Met Magazine Spring / Summer 2017

Page 1

Met Magazine

Spring/Summer 2017







The Writing’s

on the WALL


The magazine of Manchester Metropolitan University





Met Magazine


Met Magazine Spring/Summer 2017 Met Magazine is published by Manchester Metropolitan University

Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press

Foreword 3

Vice-Chancellor’s message

News 4 Academy Award-winning director involved in new Screen School 5 First Generation scheme launches in Manchester schools and colleges 6 PhD student takes top STEM prize 7 University researchers involved in groundbreaking care home scheme 8 Business Improvement Districts seek support from University

Features 10 How fake news changed the world: The new age of “alternative facts” 14 From Wythenshawe to Westeros: Met Magazine meets the alumnus behind Game of Thrones character Samwell Tarly 20 Bringing the past to life: Celebrating 40 years of the North West Film Archive 26 Live fast, write young: What drives today’s generation of young poets? 32 Prize writing champions of the world: Read the winning story and poetry from the Manchester Writing Competition 38 A world of difference: Find out about Manchester Metropolitan research that is changing lives around the world 40 Growing old gracefully: How the challenges of ageing are being tackled 42 Making the future a reality: The cutting-edge technology shaping a new world


Met Magazine issue 3

Editorial team


Ian Christon Chris Morris Ian Proctor Maryam Ahmed Simon Donohue (Intelligent Conversation)

Clair Read

Ade Hunter

Design – Steve Kelly


Contact us

46 Devolving Manchester: What does the future hold for local government in the region? 54 The future’s looking interesting: An interview with world-famous designer Thomas Heatherwick 58 The writing’s on the wall: With music such an integral part of Manchester’s culture, is it time for a music museum? 62 Malcolm in the middle: An interview with legendary graphic designer Malcolm Garrett 66 Manchester International Festival: A decade of creativity

Views 9 50 51 52 53

Students’ Union President Lewis Bartlett explains why a degree may not be enough to secure future employment Former Manchester City Council Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein on his pride in the city UK Fast’s CEO Lawrence Jones on why the tech sector must reach out to the young Manchester Metropolitan’s Professor Sharon Handley on the importance of arts and culture to the city John McGrath, Creative Director and CEO of the Manchester International Festival, on this year’s brilliant programme of events

People 24 Shaped by the city: Alumni achieving success around the world 65 A week in the life of Dr Sam Illingworth

Regulars 64 What’s on your bookshelf? 67 What’s on listings

FOREWORD A message from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malcolm Press


oth the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet recently hailed Manchester as the UK’s liveliest cultural hotspot, catching up with a fact that has been wellknown to people living, working and studying in our city for a long time. Manchester is every bit as ‘GLAMorous’ as the world’s best global cities, rich in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Manchester also boasts an unrivalled theatre and music scene and with world-class venues such as HOME, it is no wonder that the Manchester International Festival stands firmly on the cultural map, attracting international visitors and attention. The creative industries have become one of the fastest growing sectors in Manchester and, together with our numerous cultural attractions, play as great a role as technology and sport in defining our standing, both within the UK and on the world stage. Cultural attractions not only bring wealth to our region, but also play a huge role in our wellbeing. They make our city an enticing destination for visitors, and help to make it a lively, stimulating, enriching and attractive place to live. Importantly, they help us to attract, develop and retain talent – whether students to our universities, graduates to our industries and enterprises, or individuals seeking to work at the forefront of their professions – in a place that’s going places. Many of our students stay in Manchester after they graduate, allowing the city to benefit from a strong pipeline of future talent and evergrowing recognition as the original modern city. At Manchester Metropolitan University we are proud to play a vital role at the heart of Manchester’s cultural and creative ecosystem. Our newly formed mega-faculty of Arts and Humanities brings together a

At Manchester Metropolitan University we are proud to play a vital role at the heart of Manchester’s cultural and creative ecosystem

number of our great strengths, allowing us to explore the boundaries between art and politics, fashion and theatre, and English and architecture, for example. We’re keen to ensure that the talent pipeline of our graduates criss-crosses traditional boundaries, preparing the best creative minds to be fit for the future aspirations of the city. Our brilliant Manchester Writing School is a great example of how cutting-edge ability makes a difference to the lives of local communities. The School’s Director, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, leads the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, a hugely valued part of the cultural offer of the city, enriching the lives of our young people, showing them what they can achieve, and inspiring them to excel. The Writing School also delivers research and teaching in all the major literary forms, with distinguished poets and novelists on our staff and amongst a cohort of more than 80 published alumni. We are one of the largest centres for education and training in creative writing in the country. In poetry we have a strong claim to be the pre-eminent UK centre for critical and creative research. This edition of Met Magazine features interviews with three of the Writing School’s latest rising poetry stars. We have plans to open the Manchester Poetry Library in 2019 as part of a £100m investment in two new arts and media buildings. The designs for these new building will reflect the architectural flair that already defines our campus. We’re keen to ensure that what we do is high quality, but also responsive to the needs of society. In the context of the needs of the creative industries, and supported by all the Greater Manchester boroughs, we have recently announced plans for a new Screen

School. The Screen School will combine creative and craft skills with technical and digital knowhow for content on everything that depends on a screen, ranging from portable and hand-held devices to film and television. It will pioneer a dynamic approach to research and learning, training the next generation of talent to enable Manchester and the UK to grow and compete internationally across the digital and creative media sectors. This is already something that we’re really good at and where we have a strong desire to be still more impactful. Local lad and international superstar Danny Boyle has agreed to chair our International Advisory Board. We’ll be working in partnership with employers and businesses across the region to both train and retain talent in the North West as well as acting as a magnet for inward investment. We are intensely proud of our contribution to Manchester’s international reputation as a city of cultural and creative excellence. The source of our pride lies not just in the recognition of the quality of what we do but also because of what it enables us to do - the impact we can have and the lives that we can enrich. As a university, our mission is to find and develop talent, wherever it lies. The stories that we can tell through arts and culture are as important as any in academia in kick-starting ambition and broadening horizons. Participation generates confidence and selfbelief. We will bring into our university the next generation of actors and artists, geeks and gamers, and, together with our partners in Manchester and the region, we will give them outstanding opportunities to thrive, imagine and create, ensuring the success of our university, and our City, far into the future.

