Manchester's Hidden Stories - Industrial Beginnings

Adam Holcroft
Continuing our discovery of the stories behind the people and places featured in the #MCRHiddenStories mural, this blog takes a look at some of the businesses, big and small, established in the city.

MCR Hidden Stories | Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce

Did you know that one of the most famous car brands in the world started right here in Manchester? It all began in 1904 when Henry Royce, founder of F.H. Royce and Company based in the city, decided to move on from making electrical fittings and start making motor cars. His first car was the two-cylinder Royce 10, and it was this motor that was pitched to car dealership owner Charles Rolls. Their first meeting took place at the Midland Hotel, on Peter Street, on the 4th of May 1904. Thoroughly impressed by the Royce 10, in December of the same year, Rolls agreed to take all of the cars Royce could make. Through Royce’s engineering expertise and Roll’s experience in the automobile trade, the first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. The pair went on to establish Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906 and the rest, as they say, is history! Top Tip: If you’re ever near the Midland, be sure to head up the steps and on the right you’ll find a sculpture and plaque dedicated to the meeting of Rolls and Royce.

MCR Hidden Stories | Albert Jones

Albert Jones

An example of a small, purpose-built warehouse, this former textile factory has remained pretty much unaltered since it was first built in 1860. Found on Richmond Street in the Northern Quarter, it was first a shirt factory until 1946 when Albert Jones Textiles took it over. It’s still used by for the textile industry to this day and is currently owned by a Lebanese family. Thanks goes to Skyliner Manchester for bringing the Albert Jones story to our attention.

MCR Hidden Stories | Ho's Bakery

Ho's Bakery

A family-run Chinese Bakery, Ho’s is well known in Manchester as the place to go for home-cooked cakes, traditional Chinese sweets, and dumplings. Found on the corner of the famous square by the Chinese Arch in Manchester’s China Town, Ho’s has been a Manchester institution since it first opened in 1980. Now run by the third generation of the Ho family, the bakery specialises in traditional Hong Kong style sweet and savoury patisseries such as Sweet Melon Cake, Pork Dumplings, and our personal favourite, the irresistible Honey Bun’s. They also offer a range of celebration cakes, all of which are suitable for vegetarians. Inside you’ll find a few tables to eat at however if the temperamental Manc weather is uncharacteristically sunny, we’d recommend eating outside on the pagoda-topped benches to really soak up the atmosphere of China Town.

MCR Hidden Stories | Shudehill Mill

Shudehill Mill

Shudehill Mill, also known as Simpsons Mill, was a five storey mill built in 1782 by inventor and entrepreneur, Richard Arkwright and his partners. Found between Miller Street and Angel Street, the mill is considered the first powered textile factory in Manchester. Originally, the mill was designed to be powered by a Newcomen (fuel-burning) engine, but for unknown reasons, this did not come to fruition and the steam-powered textile mill was born, paving the way for Manchester to become an industrial powerhouse. Unfortunately the mill was badly damaged by fire in 1854 and had to be rebuilt before being completely demolished in 1940, following damage as a result of the Manchester Blitz. As images of Shudehill Mill itself are hard to come by, Meha has created this board in the style of L. S. Lowry, inspired by his work which depicted industrial Northern life and often featured mills similar to Shudehill. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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Manchester's Hidden Stories - Spectacular Scientists

Adam Holcroft
Next up in Meha’s #MCRHiddenStories mural in collaboration with NOMA Manchester and The Old Bank Residency are a series of boards exploring the stories of inspiring scientist’s. Read on to find out more about Balloonist James Sadler, Physicist Professor Brian Cox, and Botanist Kathleen Drew-Baker.

MCR Hidden Stories | James Sadler

James Sadler

A pastry chef from Oxford, James Sadler was a celebrity of 1780’s Britain, after he became the first ever Englishman to fly. Inspired by Joseph and Etienne Mongolfier, the French brothers who first conquered flight, Sadler began experimenting with gas filled balloons and made his first flight in 1784. At a time when knowledge about our skies was lacking, people were concerned that Sadler may collide with Heaven, or be attacked by ‘sky dragons’. Thankfully this didn’t happen and he took off from Oxford, flying for 30 minutes, and covering six miles before landing in Wood Eaton. Following his first flight, Sadler became a huge celebrity, with memorabilia from drawer knobs to bidet’s featuring his image. He became so famous in fact, that he, and three of his balloon’s, were given top billing at the 1814 jubilee at the personal request of the Royal family. So, what connects Sadler to Manchester? Two of Sadler’s further attempts at balloon flight took off in the city, with the first, from the garden of one John Howarth, in Long Millgate, watched by a crowd of over 5,000 people. The flight was a success and saw Sadler, with a cat for company, flying seven miles north to Radcliffe where he promptly landed in a reed bed. Named after Sadler, you’ll find Manchester’s newest public square, Sadler’s Yard in the cities Northern Quarter as part of the NOMA Manchester neighbourhood.

