Archive for the ‘Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions’ Category

Review: Jackie Kay, Young Enigma and guests @ Queer Contact 2014 – Mancunian Matters

In Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Literature Reviews, Poetry Reviews, Queer on February 15, 2014 at 11:09 am


“You have a girlfriend? Oh, so you mean you are lesbian? Okay, so who is the man when you make sex?

“His eyes have faded to a sleazy shimmer as my Nigerian priest father imagines a forbidden fantasy playing out before him – I have always wondered who the man is when lesbians make sex…”

Thus spoke the enigmatic Jackie Kay when recounting her first meeting with her long-lost father after tracing him to holy African soil.

Her adoptive mother was a Glaswegian communist. Her biological father considered her a sin from a previous life, best forgotten.

Contact Theatre rounded off its Queer Contact 2014 festival in celebration of LGBT History Month with an evening of spoken word poetry performances based on the theme of identity.

Young LGBT writers collective Young Enigma curated the show headlined by the award-winning Jackie Kay, Patience Agbabi and Gerry Potter who turned the spoken word into outspoken words.

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Review: War Horse @ The Lowry – Mancunian Matters

In Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Theatre Reviews on December 8, 2013 at 9:08 pm

As we prepare to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – ‘the war to end all wars’ – War Horse proves a fitting reminder of the tragedies that continue to rage today.

image_5Michael Morpurgo’s classic novel, retold by Steven Spielberg in the Hollywood box office sensation in 2011, tells the simple tale of a boy and his horse who become entwined in the history and politics of their time.

But Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation in association with Handspring Puppet Company, rejuvenates this story in a visual feast for the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist of the week: Stockport painter’s homage to abandoned places sheds light on lost worlds – Mancunian Matters

In Art Reviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions on October 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

A Stockport-based painter who spent her lonely childhood with sketches of imagined and scribbled friends has spoken out about an artists need to have ‘his or her own voice’.


Manchester-born Anne Aspinall is due to showcase her talent at Cheshire’s Gorstella gallery exhibition next month.

With collectors due to battle it out for her sublime and elegant paintings, MM spoke to Anne who admitted that her lonely upbringing has taught her that each artists needs an element to their work which marks them out from others.

Born in 1949 as the only child to a kind and artistic mother whose own work inspired Anne’s colourful paintings.


Whilst her mother ran errands and made the regular rounds visiting elderly relatives, Anne was nurtured by her high school art teachers and occupied herself by drawing.

“I created lots of brothers and sisters through my drawings together with all the ponies, dogs and cats a child could wish for,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Gig review: The Cat Empire @ The Ritz, Manchester – Mancunian Matters

In Interviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Music Reviews on October 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

By Gabriella Swerling

cat emp

The grimy back-streets of Manchester were transformed into the streets of Rio in an underground rave that brought out the snake-hips in everyone last night.

The Ritz – yes, that’s right, that venue oh so famed for its foam parties and freshers’ week snogs – played host to the carnivalesque party-animals, The Cat Empire.

The Aussie cool-cats were back in town to promote their latest album Steal The Light on their biggest international tour yet – playing more than 60 countries and three continents in just four months.

In an explosion of melody, groovy ska blues and humanitarian jazz doctrines, The Cat Empire blasted out their genre-defying fourth album as well as playing crowd-pleasing old favourites such as Two Shoes, The Rhythm and Sly.

Their new album is full of the same emotional range and latino-gypsy-ska as the previous three with the title track Steal The Light, completely stealing the show.

MM managed to grab hold of lead singer Felix Riebl before he headed on stage to perform to thousands of his adoring fans and asked him why he thinks the band have managed to stay around for so long.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what we’re playing as long as people are dancing.”

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Manchester’s Unsung Heroes: Mustard Tree manager leaves life of drugs to mentor homeless with art therapy – Mancunian Matters

In Art Reviews, Charity, Comment and Opinion, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions on October 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

As homelessness figures continue to soar, with an increase of almost 10% in Greater Manchester last year, it appeared to be one of the only growing businesses during the recession. 


But spending time on the streets, in shelters and behind bars has not deterred one man from devoting his life to helping those who suffer as he once did.

Just off Oldham Road lies a street full of secrets. On that street is a place where dignity, faith, grace, joy and truth are not just values that reflect off a painted canvas, but emanate, filling everyone inside with a glow of silent, selfless goodwill.