Spring/Summer 2017



University a gold supporter of Manchester International Festival

Manchester Metropolitan University is proud to be a Gold supporter of this year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF) which runs from 29 June to 16 July. MIF has forged a global reputation as a festival of all new work and special events created by international artists. The festival takes place at venues all over the city with a range of events from dance and drama to music, art, and much more.

Manchester Metropolitan has joined the group of sponsors and supporters – ranging from major national and international companies to local small businesses to individual donors – that make the festival possible. This will also be the third festival running where students from Manchester Metropolitan will design the Festival Square’s interiors, seating areas and furniture, working together with

local design and making agencies OH OK LTD and Ferrious for their most ambitious collaboration yet. This is the first edition of MIF under new Artistic Director John McGrath, who said: “We are incredibly grateful to every one of our funders and sponsors – their support of MIF allows work of the most ambitious and exciting scale to be made right here in Manchester, work which we can then export to festivals, theatres and arts centres around the world. Their continuing commitment is essential as we work towards the opening of Factory in 2020. We look forward to welcoming more partners on board for this exciting journey.” For an opinion piece from John McGrath see page 53. For more information about MIF see pages 66-67.

Academy Award-winning director to play a leading role in new media school at Manchester Metropolitan Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle will play a leading role in a new innovative media school at Manchester Metropolitan. The International Screen School Manchester, (ISSM) by Manchester Metropolitan University, will provide courses in film, animation, applied games, special effects, sound design, software design for screen, user experience design and immersive media content production for more than 1,000 students every year. It is estimated that the ISSM will generate an annual £13 million boost for the local economy. The new Screen School will work closely with key regional cultural and industry partners including HOME, Red Production, the BBC and ITV to ensure Greater


Met Magazine issue 3

Manchester has the skills base urgently needed to support this continued growth. Senior figures from film, media and commerce have already agreed to be part of the Screen School’s Industry Advisory Board. The group will be co-chaired by Danny Boyle, director of films such as the Trainspotting series, Slumdog Millionaire and the creative force behind the opening ceremony at the London Olympics, and producer Nicola Shindler, founder of award-winning Red Production Company. Danny Boyle said: “This is just what Manchester needs and I am delighted to be part of the International Screen School Manchester. “Manchester is a prolific centre of media production

already and the Screen School will create the talent needed in the north to create even more success.” Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We know how critical digital skills development will be to the future success of our economy. The Screen School will be part of Manchester Metropolitan University’s world-leading School of Art, ensuring that we form a strong bridge between creative media and digital production methods, informing critical thinking on how new media technologies can be expanded for other uses. We are excited about this opportunity to jointly invest in the future success of our city region.”


First Generation launches in schools and colleges Applications for the University’s First Generation campaign – to help young people to become the first in their family to go to university – have opened. Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to supporting bright local students into and through university, providing the support and encouragement to help young people succeed. The First Generation scheme opened for applications in early April from pupils in Year 12 at local colleges and schools to help them unlock their potential and benefit from a package of support. First Generation is the University’s new programme to identify gifted and talented young people from families with no university experience and give them the life-changing opportunities that higher education can bring. The scheme will provide a complete journey of support for students who would be the first generation of their family to go to university. The scheme is only made

possible thanks to the generosity of alumni, staff and friends of the University. The University is currently fundraising for First Generation and has already received generous contributions, including through a First Generation Alumni Phone Appeal, which will help support students on the scheme. Peter Riley, Head of Widening Participation and Student Financial Support at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “First Generation is a whole student lifecycle approach to widening participation. We will identify the students in year 12 and support them into and through the University. “They will then have the opportunity to work with our alumni to gain valuable experience and contacts to support them into successful employment. “Through this scheme we want to transform the lives of our First Generation.” To find out more about First Generation go to

Silversmith design graduate makes Grand National trophy A silversmith who studied at Manchester Metropolitan University created the trophy for this year’s Grand National. Shannon O’Neill, who followed a 3D Design course at the University between 1992 and 1995, won a competition to design the cup for the world’s most famous horse race. Up to now there has been a single trophy that has to be handed back to the race organisers by the winning owner, but new race sponsors Randox Health decided to hold a competition to commission an artist to create a new trophy for each of the five years of their naming deal. Shannon said: “It was the most spectacular and wonderful news to receive ever, particular as I grew up in Liverpool so you can imagine how special it is.

Manchester Met one of best young unis in world

Through this scheme we want to transform the lives of our First Generation

Manchester Metropolitan University is ranked as one of the best young universities in the world. The University is among the top 200 global universities under 50 years old as part of the 2017 Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings. The Young University Rankings, previously known as the THE 150 Under 50 Rankings, measure a series of performance indicators on teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income. Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: “The Young University Rankings demonstrate the strength and excellence we possess right across the University. “We are a confident University and proud of our ability to shine on the international stage. We continue to be ambitious in our teaching, research and industrial partnerships.” The Young University Rankings compare universities from countries all over the world which were established in the last 50 years. It places Manchester Metropolitan among the global elite while only 27 places are taken by universities from the UK.

