From June to August 2019, Manchester will hold 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 will use 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: Witness to a Massacre.
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.
Learn more about The Portico Prize
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.
To mark Heritage Open Days, The Portico Library holds one day of activities celebrating the relationship between cultural heritage and the natural environment. The Library also launches its Endangered Booklist in a bid to preserve its threatened collection items. Details to be announced.
(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.
The Portico will be closed to both the members and the public at this time to allow a wedding to take place. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We will re-open on Friday 19 July at 9:30am.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about The Portico Prize
The Library, cafe and exhibition space will be unavailable from 2pm on Wednesday the 26th of June as we will be hosting our annual awards for young people. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Find out more about The Portico Sadie Massey Awards here.
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 Off the Shelf.
More information on the exhibition here: www.theportico.org.uk/exhibitions/
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.
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.
In this talk we will delve into the subject of Manchester’s numerous burial sites. Many morbid and bizarre stories emerge as soon as you start digging! Manchester’s body snatchers or ‘resurrectionists’ turned a trade providing corpses to anatomy schools, sometimes relying on criminal methods when legal supply fell short of demand. Other stories tell of a headless corpse and the Manchester mummy! Steve Little is an historian, local explorer and member of The Portico, who will exhume some of these forgotten stories.
Official Book Launch
Peterloo: Witness to a Massacre is a new verbatim style graphic novel, telling the story of the violent suppression of a peaceful, democratic protest that took place in Manchester 200 years ago. This is a unique, first-of-its-kind visual project, using only direct testimony of the time (letters, memoirs, journalist’s accounts, spies’ reports, courtroom evidence, etc.) combined with vivid and realistic illustrations.
Writer and performer Jack Nicholls will be delivering a workshop for young people on the morning of Tuesday the 21st of May. The Library will reopen at 1pm and the cafe will be taking orders until 2pm. Jack delivers workshops on behalf of The Portico as part of The Portico Sadie Massey Awards for young readers and writers.
Chris Wallace-Crabbe is a leading Australian poet and essayist, with a special interest in the visual arts. Rondo harvests a decade’s worth of new writing by one of Australia’s foremost poets. It is currently shortlisted for the 2019 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the NSW Premier's Literature Awards. This new collection paints a vivid portrait of eucalypt Australia’s current position in an rapidly changing world. The poet asks for fresh meanings from Gallipoli and Scotland, from physics and from ‘Art’s porous auditorium’, where poetry can still be heard. ‘The words are only the words,’ he writes, ‘which is more or less everything.’
This event also features Marius Kociejowski and Carola Luther. Please follow the booking link for more information. A book signing will take place after the event and drinks will be on sale.
Here's your chance to really test your literary knowledge. Quiz Master, Ed Glinert, will deliver questions on some of the greatest authors, from Atwood to Zola. This will be a unique quiz with 6 special rounds which give one or two nods to the Library's collection and its most treasured books.
Sheri Benning’s most recent collection of poems, The Season’s Vagrant Light: New and Selected Poems, is published by Carcanet Press. This book marks the UK début of Canadian poet Sheri Benning, featuring new poems alongside work previously published in Canada. Benning’s early work draws on her strongly felt connection to her native landscape, rural Saskatchewan. In poems that couple sinew and roots, blood and sap, skin and stone, Benning explores an ecology of affiliation between humans and the natural world.
This event will also feature appearances by Christine Marendon and Jenny Lewis. Please follow the booking link for more information. Book signing will take place after the event and drinks will be on sale.
In this one day workshop you will work with an experienced local bookbinder, Barry Clark, to create four books: two simple no sew / no glue booklets, and two more substantial books, all in the concertina or accordion style. It’s a very versatile structure favoured by many book artists. All materials and tools will be provided. We will be using glue so please bring a protective apron. 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.
A one day workshop with an experienced local bookbinder. Book Online
The Library’s public access will be interrupted for two hours (between 12 - 2pm) on Monday the 29th of April 2019 because the annual general meeting of The Portico Library Trust will be in session. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes. The Library will still be accessible for registered members, readers and researchers.
The Portico will close for the Easter holidays at 17:30 on Thursday 18 April and re-open at 09:30 Tuesday 23 April.
The mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing is more widely known and admired today than he ever was during his lifetime. In February 2019 BBC viewers voted him the most important person of the 20th century; he was certainly a man who changed the world. Today, his iconography greets Mancunians in Sackville Park Gardens, across the University campus and on the way to the Manchester Velodrome. Even The Portico played a small part in his story.
Today, The Portico Library’s books sit on the same shelves as they did in 1850, providing a snap-shot of the borrowing and reading habits of Manchester’s Victorian residents. The Library retains detailed records of who borrowed what when, providing an intimate glimpse into their passions and predilections. In this exhibition, we present the original volumes that were borrowed, including Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Ruskin’s Modern Painters, with further information about the readers.
The Portico Library is closed to the public today to allow the Annual General Meeting to take place. We will re-open at 9.30am on Friday 29 March 2019.
In 1836 newspapers across Britain reported a “Grand Fancy Ball” held at The Portico Library. Now all you fancy people are invited to create and wear your own wild and wonderful costumes to the closing party of the Portico’s current exhibition Fancy Pants. There will be a dance performance in exhibitor Ruby Kirby’s wearable artworks and a prize for the best dressed guest will be judged and presented by the artists. Drinks will be on sale, with proceeds contributing to the Library’s charitable programme.