As you walk upstairs a giant, psychedelic portrait of Jimi Hendrix gazing at its admirer through knowing, hallucinogenic eyes.

This place is the Mustard Tree. It is a place that creates the sense of home for the homeless, downtrodden and displaced.

Caring 52-year-old Graham Hudson is Mustard Tree’s Creative Programmes Manager. He uses an informal mode of art therapy to encourage his students to rebuild their lives.

“They know that they’re not all going to be artists – but all of them are going to have to go on and continue with their lives afterwards,” he said.

He cites the example of one student, Gina, whose life was full of self-loathing and misanthropy, insisting that she couldn’t paint. Read the rest of this entry »


In Fashion, Interviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Magazine Contributions on October 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Vogue’s fashion night out was a fabulous northern affair yesterday evening. The Manchester event began in Hugo Boss’s store with a fashionista shindig. There was plenty to keep shoppers busy – from fashion talks with Roksanda Ilincic and Jonathan Saunders at Harvey Nichols to Pixie Geldof DJing at H&M and The Maccabees performing at Emporio Armani. Meanwhile industry names offered their fashion wisdom – Kate Phelan’s styling tips in Topshop, Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey gave a trend talk at Kurt Geiger and Bay Garnett shared packing tips at Louis Vuitton. See the street style coverage and industry insight courtesy of the gorgeous Gabriella Swerling….. vogue
Henry Holland: “Manchester’s always been close to my heart, it’s my home city so I think it’s great bringing attention to the Northern fashion scene and that Vogue’s decided to hold Fashion Night Out here.” Read the rest of this entry »

EXCLUSIVE – In a cell for being unwell: Manchester’s mentally ill LOCKED UP as ‘shameful’ NHS don’t have enough beds – Mancunian Matters

In Health, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions on October 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Exclusive by Ana Hine & Gabriella Swerling 

Mentally ill people in Manchester are being locked up in police cells because NHS cuts are forcing mental health units to close. 


Lack of available beds and insufficiently trained hospital staff are some of the reasons for criminalising the mentally ill.

Under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, police have the power to hold someone in custody until a mental health professional can psychologically assess them.

Nationally, police estimate that at least 20% of their time is spent dealing with the mentally ill in this way.

“Let’s not forget they’ve not committed any offence,” said Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

“They are in a police cell simply because they are unwell and the NHS either can’t or won’t take them in. It’s shameful. Worse – it’s scandalous.” Read the rest of this entry »

‘Art saved my life’ – pal of Oasis star has brush with success – Manchester Evening News – 17/09/13

In Art Reviews, Charity, Features, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Newspaper Contributions on September 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

art saved

The article is on page 6 of the Main Edition South/City – 17/09/13

Online version here: 

‘Lunatic running the asylum’ – EXCLUSIVE – The Sun

In Interviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Newspaper Contributions on June 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

brady datebrady 1 brady 2


Published in The Sun p13 27/06/13

A review of Simon Powell’s new film Girl Shaped Love Drug, and a few words from the man himself

In Film Reviews, Interviews, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

If a stranger walks up to you on the street, insisting that you share a connection – have been drawn together by fate, divine providence and the undulating restlessness of the stars in the swirling cosmos above you, you would think, this guy is a bit different. If this stranger then asks to take you out for a glass of wine, and he leads you to a supermarket kindly offering you the world and anything under £4.99, your provisional conclusion would be correct.

Girl Shaped Love Drug is a film that explores how coincidence brings two strangers together. But it is so much more than a gritty, urban fairytale. Simon Powell has created a quiet and tender love story that exposes the brutal scars of its characters as they fall victim to reality. The premise is simple: two strangers’ paths cross and they share a day together. It unlocks the secrets, misery and desires of a city and its inhabitants through the intertwined lives of Him and Her, the hedonist and the cynic. The fatalistic undercurrent is reminiscent of David Nicolls’s bestseller One Day; the love story that took over every beach, train and heart last summer. But in this one day, it is not so much what we learn about the characters, but what we don’t know about them that is so intriguing. Its beauty lies in the playful and naturalistic script, the unwritten words that instruct looks that linger too long, and eyes that have seen too much pain to trust. It is up to the audience to imagine the back stories of these characters. How did they get here? How did they escape? Why are they pretending to cope?

Him and Her

Him and Her

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