#2 CULTURE CORRIDOR

Type: Linear walk – begins at Manchester Central Library, ends at The Whitworth Art Gallery
Distance: 3.2 miles/5.1 km
Difficulty: Moderate

Central Library. Stand in St. Peter’s Sq. and face the library.

The Pantheon is not only the best-preserved ancient Roman monument in the world, but it’s also the most copied. It is a must-see attraction during your visit to Rome.

Highlights

• Visit the tomb of the great Renaissance artist
Raphael.
• Gaze up at the oculus, the opening to the heavens.
• Marvel at the architectural wonder that is the
coffered concrete dome – the biggest ever built.

Rome Travel Guide. 2023. ‘The Pantheon’.

At its opening, one critic wrote, “This is the sort of thing which persuades one to believe in the perennial applicability of the Classical canon”.

Holder, Julian (2007). ‘Emanuel Vincent Harris and the survival of classicism in inter-war Manchester’. Hartwell, Clare; Wyke, Terry (eds.). Making Manchester. Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society.

Manchester Art Gallery – Turn right towards Mosley St. Continue to Mosley St. Manchester Art Gallery is on your right.

Born in New York City, (Ira) Aldridge went to the African Free School in New York City aged 13. The school was established by the New York Manumission Society for the children of free Black people and slaves. They were given a classical education, with the study of English grammar, writing, mathematics, geography, and astronomy… Aldridge emigrated to Liverpool in 1824 with actor James Wallack after the pair became tired of the constant discrimination they faced in America. As their arrival coincided with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Britain had the means to erect theatres and the fact that the slave trade had already been outlawed, made the prospect of Black actors performing in Britain somewhat acceptable, albeit with some prejudice… Having limited onstage experience and no presence in the media, Aldridge concocted a story of his African lineage, claiming to have descended from the Fulani princely line… On October 10, 1825, Aldridge made his European debut at London’s Royal Coburg Theatre, making him the first African-American actor to establish himself professionally in a foreign country… He played the lead role of Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam, ‘A Slave’s Revenge’; this play was an adaptation of Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko…

Margaret Greer. 29 November, 2023. ‘Ira Aldridge’. B:M 2023. Black History Month.

and The Royal Manchester Institution was a scholarly society formed in 1823. It was housed in what is now the art gallery’s main gallery building on Mosley Street. The first object acquired for its collection, James Northcote’s A Moor (a portrait of the celebrated black actor Ira Aldridge), was bought in 1827.

Manchester Art Gallery. 2015. ‘History of the Collection’. Manchester Galleries.
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Touchstone/Bridgewater Hall – Retrace steps, crossing St. Peter’s Sq. Continue SW onto Lower Mosley St. Stop in front of the Bridgewater Hall in front of the large marble stone.

Discussed in this part: Marble quarry chant above Carrara. Worksongs like this have built the buildings and monuments of Italy. Cry of the blasters and explosion. Before the blasters the quarrymen knew how to get the marble cut by hand and had songs to coordinate their hammers, but still use the songs for moving the stones. Leader said emphatically, “This is the misery squad.” Oldest inscription in Rome shows workers pulling a column. Work gangs of pile drivers in Venice. Song of the canal workers. Song calls protection of the Virgin against the Turks, dating the song to fifteenth century. Archaic song of peasant women going out to work in the fields in the morning: “Day is dawning and cock is crowing for the first peep of day.” Chant of Neapolitan man to his donkey, “Sempre avanti” (Mussolini’s slogan). Woman and man of the Marche sing love lyrics in seconds and fourths. Grain harvest is almost a sacred ritual. Wheat is harvested in June in Sicily with prayers. Harvest song (starts as a chant) about the Virgin seeking her son as wheat is cut. Song is a lament for the death of the wheat.

Alan Lomax. April 17, 1955. ‘Folk Music of Italy’. BBC.

