Second Nature: What is 'nature' anyway?
Oct
4
to Jan 6

Second Nature: What is 'nature' anyway?

4 Oct – 21 Dec 2019 (Free public preview Thursday 3 Oct, 6pm-8pm)

Navid Asghari, Jackie Chettur, Oliver East, Louise Hewitt, Jessica El Mal, Ruth Murray, Joanna Whittle

In the Georgian and Victorian eras, science was called Natural Philosophy. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt – the first to identify human-induced climate change – sought to understand people’s place in the world while questioning the use of the term ‘nature’ to justify social structures and political standpoints. Today, alternative debates around nature are reshaping how we think about our relationships with the environment.

Recent studies show that two thirds of UK adults feel they have ‘lost touch with nature’ and our vocabulary to describe it is diminishing. How might new ideas and definitions of nature affect our priorities, and can reconnecting with the living world help us find solutions to current environmental emergencies and broader social divisions?

Second Nature brings together historic literature and artefacts, up-to-date research and new works by contemporary artists and young people to ask what we mean by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ today and how these terms have been used throughout the modern age.

Poster image: Louise Hewitt. Supported by the Zochonis Charitable Trust, with thanks to Manchester Museum, Venture Arts and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

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A bookbinding workshop with a difference!
Oct
16
10:15 AM10:15

A bookbinding workshop with a difference!

(In partnership with the Society of Bookbinders, North West and North Wales Region)

Wednesday 16 October 2019, 10.15-4.00; tea/coffee on arrival from 10am for a prompt start at 10.15am

An opportunity to get creative making a variety of ingenious, fun and useful items. With tutor Barry Clark we will re-create the almost forgotten milkman’s Magic Wallet, the Map Fold (a way to present a whole page image in a small and attractive format), the Pop-Up invitation/greetings card for those special occasions or special people, and the Exploding Box (secrets to be revealed). A treat for yourself and an opportunity to make some unique Christmas gifts. All materials and tools will be provided. The fee includes the cost of materials, tea/coffee on arrival and a light lunch. This workshop is limited to 12 participants so early booking is advised.

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Oct
19
10:00 AM10:00

Morning closure during workshop: 'Who's Afraid of Contemporary Art?' 19 October 2019

The Library’s exhibition space and cafe will be closed between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday the 19th of October as we will be delivering the Art History session ‘Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?’ led by Sara Riccardi. The spaces will re-open at 12:30pm. The Reading Room will remain open as usual to members, readers and researchers who are registered with the library. If you would like to learn more about participating in these Art History sessions please follow the link.

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The Portico Prize: Longlist event
Oct
22
6:30 PM18:30

The Portico Prize: Longlist event

The Portico Prize awards £10,000 to the book that best evokes the spirit of the North of England. This year, the Prize has established the Society of Readers and Writers, an appointed group of 15 individuals from the world of literature who have collectively determined the Longlist. Join them along with several of the nominated authors for a discussion on writing about the North in light of this year’s Longlist. The Portico Prize is proudly presented in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University.

Speakers are Rachael Allen, poet and poetry editor at Granta, Kamal Kaan, award winning screenwriter and actor, and Dr Louisa Yates, Visiting Lecturer at The University of Chester and Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone's Library. Ticket includes a complimentary drink and all longlisted books will be available to buy on the night.

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Rewriting the North: Nature, Identity & the City
Oct
31
6:30 PM18:30

Rewriting the North: Nature, Identity & the City

Paul Evans & Anita Sethi discuss Nature, Identity & the City

In 2019, The Portico Library will relaunch The Portico Prize: a major literary award celebrating contemporary writing that encapsulates ‘a sense of the North’. The Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University have come together to organise, in the months leading up to the announcement of the Prize, ‘Rewriting the North’: a series of events celebrating writers and writing connected with the North of England. Paul Evans and Anita Sethi will read from their work and will discuss the role that place plays in their creative practice.

