My Manchester story is in the current (May) issue of Discover Britain magazine.
It’s a city-focus piece, based around the angle of industrial heritage, looking at Manchester as the modern-industrial city.
Here’s an extract:
The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) makes its home in the area today and presents a comprehensive introduction to the city’s evolution.
Built on the site of the original Liverpool Road train station, the oldest surviving railway station in the world, MOSI also celebrates the spirit of innovation that appears indelibly printed into Manchester’s DNA.
Standing in the Revolution Gallery, encircled by examples of Manchester firsts, the scale of achievements becomes truly apparent: a 1775 prototype water frame machine for manufacturing textiles, a replica of the Baby computer and a display about the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, the world’s first steam-powered railway and the first to carry both passengers and goods.
Adam Daber, MOSI’s Curator of Industry, says: “Manchester was different in that, by attracting free thinkers to the region to make their mark, there was no limit to progress. I think that philosophy still holds true today.”
A sound installation, a star-struck brush with Waterloo Road‘s lead man and a seat on the BBC Breakfast sofa were some of the highlights of a field trip to MediaCityUK yesterday.
Second-year undergraduates on the Broadcasting and Journalism BA spend the day exploring the Salford Quays site, visiting BBC North and Salford University, as part of the Media Business module.
They gathered multimedia content, vox pops interviews and insight into the MediaCityUK development for assessed presentations after Easter. Story angles, developed in advance of the visit, ranged from sustainability in media organisations to the impact of the BBC move from London on local employment.
Students questioned local experts about job and freelance opportunities for recent graduates at the expanding MediaCityUK complex.
Paul Broster, Course Leader for Salford University’s MA Journalism programme, said: “There are very few permanent staff jobs available these days but media outlets are still hungry for quality freelancers with skills and enthusiasm.”
He indicated their courses are now increasingly embracing online journalism as the essential skill for next-generation journalists.
Margaret Burgin, Outreach Manager for BBC North, explained that, while all work experience opportunities are advertised on the BBC Careers website, strong applicants will always shine through.
“It’s passion we look for,” she said. “Do you really want this? If you don’t, we can tell just from your application.”
BBC North currently operates an apprenticeship programme for residents of Greater Manchester and paid work experience under its ambassador programme.
Journalism lecturer David Atkinson, who arranged the trip, said: “This was another useful exercise in taking students out of the comfort-zone classroom and engaging in some real-world journalism.”
He added: “I hope the students benefitted from the practical nature of the exercise.”
“Personally, I fulfilled a childhood ambition to visit the Blue Peter garden, while my esteemed colleague came tantalisingly close to an audience with Stuart Maconie.”
* Feedback from students (2nd year, Broadcasting & Journalism) following the trip:
Daniel Lloyd: “I particularly enjoyed having the chance to look around the BBC building. I’d definitely advise doing this trip with future students because overall it was enjoyable and relevant to our future careers.”
Kelton Evans: “MediaCityUK was a good choice of place. It looked to be at the cutting-edge of modern British media, and offered a good insight into how the BBC operates. The BBC security were a bit of a pain too, stopping photos etc. but, other than that, all good.”
It’s a follow up to the penguin dance and a physical-theatre progression on her earlier work, the spinning game.
She pushes aside her dinner with an elaborate flourish and heads for the door, announcing to the room, “I’m off to the shops.”
She then pops her head back round the door and says, with a cheery wave, “To buy sweeties.”
That wave gets me every time.
In that single gesture she captures the impish joy of being nearly three years old and knowing exactly how to tell an authority figure where to stick it.
It’s Marcel Marceau meets punk rock. It’s a sign she is spreading her wings. It may be a simple act, but that wave is positively loaded with meaning.
The image of a toddler tearaway in a Minnie Mouse dress stayed in my mind as I went to Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) recently to see the Sigune Hamann exhibition, Wave (pictured below).
The German artist is fascinated by the range of meanings and emotions a wave can convey.
The exhibition includes a range of images from waving Jewish families, leaving Germany by train prior to the Second World War, to the regal wave of the Queen Mother.
A series of arrivals and departures at Euston train station form a central body of work. A still from the David Lean film Brief Encounter adds a frisson of cinematic glamour. An image of a man waving for help from a makeshift raft in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami in 2010 nods to photo-reportage.
East Berliners, I learn, were forbidden to wave to relatives across the newly erected Berlin Wall during the Cold War.
But some people living on the East German border came up with the multi-purpose idea of cleaning their windows with large, expressive gestures to send messages to friends in the West.
Tracing the development of the wave, the exhibition suggests, offers a new take on the story of human communication.
Adam Kendon, author of Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance (Cambridge Press, 2004) describes the wave as a “distance salutation”.
The degree of limb extension … is probably related to the distance over which the signals are exchanged. It is also related to the vigour of the wave.
But for me, it’s the nuance of meaning, rather than physical act, that is the true beauty of the wave.
In one simple gesture we convey a range of emotions unencumbered by the need to find the right words in the heat of the moment.
It’s strangely liberating.
Waves stayed with all week thereafter. I watched people packing their waves with unspoken messages – from the school gates to train platform – like a flashmob art installation.
But it was only when I dropped off my elder daughter Maya one night last week, caught amid the eye of a storm, that I felt the visceral power of the wave truly wash over me.
As I turned to walk away, I heard a tap on the bedroom window above. Maya was there, wrapped in the curtain, and waving to me like Rapunzel in an enchanted tower.
I waved back. Then turned and cried the whole walk home.