Credit: Adrian Salisbury

“The fact it’s the Grand National, it couldn’t get much bigger. Even being in the running was a huge honour and it’s a huge thrill to do it.” The cup is a solid silver piece, weighing 2kg and standing 45cm tall, and has a design of a jockey riding a horse etched around it. Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung, the joint owners of winning horse One for Arthur, were the first recipients of the new trophy.


Visit to read more news about Manchester Metropolitan

Spring/Summer 2017


Manchester Metropolitan and Pearson team up to offer online degree programmes

Top prize at Parliament’s STEM for BRITAIN event

A PhD researcher and Postgraduate Teaching Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University, was awarded the top Westminster prize at the STEM for BRITAIN event at the Houses of Parliament earlier this year. Lauren McNeill presented her research on developing a device for the rapid and cost-effective detection of the New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) mephedrone, impressing dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges and walking away with two awards. ‘Ecstatic’ and ‘completely surprised’ to win the main prize, she said: “I wanted to highlight the need for new research into a quick, portable and cost-effective detection method for mephedrone. “This kind of device could be used for mandatory drug testing in prisons and A&E departments throughout the world by nonspecialists. My research is still in the early stages, but intriguing results offer an insight into its potential.”

As Gold Medal winner in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Section, Lauren was awarded a £3,000 prize. She was then entered to compete for the Westminster Medal – a competition between the five gold medal scientists, engineers or mathematicians at the event based on their ability to communicate their research. Lauren was judged the best, making her the overall winner out of the 212 early career researchers taking part in STEM for BRITAIN 2017. Dr Marloes Peeters, Jane Wood and Ryan Wimbles from Manchester Metropolitan University also presented research at the STEM for BRITAIN event. STEM for BRITAIN aims to raise the profile of Britain’s earlystage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK.

Research-led think tank launches Manchester Metropolitan University has established a highprofile initiative designed to bridge the gap between world-leading research and policy makers. MetroPolis is a research-led think tank that will amplify policy-relevant research whilst building the networks and reach of staff who want to increase their policy impact. MetroPolis is co-led by Professor of Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Chris Fox, Sam Gray, from the Office of Research


Met Magazine issue 3

and Knowledge Exchange, and External Affairs Advisor Michael Taylor. Metropolis is funded through the University’s Strategic Opportunities Fund.

As a University, we are known for our innovation in education

Manchester Metropolitan University has launched an exciting ten-year partnership with the world’s largest education company, Pearson, to develop and deliver new online postgraduate degree programmes for a worldwide audience. The first four online programmes to be launched in September 2017 – MScs in International Finance and Management and International Human Resource Management, a MBA and a MBA Strategic Health and Social Care – will be offered by the University’s award-winning Business School. In line with the University’s bold international ambitions, Manchester Metropolitan is one of the first in the UK to partner with Pearson on this scale. Pearson is already an online degree market leader in the US and Australia, with over 45 partnerships, and has been responsible for over 300,000 online course starts worldwide. Professor Jean-Noel Ezingeard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “As a University, we are known for our innovation in education and the partnership with Pearson ensures students across the globe will be able to benefit from the same high-quality teaching and lectures as on our campuses in the UK. All teaching will be underpinned by the same rigorous standards and attainment targets we see with our UK-based programmes.” Pearson chief executive, John Fallon, said: “Online degree programmes are a growing global trend in education and an important part of Pearson’s future. Universities are looking for ways to take advantage of technology to reach more students. Our partnership with Manchester Metropolitan will help deliver postgraduate qualifications in areas of high skill demand to thousands of students in the UK and around the world.” More details on the courses can be found at postgraduate/

University researchers involved in groundbreaking care home scheme Improvements to care home standards across the region are envisaged thanks to the results of a pioneering project involving Manchester Metropolitan University. Teaching Care Home was a 12-month nurse-led pilot programme to strengthen both the culture of person-centred care and the learning environment within care homes, particularly in the areas of staff education and development. A variety of different on-site activities and new policies and practices were trialled in five care homes across the country and the idea is to help combat industry challenges such as the recruitment and retention of registered nurses, fostering innovation and sharing knowledge, and improving the day-to-day experience of residents. The pilot was funded by the Department of Health and led by Care England, the largest representative body for independent care providers, which worked in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) demographic change think tank, and the Foundation of Nursing Studies. Manchester Metropolitan researchers evaluated the scheme and its outcomes and their work fed into the resulting Impact Report that was launched at a reception at the House of Lords in April.

Professor Alison Chambers, (pictured) Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “The Teaching Care Home pilot is an important piece of work which highlights the centrality of learning and development to creating a high quality care environment. “Investing in staff development is fundamental to improving care standards and ensuring residents’ care experiences are of the highest quality which in turn contributes to residents’ wellbeing. “We are very proud to be the project’s academic partner and we are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with

£4m hydrogen fuel cell tech centre launched

Care England, the Foundation of Nursing Studies and ILC-UK to promote careers in the care sector and contribute to improving care experiences for all.” Professor Josie Tetley, Professor of Nursing (Ageing and Long-Term Conditions) at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “What we have tried to do is understand the issues and the positive aspects of care home work and identify those in a way that we can try to implement them on a Greater Manchester level. “This is part of the solution - we want to replicate the good things going on in care homes so we can improve the health and wellbeing of residents.”

