Archive for manchester

Blue Rinse, Manchester

Posted in Fashion, Lifestyle, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2009 by joeshervin


A welcome addition to the cluster of vintage stores sprouting up around Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Blue Rinse is a neat, compact, beneath-the-pavement shop peeping out onto Tib Street. It stocks all of the essential ingredients of the formulaic retro offering, similar to, say, Ryan’s Vintage, but minus the clutter. Split almost in half between pretty dresses and accessories for the ladies, and funky indie and sport chic for the lads, it is a cosy setting for both trendy boys and girls to root out hidden gems.

Alongside the mandatory neckerchiefs and plimsoles, there are to be unearthed quirky printed tees (Michael Jackson and The Modern Lovers being particularly hip), beside stretchy patterned vests and even sleeveless denim jackets. The shop is smartly compartmentalised, and so is simple to navigate, yet chaotic enough to add that necessary rock n’ roll tinge.

The original Blue Rinse shop was established in Leeds in 1997, cottoning on to the idea that a rise in cheap, conveyor belt clothing was harnessing within the cunning fashionista a desire for the return of the classic and sustainable vintage ideal. It has thus pioneered the vintage revival that has engulfed the last decade, and now, luckily for us, has decided to disperse its troops across to Manchester. Not only does Blue Rinse advocate vintage, it has also adopted the notion of ‘re-made’ clothing, in essence the transformation of vintage garments into new designs, and ‘new clothing’, which is the use of contemporary fabrics to create its own unique lines.

To sum up, Blue Rinse is an exciting new little fixture on the Northern Quarter’s trendy streets, adding to an already burgeoning vintage scene but bringing its own dynamic ideas and honourable values. A sure-fire hit pocketed away within the fashion epicentre of Manchester city centre.


Enjoy the Silence – Revolver vs Up the Racket, The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Posted in Nightlife with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2009 by joeshervin

silent-disco1Tottering up the steps of Manchester’s Deaf Institute, I wondered whether the experience of a Saturday night silent disco would force my skinny legs skating around the dance floor, or sullenly shuffling back out of the joint. For the third collaboration between mighty Manchester nightlife stalwarts Revolver and Up the Racket, sees them testing the water of a medium usually reserved for muddy midnight festival nutters, or half-full, internet-concocted train station rendezvous.

The proposal for a 60’s pop/northern soul and catchy, contemporary indie silent disco, therefore, is a brave one.

Lucky, then, that the proposal was championed, for the night was truly amazing.

Beneath the spin of the dangling disco ball, bequiffed teddy boys fluttered about the room, unfazed as the headphones flattened their tops, rubbing shoulders with smouldering, cheerily cheek-boned ladies, spinning and bouncing upon tiny plimsolls, to the music beating inside and against their jubilant ear drums.

And it was the music, moreover, that ensured this fantastic dizziness of the dance floor. Friendly Fires fired into one chap’s head whilst The Supremes swooned into somebody else’s. The result was a pulsating dance floor, jigging wildly to uplifting, rhythmic dance delights.

And that’s not to mention the fun to be had by removing your headphones and listening to the warble and tangle of tuneless voices, or witnessing the silly jives and taps of silent dancing!

The more the Racket Upped, the more the room excitedly Revolved.

Looking forward to the next one? Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Road to Ruin?

Posted in Art with tags , , , on April 24, 2009 by joeshervin

getattachment1Common, Common, a brash and funky bar situated in the heart of Manchester’s unapologetically cool Northern Quarter, automatically justifies itself as the ideal place to meet Richard Roberts, a front-running street artist emerging from the Manchester scene. The walls are plastered from floor to ceiling with artwork, a new exhibition occupying the venue every few months, as artists are invited in to daub the place as they see fit. Roberts’ own work, I’m to learn, even graces the outside wall of the snazzy nightspot. It all adds up to a colourful, quirky setting for an interview with a colourful and quirky character.


I hoped to learn of Roberts’ own personal story, yet to also discover his views of graffiti as a wider genre, especially following the recent arrest of street artist Shepard Fairey, the man responsible for the red, white and blue ‘Hope’ posters that formed the backdrop for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Mr Fairey was arrested for property damage, yet his work is being proudly displayed at the prestigious Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.