MCR Hidden Stories | Professor Brian Cox

Brian Cox

Known for revitilising the British public’s interest in Physics, Professor Brian Cox credits his love of the subject to Carl Sagan’s book ‘Cosmos’. Born in Oldham in 1968, Cox’s early years were spent dreaming of space travel, before his passion turned to music in his teens and saw him join a local band, Dare, as a keyboardist. He recorded music and toured with Dare in the late eighties returning to his love for Astronomy when the band split in 1991, completing a degree in Physics at the University of Manchester, followed by a PhD in particle physics. Prior to his PhD, Cox was again a keyboardist for another music group, D:Ream, best known for their 1994 hit, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’. Confronted with the choice of going on an international tour with the band or staying in Manchester to finish his PhD, Cox decided to stick to his first love, completing his doctorate with a thesis titled, ‘Double Diffraction Dissociation at Large Momentum Transfer.’ In 2005, he began working as a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester and made his television presenting debut hosting episodes of BBC One’s Horizon programme, looking at topics such as ‘Can We Make A Star on Earth?’. Following this he presented a one-off show, The Big Bang Machine, which resulted in him being offered his own series, Wonders Of The Solar System. Since then, Cox has hosted numerous science based shows including Stargazing: Live, Forces of Nature, and The Science of Doctor Who. He has also co-authored and written a number of books including, ‘Why Does E=mc2?’. Cox currently works on the ATLAS experiment, one of four major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, requiring him to spend time at CERN in Switzerland. MCR Hidden Stories | Kathleen Drew-Baker

Kathleen Drew-Baker

Born in Leigh in 1901, Kathleen Drew-Baker was a British botanist who’s research into edible seaweed, known as Nori, led to her being celebrated in Japan as the saviour of seaweed. Drew studied Botany at the University of Manchester, graduating with first class honours, before going on to complete a Master’s degree in 1923. Kathleen also spent 2 years studying seaweed at Berkley College, California, which gave her the luxury of spending time in Hawaii, where she would collect samples for her research. On her return from the United States, she headed back to Manchester University and became a researcher and lecturer in Botany. Following her marriage to fellow academic Henry Wright-Baker in 1928, Kathleen was removed from her lecturers position as the University had a policy of not employing married women. This wouldn’t stop her however, and she overcame this obstacle by becoming an honorary research fellow. Drew’s research into the life cycle of the red algae Porphyra Umbilicalis, resulted in the discovery that in order to continue their growth cycle, the seaweed’s spores needed to be in old seashells to seed. This discovery was of great interest to scientists in Japan who had long been searching for the solution to devastating crop failures of Nori seaweed. Japanese Nori seaweed was, and still is, widely used in staples of Japanese cuisine such as Sushi and by using Drew’s findings, they developed new farming methods which lead to a resurgence in Nori crops. When Dr Drew-Baker died in 1957, she was unaware of the impact her research had had on Japan’s seaweed industry. She became known as the ‘Mother of the Sea’ and every year on the 14th April, the annual Drew Festival is held in Kathleen’s memory n the city of Uto, Kumamoto. Thanks goes to Skyliner Manchester for bringing Kathleen’s story to our attention. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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Manchester's Hidden Stories - Cosgrove Hall Films

Adam Holcroft
If you grew up in the seventies and eighties, you’ll most definitely have heard of some of Cosgrove Hall Films most famous creations, if not the studio itself. Do Danger Mouse and Count Duckula ring a bell? What about The Wind in the Willows? Founded in 1976, Cosgrove Hall Films was the brainchild of Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall. Having first met whilst studying at the Manchester Regional College of Art & Design (now known as Manchester Metropolitan University), the pair started their first independent company together in 1971, Stop Frame Animations, which specialised in short films, commercials, and series including Noddy (1974). The company also created opening sequences for a number of children’s TV shows including the titles for the hit series Rainbow in 1972. Craving more creative freedom, Cosgrove and Hall closed Stop Frame in 1975 and established Cosgrove Hall Films in January 1976. Making their home in a converted tobacco and confectionery warehouse on Albany Road in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, the business would go on to become, at the time, one of Europe’s largest animation studios.