Book online

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Nov
2
11:00 AM11:00

Morning closure during workshop: 'Who's Afraid of Contemporary Art?' 2 November 2019

The Library’s exhibition space and cafe will be closed between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday the 2nd of November as we will be delivering the Art History session ‘Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?’ led by Sara Riccardi. The spaces will re-open at 12:30pm. The Reading Room will remain open as usual to members, readers and researchers who are registered with the library. If you would like to learn more about participating in these Art History sessions please follow the link.

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Nov
16
11:00 AM11:00

Morning closure during workshop: 'Who's Afraid of Contemporary Art?' 16 November 2019

The Library’s exhibition space and cafe will be closed between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday the 16th of November as we will be delivering the Art History session ‘Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?’ led by Sara Riccardi. The spaces will re-open at 12:30pm. The Reading Room will remain open as usual to members, readers and researchers who are registered with the library. If you would like to learn more about participating in these Art History sessions please follow the link.

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Make your own Play-Doh Garden Centre Monster with artist Louise Hewitt
Nov
23
to Nov 30

Make your own Play-Doh Garden Centre Monster with artist Louise Hewitt

Saturdays 23rd and 30th November 2019, 1pm - 3pm

Louise Hewitt is an artist and storyteller whose work focuses on educating children about nature, the environment and gardening. She creates these ceramic models of her central characters, the ‘Garden Centre Monsters’, to use as visual aids for her stories.

Join Louise at The Portico Library from 1pm on Saturdays 23rd and 30th November to have a go at making your own Play-Doh creature and hear her stories inspired by her work at Hulme Community Garden Centre and Venture Arts. This event is free for everyone to attend but there will be a limited number of slots available at 1pm and 2pm each Saturday so please register by email at events@theportico.org.uk or by phone on 0161 236 6785 to ensure your place.

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The Never-Read-a-Gaskell Group
Nov
27
5:30 PM17:30

The Never-Read-a-Gaskell Group

This event is SOLD OUT but we are taking names for a waiting list.

If you’ve been nodding along politely to discussions about Elizabeth Gaskell but had no idea what was going on, then this group is for you! An introductory event will give you an opportunity to meet the rest of the group, learn about the author’s life and view The Portico’s first editions of Gaskell’s works. Then, three novels have been carefully selected for you to read throughout the year and each one will be discussed at a meeting in The Portico Library hosted by Libby Tempest, literary enthusiast and Chair of the Gaskell Society. You will find Libby’s incredibly warm manner and passion for Gaskell totally infectious. Click on the event link for more information.

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Rewriting the North: Poetry, Fact and Fiction
Nov
28
6:30 PM18:30

Rewriting the North: Poetry, Fact and Fiction

Blake Morrison & Helen Mort discuss Poetry, Fact & Fiction

In 2019, The Portico Library will relaunch The Portico Prize: a major literary award celebrating contemporary writing that encapsulates ‘a sense of the North’. The Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University have come together to organise, in the months leading up to the announcement of the Prize, ‘Rewriting the North’: a series of events celebrating writers and writing connected with the North of England. Blake Morrison and Helen Mort will read from their work and will discuss the role that place plays in their creative practice.

Book online

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BSL exhibition tour: Second Nature 11:30am, 7 Dec 2019
Dec
7
11:30 AM11:30

BSL exhibition tour: Second Nature 11:30am, 7 Dec 2019

Jennifer Little will conduct a tour in British Sign Language (with no spoken English) introducing The Portico Library’s building and collection, and giving insights into the current exhibition, Second Nature. More information on the exhibition here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/exhibitions/

After the tour refreshments are available from the cafe.

Booking is not required for BSL led exhibition tours.

