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Art in Lockdown: ’50 Windows of Creativity’

What’s all this then?

’50 Windows of Creativity’ is a new art trail showcasing multi-media works in windows, on walls, and in entrances to buildings across central Manchester. Paintings, mosaics, installations, digital…the lot.  It’s fun, free and very Instagram-friendly (if, that is, you can filter out the reflections).

Although it was commissioned before the second lockdown, the timing really couldn’t be better. It’s turning grey(er) and the galleries are shut. But if you’re still undecided, here are our personal highlights.


Ruby’s top three

Charlotte Smithson, ‘Fall’, N Brown, Lever Street 

Photo: Rubym @ The Mancunion

This is a lovely work, playing with the mix of natural elements and test tubes to make us think about our relationship to the natural world, all the while creating a delicate yet delightful composition reminiscent of Miro.

Tara Collette, ‘No one is illegal’, Home

Photo: Rubym @ The Mancunion

A powerful statement on immigration that feels just right for the aptly named HOME.

Seashell Trust and Lauren Mullarkey, Atrium of Central Library (woman not included)

Photo: Rubym @ The Mancunion

While the library is closed, you can still walk in and experience this piece of joy – once you step inside, the shell lights up and sounds start to play. Closest I’ve come to going to a club all year, 10/10, would recommend.


Sam’s top three

Lei-Mai LeMaow, ‘You Spin My Head’, Yard and Coop, Hare St.


Photo: Sam Burt @ The Mancunion

A smiley to make you smile (his name’s Gary, apparently).

The artist Lei-Mai LeMaow said that she wanted to remind us how drab life can be without the arts. With this psychedelic homage to rave culture, she’s certainly done that. It’s like a message beamed to us from a brighter future.

(Bonus: the surrounding walls are plastered with quirky posters and graffiti – as one suggests, ’embrace the strange.’)

Venture Arts Presents… feat. Jennie Franklin, Ahmed Mohammed and Barry Anthony Finan, Royal College of Northern Music

Photo: Sam Burt @ The Mancunion


Photo: Sam Burt @ The Mancunion


Venture Arts, a Hulme-based visual arts charity that works with learning disabled artists, has displayed the works of three of their leading artists. All three sets of works have a density and intensity that compels you to stop and stare (handy, I suppose).  

Franklin has made dense collages incorporating familiar icons and messages from paraphernalia; they are, in the truest sense, ‘mind maps.’ Mohammed’s abstract piece uses large blocks of warm colour, reminiscent of Rothko, but unshackled, with looser, freer strokes. Finan’s work, meanwhile, crams words together into seamless blocks of unending, punctuation-free text; it seems to veer between a sense of imprisonment in speech itself and a celebration of its expressive potential.

Mary Goodwin,‘Do you know who I am?’, Klimpton Clocktower Hotel

Photo: Sam Burt @ The Mancunion

Three lovingly crafted mosaics of famous local figures. Chances are, you’ll have heard of all three figures but I’d hazard only certified Mancunians will be able to identify them from scratch (one in three for this southerner).


And if you’re really keen…

The ‘50 Windows of Creativity’ app has an interactive map with info on each display. You can earn discounts in local shops as rewards by working your way round and tracking your progress. (10% off in Waterstones? Yes, please.)

Works will remain on display until the 5th of December and then auctioned on the 10th of December, with a share of profits going to charity (in a livestreamed event – register here). 

Tags: 50 windows, art trail, lockdown, multimedia, public art, wild in art

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