02 Ritz – Walk south towards Great Bridgewater St. Turn left onto Great Bridgewater St. Turn right towards Rochdale Canal Tow Path. Take the stairs. Turn left onto Rochdale Canal Tow Path. Cross the canal via the footbridge. Turn right towards Whitworth St. Turn left onto Whitworth St . Stop at the doors of the 02 Ritz.

SALOME MALONEY
I was walking down oxford road
Dressed in what they call the mode
I could hear them spinning all their smash hits
At the mecca of the modern dance, the Ritz

My feet foxtrotted
My shoulders did the shimmy
The bouncer on the door said “a gimme, gimme, gimme”
I gave ’em the tickets, they gave me the shits
No healthy arguments… in the Ritz

Cooper Clarke, J. ‘Salome Maloney’.

Engels sculpture – Walk south-west on Whitworth St. W towards Gloucester St. Turn left onto Jack Rosenthal St. Turn right to stay on Jack Rosenthal St. Turn left at Tony Wilson Place.

This month, the Berlin-based, British-born artist Phil Collins transported a 3.5 metre statue of Friedrich Engels from a village in eastern Ukraine, through Europe, to Britain on a flat-bed truck. Next month, during the Manchester International festival, the sculpture, a 1970s concrete image of the bearded revolutionary, will be erected in the city where he researched The Condition of the Working Class in England, its new permanent home… Engels lived in Manchester for more than two decades in the mid-19th century, honing his revolutionary philosophy through his observations of the horrific conditions endured by the working children, women and men in that cradle of industrial capitalism. And, as Collins points out, though the philosopher’s life in Manchester is well studied and documented, there is no permanent marker to him in the city, no visual symbol of the man at all – despite the fact that his Manchester-forged thinking changed the course of 20th-century history.

Charlotte Higgins. 30 June, 2017. ‘Phil Collins: why I took a Soviet statue of Engels across Europe to Manchester’. Art and Design. The Guardian.

Continue a few paces to HOME.

It’s midday on a Thursday afternoon, and I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. I’m at the Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME, surrounded by over 500 pieces of art submitted by residents from across Greater Manchester. The exhibition is an overwhelming, eclectic collage, mirroring the chaos of the city it is in. It is incredible.

Chess Bradley. 13 February, 2020. ‘Exhibition Review: Manchester Open Exhibition’.

International Anthony Burgess Foundation – Walk north-east on River St towards James Grigor Sq. Turn right to stay on River St. Continue onto Wilmott St. Turn left onto Chester St. Turn left onto Cambridge St. Stop in front of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Art is rare and sacred and hard work, and there ought to be a wall of fire around it… The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d’esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation… All art preserves mysteries which aesthetic philosophers tackle in vain.

 

Anthony Burgess. Assorted quotes.

Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University – Walk south-east on Cambridge St. towards Hulme St. Turn left onto Chester St. Turn right towards Oxford Rd. Turn right onto Oxford Rd. Continue to All Saints Sq. The 1838 Manchester School of Art building faces the south side of the square.

In 1899 Britain plunged into another war, this time the Boer War in South Africa. The government and the press helped to whip up a tide of patriotic fervour which even some left-wing organisations were unable to resist. In 1900 Emmeline Pankhurst left the Fabian Society in protest at their refusal to oppose the war. At this time Sylvia attended a lecture given by Walter Crane at the School of Art during which he drew Britannia’s trident and made the critical comment ‘Let her be as careful to respect the liberties of others as she is in safeguarding her own’, which Sylvia reported for the school’s magazine. Another student who demonstrated her patriotism by dressing in khaki, demanded the removal of the article ‘declaring that she would follow me home and break our windows’. The Pankhurst family suffered considerable victimisation during the Boer War. Adela and Harry, who were both still at school, made their antiwar views known, for which Harry was beaten unconscious and Adela was hit in the face by a book thrown by another student, an action that was left unreproached by the teacher.

Katherine Connelly. 17 November 2013. ‘Art and Conflict: Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire’. Articles. Counterifre.

Oxford Rd./Booth St. West Junction – Continue SE along Oxford Road to its junction with Booth St.