MCR Hidden Stories | Dangermouse Running for 161 episodes, Danger Mouse, voiced by David Jason, was Cosgrove Hall’s biggest success, entertaining over 24 million viewers. The series followed the ‘World’s Greatest Secret Agent’ as he, and his rather useless sidekick Penfold, took on a variety of baddies including evil Baron Silas Greenback. Another regular character to appear in Danger Mouse was Count Duckula, a vegetarian vampire who aspired to become rich and famous, who was given his own spin-off series which also grew to become one of the studios most successful programmes airing in the United States on Nickelodeon through the late eighties.

Count Duckula | MCR Hidden Stories Mural In 1989, the studio produced its first feature length film, an animation of Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG. The film included an ‘Easter Egg’, with a poster for their hit show Danger Mouse appearing in the background on a young boys bedroom wall. The studio also collaborated with best-selling author Terry Pratchett, producing two series for Channel 4 based on two of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, Wyrd Sisters, and Soul Music (1997). Continuing their work in children’s television, Cosgrove Hall produced series such as Bill and Ben, Andy Pandy, and in the mid 00’s developed a new version of Postman Pat. Cosgrove Hall Films closed in 2009 as a result of ITV Granada deciding the company was no longer financially viable. MCR Hidden Stories | Penfold | Cosgrove Hall Films The original home of Cosgrove Hall, on Albany Road, is now a block of residential flats named Cosgrove Hall Court and features a plaque in tribute to the studios most well known productions including Danger Mouse, The Pied Piper of Hamlin, and The BFG. Meha's Manchester's Hidden Stories tribute to Cosgrove Hall Films takes on a Pop Art style, full of vibrant colour and bold shapes, to represent the fun and lively nature of kids TV. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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Manchester's Hidden Stories - Places of Prominence

Adam Holcroft
In this blog we delve into the history and stories behind some of Manchester’s often forgotten buildings which Meha has depicted in the Manchester’s Hidden Stories mural.

This & That Cafe | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

This & That Cafe

Tucked away on Soap Street, This & That is Manchester’s no-frills, canteen style, Indian curry house. If you’ve never been before it may take you a minute to find it but once there, don’t be fooled by the modest exterior as inside you’ll find authentic, home-made curries and sundries bursting with flavour. Established in 1984, This & That is a family run business famous for its ‘Rice and Three’ combos where for a set price you take your pick of three curries from those on offer. Dishes change daily but you can expect to see a mix of meat, veggie, and vegan offerings with favourites such as Lamb Keema, Chicken Masala, and Daal on the menu. This & That is extremely popular so be prepared to wait a little, however with delicious Indian curries from as little as £4.50, it’s definitely worth the wait. Vimto | MCR Hidden Stories Mural


First concocted in 1908 by John Noel Nichols in a tiny terrace house on Granby Row in Manchester city centre, Vimto, or Vimtonic as it was called then, started out life as as a herbal tonic designed to give the drinker ‘Vim & Vigour’. In fact, in 1912, Vimto was actually trademarked as a medicine! Enjoyed both hot and cold, the unique Vimto flavour is a special combination of fruits (grape, blackcurrant and raspberry), spices, and herbs which remain a secret to this day. As Vimto grew in popularity, Nichols began exporting the drink around the world, in particular to the Middle East where it was a huge hit in countries such as India and Burma (now Myanmar). Interestingly, to this day, Vimto cordial sent to the Middle East is double the strength of the UK version, to cut down on transport costs and suit the local palate more. Vimto is now sold in more than 85 countries and the distinct flavour can be found in all manner of treats, from ice lollies, to fruity snacks - and all from humble beginnings in Manchester! LGBT+ Centre | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