A £4 million technology hub for Manchester companies to create the next generation of carbon-neutral hydrogen fuel cells is being launched at Manchester Metropolitan University. The Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre (MFCIC) will house the latest equipment for SMEs to develop hydrogen fuel cells to create green and emission-free energy, powering everything from our homes to our cars. The Centre has been awarded £1.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund for state-of-the art equipment currently unavailable to the city’s buoyant low-carbon SME sector. The University will fund the remaining cost. MFCIC will produce advanced materials for fuel cells and next generation energy storage, utilising nanomaterials and 3D printing for example, and plan hydrogen and fuel cell infrastructure for the region. It will speed up the research and development of the high-tech fuel cells – which convert hydrogen into water and oxygen to produce electricity – to accelerate testing, prototyping, scale-up for industry and create routes to market. MFCIC builds on the establishment of the Greater Manchester Hydrogen Partnership (GMHP), which Manchester Metropolitan launched in 2013 as a venture between academia, industry and government.

Spring/Summer 2017


Manchester Metropolitan University chosen to help Business Improvement Districts

The University’s Institute of Place Management (IPM) has been selected by leading Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across England to create a highprofile representative body as well as provide research, advocacy and other services to the industry. BIDs were first established by Parliament in 2003. They are formal networks of businesses who come together through local ballot to agree a levy to fund actions to make specific areas more successful. There are now over 250 BIDs operational around the UK

Three employer awards for University Manchester Metropolitan has secured a trio of employment accolades. The University has become the first university in the country to be granted Top Employers status and achieve a Gold rating in the Business Disability Forum’s Disability Standard. And it has also been named as one of the best employers for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. The Top Employers certification is awarded only to organisations that achieve the highest standards of excellence in employee conditions. The annual research, undertaken by the Top Employers Institute, recognises leading employers around the world. In achieving the Disability Standard, Manchester Metropolitan became one of just five organisations to achieve the Gold rating. To add to this success the University has been ranked 41st in the UK as part of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers rankings, a climb of 125 places from last year, placing it 4th among education institutions. It marks the first time Manchester Metropolitan has featured in the top 100 list, now in its 13th year, and highlights the inclusivity and diversity encountered at the University across its 4,500 staff.


Met Magazine issue 3



making important decisions about the management and development of towns and cities, on behalf of the business and public sector agencies that fund them. Professor Cathy Parker (pictured), Chair of the Institute of Place Management, believes that the new partnership is beneficial for BIDs, the University and policymakers. She said: “Politicians and academics are very keen to understand more about devolution and localism - the benefits and pitfalls as well as the process by which control, power and budgets are managed more locally and BIDs are already at the frontline of these changes.” Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, added: “It is extremely positive for Manchester Metropolitan University that the Institute of Place Management has been entrusted with this project, an achievement which reflects the commitment and dedication of all those involved.” IPM was selected for having the requisite capacity, standing and independence to assist in elevating standards of performance and governance across the BID industry. For more info re the Institute of Place Management

University remains one of the greenest universities in the UK


out of all UK universities


Manchester Metropolitan University has been ranked third out of all UK universities in the People and Planet University League 2016, maintaining a top three position since 2013 - a testament to its continued drive to embed sustainability across the University. The People and Planet University League is the only comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities that ranks institutions by environmental and ethical performance. Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: “We are delighted to have once again maintained our position in the top tier of UK universities for commitment to sustainability and the green agenda. “The People and Planet University League ranking is a wonderful affirmation of the hard work that goes into ensuring that we embed sustainability across everything we do at Manchester Metropolitan: from LED lighting to University-wide recycling; self-cleaning glass to combined heat and power networks in our buildings. Our position shows that the University continues to grow its delivery and breadth to be a top performer in this field. “We also encourage our students to think globally and to tackle the major environmental issues that the world currently faces across the breadth of our courses.”


Your degree is not enough! Lewis Bartlett, President of the Students’ Union at Manchester Metropolitan, discusses how securing your future career is about more than just academic study


hat may sound strange... you spend at least three years at university, accumulate around £60,000 worth of debt and someone says that your degree is still not good enough to get you a job at the end of it. Unfortunately, that is the reality of today’s job market. An employer is no longer just looking for the qualifications you have. Think about it; how many people are in your class? How many people are on your course? Or on a similar course across the UK? The answer to the last is thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, all fighting for jobs in a similar field; possibly, even that one dream job that you have had your heart set on for years. To add perspective, 80,000 more students graduated last year than in 2006, showing the increasing demand for graduate level jobs. What is going to make that employer pick your application out of the hundreds that are sat on their desk and give you the job? Although I do not have the definitive answer – I wish I did – I do know one thing. That your degree alone is not going to be enough. Yes, your degree is the key to unlock the door to success, but it is your skill set and experiences that will really enable you to reach your full potential. Make the most of your time at university. This is your chance to be and do whatever you want to. Work hard, have fun, gain the experiences and qualifications that make you stand out from the crowd and then go grab the opportunities with both hands. I have capitalised on a lot of opportunities since moving to Manchester. As well as my degree, I have 16 coaching/officiating qualifications; experience of being a committee member and running a sports team; and had the privilege of being elected as the Students’ Union President. All of this has given me more skills, training, qualifications and networks than I know what to do with. These opportunities and the support of

the Union and University have allowed me to develop and be in a situation where I have my next job lined up starting two days after I finish this one. I cannot stress the importance of extra-curricular work alongside your studies enough. It does not have to be much, it does not have to be a 30/40 hour a week commitment, but you need to do whatever you can to boost your CV. That could be joining a sport/society; getting a part-time job; attending MMU Futures workshops; volunteering; placements and conferences. There are literally thousands of possibilities out there for you, and there is no better time to take advantage of them than right now! All of this is easy for me to say, however, the evidence of how difficult it can be to find a graduate level job is widely available. The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey shows that 10,000 plus students graduated from Manchester Metropolitan in 2014/15. 92.4% of those were in employment or further education within six months but only 66.5% of them are in further education or jobs that actually require a degree. While some of that may be due to personal choice, others will still be competing for that perfect job. To win that competition and bridge the percentage gap, it is vital to gain as many skills as you can, whilst you can. Do not settle for a job just because you cannot get something you actually want. If you want something that bad, go out and gain the experiences that will help you get there. Do what makes you happy and do not let anything get in your way. University will be the biggest culture shock and one of the hardest things you will ever do. If you can get through that and still be standing on the other side, you can do anything! As always, if you would like to chat more or need anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Spring/Summer 2017



changed the world Professor Keith Still found himself in the headlines as Donald Trump’s inauguration focused attention on the fake news phenomenon. Fellow academics share their thoughts on the post-truth era. That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, a remark which the fact-checking website PolitiFact rated as ‘pants on fire’ false.