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Audio-described exhibition tour: Second Nature 5:30pm, 16 Dec 2019
Dec
16
5:30 PM17:30

Audio-described exhibition tour: Second Nature 5:30pm, 16 Dec 2019

Ann Hornsby of Mind's Eye Description Services will deliver an audio-described tour for blind and partially-sighted visitors. She will introduce the building and collection, and our exhibition Second Nature. More information on the exhibition here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/exhibitions/

Booking not required for audio-described exhibition tours.

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WILDLANDS
Dec
18
7:30 PM19:30

WILDLANDS

WILD LANDS is a project by Amy Lawrence in collaboration with Joe Whitmore about moving through urban woodland at night, culminating in an interactive video performance in The Portico Library. The work assumes the perspective of women and non-binary people with experience of displacement and vulnerability in public spaces.

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Daisy Chain Reaction (with Journeys Festival International)
Oct
9
2:00 PM14:00

Daisy Chain Reaction (with Journeys Festival International)

Daisies are the most common weed in England. Does finding out that they are not native to the UK change your opinion of them? Using the surprising migrant history of one of the UK's most common and well-loved flowers, artists and practitioners Jessica El Mal and Juliette Davis-Dufayard will lead a discursive workshop exploring the value of where things come from and what it means to feel rooted in a place. Bending copper wire to answer questions and express ideas, as a group you will leave behind a daisy chain of your own, as a marker of how the history of the common daisy has affected our thoughts today.

FREE DROP-IN

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Oct
5
11:00 AM11:00

Morning closure during workshop: 'Who's Afraid of Contemporary Art?' 5 October 2019

The Library’s exhibition space and cafe will be closed between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday the 5th of October as we will be delivering the Art History session ‘Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?’ led by Sara Riccardi. The spaces will re-open at 12:30pm. The Reading Room will remain open as usual to members, readers and researchers who are registered with the library. If you would like to learn more about participating in these Art History sessions please follow the link.

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Who’s afraid of contemporary art?
Oct
5
10:00 AM10:00

Who’s afraid of contemporary art?

In the 20th century, the form and function of art was revolutionised. But was this for better or worse? This Art Across series asks the fundamental questions and puts contemporary art in context.

Anyone wishing to learn more and reflect about contemporary art and discuss it in an open and provocative setting will find the sessions thought-provoking and informative. Open to passionate advocates or inveterate sceptics alike!

Book online.

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Rewriting the North: Here, There & Short Fiction
Sep
27
6:30 PM18:30

Rewriting the North: Here, There & Short Fiction

In 2019, The Portico Library will relaunch The Portico Prize: a major literary award celebrating contemporary writing that encapsulates ‘a sense of the North’. The Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University have come together to organise, in the months leading up to the announcement of the Prize, ‘Rewriting the North’: a series of events celebrating writers and writing connected with the North of England. Jennifer Makumbi and Michelle Green will read from their work and will discuss the role that place plays in their creative practice.

Book online

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Closed for a school workshop on 19 Sep 2019, 2:00 - 4:30pm
Sep
19
2:00 PM14:00

Closed for a school workshop on 19 Sep 2019, 2:00 - 4:30pm

Manchester’s three rivers, the Irwell, the Irk and the Medlock, are featured on the city’s heraldic crest, forming part of the symbol for Manchester, but today they are largely hidden from view and many Manchester residents rarely interact them. What happened to Manchester’s three rivers?

Students from Levenshulme High School have been invited to learn about the rise and fall of Manchester’s three rivers and discover how important they are to our history, our ecology and to all people who live in the city and its surrounding area. A poet and a visual artist will lead the session and enable the group to create their own mythologies, inventing renewed identities for these rivers and helping to give them pride of place in Manchester once again.

Second Nature, The Portico’s upcoming exhibition, brings together historic literature and artefacts, up-to-date research and new works by contemporary artists and young people to ask what we mean by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ today and how these terms have been used throughout the modern age.

