Neglected. Eroded. Derelict. (Manchester: Post Apocalypse)

Manchester Meanders has been much neglected these past few weeks. ‘Tis the season to be jolly but I’m rushed off my feet both at work and at home.

I should be writing about the Christmas Markets, the lights, the charity Santa Runs, Santa’s Steam Train, the 2 for 1 cocktails at my beloved ‘The North Pole’, the ice skating rink at Spinningfields, reviewing the much anticipated opening of the Oast House, Christmas shopping / bargain hunting and the humorous and unusual ways window designers are trying to tempt us into their stores.

There are so many wonderful cheery things I could, should and want to write about…

…but the thing that stopped me in my tracks and evoked such emotion that I HAD to write today, even though I don’t really have the time right now, is James Chadderton’s exhibition at Incognito Gallery, Northern Quarter.


This morning, before my first brew of the day, I browsed the BBC News website and clicked on a link called Manchester After An Apocalypse. The images that flashed on my screen were a stark and disturbing contrast to the backdrop of tinsel, trees-lights and Secret Santa parcels. I was staggered and speechless.


James Chadderton's photo from Mmanchester Apocalypse - Palace Theatre

The first digitally altered image to confront me was of the Palace Theatre on Oxford Street. It was so unexpected and alien it took a moment for me to register what I was looking at.


James Chadderton's photo_manchester_apocalypse_hacienda

Most of us have seen post-apocalyptic images before, either in films or in computer games. In fact, Chadderton cited films, books and games as his inspiration to show Manchester as a “human devoid wasteland where the buildings have been left to decay”.


James Chadderton's photo_manchester_apocalypse_urbis














To be honest, I’m usually desensitised to such things. Perhaps these images stunned me more because it’s MY beloved city that has been depicted in this way.

“James Chadderton has smashed Manchester up. The Town Hall is a blasted husk, the Palace Theatre is wrecked. Urbis, the best of the sequence, is a shattered shell. There are no people, they are killed or gone, the streets are empty. Manchester is dead.” Jonathan Schofield, Manchester Confidential


James Chadderton's photo_manchester_apocalypse_printworks

Perhaps it wasn’t just the contrast with the winter festivities that disturbed me: Two nights ago I read ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ by Sarah Winman for my book club. We each took something different away from the book – But to me it was a story of hope and despair, childhood enchantment and innocence lost, against a backdrop of real life events – Events which many readers, like myself, gravely remember.

I won’t review the book here,* I’ll just tell you that my recent recollections of the real life heart wrenching events mentioned within those pages are probably what caused my mind to jump to memories of the aftermath of the Manchester IRA bombing and the lawlessness of the rioting and looting earlier this year, rather than simply admiring Chadderton’s semi-fictional cityscapes with curiosity and awe from the outset.


James Chadderton's photo_manchester_apocalypse_wheel

Jonathan Schofield, writing for Manchester Confidential wrote: “[James Chadderton’s] digitally delivered images are fun to view and allow Mancunians to contemplate the fall of their own city. They could be the perfect Christmas present for the twisted mind.”

‘Fun to view’ – FUN? It’s not a sentiment that I share. I absolutely WILL go to this exhibition: I will admire the inventiveness and imagination of the artist and I absolutely WILL be buying the postcards to remember it by, but as for ‘fun’ or a ‘perfect Christmas present’ (albeit for the twisted mind) – I think not.

So much for Christmas cheer.


Don’t get me wrong – I think these images are fantastic – I just don’t be hanging them on my living room wall.

If like me you prefer your photographs of Manchester to be a little less morose check out Andrew Brooks’ website, (the photographer who very kindly gave permission for the use of his Manchester at Night piece as the Manchester Meanders header image) and Aidan O’Rourke  – Both of whom are celebrated Mancunian photographers whose work I absolutely adore and wouldn’t hesitate to cover my walls with!

What were your thoughts when you first saw James Chadderton’s images? Do you plan to visit the exhibition?

All comments are welcome. 🙂

  • *Read Lou’s book club review of When God was a Rabbit here 
  • Manchester: Post Apocalypse is showing at Incognito Gallery, 5 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, M1 1DN. Phone: 0161 228 7999.
  • The gallery is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5.30pm, Sunday noon-4pm.
  • Large framed and signed prints – £350; Smaller prints – £135; Postcards – £2.

10 thoughts on “Neglected. Eroded. Derelict. (Manchester: Post Apocalypse)

  1. Wow. I get a bit of a thrill seeing the Printworks in ruins I must admit, I hope the damage occured on a Saturday night at midnight and took a whole swathe of scantily clad teenagers down too. These pictures are superb, I’ll paste the link about a bit on 365project.

    • They are fantastic aren’t they? Do you think you’ll go? I’ve never been to the gallery before (I didn’t even know Incognito was there). Apparently the exhibition is in the vault of an old bank. I love little details like that. Lol

    • Bit of a late comment…I just bought a print of one of his pieces yesterday so have been doing some research and found this.

      I think that his work is amazing and mine if definitely going to be going up on my wall where everyone who comes to visit can enjoy it also. I love this sort of work as I think (hope) that it makes people think twice about what things could actually be like if we continue destroying the planet at the rate that we currently are.

      I must admit, the Printworks piece did also give me a little bit of a thrill when I first saw it (today) too.

    • Oooh! I’m intrigued by that project. I’ll see what I can find.

      Two photographs immediately spring to my mind: The first is a 2 cm squared cut-out of when I was about 3 years old on a family beach holiday: It’s a side profile head shot of me holding an ice-cream cornet close to my face. I’m not aware of the camera – My attention is solely on the ice-cream. I’ve got pudgy cheeks, a bowl-cut hair cut and my mouth is open a wide as I can get it – I’m about to attempt to eat the whole ice-cream cornet in one go. Ahhh, memories…

      The second photograph is grainy: My granddad, who passed away when I was young, is carrying me along the path in his overgrown front garden. I don’t remember being carried but I remember my granddads teasing, the rhubarb, the strawberries and the tree swing. When I think of my granddad I think of that photo.

      Now I need to dig them out and write my stories! (That is, if they allow people in the photographs?)

    • Thanks Tilly. I didn’t mean to go off the radar for quite so long. I thought I’d be winding down for Christmas now but it turns out this is my busiest time of the year. 😦 I’ll try to not leave it so long next time!

  2. Great to see you back Sammy Dee. The photo’s are amazing, I’m definitely going to check out the gallery, I had no idea it was there either and I live in the area!

    You sumed up my thoughts on WGWAR really nicely, I’ve reviewed it now but when I came to write it I realized I didn’t have that much to say, it was just a very lovely read!

    • Thanks Lou. I really enjoyed the book too but I’m still not sure who I should recommend it to. I know of one person who wants to read it after what we both wrote.

      Let me know if you get to the exhibition. It’s so frustrating that it closes before I finish work!

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