n 4 December 2016, a 25-year-old man opened fire in Washington DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. His motivation? He later explained that he was ‘self-investigating’ claims that the restaurant was the headquarters of a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton. This is probably one of the most famous, and shocking, examples of how a fake news story can have real-world consequences. The story appears to have originated on Reddit, the online message board, but it was swiftly propagated and soon took root.

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2016 found that 14 per cent of Trump supporters believed the story to be true. Another 32 per cent of respondents were ‘unsure’. The poll lends weight to the theory that the US election result was influenced by a widespread


Met Magazine issue 3

belief in fake news. That same poll found that 73 per cent of Trump voters thought the billionaire financier George Soros paid protesters to disrupt the Republican candidate’s rallies, for example. This is a claim that was repeated by Trump himself. This massaging of the truth

FEATURE didn’t end with Trump’s election, as Manchester Metropolitan’s Professor of Crowd Science, Keith Still, discovered in January. He was asked by the New York Times to estimate crowd numbers at the presidential inauguration based on video and photographic evidence from the day. There were inevitable comparisons with photographs of the crowd at Barack Obama’s first inauguration. The subsequent media reporting on the figures proved a real bone of contention for the Trump administration. In his first public remarks after his inauguration, Trump used a speech at CIA headquarters to kindle a feud with the press over the size of the crowd. In a statement, the President’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, then delivered a scathing indictment of the coverage. “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, a remark which the fact-checking website PolitiFact rated as ‘pants on fire’ false. The next day, Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to Trump, defended Spicer’s remarks, saying the White House’s false claim was an ‘alternative fact’. Fake news has also influenced voter behaviour in the UK. Similar examples of unchecked ‘fake news’ played a role in the outcome of the UK’s Brexit vote. Perhaps the most memorable claim made by the Leave camp, that £350m a week would be made available to the NHS if the UK left the EU, had Nigel Farage backtracking just hours after the referendum result. There’s no doubt that the internet and social media have irrevocably changed the way in which public opinion can be influenced and news – or fake news – can be spread. There are many who believe the way conversation and attention are being shaped online is a bigger problem than fake news. Arguably, by focusing solely on fake news, we are ignoring a wider issue around misleading and biased propaganda, which is then repeated and reinforced by our social feeds. The likelihood is that your social network, the people you choose to connect with, will hold broadly similar views to you, making it far less likely that you’ll come across opposing opinions and ideas. In addition, it’s suggested that algorithms on sites

like Facebook deliberately show us content that they think we will like. As a result, we have become trapped in our own personal echo chambers. Take the Brexit vote for example. It’s not difficult to imagine that those who voted Leave were more likely to share stories which reinforced their point of view. Some of these may have been fake news stories, some true. The same goes for those who voted Remain. Neither side is seeing a completely false perspective, but rather a carefully crafted story which omits certain details and context. While the problem is bigger than fake news, fake news stories are undoubtedly boosted by this echo chamber effect. These stories – compelling to click on – soar on the social web, where links are given the same weighting regardless of source, and particularly on Facebook, where there is a potential audience of 1.8bn. Analysis by BuzzFeed found that fake news stories drew more shares and engagement during the final three months of the US presidential election campaign than reports from the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. In fact, the popularity of fake news stories on social media became so rife during the campaign that they became a big business opportunity. With clicks come profit. For example, it was discovered that over 100 pro-Trump fake news sites with names like were being run by teenagers in a small town in Macedonia. The more successful of these sites were earning the owners in excess of $5,000 a month in advertising revenue. And it isn’t only social networks that are propagating fake news stories. In March this year, Google faced accusations of spreading fake news, after being repeatedly discovered sharing falsehoods and conspiracy theories through its ‘featured snippets in search’ functionality. A video posted online by one Twitter user gave a powerful example. It highlighted the response given by Google’s smart speaker device, Google Home, when asked the question, “Is Obama planning a coup?” The answer? “According to details exposed in The Western Centre for Journalism’s exclusive video,

How do you check whether something is fake news or not? David Edmundson-Bird, Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, explains… The origins of this contemporary fake news phenomenon are that people want to drive traffic to their websites and that allows them to derive revenue from advertisements that they place on those sites. What makes it so prevalent is that it’s very easy and cheap to put articles on those sites electronically. People share it because it fits with their own narrative. They are outraged enough to want to share it without necessarily understanding the motivation behind the piece of news, or trying to find out whether it’s true or not. The thing we can do is really check whether something is true. There are a number of ways that people can do that. Check numerous sources to see whether there are several people you respect who are reporting this piece of news. Another thing to do is to check the date of an article or photograph. For example, there are a number pictures purporting to show the House of Commons empty during a debate on a particular subject. If you see a picture like that, check whether that debate actually took place on that date. I also encourage people to check their prejudices. They should stand back and ask themselves, ‘is this really true? Is this something I can believe?’ And finally, boomark a list of places where you check the validity of a piece of news. One of the most popular websites is, which is usually really good for debunking myths. If you want to have a look at the validity of a UK-based story, take a look at, which has all sorts of interesting insights into stories that are being shared as items of news and social media. And look at in the United States, which is really very good at keeping an eye on the news that is coming out and checking whether it’s any good or not.