“It’s silly to me”, laughs Roberts, “it’s not as if he [Fairey] is some kid going round tagging random property. He has been endorsed by the most powerful man in the world! His work should be appreciated, not vilified. He’s not destroying things, he’s creating them.”


Public regard for street art, on the other hand, is not so clear cut. Whilst many admire the complexity and aestheticism of the practice, many more dismiss it as a needless nuisance.


Roberts himself, certainly appears the archetypal grungy graffiti artist. Low-slung baseball cap hangs casually above a mopped, tangled beard. A baggy t-shirt droops lazily over clumpy combat trousers. His scruffy appearance, however, contrasts sharply with his precise and elegant artwork.


I myself have already become accustomed to some of his more celebrated endeavours. He performed live at the Manchester Eurocultured street festival in the summer of 2008, under his alias Ruse. Alongside other talented illustrators, he conspired to transform New Wakefield Street into a whirling mass of intricate colour. His spiky graffiti can also be seen emblazoned across shop shutters throughout the Northern Quarter, and, one that he’s especially proud of, surrounding the entrance door to South nightclub. “Yeah, that one’s cool. It’s quite an iconic Manchester indie club, and the entrance was even used in a photo advert for Harley Davidson. There’s a big motorcycle parked in front of South, with my artwork virtually filling up the rest of the space. It’s great!”


It transpires that he’s also travelled with his work, partaking in the prestigious Dot The Eyes exhibition in Copenhagen, “absolutely awesome city”, alongside some “very drunken, very funny”, trips to Austria and Dublin. He works on a variety of canvasses for smaller graphics too, including sheet metal and wood. He has designed tattoos and decorated trainers, including work on a campaign for New Balance.


Some of the work that he finds most gratifying, however, is that which benefits others. In February 2009, he orchestrated a workshop for a Primary School in Burnley, which resulted in a wall of the playground being transformed from ugly grey brick to a “kind of psychedelic zoo with animals playing in a band”. He grins, “the nippers designed all the characters and even helped with the fills.” In November 2008 he painted a van for the Youth Contact Team, a mobile unit branch of the Manchester Youth Arts Network, an outreach programme that believes all young people should have access to art of some form.


“Doing those kind of jobs is really rewarding,” he ponders, “usually communities look down on things like graffiti, so it’s great to have people encouraging you and giving you positive feedback. Working with kids is brilliant. They’re so creative and fun, it kind of brings out the big kid in you. They respond really well to fun activities. It’s cool when you think that you’ve brought out the artistic sides in kids who might not get the chance to show it otherwise.”


It’s this positive shine of graffiti that Roberts is keen to stress. “I can understand people getting annoyed about graffiti, especially if it’s on their property or in their neighbourhood, and I agree that a lot of it can be tacky and ugly, but there’s so much more to it than scallies with spray cans. It’s a valid art form and just as valid as any other. When done with skill and passion, it can be incredible. Just look at Banksy, his work is selling for thousands of pounds nowadays. It’s obvious that it’s a popular activity. I get lots of people congratulating me on my work at shows, which is ace. It proves that people like it and can understand the artistic merit.”


This brings us neatly back round to the issue of Shepard Fairey. “His [Fairey’s] work is mint. It can proudly stand up next to any art form in the world as far as I’m concerned. He shouldn’t be treated like a criminal. It’s like the DPM crew in London all over again.” The DPM crew, I’m animatedly told, are a gang of South London graffiti artists that were jailed for defacing public property in July 2008. As they were locked up, their work was hung up at the Anonymous Gallery Project in New York, in a display entitled DPM – Exhibit A, which unashamedly flaunted both the convicts’ artwork and criminal charge sheets side by side.


Both cases highlight the ever-strained divide between people’s opinions regarding street art. For Roberts, however, the artistry of the spray can is undoubted. “With graffiti, you don’t have to visit a gallery or a museum to see brilliant art. More often than not, people will come across it by accident. I love the fact that some random person might check out my graffiti on his way to work. It could even brighten up his morning. It might…” he giggles, “Even inspire him to be creative.”