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30th November 2022

Creating Christmas at Manchester’s biggest festive fair

As the year ends, Cotton On Manchester has once again provided a wonderful, art-filled respite – the Art All Dayer: Winter Edition
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Creating Christmas at Manchester’s biggest festive fair
Photo: Art All Dayer Press @ Cotton On Manchester

The festive season has finally kicked in. The days have grown darker, the weather colder. A never-ending stream of Christmas adverts plague our lives, and the stress of present-buying hangs over our heads.

This time of year does, however, promise many great festivities: delicious seasonal food and drink, quality time spent with loved ones, and – in my opinion, most importantly – the return of Cotton On Manchester’s seasonal arts fair. 

Taking place in the heart of Manchester, Art All Dayer is an art fair occurring seasonally. Each rendition of the fair features a workshop, a food market, and a featured ‘Manc of the Month’ solo artist exhibition. Oh, and a staggering amount of art stalls displaying everything from paintings, to ceramics, to prints – and quite a lot in between.

The fairs source local talent and are ongoing. I headed down to the winter edition to see what they had to offer this Christmas – and I’m so glad I did. 

Photo: Anna Pirie @ The Mancunion

As my friend and I walked from table to table, we were struck by the sheer quality of the artwork on display. I made a note of picking up as many business cards as I could muster. By the time I walked out, my pockets bulged with them. Some of my favourites included John Burks’ Stone and Wire, and Ben Rock’s sketches

The fair provided a great opportunity to catch up on overdue birthday presents and get a head-start on Christmas gifts. I must admit, I also indulged in buying presents for my most favoured recipient- me, myself, and I. 

There were so many gift opportunities, I found it hard to narrow down my choices when surrounded by such impressive and affordable artwork. In the end, I decided on an intricate handmade ceramic plate from the wonderful Weird Bird stall for just a tenner. It felt like daylight robbery.

Photo: Anna Pirie @ The Mancunion

After our leisurely browse, my friend and I drifted over to the festive workshop. Each seasonal fair provides a creative workspace for visitors to get hands-on. This year’s winter workshop was set up for people to make their own Christmas cards.

Supervisors Holly and Chesca (@chescaarts) brightly invited us to take advantage of the supplies strewn across the main table. Tissue paper, wrapping paper, washi tape, stickers, pastels, and pencils awaited us. In time, two extremely handsome Christmas cards took shape, and we basked in the glory of our creations. 

Photo: Anna Pirie @ The Mancunion

After a quick samosa break – courtesy of The Samosa Guy at the mini food market – we found ourselves perusing the art exhibition. This season’s featured ‘Manc of the Month’ artist was photographer Lee Cooper.

His work largely illustrates city life in Manchester through a romantic lens. My favourite pieces featured a train pulling into Oxford Road Station cloaked in fog, commuters exiting a tram into the infamous Mancunian rain, and light streaming past Kimpton Clocktower.

Each masterpiece was mounted in glass around the room, framed by the November sun piercing the exhibition hall. It goes without saying that walking through the display was a beautiful experience in itself. 

After two hours we finally left the market, our bags brimming with new art and our purses empty. The Winter Edition of Art All Dayer was a resounding success. Incorporating art, food, and festivities was the perfect way to warm up a weekend I would typically spend studying. I will certainly be attending the next one!

For more events by Cotton On Manchester, see their website and instagramn (@cottononmcr)

Anna Pirie

Anna Pirie

she/her games editor for The Mancunion, literature student, and professional olive eater

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