The LGBT+ Centre

The LGBT+ Centre found at 49-51 Sidney Street was Europe’s first entirely publicly funded, purpose built centre for the gay community, and first opened in 1988. It’s important to note the significance of the timing, Section 28 had just become law, and so the decision by Manchester Council to fund a building built solely for the gay community was a huge step. Over the years the centre has faced numerous threats of closure due to funding cuts but has overcome these with the help of long-term staff and dedicated volunteers who recognise the need for a space committed to supporting the LGBT+ community. The centre is currently home to the Sidney Street Community Cafe, a number of social and support groups, and the Jaye Bloomfield resource library, as well as hosting many other events throughout the year. As of July 2019, the centre is undergoing a huge £2.25million transformation which will see the original building demolished and replaced with a new three-storey centre, ensuring its place as a safe place for LGBTQ+ people for years to come. Manchester Craft & Design Centre | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Situated in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the Craft and Design Centre is housed in a beautiful Victorian building which was once the city’s Smithfield Fish Market. Following the development of the Arndale Shopping Centre, in 1978, it was decided that the fish market would become a craft village, housing craft-makers from potters and jewellers, to furniture makers, weavers, and more. Manchester Craft Village first opened in 1982 as an artists’ cooperative before re-branding as Manchester Craft and Design Centre, and becoming a not-for-profit limited company, in 2003. These days you’ll find the centre a hub of creative activity with two floors of contemporary craft studios, many incorporating small shops, where artists both work and sell their wares. On the ground floor you can even find two of the original fishmongers’ booths, now home to the quaint Oak St. Cafe Bar, where you can enjoy fresh produce from local growers, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and wheat free options. Open 6 days a week, the centre regularly hosts exhibitions, public workshops, and other events. If you’re after beautiful gifts to remember Manchester by or looking to explore the cities bustling creative side, MCDC should definitely be your first port of call! Corbières Wine Cavern | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

Corbières Wine Cavern

One of Manchester’s best kept secrets, Corbières is a quaint basement wine bar hidden-away just off St Ann’s Square on Half Moon Street. Named after a wine producing area of the French Pyrenees, the bar first opened as a Bistro but is now known more for its local Salford ales and collection of French wines. Long before the Hacienda came to be associated with the Manchester music scene, Corbières was a hot spot for local musicians including the band who would become Inspiral Carpets. It’s even rumoured that the Happy Monday’s first met Bez here! The musical history of the cavern remains to this day with one of Manchester’s greatest retro jukeboxes taking pride of place down the winding staircase. Meha’s depiction of the cavern focuses on the exterior, highlighting the recognisable mosaic tiling which adorns the entry way, luring you in to the subterranean cavern below. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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Manchester's Hidden Stories - Elizabeth Raffald

Adam Holcroft
The Manchester's Hidden Stories series explores the forgotten history and icons of the city of Manchester. The project was sponsored by NOMA Manchester and involved Meha becoming the artist in residency at the Old Bank Residency throughout July 2019, working on her largest mural yet. The first story Meha discovered was that of Elizabeth Raffald (below), who is considered one of Manchester's first female entrepreneurs. elizabeth raffald - manchester's hidden stories Arriving in Manchester in 1763, Elizabeth Raffald hit the ground running, and launched her first venture, a catering business, from her home. Not long after, in 1764, she opened a 'confectionary' store, what would now be considered a deli, on Fennel Street in the city, selling everything from sweets, soups, and meats, to table centrepieces. Whilst at Fennel Street, Elizabeth also started a staff employment service and a cookery school for young women. Moving her confectionary store to the Market Place, she began advertising the business in the local newspaper, listing, amongst other items, “Plumb cakes for weddings." This is considered one of the first references to what has now become the modern day Wedding cake. In 1769, Elizabeth published her first must-have cookbook, 'The Experienced English Housekeeper', which contained over 800 (!!) original recipes, including the first recipes for Piccalilli, crumpets, and an early version of the Eccles Cake. The book was so successful it was reprinted 13 times and even became a favourite of Queen Victoria who is said to have copied recipes from the book into her personal diary. elizabeth raffald mural Between 1769 and 1772 Elizabeth's business streak continued with her running the Bull’s Head Inn in the market place, starting a carriage rental business, establishing a post office, and helping to create Salfords first newspaper, Prescott’s Journal. In 1772, Elizabeth created the first ever Manchester and Salford trade directory, essentially a yellow pages of its day. The directory was a great success and was updated in 1773 from 60 to 78 pages. Finally, in another publishing venture, Raffald co-wrote a midwifery manual with Manchester surgeon, Charles White. Unfortunately the manuscript was never printed in her name, seemingly sold off by her alcoholic husband following her death. elizabeth raffald - meha hindocha What makes Elizabeth's story all the more incredible is that whilst launching and running her businesses she also gave birth to at least 9 children! Elizabeth died in April of 1781 and is buried at St Mary's church, Stockport We're sure you'll agree that Elizabeth's story and entrepreneurial spirit is one which should be remembered and celebrated for years to come which is why it's been fantastic to be able to include her in the Manchester Hidden Stories mural. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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What Connects the Bee Icon to Manchester?

