Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘manchester’ category

Creative Tourist’s Top 25 Art and Culture Blogs

I’m pleased to report that I survived reading at the Manchester Blog Awards on Wednesday more or less intact. In fact, I had a great evening: I managed not to fall on my face getting either on or off the stage, and cleverly avoided being in any of the photographs of the event. Hooray!

Once the reading was over, I enjoyed catching up with Manchester pals, listening to Jenn’s tantalising reading from her new novel Cold Light, and generally making the most of the evening’s celebrations, though unfortunately I had to disappear just after the winners were announced to catch the train back to Lancaster. I’m afraid I didn’t win a prize this year – the Best Arts and Culture Blog Award went to Ella Wrendorfs of the excellent runpaintrunrun.

The other winners were the mysterious Lost in Manchester, for Best City and Neighbourhood Blog; Words and Fixtures, for Best New Blog and of course, the wonderful My Shitty Twenties, which was the deserving winner of not one but two awards – Best Writing on a Blog and Best Personal Blog. The full list of winners, including the judges’ comments and the runners up, can be found here.

Creative Tourist, who sponsored the Best Arts and Culture Blog category this year, also announced at the awards event that they would be launching their list of Top 25 UK Arts and Culture Blogs later in the week – and yesterday I had a lovely surprise in the shape of this.

To select their list, Creative Tourist used a number of different measures to assess the popularity of a blog, including Technorati inlinks, Bloglines citations, Google readers numbers and Alexa data. The final 25 includes some fantastic blogs like We Make Money Not Art, Amelia’s Magazine, the Frieze blog, Jonathan Jones at the Guardian, Art in Liverpool, The Culture Vulture, and the FACT blog. It also includes (at number 16)… Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

I even have a jaunty yellow badge to prove it – check out that sidebar action.

manchester blog awards and more

I’m half asleep this morning, owing to a whistle-stop journey up to Liverpool and back yesterday, followed by a book launch in the evening, and then a very disturbed night’s sleep resulting from a leaking ceiling. (What is it about me and leaking ceilings anyway? Is it something to do with my Lancashire roots – perhaps my special ‘superhero’ power is the ability to conjour water from the skies even when indoors?)

However, I just wanted to write a quick lunch-break post to say that Follow the Yellow Brick Road has been shortlisted for the most excellent Manchester Blog Awards once again this year – this time in the Best Arts and Culture category! Thank you very much Manchester Blog Awards!

I’ve been really enjoying making my way through this year’s shortlist, which includes some familiar delights like My Shitty 20s, Cynical Ben, Big City Little Girl, Manchester is Ace and Lady Levenshulme, as well as some fantastic new (to me) discoveries including Manchester Zedders, Justtesting, Lost in Manchester, Forgetting the Time, Words and Fixtures, I Thought I Told You to Wait in the Car and … well all of them really. And I’ve especially enjoyed reading my fellow nominees for Best Arts and Culture blog, which are all excellent.

Here’s the full short-list: definitely well worth checking out!

Best City and Neighbourhood Blog

Best Personal Blog

Best Arts and Culture Blog

Best Writing on a Blog

Best New Blog

The winners will be announced at the Manchester Blog Awards event at Band on the Wall on Wednesday, October 21. I’m going to be reading at the event, which is quite exciting! Find out more and book tickets here.

… and whilst we’re on the subject of awards, I was also rather flattered to discover recently that I’d been bestowed the Plashing Vole’s very own special honour (what else but) The Order of the Vole!

Vole described FTYBR as “a stunningly literate and highbrow piece of work which conveys the excitement and variety of the arts world with delicacy and not a hint of the preciousness with so often permeates such affairs.”

Gosh. I am bridling as we speak. Shame there’s no one to show off at: I’m all alone in the office today but for a prawn and rocket ciabatta. Anyway, I reckon that’s not bad for someone who is currently doing a very convincing impression of a dormouse. Thanks very much Vole!

Right, self-congratulation lunch break over. Time to get back to the coalface…

manchester and lancaster: two new exhibitions

I’ve just returned from some time spent up north, where (amongst many other doings) I had the opportunity to take in a couple of new exhibitions:

Outlet is a new transitory project conceived by exocet, who previously brought us Porch (a temporary gallery space in the porch of a Chorlton house) and startrunning (a series of cross-artform events bringing together visual artists with experimental musicians). This is an independent artist-led space in an empty retail space in the Northern Quarter that will be playing host to “a series of varied exhibitions and spontaneous events.”