In the 1960s university planners, impressed by the expansion of American freeways, wanted a series of interlinking pedestrian bridges all the way to Oxford Road station and out as far as Hulme and Ardwick… They hoped it would not only elevate people above the growing traffic, but also ensure ‘town met gown’ by encouraging academics to mix with the rest of the city… the bridges would have connected virtually all modern buildings down the Oxford Road corridor at first floor level – and run out towards the university’s Sackville Street campus… The precinct centre would have been the hub for all the walkways, containing a shopping area researchers liken
to a purpose-built town centre… Bridges would have criss-crossed Oxford Road at several points – including at what is now the Aquatics Centre and the building now housing Manchester Metropolitan University’s student union, connected to raised walkways that would go at least as far as Oxford Road station…

Jennifer Williams. 10 March, 2016. ‘Revealed: The utopian 1960s vision for Manchester that never took off’. Manchester Evening News.

Manchester Museum – Continue SE along Oxford Rd. Stop in front of Manchester Museum on right.

During the inter-war period, there was a perceptible shift in the Museum’s work from the scientific to “cultural” collections – archaeology, anthropology and Egyptology. This reflected in part a decline in use of the Museum by the University’s scientific departments, which increasingly focussed on laboratory work, and also to growing public interest in this type of cultural collection. Of particular note, was the public interest in Egyptology in this period, and the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society enjoyed a close relationship with the Museum. Archaeological excavations, particularly in the Mediterranean area, were making more ancient human material available, and colonial exploration and trade stimulated the exchange of ethnological items. In 1927, a further extension of the Museum to the north of the main building reflected this change in emphasis with new galleries dedicated to archaeology, ethnography, Egyptology and numismatics…

Manchester Natural History Society. 1821 – ongoing. University of Manchester Library. GB 133 MMA. Archives Hub.

 

Manchester Sun – Turn around and face the opposite direct. Cross Oxford Rd. Proceed to the ‘Manchester Sun’ by Lynn Chadwick on the façade of University of Manchester’s Williamson Building.

The journey was difficult, and it was believed that Helios was a skilled charioteer to be able to not fly too close or distant from the Earth. Helios’ daily trip across the sky began when his sister Eos (as dawn) threw open the gates of his beautiful eastern palace. He set off with his four-winged horses, known as Aethon, Aeos, Pyrois, and Phlegon. The long travel had a steep ascent, peaked around midday, and then steeply descended towards his western palace, where his nephew, Hesperus (evening) awaited him… To return to the eastern palace, Helios was believed to have sailed under the world via the northerly stream of the realm of Oceanus with his horses and chariot in a golden boat (or large cup/goblet, or bed) created by the master smith and deity, Hephaestus. While Helios was hidden in Oceanus, Selene, the moon goddess took her turn to cross the sky.

Alicia McDermott. 14 September, 2022. ‘Deciphering the Role of Helios, the Sun God of Greek Mythology’. Ancient Origins.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House (restored 2014) – Turn right onto Swinton Grove. Stop in front of the blue plaque to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

I knew already that it was a ten-roomed house, very dirty, and much dilapidated; that the area-rails were rusty and peeling away, and that two or three of them were wanting, or half-wanting; that there were broken panes of glass in the windows, and blotches of mud on other panes, which the boys had thrown at them; that there was quite a collection of stones in the area, also proceeding from those Young Mischiefs; that there were games chalked on the pavement before the house, and likenesses of ghosts chalked on the street-door; that the windows were all darkened by rotting old blinds, or shutters, or both; that the bills “To Let,” had curled up, as if the damp air of the place had given them cramps; or had dropped down into corners, as if they were no more. I had seen all this on my first visit, and I had remarked to Trottle, that the lower part of the black board about terms was split away; that the rest had become illegible, and that the very stone of the door-steps was broken across. Notwithstanding, I sat at my breakfast table on that Please to Remember the fifth of November morning, staring at the House through my glasses, as if I had never looked at it before… All at once—in the first-floor window on my right—down in a low corner, at a hole in a blind or a shutter—I found that I was looking at a secret Eye. The reflection of my fire may have touched it and made it shine; but, I saw it shine and vanish.