Adam Holcroft
Following the 2017 attack on the Manchester Arena, the Manchester bee symbol has come to represent the defiant spirit and unity of the city but did you know this best-known symbol of Manchester has been around for much longer? The worker bee icon first became associated with Manchester during the 18th and 19th centuries, during the period more commonly known as the Industrial Revolution. The bee represents the city being a hive of activity, with the workers of textile mills and factories being referred to as 'busy bees', a reflection on their hard work ethic and ability to work together. Officially introduced to the city's coat of arms in 1802, you can now find the bee icon all over the city, from adorning bins and plant pots to the clock face of the Palace Hotel. As a result of the bee becoming a symbol of solidarity following the Manchester Arena attack, there was also a huge movement of people who had the Manchester icon permanently tattooed on their skin as a reminder of the cities unity. Whilst the events of May 22nd were horrific, the public's response showed the world the true spirit of Manchester, with people from all walks of life coming together to support those involved in the attack. Taxi Drivers gathered around the arena to take victims to local hospitals, Sikh temples gave out food, and many Mancunians offered refuge in their own homes to those left stranded. It was a striking display of resilience and a community brought together through tragedy. In the wake of the attack, the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund was set up to help the bereaved families and those injured or traumatised by the event, and over the following months an incredible £21.5 Million was raised by people around the world wanting to show their support. Another recent display of the Bee symbol was the Bee in the City trail which saw a huge colony of 101 giant bee sculptures take over the streets of Manchester. Meha was delighted to be involved, creating a bee featuring a colourful depiction of the ever-changing Manchester skyline and sponsored by Henry Boot PLC. 77 of the Bee's were auctioned off in aid of the We Love MCR Charity raising an amazing £1.1 Million, with Meha's Bee being purchased by a private collector for an impressive £10,000!! With the bee's popularity continuing to rise, Meha has had many requests to replicate her colourful worker bee design as murals, with her most recent piece brightening up the office space at Ashfield Healthcare alongside a larger piece depicting the Manchester skyline. The Manchester Bee's representation of hard work make it the perfect icon to adorn the walls of office spaces across the city, whilst bringing a splash of colour too! If you fancy brightening up your space with a hand drawn Meha mural get in touch with us today by emailing

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The 10 Manchester Artists You Need to Know

Adam Holcroft
Photo Credit: @StreetArtAtlas
Nomad Clan is formed of street art duo Cbloxx and AYLO, two globally recognised muralists based in Manchester. Their street art style celebrates history while also placing the spotlight on issues and concerns surrounding society, such as unemployment, female empowerment or the solidarity of the city following the arena bombing in 2017, represented through Bee Manchester.
Showcasing their Mancunian talent to cities and countries across the world, Cbloxx and AYLO’s work has earned them many accolades, including being named one of the top 5 female street artists in the world by The Guardian. Kerry Beall
Credit: Kerry Beall “When I create from the intuitive guidance system we all have, a flood of energy pours into the work and almost decides its own narrative.”
Graphic designer and illustrator Kerry draws freehand in ink and charcoal, creating beautifully finished digital pieces that show both texture and depth. She skillfully combines portraits with art that is inspired by life and emotions, reflecting the choices that humans make and the stories we tell. Barry Spence
Credit: Barry Spence Wallpaper and mural designer Barry is another artist who was involved in the Bee Manchester campaign. His cosmic work is inspired by the effects of light, from the Big Bang to the desert sunset.
His dynamic designs and outstanding paintings draw on themes such as birth/death, creation/destruction, regeneration and constantly changing structures. His bespoke designs give personality to walls and he works with design studio Woodchip and Magnolia to create made to wall measured designs. Emma Reynolds