I went along to the preview of group show MISCELLANY, which included a wide variety of works by artists including Robert Bailey, Naomi Kashiwagi, Richard Kendrick and David Martin. Pieces ranged from Andrew Bracey’s lighthearted site-specific installation to Richard Shield’s exuberant line drawings. Together with other recent shows like Trade City, exhibitions such as MISCELLANY are indicative of the continued health and growth of Manchester’s artist-led scene.

Meanwhile, up in Lancaster on Friday, I was intrigued to visit the recently re-opened Storey Institute, in its new incarnation as a centre for creative industries. Resident organisations include Lancaster Litfest and of course, The Storey Gallery. The gallery’s current exhibition is Strange Days and Some Flowers, a group show of “strange and uneasy work” that, like MISCELLANY, refuses to conform to the curatorial conventions of thematic shows accompanied by traditional gallery interpretation: instead, a playful selection of works are exhibited within a graphic jumble of scaffolding and crates.

This is a show with a very clear sense of humour, from Dan Baldwin’s jaunty rainbow-coloured paintings, memorably described as “Enid Blyton meets the apocalypse” to John Stark’s quirky bee-keepers and an enjoyably bizarre video installation by Mika Rottenberg. The sense of convention-busting childlike exuberance is continued through the availability of an audio tour given, not by the curator, but instead by two children sharing their thoughts on the works.

Personally, I was particularly pleased to see the Victoria and Albert statue is still in place, and especially that the long-established tradition of customising them for each show is continuing. On this occasion the somewhat serious pair had been garlanded with psychadelic flowers and joined by an assortment of multi-coloured companions in perfect accord with the atmosphere of the show.

[Images of Strange Days and Some Flowers via flickr, by beanphoto and Suzy Jones, copyright to the photographers and The Storey Gallery]

manchester blog awards 09

It’s that time of year again! Nominate your favourite blogs for the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards at the shiny new MBA website.

The categories are: Best Writing, Best Arts and Culture Blog, Best City or Neighbourhood Blog, Best New Blog and Best Personal Blog. You can nominate as many blogs as you like or even nominate your own, but make sure you get your nominations in by September 18.

Being shortlisted for two awards last year – and winning Best New Blog – was absolutely fantastic, and a real highlight of 2008 for me, so if you have a favourite blog, make sure you put it forward!

And don’t forget to book your ticket to attend the Blog Awards extravaganza itself, which this year will take place at the brand new Band on the Wall on October 21. The lovely Jenn Ashworth will be reading, and if last year’s event is anything to go by, it’s bound to be a great night.

best of manchester (+ pies)

The winners of this year’s Best of Manchester Awards were announced last night at a special award ceremony at Urbis. As has become usual of late, I was watching via twitter, but I was still very pleased to hear that the excellent Owl Project had been announced as winner of the Art category. The collective made up of artists Simon Blackmore, Anthony Hall and Steve Symons cite their influences as woodwork, hobby-style electronics and open source software: their semi-sculptural musical instruments have been exhibited across Europe as well as at events such as the Sonic Arts Network EXPO, Lovebytes and Futuresonic.

However, there’s no doubt that it must been a very difficult decision for the judges (a panel of industry experts that included Peter Saville, Wayne Hemingway, Jeremy Deller, Tim Marlow and Miranda Sawyer) to make since the others on the shortlist – artist Rachel Goodyear and collective Contents May Vary – were also very deserving of this accolade.

Congratulations also go to Holly Russell, winner of the Fashion category, and Max Moran and Jayne Compton who were joint winners of the Music award. You can see work by the winners, as well as the others on the shortlist, in a special Best of Manchester exhibition at Urbis, opening today and running until 20 September.

The BOMAs got me thinking about all the other ‘best of Manchester’ things that I’ve been missing since heading Down South: people, places, and even, yes, things to eat. Just this week my extremely kind and considerate father sent me a text message to tell me he was tucking into a butter pie with peas and gravy, just as I was sitting at my desk toying with a rather uninspiring couscous salad. Now, I’m pretty sure that butter pie is something that just doesn’t exist here in London – there’s also a very disturbing shortage of gravy and peas. Butter pie would definitely appear on my personal ‘best of Manchester’ shortlist! (I know several people have already made the excellent suggestion of adding a writer category to the Best of Manchester Awards next year, but what about a food category too…!)

What would you include on your personal ‘best of Manchester’ list?