An open-air gallery spanning 130 sites is set to launch across Manchester this week.

Universally Manchester: Where Great Things Come Together takes inspiration from people’s time at The University of Manchester.

The exhibition forms part of the run-up to the Universally Manchester Festival — a four-day festival celebrating the University’s 200th birthday this June.

Hundreds of free tickets will be made available for events that feature speakers and performers including Professor Brian Cox, GRRRL, Ed O’Brien (Radiohead) and Professor Daniela Delneri (with Cloudwater Brew Co) available to all from the 9th May. Visitors can sign up for early access to the popular events here.

The citywide visual art project invites university alumni to reflect on their love for the city, welcoming contributions from award-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing Jeanette Winterson, and poet and former Chancellor Lemn Sissay, alongside alumni including drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous, comedian Josh Widdicombe, actor Mathew Horne and barrister and broadcaster Rob Rinder.

The artworks have each been designed by different Manchester illustrators, breathing life into the inspiring quotes and the colourful personalities behind them. From Tue 7 May the artworks can be found exhibited at Mayfield Park, St Peter’s Square Metrolink, and on over 130 digital billboards and poster sites across the city.

The Josh Widdicombe artwork was created by Ellie Thomas, Lemn Sissay by John Owens, Rob Rinder and Matthew Horne by Beth Wilkinson and Cheddar Gorgeous by Louise Hardman.

Louise Hardman, on illustrating part of Cheddar Gorgeous’ quote, which has been painted as a mural by Open Minds, in Mayfield Park: “Drag performer, producer, academic, and visual artist – Cheddar Gorgeous is a Manchester powerhouse. For this piece, I was deeply inspired by Cheddar’s playful and unapologetic approach to their art and activism; exhibited by the vivid colours, bold type, and whimsical patterns within the design.

“Through the incorporation of illustrated theatrical iconography, the artwork spotlights Cheddar’s impressive lifelong career in the performing arts, in addition to their conceptual approach to storytelling and self-expression. It’s been an utter honour to have had the opportunity to help visualise Cheddar’s beautiful words.”

A mural of Rob Rinder’s words, illustrated by Beth Wilkinson, will be painted live, by Open Minds, at Mayfield Park on Thu 9 May, to coincide with the release of free tickets for Universally Manchester Festival.

Tue 7 May
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Tue 7 May 2024