Credit: Emma Reynolds Illustration

Children’s illustrator and character designer Emma merges illustration and storytelling to create unique characters for children’s books, projects and animations. She has worked on some of the biggest channels in the UK in children’s TV, including BBC, CBeebies and CITV and is currently working on her first picture book, Rescuing Ms Birdley, by Aaron Reynolds. She has also created her own comic and blog series in which she takes advantage of humour to portray her thoughts on social issues such as anxiety. Gemma Truman Gemma Truman, Colours of the Wind, Glass Blown Vases, Photo Credit Simon Bruntnell One of just a few female glass-blowers in the UK, Gemma has more than a decades experience in the art of making beautiful blown glass objects. Taking inspiration from the outdoors – in particular birds and birds nests – the Northern Quarter-based artist creates an abundance of unique designs. From woven cotton rope installations to ornaments and original trophies, her work is demonstrated in an abundance of different industries. Stanley Chow
Credit: Stanley Chow World-famous illustrator Stanley Chow produces iconic prints with defined strokes that have become his unmistakable style. His work has been featured across the world in The New Yorker, GQ and Wired and he began the art by sketching his friends, including fellow famous Mancunian, Elbow’s Guy Garvey. Born and raised in Manchester, much of his work is a pinnacle of the north. He has produced artwork for local campaigns portraying local music artists such as Sting, and his Great Northerners collection featured portraits of legends such as Liam Gallagher and Sir Ian McKellen, with 15% of sales going to local charity Forever Manchester. Meha Hindocha
Credit: Meha Art “The stories people tell, and the journeys they remember when spotting a familiar place fascinate me”
Bright city lights, landscapes, portraits, paintings – Meha’s work showcases a wave of Manchester pride. All of her work is created alone or in collaboration with other local artists, with her designs then printed onto an array of items such as gin glasses, mugs or even aprons. Originally from Kenya, the professional artist uses a broad array of colours to perfectly capture the livelihood and culture of Manchester. Ian Rayer Smith
Credit: Ian Rayer Smith “In a world preoccupied with technology, there is something remarkable about painting.”
Those are the words of Ian Rayer Smith, a contemporary expressionist from New Islington. His paintings use expression to explore art that carries emotion and brings modern culture and his own experiences together to create skilful unique artwork. Ian is also a member of Art Experiences, an international organisation which enables him to offer bespoke one-on-one experiences on the way he works and the process, which is offered from his Manchester studio. Michelle Taube Credit: Michelle Taube Illustrator Michelle is a popular watercolour painter who specialises in recreating local scenes and football paintings. Since winning IJAYA Young Artist of the Year in 2007, she has grown into a popular local artist with a uniquely recognisable “washy” style. Her process includes layering oil paints, combined with collage and photography which allows for her specific effect. Ambrin
Credit: Ambrin Jewellery designer Ambrin has had a lot of success in the city and often designs her work on the back of a societal issue, such as her golden “tampax pearl” which was made in response to the tampon tax, after they were dubbed luxury items.
She takes inspiration from the ancient tale of King Midas and The Golden Touch, and how even some of the lowliest, most invaluable objects become trophies. With this, she applies her own “golden touch” to transform ordinary things into luxurious items.
To see the full blog over on the Housing Units blog, click here.

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I Love Manchester Art - Little House On The Corner

Adam Holcroft
In my study, you will have probably already seen the Manchester worker bee mosaic by Amanda McCann. We bought it a couple of years ago at Levenshulme market and I still love it! There’s a full-on Manchester art overload going on in our dining room and living room. Our favourite print of all is the Manchester skyline print by Meha Art. It has a huge personal meaning as we bought it on St Ann’s Square in Manchester on our very last day in the UK before moving to Berlin! I love her art because it’s so colourful and vibrant but it’s also full of lots of little details and I seem to discover something new every time I look at it. We love Meha’s art so much in fact, that we also bought a Las Vegas print to remind us of a fantastic holiday with friends there a couple of years ago. Our newest art by Meha is an amazing Berlin print which now hangs in our guest bedroom / Airbnb (yes, that’s still happening and we hope to be open at the end of October!). It looks amazing in the room and I absolutely love how it stands out on our white panelled walls. I guess you can tell we really love Meha’s art! She has beautiful prints for loads of different cities and recently also started a fun homeware collection which is definitely worth checking out, too! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To read the full blog featuring Little House On The Corner's full Manchester art collection, click here.

