Skip to main content

saoirseakhtarfarren
12th December 2018

Artefact of the Week: ‘Rain’ by Lemn Sissay

In this edition of Artefact of the Week, Saoirse Akhtar-Farren investigates Lemn Sissay’s ‘Rain’ on the side of Gemini Cafe, Waterloo Road
Categories:
TLDR
Artefact of the Week: ‘Rain’ by Lemn Sissay
Photo: Richard Cooke @ Geograph

As part of my walk from Fallowfield to Uni, I know my destination is on the horizon when my brow crumples in an attempt to figure out how the fragmented letters read, on left the side of Gemini Café on Dilworth Street. The poem that adorns the café‘s left side, is called “Rain.” It is a work by one of Manchester’s most famous poets, Lemn Sissay.

Intrigued by the artwork, I searched online intending to decipher what appeared to be a riddle, to awkwardly realise that the letters are read vertically…

‘Rain’, now legible, revealed an optimistic take on Manchester’s nation-famous weather. Yes, you guessed it — rain.

The rainy weather is described as the necessary factor in the natural phenomenon of rainbows, which I thought could reveal a deeper sentiment for Manchester, now being the third most friendly city for the LGBT+ community in Britain.

Just as the gay community have become role models for reclaiming historically offensive words such as ‘queer’, Sissay does the same for Manchester’s grey clouds and puddle-ridden streets.

Portrayed as inconvenient and disruptive, Sissay reclaims the unfavourable weather type as part of the “Mancunian way.” Indeed, Mancunians themselves treasure Sissay’s ‘Rain’, with one women tattooing “Mancunian way” on the inside of their arm, while another woman named her child ‘Rain’, after the poem.

Like many individuals raised in Britain, Sissay comes from a culturally diverse background, yet in just 22 words Sissay captures the Mancunian collective identity that is uniquely shared by individuals of all races, classes, and heritages.

‘Rain’ makes me internally smile. For it is only the people who know Manchester that appreciate how rain can make us collectively think of inexhaustible happiness and opportunities in the face of such sad weather.  

Regardless of the temperature, Manchester is home.


More Coverage

A celebration of Jewish art in Manchester: Introducing Synagogue Scratch

This month, Synagogue Scratch is returning to Manchester Jewish Museum. The series represents a unique opportunity to enjoy new, groundbreaking performances by Jewish artists, in the museum’s beautifully preserved 1874 Synagogue.

Making Manchester #3: Eleanor Haigh

Performing across the UK from Edinburgh Fringe to London, Eleanor Haigh embraces the spotlight with a multitude of talent. She breaks down what draws her to the arts and the biggest challenges facing artists today.

Horoscopes: Art meets star signs

This week we’re helping you align your planets with paintings. Check out the artist whose style suits your star sign.

Making Manchester #2: Laurent Swyngedauw

Continuing our Mancunian series, Laurent Swyngedauw tells us the best spots for capturing great shots in Manchester, and how make a photograph your own