As seen on the streets of Manchester: a street art guide

manchester street art guideOr, better, I should say as seen on the streets of the Northern Quarter, as almost all murals can be spotted in this neighbourhood. Once the centre of the cotton industry, nowadays Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the hipster heaven of the city, and the best place to find some great street art. The most spectacular large-scale murals in the area were painted during Cities of Hope, a street art festival highlighting social injustices while raising money for Manchester charities.

Each of the nine artists who were invited to take part in the street art festival has chosen a social topic to highlight and, therefore, was matched with a local organization to champion their work.

Manchester street art guide > leading artists

Akse (FR)

Well known for his portraits showcasing some of film and TV’s most famous faces, Akse is a French street artist based in Manchester. He painted a portrait of David Bowie as part of the Out House Project, an outdoor project space for public art on a block of disused public toilets in Stevenson Square.

Akse david bowie manchester street art guide
Stevenson Square

Still by Akse, is this photo-realistic graffiti portrait of Prince:

akse prince manchester street art guide
Tib Street

Axel Void (ES)

To develop the topic of “existentialism” for the Cities of Hope festival, Axel Void matched with charities working with people with mental health and anxiety issues. This work is titled “Sisyphus”, and it is inspired by Camus’ interpretation of the ancient Greek myth, where Sisyphus’ continual repetition of the punishment that Zeus had inflicted him is related to the human condition in the absurd search for meaning. This large-scale mural depicts a girl, whose smile is forced by someone else, as a metaphor of our search for happiness.

axel void manchester street art guide
Oldham Road

Still by Axel Void is this wall made as a reaction to the painting over of Norwegian artist Martin Whatson’s piece during the Cities of Hope festival:

axel void manchester street art guide

 

Read my interview with Axel Void at Nuart 2016!

C215 (FR)

Christian Guémy’s social justice issue at Cities of Hope was homelessness, a topic that is not unusual in his production. The portraits that C215 painted during the festival are both based on photos of homeless people around the world by the Manchester-born photographer Lee Jeffries.

C215 manchester street art guide
Tariff Street
C215 manchester street art guide
Warwick Street

Beside these two large-scale pieces realized for the City of Hope conference, C215 left other smaller close-up portraits around Manchester; here are the ones I stumbled upon:

C215 manchester street art guide C215 manchester street art guide C215 manchester street art guide
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Case (DE)

At the Cities of Hope festival, Case’s social issue was disability, more specifically mental health. He worked with the charity “Back on track” and painted a hyper-realistic portrait of one of the people they support in making positive changes in their lives.

case manchester street art guide
Cable Street (Swan building)

Chekos (IT)

This in the only Italian street artist that I’ve found in Manchester! This mural was painted in collaboration with PrintmySoul; it is titled “Lost Border” and it depicts the director David Lynch.

Chekos Manchester street art
Port Street (car park)

Dale Grimshaw (UK)

Dale took part to Cities of Hope as a special guest. Here he realized one of his iconic, tribal portraits, which is dedicated to those fighting for independence in West Papua.

Dale Grimshaw manchester street art guide
Spear Street

Ema (FR)

Florence Blanchard painted a long mural characterized by her iconic geometric patterns and curvy shapes. Ema’s abstract style is directly inspired by her training as a scientist and depicts molecular landscapes questioning our idea of visual perception. This mural left me with a floating sensation as if I were moving through the sea.

Ema Manchester street art guide
Tariff Street

Faith47 (SA)

For Cities of Hopes, Faith 47 chose to support gay rights by painting two men kissing. This mural perfectly fits her latest personal project, whose title (7.83 HZ) is inspired by the frequence of the inaudible atmospheric heartbeats of the Earth. This project is about the overall reverberation of our collective actions as human beings, and it is made up of moments of raw intimacy on walls, instants of connection between us such as this kiss.

faith47 Manchester street art guide
Great Ancoats Street

Faunagraphic (UK)

This piece was commissioned in 2011 by Converse as part of the Wall to Wall project. Sarah Yates is an illustrator focusing on topics of environmental awareness. She is well known for mixing graffiti with graphic design and taking inspiration from nature, especially from birds, which are her favourite subjects, as we can see in this large-scale mural depicting a large blue tit.

faunagraphic manchester street art guide
Port Street

Hyuro (AR)

Still part of the Cities of Hope festival is this mural by Hyuro, whose social justice issue was “war children”. This intimate work shows how the artist is currently exploring a new imaginative universe, which expands beyond the social issues connected with being a woman, the topic she worked through in the past years. This wall is aimed at giving voice to the lost innocence of all children who are unable to live the childhood they deserve. I couldn’t help appreciating that, while Hyuro’s style is becoming more detailed, her surrealist sensibility is still at the core of each and every piece.

Hyuro Manchester street art guide
Brightwell Walk (car park)

Martin Whatson (NO)

For Cities of Hope, the Norwegian street artist brings up environmental issues by painting one of his unique and very recognizable murals that mix grey monochromatic characters done with stencils and bright coloured graffiti. Here, he gives context to a chaos of tags spray painted in many different shades of green by adding a stenciled man who is drawing the leaves onto a tree.