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My Bee in the City

Kelly France
If you’re Manchester based, you might have noticed there’s been a bit of an outbreak. A swarm of giant Bees have landed on the streets of the city…and they’re here to stay for the summer! Wild in Art and Manchester City Council have joined forces on #BeeintheCity – a project which promises to celebrate the city’s great wealth of creative talent with over 100 winged designs, on display now until 23 September. My design was kindly sponsored by Henry Boot PLC - one of the most progressive companies of its kind within the UK. Established over 130 years ago, the company operates nationally in property development and investment, land promotion, construction and plant hire. They create spaces that not only impress but that also stand the test of time. I’ve already been on a bit of a journey with this project from the very early stages of pitching my idea and my design being selected, to taking on the huge sculpture…which took around 6.5 days to finish – and quite a few late shifts! My colourful, illustrative bee takes inspiration from Manchester’s ever-changing skyline. It tells a story about the bustling city and the worker ‘bees’ that have shaped it. I don’t want to spoil it for those yet to see it but you can expect a flavour of my original Manchester cityscape with lots of surprises along the way. This design includes all three of the city’s universities alongside familiar greats like the Central Library and the Town Hall and Danger Mouse. Yes, Danger Mouse! I wanted to celebrate even more greats born from the city with this drawing and that included Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall from Cosgrove Hall Films, the British animation studio who created the famous rodent! Right, I’ve said enough, I promise there’s lots more to see and find on the surface of my bee but for now I’ll leave it for you to discover. Watch this space for detailed annotations of my design - so you can check whether or not you spotted everything hidden in my doodle lines! As I write this, the bees have only just settled into their new homes and I’ve already seen so many great shots of my bee in situ in St Ann’s Square (please do tag us in yours and use #skylinebee on social!). I’m loving hearing about all the different things people are spotting in my drawing. I wanted people to be able to spend time looking at my bee (maybe over several days or weeks) and spot something new every now and again that makes them smile. To take on finding the 101 Manchester bees, download the trail map here. Discover my Manchester inspired range of gifts and homeware here.

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Harry Potter meets Escher - Inspired by Diagon House

Meha Hindocha
Back in April I set off to begin research for a new piece. I was meant to be drawing Edinburgh but then I walked down Victoria Street and eventually found the correct street level that led to Diagon House. From the moment I walked into the store I felt like I'd been transported into the world of wizardry. This shop was full of little trinkets, potions, wands, hot air balloons, little aeroplanes, propellors and all sorts of creations from across the world. Two floors of little gems I could spend hours scouring through. As I wandered through archways and up and down the staircases discovering all the Harry Potter goodies I knew this was going to be the starting point for my Edinburgh range. Diagon House (established in 1823 as Museum Context - a name it has since reverted to): I was aware that J K Rowling had written much of Harry Potter in Edinburgh and I could see so much inspiration from this city in the books and films. My little tour of Edinburgh included potential venues / areas that could have been the basis for various parts of the books. After much research I know that a number of places have been connected to form the final images but Edinburgh and particularly Victoria street seemed to fit my vision of Diagon Alley perfectly. If you've been to Edinburgh you'll appreciate the staircases and multiple levels the streets are on. Edinburgh was always going to be the city I attempted to style into an Escher based piece and Harry Potter with it's hidden magical dimension fit the bill perfectly. I've based this drawing on MC Escher's lithograph print Relativity. This was a challenge from the very beginning as Escher is a technical master of perspective and I was moving from a series of one point perspective drawings to an isometric style piece. For my first attempt at such a complex perspective drawing I hope I've done it some justice. (If you're not familiar with MC Escher's work please do look it up). I began this drawing with a Penrose triangle and worked in the staircases at the different angles that I wanted them. This is a lot more complex than it looks! As all my initial drawings are in black and white it does really play havoc with the way you see things - one moment the angle looks correct - the next you take a step back and perspective's change again. Early stage sketch in pencil. On the right hand side you have the Diagon house building. THe first floor is cut off by a different perspective of the top half of the building, that leads into the top left hand side. If it all gets too confusing have a look at the final image annotated below. The final drawing with my annotations: The entire drawing is based on the inside of Diagon house, the front view and Victoria street. Based on the image above (final drawing)- the top left hand side of the drawing is the inside of the shop and Victoria street on the right hand side. The drawing changes perspective at the top of the stairs and introduces another plane. The stair case in the middle has a more of a floaty feel to it giving the impression that it is part of the wall that joins on to the fire place but also disappears once its visitor has left. Technical stuff: Paper used: Bristol Board 280gsm Pen: Kuretake Bimoji fude felt tip brush pen. Overview: I don't think Bristol board suits the wear and tear impacts of my drawing style but I'll definitely be using it for sketches. The Kuretake comes well reviewed and was my first attempt at using a brush pen. I usually use solid nib pens and have a single thickness in line throughout the piece. As a brush pens its pretty easy to handle and get used to. I struggled a little with the architectural elements probably because I'm used to applying more pressure but it definitely helps with more fluid work. To view the Harry Potter meets MC Escher range of products, click here.

