SIMON Buckley is a photographer and lives in the Northern Quarter. He's embarked on a long term project, called Not Quite Light, capturing in pictures and words the evolving northern edge of Manchester City centre in the half light of dawn.
Below he tells us what inspired him to begin the work.
“I live in the Northern Quarter and my flatmate has a dog, an English Bull Terrier. In the evening we often go out for a walk around Ancoats, Angel Meadows and up into the lower reaches of Cheetham Hill. My friend is a dapper man, and he looks a bit like Bill Sykes as he proudly walks his pet through streets still redolent of Victorian times. Above Redbank, near the River Irk, we sometimes stop and look back across the tram tracks, railway arches and workshops towards the glowing, bloated shape of the new Co-op building and the city centre that lies behind.
It often feels to me as if Swan, Great Ancoats and Miller Streets act as tarmac moats. Very little wealth has managed to fight its way across to the north side of the city even today.
“Manchester isn't a sentimental city, unlike its sparring cousin, Liverpool, which has also recently undergone a major refurbishment. Here policy is formed by a pragmatism that sometimes seems to ignore aesthetic sensibilities and, if a building is standing in the way of progress, then no architectural merit can save it. "Evolve or die," could be Manchester's mantra.
"This is why I find the jumbled juxtaposition of architecture along the northern edge of the city centre fascinating. The Northern Quarter is like a giant petri-dish, teeming with energetic Mancs experimenting with ideas and projects. It seems entirely appropriate that so much of this endeavour is continued in offices constructed from wealth generated when the city was the biggest global industrial centre.
“And yet, next to these revitalised power houses we have tatty, tiny streets where ancient houses hint at the social horror borne by workers in the time of Marx and Engels. And there are also decaying factories, with their architectural beauty slowly rotting away. The carved lettering of companies, clearly unable to contemplate the idea that one day they'd cease to exist, rest above tiled doorways and smashed windows, and once proud streets are now deserted, with nothing more than names on a map to help you locate a parking space. It often feels to me as if Swan, Great Ancoats and Miller Streets act as tarmac moats. Very little wealth has managed to fight its way across to the north side of the city even today.
“It’s this hinterland, this no-man’s that’s inspired me. So I've begun a photographic and written project called Not Quite Light. I've decided to take the pictures in the half light of dawn, when for me the world creeps from the night into a new day, creating a magical tension, as strangely lit buildings lie dormant, and people scurry to work.”
This will be an occasional series of Manchester artists in their own words. If other artists want to profile their works and ideas email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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