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Rewriting the North: Rewriting the North: Folklore, Myth and Rural Communities
Jul
25
6:00 PM18:00

Rewriting the North: Rewriting the North: Folklore, Myth and Rural Communities

The ‘Rewriting the North’ event series explores the relationship between writing and place and celebrates how writers are reimagining the North of England. Supported by The Portico Library and Centre for Place Writing. Speakers: Fiona Mozley and Andrew Michael Hurley.

Book online

Learn more about The Portico Prize

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Manchester: Ruskin-Free-City
Jul
17
6:00 PM18:00

Manchester: Ruskin-Free-City

Wed 17 July 2019, 6pm-7:30pm. Free.

19th-century artist, critic and social reformer John Ruskin said “I perceive that Manchester can produce no good art and no good literature”. In his eyes, this city saw the price of everything and the value of nothing - not grasping art’s true potential as a tool for social change and for the development of an ethical society. In 2019, his bicentenary year, what does Manchester have to say to this influential but controversial thinker’s ideas? Pose your questions to the new Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth, Alistair Hudson, and Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera, who have responded to some of Ruskin’s challenges by proposing to “put art to use” through the movement of Arte Útil. Hosted by Tunde Adekoya, Director of Big People Music, this lively debate will be an opportunity to ask important questions about art, power and society.

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Interjectional Exercises
Jul
15
6:30 PM18:30

Interjectional Exercises

Mon 15 July 2019, 6:30pm-8:30pm. Free.

Artist Rowland Hill presents a new live work incorporating British Sign Language, spoken word and physical gesture. The piece is a development of her previous performance for The Portico Library, Visible Speech (2018), made in collaboration with and performed by members of Manchester Deaf Centre in response to Alexander Melville Bell’s 1867 book of the same name.

 This event forms part of Manifest, a city-wide festival promoting and celebrating artists in the North West during the Manchester International Festival fortnight.

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The Ruskin Lectures, re-enacted: The Discovery and Application of Art
Jul
8
6:30 PM18:30

The Ruskin Lectures, re-enacted: The Discovery and Application of Art

In July 1857 John Ruskin came to Manchester to deliver A Joy Forever, a pair of lectures presented over two evenings. These lectures, subtitled The Discovery and Application of Art and The Accumulation and Distribution of Art, will be re-enacted at The Portico Library and Manchester Art Gallery respectively during the Ruskin in Manchester bicentenary festival. Actor and art historian Paul O’Keeffe will perform these original lectures in two of the most important architectural treasures remaining from Victorian Manchester.

Sponsored by Ruskin in Manchester, Guild of St. George and Manchester Metropolitan University.

The second lecture, The Accumulation and Distribution of Art, will be held at Manchester Art gallery, Saturday 13th July 2019 at 12pm.

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Tasting America: An Edible Literary History
Jul
5
6:30 PM18:30

Tasting America: An Edible Literary History

The Portico is pairing food and literature at an event that will tell the history of cuisine in the United States through a lively lecture and series of tastings. Expect to learn about the canonization of pumpkin pie as quintessentially “American” while munching on a slice of this classic treat. Centred on the story of American taste and the role literature and played in making it come to be, this engaging talk led by Dr. J. Michelle Coghlan will be delivered alongside some delicious culinary highlights from the U.S., selected and prepared by The Portico Library’s chef, Joe Fenn. This will also be a chance to engage with some gems from The Portico Library’s American literature and American travel writing collections, which will be on display on the evening.

Succotash lettuce wraps, with corn, lima beans and fresh tomato

Mini chilli bowl (meat, vegetarian or vegan) with fresh corn tortillas and sour cream

Mini pumpkin tarts with fresh whipped cream

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Making the News: Reading between the lines, from Peterloo to Meskel Square
Jul
5
to Sep 23

Making the News: Reading between the lines, from Peterloo to Meskel Square

Throughout summer 2019, Manchester is holding bicentenary commemorations of the Peterloo Massacre, exploring themes of protest, democracy and freedom of speech. The Portico Library is one of the only remaining buildings to have witnessed Peterloo and its members at the time included liberal founder of The Guardian newspaper J.E. Taylor, and Captain Hugh Hornby Birley, who led the fatal cavalry charge. We have used the Library’s history and collection to provide context for an exhibition of related works by Ethiopian artist Robel Temesgen and the newly published graphic novel Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre.

