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.
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!
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.
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 Making the News.
More information on the exhibition here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/exhibitions/
Booking not required
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.
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, Making the News.
More information on the exhibition here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/exhibitions/
Booking not required
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anne 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 Fancy Pants, an exhibition that explores dress and costume’s historic and contemporary relationships with ritual, play, morality and resistance. Please note that the library is accessed via a staircase. There is no lift but a stair lift is available via the rear entrance.
Come and create exciting wearable art pieces using your pre-loved items. Artist Ruby Kirby will help you to re-invent them into new wild creations using a variety of other recycled odds and ends. The more bonkers the better! This event accompanies The Portico’s latest exhibition Fancy Pants looking at dress and costume’s historic and contemporary relationships with ritual, play, morality and resistance.
March 14, 2019, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Performed by stand-up poet and Radio 4 regular Kate Fox; a comic and thought-provoking show about the real Northern Powerhouse, Northern Women – the sung and the unsung!
This funny, gently subversive performance/lecture uncovers the hidden history of the writers, scientists, sportswomen, politicians, protesters, musicians and other heroines who represent the grit, determination and spirit of the North’s women.
Jennifer Little will conduct a tour in British Sign Language (with no spoken English). She will introduce The Portico Library’s building and collection, and give insights to the present exhibition, Fancy Pants.
Four visual artists present radical, expressive works that look at dress and costume’s historic and contemporary relationships with ritual, play, morality and resistance. These pieces invite us to think about celebration and wellbeing, mind and body, and the idea of ‘high’ vs ‘low’ culture.
New artworks by Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Ruby Kirby, Lindsey Mendick & Camille Smithwick, with books from the library’s collection including Joseph Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes of the People of England and John Northbrooke’s Treatise Against Dicing, Dancing, Plays and Interludes: with Other Idle Pastimes.
First Draft have commissioned a line up of talented artists to create new performances inspired by the library's mysterious collection of books on the occult. Throughout the evening, they'll take you into a world of witches and necromancers, demons and magicians, and ghostly apparitions bringing warnings from beyond the grave.
Don't miss this special Halloween evening of cabaret at the atmospheric Portico Library - one of Manchester's most beautiful hidden gems.
RECLAIM was set up in Moss Side in 2007, to identify and support young leaders from an intensely pressurised community. It continues its work to help young working class people to develop their skills and potential, and to build their pathway to make the world a better place for all. In this informal event some of RECLAIM’s proud and passionate young working class feminists will talk about their journey into social action.
This double bill explores the work of psychotherapy practitioner Molly Harrower, who pioneered the use of inkblot tests in Gestalt psychology. There will be readings from Molly’s autobiography, and you can print your own inkblot and learn what an inkblot test looks like.
Bryony Dixon has researched and written on many aspects of early and silent film, and co-directs the annual British Silent Film Festival, as well as programming for a variety of film festivals and events worldwide. Now the BFI’s silent film curator, Bryony oversees its archive of suffragette films, and will discuss how the battle for women’s suffrage in the early years of the 20th century was captured – and carried out – on film.
Helen Pankhurst is an international development and women's rights activist and writer. Pankhurst is currently CARE International's senior advisor working in the UK and Ethiopia. Pankhurst is the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, who were both leaders in the British suffragette movement. Helen will be reading from her latest book Deeds Not Words, which will be followed by a Q&A.
*SheSays Manchester is a wholly inclusive event with a difference – an open space for discussion where women take the lead. *SheSays Manchester also matches mentors and mentees, creating opportunities for women to lead and inspire other women. Vimla Appadoo will talk about *SheSays Manchester and take questions from the audience at the end.
Nimco Ali is a British Somali feminist, writer and social activist. She is co-founder and director of Daughters of Eve, a survivor-led organisation which has helped to transform the approach to ending female genital mutilation (FGM). Nimco will be talking about her current work to ensure Somaliland, where 98% of women and girls are affected, enacts legislation to ban FGM.
Quartier Perdu is the anticipated new collection from multi-award winning short story writer, poet, playwright and journalist, Sean O'Brien.
O’Brien is perhaps Britain’s most decorated living poet, being the only poet to have won the Forward and TS Elliot prizes three times. New collection brings together stories inspired by terror, science and the supernatural, lit with the hue of the Victorian gothic. Some stories written in direct response to the famous Literature and Philosophy Library in Newcastle, where O’Brien lives and is the Professor of Creative Writing at the university.
