“A new exhibition for city lovers, map makers, and fans of the architecture of Greater Manchester,” is how curator Hayley Flynn describes Streetview currently running in the city’s subterranean 2022 venue. Streetview is her first exhibition borne of a remarkable blog she runs about Manchester and Salford’s architecture called Skyliner.
Richard Hector Jones reports:
But cities are of course more than just mapped streets, statues and buildings of notable design. These physicalities are the pegs we need to hang our memories and experiences on the longer we live in them. The buildings that are no longer there that remain as long as we do. Good times. Bad times. the pets and porn of old Tib Street. The National Front barber of Hanging Ditch. The Golden Dawn book shop. The crazies. The good, the bad etc.
And while Streetview isn’t just here to explore personal histories, what it has done is allowed forty or so artists – inspired by Google’s creepy Street View mapping system – to explore nooks and crannies of the city in a way that holds meaning or memories to them whether they live here or not. Some of which, like the consistently moribund Church Street Records, are long gone.
The most beautiful street in the whole of Manchester is China Lane. There’s little to recommend it until you walk it a few hundred times. It’s got a great dead doorbell. No longer does life spills out from its shut up doorways making it almost unique in the city centre. Indeed it serves little purpose these days other than to the rag trade who clog it up twice a day with their lorries distributing last month’s fashions. But it’s eerily beautiful and artist Elizabeth Murray-Jones has found a way to draw it from a unique angle that also reveals a towering building on Tariff Street that looks as if it’s on loan from Gotham City. In other words she’s found something remarkable tucked away in the city that a Rough Guide could never even attempt to understand. And it’s a lovely find for both newcomer and resident.
The negative preconceptions of Manchester’s original Garden City Wythenshawe district are drawn on in a piece by LA based artist Luke McGarry. It’s a highlight of the exhibition that joyously skewers people’s prejudices. Dogs on street corners with chains and fetching eye patches with lots of green spaces for them to create their mischief in. It’s more colourful than any other image in the exhibition – a reflection of reality – and a reminder that a city can never be defined by exploring its bright lights alone.
Streetview. 2022. Dale Street. Manchester. Runs until February 18th 2013.