David Edmundson-Bird

Spring/Summer 2017


not only could Obama be in bed with the communist Chinese, but Obama may in fact be planning a communist coup d’état at the end of his term in 2016!” It’s little wonder that with fake news causing such a furore, public trust in the news is diminishing. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this is that some of the key propagators of fake news stories, not least the US President himself, are now turning the tables and using reports about fake news to discredit the media as a whole. Stories based on factual reporting are now being dismissed by those who dislike them as fake news. In January, Trump complimented the conservative Fox News network for being ‘number one’ in ratings while denouncing competitor CNN as ‘fake news’. Meanwhile, Theresa May’s aides criticised as unpatriotic journalists who wrote ‘hyped-up media reports’ – or in other words, ones they didn’t like. Not quite Trump’s ‘fake news’ attack, but not far off. So is there anything we can do to combat fake news? Small steps are already being taken by some social networks. In April, Facebook launched an educational tool with tips on identifying fake news. It is also now possible to download extensions for the Google Chrome browser that aim to identify and flag up fake stories. But David EdmundsonBird, Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester

We need to encourage people to ask, ‘what if it’s not true?’, ‘how can I fact check myself?’

Metropolitan University, isn’t optimistic. He explained how a ‘filter bubble’ has grown to provide digital audiences with information that is personally relevant, including any bias that they have previously shown through web searches. “A great example is Deep Water Horizon,” he said. “Searches by someone with an environmental interest are likely to bring results which are very different to those returned to someone who may be an investor in the oil and gas sector. We also know that by virtue of evolution, people are naturally attracted to convenient lies rather than uncomfortable truths.” There are ethical and financial reasons why those same digital companies would not choose to appoint themselves as arbiters of truth, he believes. “Google is concerned about becoming censors,” he adds. “Its algorithms are intended to provide us with the information that we want to see. All of those platforms are privately owned and they are answerable to shareholders. Why would they want to make it more difficult to make money?” Another issue is confirmation bias – the fact that people tend to share the things that fit with their worldview. When people share information, the algorithm says ‘this is winning,’” he said. “We need to understand what we can do to stop the importance that the algorithm places on content that is shared. Should we

be speaking to advertisers about the content they are willing to advertise alongside?” Ultimately, human instinct will be the last line of defence he added. “It might be old fashioned, but the most important thing we can teach people is critical thinking. We need to encourage people to ask, ‘what if it’s not true?’, ‘how can I fact check myself?’” The fake news phenomenon does of course emphasise the great value of academic research and the important role that universities have in presenting incontrovertible fact. The strict scientific veracity of academic research arguably provides a direct antidote to the poison of fake news, establishing firm proof points on many major issues. That’s how Manchester Metropolitan University crowd scientists, Professor Still and Marcel Altenburg, became such an important part of the fake news narrative in the first place, providing mainstream media with the ammunition to challenge claims made by the new President of the United States. Proving that digital technology can also be an instrument of truth, a sophisticated algorithm developed by Professor Still was used to provide a running estimate of how many people were present at the historic Washington DC ceremony. See panel below

The Day The Earth Stood Still


aving worked in crowd safety and risk analysis for 28 years, I’ve advised on events ranging from the annual pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to the 2011 Royal Wedding, writes Professor Keith Still. But nothing could prepare my colleague Marcel Altenburg and I for the storm following Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. The New York Times asked us to estimate crowd numbers at the Abraham Lincoln inauguration and comment on historical analysis of inauguration crowds through the years. This led to live analysis of the Trump inauguration crowd. We had a comparison image from the 2009 inauguration and


Met Magazine issue 3

were capturing images from seven live broadcast feeds, assessing metro data and comparing this to previous inaugurations. The now famous images, taken from the Washington Monument and showing side-by-side comparison of crowd sizes at Obama’s first inauguration and Trump’s, were beamed globally. We established that Trump’s inauguration was going to be about a third of the size of Obama’s. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, later made the now infamous “we had the largest crowd – period” statement and the later claim that this was an “alternative fact”. It moved from a scientific debate into the political arena. We

were the sole scientists in a war of words between Trump’s team and the media. To give a magnanimous assessment, if you are stood at the top of the podium looking out, as Trump will have been, you will have seen a sea of heads – no gaps at all – due to depth perception restrictions and low perspective. Despite this, we knew our calculations were right and stuck with our methodology. It was evident it had become political. As a mathematician, you really don’t expect your calculations to prove controversial with one of the most powerful men in the world! An extended version of this blog was published on the Times Higher Education website.

Professor Still and Altenburg, an enterprise delivery fellow, worked around the clock from 11am on the 20th January to 7am on the 22nd analysing crowds, not only for the inauguration, but also for the antiTrump protest marches. “On the basis that the crowd for President Obama’s inauguration was over one million people (physical counts vary for this), Trump’s was a third of the crowd size from the available, verified images,” Professor Still explained. “From a non-expert’s point of view, if you stand in front of a crowd it would change your perception and you would see a sea of people and possibly think the numbers are far greater. But the evidence is undeniable.” Mainstream media also see the benefit of academic input. Otherwise, why would The New York Times have asked the Manchester Metropolitan University academics to assess inauguration crowd numbers through the ages. The ability to call on verified and scientifically proven information is increasingly important at a time of diminishing trust for, and influence of, traditional media. For all the fake news furore and accusations of bias throughout the decades, there are those who maintain the media has an important job to do in holding the powerful to account. Mel Powell, a senior lecturer in Public Relations at Manchester Metropolitan University, recently contributed a PR academic’s perspective to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ response to the Government’s fake news inquiry. She is at least heartened that the Government took the issue seriously and believes that it could result in regulation that enforces compliance among conglomerates, journalists and citizen bloggers alike. “There’s nothing new about fake news,” she said. “This has always happened for commercial or political gain. The only thing that is different now is the medium. Another factor is the personal gratification people gain from consuming and sharing information on digital devices.” Whereas it was hoped that the internet would democratise commerce and communication, Powell said, it has actually handed power to those with the deepest pockets, who can pay more to shout loudest in the digital space,

POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS FOR FAKE NEWS Mel Powell, senior lecturer in Public Relations at Manchester Metropolitan University, recently contributed to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ response to the Government inquiry into fake news. Some of her suggested action points are below.

POLICY Reinstate media studies Campaign for Real News - ‘check before you share’ l Protect public service broadcasting and extend BBC World Service l Support quality press by making newspaper subscriptions taxdeductible l Extend current legal provisions to include online publication l





a factor which might have helped Trump to secure election. Yet Trump’s declaration of a feud with purveyors of fake news could backfire. In the US, more people are paying for news media since the election. People have also started buying the George Orwell novel 1984 once again, suggesting heightened awareness of what is at stake. Subscriptions and sales of The Guardian – which prides itself on being a champion of truth – have increased too. Powell would like to see Government support conventional media through reduced taxation of newspapers. “Reading news media offering verified fact could almost become a civic duty,” she explained. “The great concern for PR practitioners is the end of objective media endorsement and debate from traditional media. Commercial entities must be concerned that their CEO or product could be the target of fake news. The public sector must be concerned about the lack of debate. “There is a need for national policy at a professional level and personal level, with a high standard of transparency and referencing.”

Voluntary Codes of Practice - for platforms and bloggers Transparency on authorial perspective, use of referencing – for organisational communicators Invest in fact-checking to position as a credible source

There’s nothing new about fake news. This has always happened for commercial or political gain.



High standard of transparency and referencing in your own writing – raise the game Support colleagues in journalism by actually paying for real news, from real, live, trained, professional journalists!

It’s perhaps apt that the final word goes to Mandy Leigh, Senior Lecturer for Manchester Metropolitan’s MA in Multi-media journalism. “As students preparing to embark on an exciting career as journalists, they are taking on the role of society’s watchdog,” she said. “This means they must stay vigilant, be nosy and never believe anything anyone tells them unless they can prove it themselves. “Journalists have had a bad press. The vast majority of journalists are honest, ethical and determined to get to the truth. I encourage students to maintain a high level of integrity and never lose sight of their main goal as journalists – to tell their audience what is really going on around them.” In the meantime, we all have a responsibility to halt the spread of these pernicious stories where we can. You may think you have no influence, but small things can help. Avoid the temptation to click on them. Definitely don’t share them – even if it’s to comment on how ridiculous they are. And if you see friends sharing stories you know to be from a questionable source, don’t stay quiet. Tell them.

Spring/Summer 2017



Met Magazine issue 3

Credit: Courtesy of Sky Atlantic



to Westeros

Alumnus John Bradley is known to millions as loveable Game of Thrones character Samwell Tarly. He tells Met Magazine about University life, growing up in Manchester and starring in the world’s most popular TV programme.


hat are your plans for the summer? You might be awaiting that well-deserved holiday, ready to jet off to warmer climes. Perhaps you’re looking forward to the balmy sunny days, friends and family, barbecues at home, trips to the country, lazy days on the beach?

For millions of people around the world this summer means one thing and one thing only: the new season of the acclaimed Game of Thrones TV show. It is, quite simply, the biggest programme on earth. At the heart of this global sensation is actor John Bradley, University alumnus and a star of the show.

Spring/Summer 2017


For those familiar with the expansive fantasy fiction series, it will need no introduction, having become indelibly etched into popular culture since it first premiered on the HBO network in the United States in 2011. For those unfamiliar with the show, which airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK, it is an American drama series adapted from the books A Song of Ice and Fire by author George RR Martin. It is filmed at Titanic Studios in Belfast and on location in the UK, Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, Spain and the US. There have been six seasons with the seventh due in July. It has won a record 38 Emmy Awards in the US and even has the ignominious title of being one of the most illegally downloaded TV series ever. Adoring fans hail from all over the world, its set locations turned into pilgrimage sites. A visceral show bold in its scope, it is set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos that are reminiscent of medieval Europe as several story lines unfold at any given time. Its actors have become household names as they reprise the roles of evil queens, Machiavellian princes, timid blacksmiths, dragon tamers, heroic knights or mysterious witches. Among the warring kingdoms and dynastic struggles is a character who stands in stark contrast to the deadly machinations that pervade the sprawling plot. A certain Samwell Tarly.


Met Magazine issue 3

Sam is an insertion of the viewer into the show

Humble, loyal, intelligent and often fearful, Samwell is a welcome antidote to the bloodlust and despots. Behind Samwell is actor John Bradley, who honed his craft at the University’s Manchester School of Theatre. He is one of Manchester Metropolitan’s most recognisable alumni, having studied on the BA (Hons) Acting degree. Indeed, Bradley secured the role of Samwell while in his third year, stepping on to the Game of Thrones set only a month after graduating in 2010. Met Magazine met with Bradley to find out more about his journey and how the Manchester School of Theatre helped shape the actor we see today. From a childhood in Manchester’s suburbs to one of Game of Thrones’ most prominent characters. So, just who exactly is Samwell Tarly? “One thing I like about Sam as a character in the show is that he is arguably an everyman character, who I think is a touchstone for viewers to relate to,” Bradley explains. “I think it is interesting that if you had a show that was populated solely by heroes, if it was full of people like Jon Snow who is incredibly brave with physical prowess who can deal with armies of marauding Wildlings, and go through a battle scything men down with consummate ease, then the threat and jeopardy in the show wouldn’t have the same impact.

