Friday, 10 July 2015

Football as Art in Manchester

Thursday 9th July

And definitely not the Manchester United stadium tour, but a walking and museums day.  It’s jolly hot with strong winds howling down the streets wherever there are tall buildings.  This morning, after giving Meg a good run around in the little park, we walked to the Art Gallery, this time via Chinatown.  The white lorry was having a great deal of trouble trying to turn round and had caused a bit of a jam.

3 chinese arch

In the Art Gallery we went round some of the parts we had missed last time.  My favourite was an Antony Gormley sculpture suspended from the ceiling of the atrium.  Gormley’s work is based on casts of his own body, and a well-known example is at Crosby where iron men gaze out to sea.  Another one was installed this year on the Stratford canal at Lowsonford.  The one in Manchester is called Filter.

6 gormley filter

That’s the sky behind him; even though he looks as though he’s standing on something solid, his feet are a couple of feet away from a vertical wall.  The picture below gives a better idea.  He moves very slightly in the air as a mobile does.

8 gormley filter

Another exhibit was a shed.  It’s actually called Inside-out House and there’s a button you can press to make the chimney smoke.  But when we saw it, a chap was just removing the brand-new fog machine because it didn’t work.  When he was about 12, our son built a hut not dissimilar to this, though somewhat smaller, out of bits and pieces from an old kitchen.  We wondered what the gallery paid for this!

11 jack shed

We walked back to the boat via  Piccadilly Gardens, which looks much better now the big wheel (like the London Eye) that was there on our last visit has been removed.  After lunch we went to the National Football Museum which is housed in a stunning building on Cathedral Green.

18 nat football museum

Now I’m not a massive football fan, unlike Dave, but I enjoyed this.  They’ve done a lot with not a great deal of material to produce imaginative displays, such as the opportunity to don headphones and listen to amusing commentaries involving your team – here we are listening to the closing moments of Exeter City’s promotion match v Rotherham.

12 promotion commentary

Eric Cantona features quite a lot.  He was the subject of a fan’s artwork which hangs in the museum and a detail hangs as a banner in the entrance hall.

16 cantona as art

There are historical sections as you might expect and a bit about the rules, such as this one -

13 rules yeah right

Yeah, right.  But the weirdest thing, apart from the over life-sized statue of Michael Jackson which used to be at Fulham FC, is Robbie Savage’s hair.  I only know about him from Strictly but he was a premiership player and is a TV pundit now.  He donated his hair to the museum, but they are only displaying ‘a lock’ of it while they are ‘working on conserving it.  Why??

15 weird hair donation

We walked back to the boat past the Cathedral, which stands next to the River Irwell.  The path and flower beds along the river bank used to be a road as you can see from the traffic lights which still stand there.

19 walk by irwell and cathedral

The river is way below the town at this point and there don’t seem to be any riverside walks.  Manchester treats its river much as it does its canals – pretty much ignoring it.  It was difficult to get a decent picture because of high parapets.

20 irwell bridge

We had a meal in ASK in Piccadilly Gardens.  The food was ok, a bit oily perhaps, but the service was dreadfully slow.  We finished off the evening back at the art gallery where there was a project going on called ‘Performance Capture’ as part of the Manchester International Festival.   Various actors are being filmed over the  duration of the project with motion capture sensor things (technical term) affixed to their persons, and a large bank of computers, with associated technicians, is building up an avatar with all the facial expressions and body movements that have been recorded.  It’s called rastering and is similar technology to how Andy Serkis was filmed in the part of Gollum for Lord of the Rings.

No locks or cruising today but rather a lot of walking.

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