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London - where do you begin?!

Meha Hindocha
I grew up in suburban Nairobi and I remember one of my first visits to London as a young child. We'd landed at Heathrow and my uncle, Ramesh, had kindly picked us up. On what felt like a really long way back to Finchley we began planning our trips to central London. "I'm taking you to Buckingham palace tomorrow, it's the Queen's house. Maybe, if she's free we can have some chai nasto (tea and snacks) with her and then take a boat trip along the river Thames." Part of this trip also entailed stopping off at Trafalgar Square to feed the hundreds of pigeons that would flock there, visiting Madame Tussauds where I could not believe how real the wax models looked (I did get to meet a version of the Queen after all.) That trip also included my first experience of a planetarium, sparking a life long fascination with the stars and space exploration. Many years later I moved to London to do my foundation course at Camberwell college and explored the city from a completely different perspective. I spent hours doodling away at the Horniman gallery, Natural History Museum and probably had my first attempt at drawing Dippy. I saw my first musical - The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, was completely blown away and briefly contemplated a career in theatre set design. I spent a lot of my days sneakily doodling commuters on the London underground, watching street artists perform in Convent Garden and the South Bank. If you're familiar with my work you'll know I like to fill my work with obscure little elements... London was proving to be a massive challenge and one I kept putting off. I have so many memories of London and I wanted to fit them all in! I had hundreds of suggestions from people about where to start and end the piece. I had to take a slightly more scientific approach to this drawing. I drew the ten tallest skyscrapers that were based within zones 1 and 2, I don't think I've previously appreciated quite how tall the Shard is! A number of must have tourist venues from the London Dungeons to Tower Bridge and set a map size limit to work off. There is a plan to draw more of the surrounding zones over the next few years. I've had numerous requests for Brixton, The London Zoo, Camden and Hampstead... if would like to add any suggestions please add them to the comments below. I can also personalise the prints if you would like a particular venue or message added. I've provided an annotation below of my version of the London skyline. The annotation sheet is available with my London colouring in sheet. Discover our London collection.

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Liverpool - 6 months in the making

Meha Hindocha
The original Liverpool drawing is near enough A1 in size (59.4 x 84.1cm or 23.39 x 33.11 inches) and its drawn with a 0.1 nib Rotring Isograph pen (A super fine line nib and a fantastic Christmas present). The detail you can get on to a large sheet of paper with a 0.1 nib pen is phenomenal. I'd sent myself a time target of about 1 and a half to two months to complete this piece... 6 months later my aching hand refused to add another mark to the paper and I declared it complete. Composition and constraints... this is usually a battle at the start. I've developed a grid system as I try and keep everything roughly where it is geographically (from a set starting / view point). The Liverpool drawing is probably the most complex I've managed so far. My drawings are initially done in pencil before going over them in ink, every now and then I decide to sand paper a section off and change the dimensions. The paper I use really has to withstand my changing creative moods! For the Liverpool Skyline I've used a range from Derwent's smooth paper. Having researched paper types I'll be sticking to a hot press, acid free and archival range. I've used papers from Gf Smith and Windsor and Newton in the past and am still on the hunt for the perfect paper. Liverpool lovers provided me with quite an extensive list of venues, people, musicians and a gazillion items to add to this drawing. This one is as complex as it gets. The iconic venues include the 3 graces (I initially drew them in great detail in my sketch book first spending a few hours on each building). The Cunard management had kindly shown me around their building and I was really tempted to add some of the passport stamps of visitors / sailors that they had in store. I've tried to show the different areas in Liverpool, taking the Beetham towers in the commercial area to the more creative hub on the other side of the city centre as well as the beautiful sea front. A visit to the Liverpool museum showed how little I really knew of the Mersey beat music scene. In a city completely captured by the Beatles I wanted to find a way of bringing to light the other musical influences the city had. My whirlwind research trip of Liverpool ended with dinner on Wood Street at Mowgli's with my friend George. We've both got a healthy love for Indian street food and Mowgli's did not fail to hit the spot, and captured a place in my drawing. I've provided an annotation sheet below that goes through my influences and elements hidden away in this drawing. Enjoy! Discover the Liverpool range of products.

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