Martin Whatson manchester street art guide

Mateus Bailon (BR)

His artworks are inspired by nature, animals, and the connection between human being and nature. His artistic imaginary is inhabited by fantastic creatures, especially birds, such as in “The Guardian of Ancoats”, the mural at the entrance of this former industrial neighbourhood that borders with the Northern Quarter.

mateus bailon manchester street art guide
Gun Street

Still by Mateus Bailon is this other vibrant large-scale mural depicting colourful and incredibly detailed birds:

mateus bailon manchester street art guide
Port Street (car park)

Nevercrew (CH)

At Cities of Hope, the street art duo highlighted immigration and integration by painting a huge quartz that little featureless people are trying to climb. The quartz is a metaphor of how often the central aspect of something isn’t immediately visible. Like a simultaneous vision, quartz’s twofold nature shows us the difficult conditions experienced by refugees. Through their unique, surreal imaginary the artists encourage us to think about boundaries, which can be physical as well as emotional.

never crew manchester street art guide
Tariff Street

Nomad Clan (UK) 

This female street art duo composed by CBloxx and Aylo painted a large-scale mural that highlights male suicide. The work was inspired by the documentary “Grayson Perry – All Man”, which explores how contemporary masculinity shapes the lives and expectations of men nowadays.

nomad clan manchester street art guide
Port Street

Phlegm (UK)

For Cities of Hope, Sheffield’s Phlegm highlights “sustainability” by painting a black and white city encapsulated into a water bottle as if it were a self-sufficient microcosm. The image is very detailed and intricate as usual in his art, which can be considered at the borderline between street art and illustration.

phlegm manchester street art guide
Cable Street (swan building)

Pichiavo (ES)

Seeing them at work in Bristol, I couldn’t help falling in love with this artist duo, whose work is a mix of classical art and urban contemporary art, an explosion of bright colours from which sculpture-like figures stand out. For Cities of Hope they chose to work on “conflicts”, therefore depicting Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus.

Pichiavo manchester street art guide
Port Street (car park)

Space Invader (FR)

I guess he doesn’t need any introduction ;-) He invaded Manchester in 2004 with 47 of his space invaders, and a few of them are still visible… so log in to your Flashinvaders account and get ready to flash!

Space Invader manchester street art guide
Faraday Street

Space Invader manchester street art guide Space Invader manchester street art guide

Subism Collective (UK)

This huge mural was painted in 2011 in collaboration with Red Bull by four artists (Deus, N4t4, Philth and Ventsa) from the Derby-based digital creative agency “Subism”. This earth, wind, fire, and water-themed illustration is known as a landmark in the Northern Quarter!

Subism collective manchester street art guide
Church Street

Tankpetrol (PL)

Tankpetrol is a Polish street artist now based in Manchester. He realized a huge, detailed portrait of Anthony Burgess, the author of “A clockwork orange.”

tank petrol manchester street art guide
Brightwell Walk (car park)

Manchester street art guide > off the Northern Quarter

New Wakefield Street Railway Arches

There used to be a festival held here called “Eurocultured,” which mixed visual art with dancers, performers, and live music bands. The festival celebrated the diversity of modern European culture. It ended in 2012, but some of the artworks are still visible.

Manchester street art guide Manchester street art guide Manchester street art guide Manchester street art guide

Lemn Sissay’s street poetry

Lemn is the author of a series of books of poetry alongside articles, records, broadcasts and plays. His landmark poems are installed throughout London and Manchester, especially on the streets around Piccadilly Gardens.

Manchester street art guide

Gay Village

I’m a huge Queer As Folk fan, so the first spot I wanted to check out in Manchester was Canal Street, the main street of Manchester’s gay village where the TV show takes place. Little did I know that, over there, I would have also found some street art! My favourite piece is the evergreen Batman & Superman kiss, whose author I wasn’t able to track down.

Manchester street art guide

Another great mural is the one painted on the side of the Molly House, which is a tribute to Manchester’s gay icons.

Manchester street art guide

Last, but not least, a stencil by the East Londoner Stewy depicting Quentin Crips.

Manchester street art guide

Bonus track: graffiti at the Mantra Warehouse

On my last morning in Manchester, I wanted to take some pictures at the Mantra Warehouse, a venue space covered with graffiti, which is located in the industrial outskirts of Manchester. But while I was getting ready for my last graffiti hunt, a little voice told me to double check my train ticket to Birmingham, which turned out to be leaving earlier than I recalled. So it was my fellow “spotter” and blogger Denise to go there on my behalf; she sent me these colourful pictures to complete my street art guide of Manchester… enjoy her reportage! ;)

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

Manchester street art guide

 

What are your favourite street art spots in Manchester? Let me know in the comment area below!

 

PEEK THROUGH || You can see some of these murals in my travel video “1 weekend in Manchester… in 1 minute!

 

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Manchester street art guide  Manchester street art guide

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