The Portico Library was established in 1806 and remains in its original purpose-built venue in the heart of Manchester City Centre, still fulfilling its original function and welcoming visitors six days a week for exhibitions, dining and events. Its collection was compiled throughout the colonial period and reflects the complex relationships that developed between Asia and Britain throughout the 19th century. Join Asia Triennial Manchester 2018 artist and former Portico exhibitor Saima Rasheed to learn about the library’s history, collection and current exhibition ENTWINED: Knowledge & power in the age of Captain Cook.
Dancer, artist and curator Risa Takita has developed a new interactive performance through research into the history of Manchester at The Portico Library. Specially commissioned for Asia Triennial Manchester 2018, Risa’s new work raises questions about the meaning of identity, history and culture and draws inspiration and insight from the library’s connections with the wider world over the last three centuries.
From Giotto to Michelangelo, Dante to Petrarch, Florence to Rome, Italy's Renaissance left an indelible mark on the Victorians. Former Portico Librarian, Emma Marigliano, explores how British artists and poets reinterpreted and mythologised Italian culture for the British public.
This event is brought to you by the Dante Alighieri Society in Manchester with delicious Italian nibbles and wine provided after the talk.
This series will present seventeen artistic personalities, selecting some examples from different centuries: we will look at their lives and their art, put them into context, and as a result of the analysis of their biographies, we will acknowledge how their identity as female artists affected their careers, their work and their role for the following generations. These four sessions can be joined as stand-alone events or attended as a course to receive the full benefit of Sara’s inspiring teaching style. These sessions are perfect for anyone who wishes to strengthen their knowledge of the History of Art.
David Winnard of Discover the Wild will introduce the evening with a brief history of gin and from there he will lead a tasting. With David’s amazing knowledge of foraging and the natural world, he will explain the way that gin is produced and infused with some wonderful flavours. Later on, Theresa Sowerby will perform some poems with her inimitable humour and gusto! Three cocktails are included in the price and some simple and delicious food accompaniments will be provided. There are few more splendid settings in Manchester in which to enjoy a gin tasting!
Exhibiting artist Jane Lawson leads a collaborative session to develop a handbook of methods to identify and respond to ‘fake news’. Discuss the history of the phenomenon and its relation to new technologies.
During the Cotton Famine, an outpouring of poetry told of the despair and suffering endured by the people of Lancashire. Academics at the University of Exeter have been working to build an accessible database of these poems and to launch this resource there will be a mixture of recitation and song set in the context of the project and this important history. As well as entertainment, there will also be information provided on how to use the database. Come along to this event in celebration of the database launch to hear the poems and pay tribute to the past.
‘“They slowly paced the gradual ascent”: taking time with Jane Austen’s novels.’ This talk will propose that slow reading of key sentences and paragraphs – awarding them the close attention more often invited by poetry – can draw us into the heart of Jane Austen’s writing. Examples will be chosen from Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. Bill Hutchings is an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester.
Join the exhibitors to hear about the background of the works on display and the ideas and processes behind their practices. Refreshments will be available, and the artists will be joined by Allie Johns, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing & Digital Human Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University. Allie will draw on her accompanying short article ‘A little digital learning is a dangerous thing. Or is it?’
The Chanteuse aka Lucy Hope, has released an album of songs written by eminent French writer, Patrick Modiano (Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014). It is little known that Modiano penned exquisite lyrics for some of the famous yéyé recording artists in the late 60s/early 70s. The Chanteuse will be bringing these songs to a 'salon' at the Portico Library.
Hear from the artists featured in our June 2018 exhibition Beautiful Monsters and ask…
Take part in a free event dedicated to Manchester’s Women, such as Margaret Ashton, who are specifically associated with The Portico Library and who celebrate Protest, Democracy and Freedom of Speech.
A Patron of The Portico Library, Melvin Burgess is an award-winning author of children's and young adult fiction. Often referred to as 'the godfather of teen fiction' by the British press, his novel Junk, published in 1996, was widely lauded for its realistic portrayal of youth, drugs and sex.
Join us on international Darwin Day for a talk that traces human evolution from 8m years ago to today's global population. Dr Reinmar Hager (University of Manchester) identifies the key phases in our human history and asks what our future looks like.