Robel Temesgen creates hand-written newspapers that confound the reader, slipping between pro and anti-establishment messages and exploring the role of printed information in the shaping of democracy. His Meskel Square issue, depicting memories of one of the largest public spaces in Ethiopia, are on display. At the exhibition launch its pages were ‘performed’ by some of Manchester’s Amharic-speaking residents, who interpreted the texts in their own words for public audiences. Whether the texts were authentically translated remains unknowable for non-Amharic-speaking visitors, inviting us to consider where power lies in relation to language, literacy and printed material.

An additional new work, part of Temesgen’s adbar series, commemorates Peterloo and connects 21st-century audiences to the event through an extended experience of place and collective memory, created in response to text extracts evoking the spirit of Peter’s Field compiled in collaboration with author, Robert Poole.

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ማን እያወራ እንዳለ ይመልከቱ - Look who’s Talking
Jul
4
6:00 PM18:00

ማን እያወራ እንዳለ ይመልከቱ - Look who’s Talking

Thur 4 July 2019, 6pm-8pm. Free.

For many years, English has been the international language of power, and first-language English speakers benefit from often unrecognised advantages around the world. What if the roles were reversed? For this event, Amharic-speaking Manchester residents interpret Ethiopian artist Robel Temesgen’s imagined newspaper headlines in their own words for English-speaking audiences – reconsidering the balance of power between publisher, reader, translator and listener in the age of fake news and ‘alternative facts’.

This event will coincide with the public launch of The Portico's exhibition, Making the News: Reading between the lines, from Peterloo to Meskel Square.

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The Familiars By Stacey Halls
Jul
1
6:30 PM18:30

The Familiars By Stacey Halls

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. The Familiars is her first novel which has been published to much acclaim.

Halls' key interests include women and power and the social history of witches. Her novel is informed by extensive research and she speaks with authority on Gawthorpe Manor and her real life heroine, Fleetwood Shuttleworth. Come and hear Halls speak about her research and read from her debut novel at this event and book signing. Drinks and copies of Stacey's book will be on sale.

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Rewriting the North: Manchester, Fiction & Rewriting the Past
Jun
27
6:30 PM18:30

Rewriting the North: Manchester, Fiction & Rewriting the Past

Two leading writers, Rosie Garland and Livi Michael, will read from their work and will discuss the role that place plays in their creative practice. ‘Rewriting the North’, then, will explore the relationship between writing and place across a range of forms and genres. By extension, it will celebrate how such writers are rewriters are reimagining the North of England.

Book online

Learn more about The Portico Prize

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Mike Harding: Cosmos Mariner
Jun
6
6:30 PM18:30

Mike Harding: Cosmos Mariner

Mike Harding returns to The Portico Library to share his new poetry collection, Cosmos Mariner. In these poems, Mike draws on his own life-story and engages the reader and listener alike with his own inimitable talent. Join us for an evening of drinks, poetry and story-telling and be some of the first to hear these poems read in the author’s own voice.

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Rewriting the North: Jean Sprackland and Jacob Polley
May
30
6:30 PM18:30

Rewriting the North: Jean Sprackland and Jacob Polley

The Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University have come together to organise ‘Rewriting the North’: a series of events celebrating writers and writing connected with the North of England. In each event, two leading writers will read from their work and will discuss the role that place plays in their creative practice. ‘Rewriting the North’, then, will explore the relationship between writing and place across a range of forms and genres. By extension, it will celebrate how such writers are rewriters are reimagining the North of England.

In the first event of this new series, Jean and Jacob will explore the role that place and memory play in their evocations of the landscapes – both real and imagined – of the North of England.

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