Ancient Egypt, Unearthed Egypt galleries and The Tales of the Nubians exhibition. We came a little late to the proceedings and quickly joined the advertsied 'candlelit' (torchlit) tour of the Ancient Egyptian section, which was more than a little over perscribed. Unlike the previous After Hours event this was over flowing with attendees, so at first it was impossible to even hear the tour guide and later we discovered that there had been over a 100 people on the tour, much more then they had expected. Obviously word it getting around about these little events. Word had also gotten out further and reached the families of Manchester, and I was a little disapointed to find quite a few children at the event, which spoilt the 'adult only' aspect that made the previous event so alering for the single twenty-something like myself, and therefore made it feel more like a standard visit to the museum.

To be honest this second event had a lot to live up to, compared to November's I was a little unimpressed.  There was no obvious bar area and coat stand as you walked in and there was a lack of workshops to take part in. The events are free so I shouldn't really complain, and I also will most likely attend the next event in March, but I hope this time the event is more strict on it's 'adult' aspect and also has more interactive elements.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Vintage Village Stockport

There is nothing nicer than spending Sunday afternoon rummaging through a vintage fair, so this Sunday I headed down to The Vintage Village in Stockport.  The fair takes place once a month at Stockport’s historic covered market hall, which is filled full of vintage clothing, accessories, homewares, jewellery and hand made crafts. I was on the look-out for some unique ceramic ornaments to decorate my home, but instead walked away with some lovely jewerllery and a birthday gift for my friend from Oooh Betty, whose stall is made-up of both vintage and crafted homeware, and gifts. There was lots of ceramics, but mainly of the kitchen ware variety so if you are looking to buy a vintage tea-set then this is the best place to find it. My favourite stall was Trov, a antique silver and gold jewerllery stall run by Katie Popperwell, who unfortunatly doesn't have a website, but is planning on opening an esty shop soon. Katie sold me a beautiful plain silver ring, which I will add to my growing collection, and current obsession.

The fair was very busy so it was differcult to have a proper look at some of the more popular stalls, but if you get there early and spend a good hour ot two there you'll eventually get to have a good old rummage through everything. The fair had an abundant amount of vintage costume jewellery,  and clothes and everything was reasonably priced. The fair has strict rules regarding the age of items sold, so you won't come across anything 'made to look vintage' unless it is hand-crafted. I will definitely be going again as I am kicking myself for not buying the vintage illustrated plains in the photo, so cross fingers that the stall will be there next time I visit!

I also recently started following @vintageMCR on twitter whose website caters for vintage enthusiasts in Manchester and is run by vintage blogger Susan Earlum. Useful sections of the website include the events calendar, which details all vintage related events taking place in and around Manchester, but my favourite section is the 'Vinage Inside & Out,' that looks at 'the 'Movers & Shakers' on the vintage scene in Manchester,' giving you a peek into the interviewee's home. Definitiely a website to bookmark!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Night at The Museum

There are two main reasons I love Twitter, 1. I get to read funny tweets, which lighten up my bus journey to and from work, 2. I find out about exciting events happening in Manchester via my Twitter feed. Last month's found event on Twitter took place at Manchester Museum after closing hours, and involved lots of mini creative workshops and an exhibition, 'We are extInked,’ which combined art and ecology. The exhibition steamed from a previous project called ‘extInked.’ ExtInked involved 100 volunteers who each had an original drawing of an endangered species tattooed onto their bodies. I knew two of the volunteers who took part in the project and who are now ambassadors for their chosen tattooed creatures. While at the event I took part in one of the activities that required me and my companion to choose three objects from a table that we felt would create an interesting composition, these objects included museum artefacts and items from the museum shop. The objects were then handed to a photographer who we worked with to help bring the objects together and produce an interesting image/narrative. We were told that the photograph would be used for a future display at the museum, I hope this is true!
I also created a self portrait print that incorporated the encased butterfly display, using a pencil and piece of square foam. This workshop made me feel like a kid on a school trip to the museum, and as I recall there were many trips to Manchester Museum during my school years. I have also previously worked at the museum as a volunteer as part of the ‘Family Friendly Film Festival,’ assisting with the creative workshops. I enjoyed the fact that on this occasion the event was for adults only and I hope they'll continue to bring new exhibitions and evenings such as this to the museum for us excitable adults who also enjoy making things and looking at dinosaur skeletons, but with a bottle of beer in ours hands, of course. I will keep my twitter eyes peeled as I heard this event is the first of many!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Critical Mass Part ii: Creatures of the Night Ride

On halloween weekend I attended the October's critical mass halloween special, which started off the Cyclogeddon Festival, a week long festival of free events and activities to celebrate the bicycle. Unfortunately I was only able to attend critical mass, missing out on lots of interesting events including a treasure-hunt on bikes, a bike fixing workshop and bicycle polo. Critical Mass: Creatures of the Night Ride started at the usual meeting spot at St Peter's Square and concluded at Platt Fields park in Fallowfield. It was the first time I'd completed the group ride having previously abandoned the event half way through to meet non-cycling friends, and wasn't really sure what to expect. It was dark by the time we arrived at Platt Fields and riding through the huge pitch black park was a little scary but also exciting with only a stream of red bike lights directing our way. Reaching our destination was the highlight of the night as we were greeted by the Platt Field's boat house surrounded by hundreds of Chinese lanterns hanging from the fence around the lake, fairy lights twisted around the veranda and huge creature shaped lanterns danced in the night.

The event included pedal powered horror movies, a spooky performance from the bike dancing troupe The Spokes and an amazing band who sang a love song about Platt Fields Park.
Events such as this are why I love Manchester. If I can bring myself to bere the cold winter weather than I will be attending the next event on 25th November, the theme is 'colour crazy' and participants are encouraged to attend in their brightest and most clashing colours.