Culture Cramming Challenge

My attempt to cram as many cultural festival-related activities as possible into one sunny Saturday afternoon resulted in an epic failure. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t stick to the plan but I found things I didn’t know I was looking for and met a lot of nice people along the way.

If you follow me on Twitter you might wonder why I’m bringing this up now, seeing as it’s been over a week since I took the culture cramming challenge. I won’t lie: there was talk of woolly mammoths and dead fish and poisonous mushrooms, so I got distracted.


The theme central to my failure was the Manchester Art Crawl. If you read my earlier post you will know I was excited by the prospect of racing around the city centre in search of 16 exhibitions by new and upcoming artists.

It all sounded so promising. I had been in touch with one of the organisers and he’d sent me details about locations, dates and opening times, plus he’d included a map, which as it turned out was too tiny and blurred to be remotely useful. 

I knew the crawl started at The Triangle so I headed there first hoping to pick up a more detailed guide. Unfortunately the stand which had been on display all week had been packed away for the weekend. There were still exhibits in two of the shops, but without the guide I missed them entirely.

Dress by Adnan BayyatADNAN BAYYAT

Instead I discovered an awe-inspiring art exhibition by local designer Adnan Bayyat. I have a soft spot for all things paper related and I love elaborate textures, so when in the window I saw a wedding dress made from intricate pieces of cardboard I had to go inside. Much of Adnan’s work revolves around the idea of recycling. He crochets couture from plastic bags, books and ring-pulls.

Walking into the studio is like walking into a magical grotto. I won’t attempt to describe the dresses, the sculptures or the canvasses. I couldn’t do them justice. Instead you’ll have to go in and see them for yourself. Please don’t just look at Adnan Art Exhibitionthe website – It doesn’t do them justice either. The studio is on the lower ground floor of The Triangle. Go! You can’t miss it.

When I eventually peeled myself away from Adnan’s Studio I went upstairs to Mooch Art, a small art gallery where in my mind I spend at least £10K before leaving. The assistant put me back on track for the art crawl by giving me directions to Number 5.


Before skipping ahead I attempted to find the 2nd location, which according to the description on the tiny map was at Victoria Station. It wasn’t. After wandering around the station, inside and out, for 20 minutes I gave up and asked in the newsagent for some help. The assistant very kindly googled the gallery on his iPhone and vaguely described how to get there. I wandered in its general direction for a while before surrendering and deciding to try something else.

By now it was 13:55. I had 5 minutes to race across town to Afflecks to catch the 2 pm performance of Three Minute Theatre. I’m so glad I did.


Three Minute Theatre: Photo from their website - didn’t have a huge audience so despite the fact I was puffing slightly, chewing on a lolly, talking with my mouth full and dropping my money all over the floor, no one objected to my presence.

It started a little strange, with a sketch about warts or something. Either the bizarreness subsided or I got used to it. My favourite sketches were the ones incorporating the only female actor: For example the one where she played a hippy doing interpretative dance to the conversation between two welly wearing farmers. Hilarious!

The crowd was small so they got a few titters rather than full blown belly laughs, but the material was good and I’d go again. Three Minute Theatre are back at Afflecks on the 22nd July at 8 pm with a ‘best of’ show. It’s not slick but it is fun so if you’re around it’s worth a look.


Feeling more relaxed having had a good giggle, I resumed the art crawl. At my 3rd location, Number 5 on the map, I finally got a peek at some pictures, hurray! However the artist wasn’t quite ready for viewings. She was still eating lunch and hadn’t finished mounting her work on the walls. Aloud I lamented that at this rate I wasn’t going to see any of the crawl. Another artist overheard and offered to help by escorting me to his own exhibition himself.

I followed this guy through back streets and narrow passageways to an obscure place called Kraak Gallery, Number 4 on the list. I would never have found it on my own. Now, before anyone starts telling me I shouldn’t be following strange men down strange alleyways he was with his mum and the studio was signposted, ok? (Albeit in an A4 print-out sellotaped to a wall kind of way). We climbed up two floors to the studio, past what looked remarkably like a squat, to find that the door to his exhibition was locked and he didn’t know the key-code combination.

That’s when I abandoned the crawl. I’m sure there were lots of fascinating pieces of work waiting to be discovered but I’d had enough.

Photo from posters advertising 11 Rooms: Photo by John BaldessariMANCHESTER ART GALLERY– 11 ROOMS

All I wanted was to see some nice pretty pictures, so I headed over to Manchester Art Gallery. They were bound to have pretty pictures, right? Did you go to MIFs 11 Rooms? There weren’t any pictures. Conceptual art: Eek!

After my initial shock at realising the photo advertising the exhibition was totally irrelevant to what was actually going on in there, I discovered an enjoyable and occasionally disturbing exhibition. 11 identical white rooms: each containing 1 or more people who were themselves the sculptures. It certainly got us talking.

Laura Lima’s installation for 11 Rooms: Photo by Christopher Thomond for the GuardianThere have been lots of interesting reviews about the exhibition so I won’t ramble on any further. Instead, I’ll point you in the direction of some good links:

This video by the Guardian (Warning: Contains nudity and adult content) shows you 8 of the 11 rooms. The rooms it skipped are the manga character, the piano that plays itself and the room in which they wanted to put a cadaver, but couldn’t secure one in time. (Instead they displayed the emails trying to secure one). Here are some reviews by the GuardianCreative Times and The Telegraph.


I only actually managed to do two things that Saturday: Three Minute Theatre which was on my list and 11 Rooms which wasn’t on my list. I wanted to finish the day with either a trip to 1395 Days Without Red or the Chorlton Beer Festival – I felt I deserved a pint, but I failed at those too. I ended the day with pop culture instead. I went to the cinema.

Did you get further along the Art Crawl than I did? What did I miss?

If you went to 11 rooms what did you swop? Did you get something more interesting than a business card, a tissue or a piece of chewing gum?


2 thoughts on “Culture Cramming Challenge

  1. I’ve recieved an update on the Three Minute Theatre ‘Best of’ Show:

    “It’s on Friday 22nd of July and it starts at 8pm. It’s a full hour of new music, new plays and mad comedy. It includes plays from the first season, the second season and brand new Three Minute Theatre. Tickets £5 on the door. Disabled friendly, drinks and snacks. Check out the stuff on facebook or on our website.”

  2. Pingback: The Great Manchester Scavenger Hunt | Manchester Meanders

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