 

Collins, W., Dickens, C., Gaskell, E., Procter, A. (1858). The Project of Gutenberg eBook (2021).

Swinton Grove Park – Turn around. Enter the park and head to the standing stone in the centre of the park.

Looking back at this from 2021 the overriding sense I take away is that ‘Stone Age Man in Britain’ is a work of faction (fact and fiction). Its aim to offer a simple way into the discourse of history for young readers is understandable but the outcome is simplistic and shows the instability that lies beneath the surface of the disciplines that form the infrastructure of the Enlightment, disciplines such as archaeology. Over the 60 years since the book was published in 1961 we have travelled a long way and academia on some levels have wised up. Ultimately as we shall see the rigid conformity that forms the behaviours and legitimation of our academic disciplines is tightly monitored. Its borders are not porous and are strictly policed. Anything that does not chime with the accepted truth is regarded as disinformation or ‘fake’. It is seen as undermining our foundational terms of democracy when in actuality the opposite seems to be at play.

Brennan, T. (2021) ‘Fake Megaliths’ private manuscript

Contact Theatre – Exit the park and walk south-west on Swinton Grove towards Carmoor Rd. Turn right onto Upper Brook St. Turn left onto Grafton St. Turn left onto Oxford Rd. Turn right onto Dilworth St. Turn right onto Brisbane St. Stop in front of Contact Theatre.

In the fourth instalment of articles exploring the work of Contact, the leading national arts organisation to place young people’s leadership at the heart of everything, we feature The Agency… It’s a pioneering project empowering young people aged 15 to 25 to change their communities in Manchester and London, with project partners Battersea Arts Centre and People’s Palace Projects… Following a pilot project last year, September saw Contact recruit a cohort of young people from Moston and Harpurhey, and support them to develop ideas for businesses and social enterprises to benefit their area… The proposed projects included a sewing academy, a family baking project, a community creative hub, a digital software programming club for teenagers, a community fair promoting healthy living and a visual arts project aiming to transform the streets of Moston… The Agency began life in the slums (favelas) of Brazil when theatre director Marcus Faustini created a new way of working with young people, using creativity to deliver start-up businesses and social enterprises. It aims to empower young people with few existing opportunities to decide what would really make an impact in their community… As with everything Contact does, The Agency puts young people in control. It was a risky experiment to apply the methodology in Manchester and London, but one that has already paid off, with the pilot year leading to some fantastic projects. They include a new board game for 4-12 year olds exploring the reality of growing up on an estate, and an ethical fashion range aimed at women of all shapes and sizes.

Simon Coyle. 19 December, 2014. ‘Contact Theatre: The art of helping city’s enterprising youngsters’. Manchester Evening News.

The Whitworth – Walk south on Brisbane St towards Dilworth St. Turn left towards Oxford Rd. The Whitworth art gallery is on your right.

The works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin – thought to be worth a total of £4m – were reported missing from the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester on Sunday… The paintings – Van Gogh’s The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Picasso’s Poverty and Gauguin’s Tahitian Landscape – were found the next day crammed into a tube behind a public toilet… A spokeswoman for Manchester University, of which the gallery is a part, said the paintings had suffered weather damage, and the Van Gogh had suffered a tear in the fabric, but added that all could be repaired… A note was attached to the paintings claiming the motive of the thieves was to highlight poor security at the gallery… Police said an anonymous tip-off at about 0200 BST on Monday led them to the paintings… The works of art went missing after 2100 BST on Saturday in what police described as a “well-planned” theft… It is believed the thieves forced their way into the gallery’s Pilkington room, where some of the modern art treasures are on display.

Catherine Marston. 28 April, 2003. ‘Stolen paintings can be repaired’. News Channel. BBC.