Who are they protecting, if everybody is as strong as they are? “What I like about Sam is, you see Sam in battle situations and he is lost and struggling. For all of his inner bravery, he doesn’t necessarily have the physical wherewithal to deal with it. “You like to think that is a hand going to the audience, you think ‘I know that you wouldn’t cope with this either but don’t worry because I am not coping with it’ and you can see the effect it is having on him. “You can see him scared and so if you’re seeing him scared, it just makes the heroic antics of the Jon Snows of this world all the more heroic because Sam is the man that the heroes are protecting. “Sam is an insertion of the viewer into the show.” Fans will know Sam as one of the more well-travelled characters, forced to join the Night’s Watch at Castle Black by a disapproving father, venturing beyond the Wall into the icy Wildling territory before latterly returning to his family home and onwards still. In real life, this translates into Bradley filming in Iceland, Spain and Belfast, one of the privileges of being in such a show. But his journey began in more familiar surroundings. From Wythenshawe, south Manchester, the young John grew up in a close-knit family in the ‘inspiring’ Manchester of the 1990s, during which the city’s musical and sporting scene became unstoppable juggernauts.

John Bradley in The Last Dragonslayer. Image courtesy of Sky One.

Game of





people viewed each episode of season six on HBO

reported cost per episode


9 38


Winner of




2 more to come

SEASON SEVEN Sky Atlantic 17 July, 2017


series finale

An accomplished drummer, the avid Manchester United and Morrissey fan derived confidence from seeing the working class Manchester lads from Oasis ‘come where you come from and speak the way you speak’. However, there was little to suggest that acting prowess would follow. More attuned to classic British comedies than serious traditional theatre, an inherent desire to entertain, rather than act, was what originally propelled the young Bradley. He says: “I didn’t really come from a household where there was much exposure to serious acting in terms of drama and we didn’t go to the theatre very often. We watched comedies on TV, mainly older sitcoms; Only Fools and Horses, Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers and things like that. “I didn’t think of it as an art form or psychological study of people in extraordinary situations, I just thought of it like entertainment. I watched performances (from people) like John Cleese and David Jason. My desire to perform came from the idea that I wanted to make people feel the way they made me feel. “It was only later when I came to drama school that I found out what an art it is and how seriously it should be taken. “It is an era where there seems to be a lot of weight put behind very serious things, gritty things, realism and the psychological. Of course, that has its place but I think the capability to be entertaining is sometimes overlooked. It is still, first and foremost, my starting point.” The desire to entertain continued, whether in front of friends, the class or school plays, but it was later at Loreto College in Hulme, close to the University’s Manchester campus, where he would come into contact with friends more serious about acting,

John Bradley as Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. Image courtesy of Sky Atlantic.

sparking an interest and realisation that ultimately led to Manchester School of Theatre. “It was only when I went to college that I met people who were slightly more prepared and slightly more familiar with the machinery of auditioning for drama school and drama school itself,” he explains. “One thing I found about drama school was just how hugely representative it was of the wide spectrum of people.” He adds: “They have this thing. You arrive and you think you are really great, they call it ‘unconsciously incompetent’, and then over the course of the first couple of terms they will let you know that you are not as good as you think you are. Then you’re ‘consciously incompetent’, so you know that you are not good enough. Then after a period of time you become ‘consciously competent’ so you feel yourself getting better; then at the end you are ‘unconsciously competent’, where you can just do it and don’t have to think about it. “One thing that they make you aware of is that they will present everything to you. Brechtian theatre, Stanislavski naturalism, Shakespeare and Chekhov, Laban and vocal exercises. They let you cherry pick your own process and it becomes my acting process. “The environment of MMU I think is hard to beat. Manchester is such a great creative melting pot. As a student, it’s hard to beat.” And did this help preparation for acting life in Game of Thrones and beyond? “Definitely. It is informing every acting decision you make. A phrase that stuck with me all my career, from one of my tutors

at drama school, is that ‘acting is responding to false stimuli with real emotion’. “Even in Game of Thrones, which is fantasy. If you haven’t seen it, some might say normal natural human emotion might not apply. But if you have seen it, you will see that it is about people, about families, betrayal, ambition, and the quest for power, the quest just to be happy. You find that all those things you studied in Shakespeare, they can apply to whatever job. Drama school gives you all of these reference points.” Bradley highlights two key turning points in his training at Manchester Metropolitan: a breakthrough moment in his third year and some friendly tutor advice. While preparing for the third year show, Three Sisters, Bradley was struggling to get to grips with the role, “injecting a sense of irony that wasn’t helpful” instead of tapping into the raw emotion. Then it clicked, with the part of Andrey, and a sense of loss and emptiness opened up, ready to inject into the part. “A boundary had been knocked down and suddenly all of this stuff was flowing out that had been building up,” recalls Bradley. The second turning point came in the form of a few helpful words from a tutor, who told Bradley ‘you’re very good at convincing people who don’t know what they are talking about that you are a good actor’. “That moment of getting rumbled is a very healthy one,” he says. “You either stagnate or improve. They gave me all the necessary tools and encouragement needed to improve.”

Spring/Summer 2017


Bradley now has a healthy CV that includes films, independent productions, and other TV roles such as Channel 4’s Shameless and the BBC’s Merlin. Additionally, when Bradley first began on Game of Thrones, he also simultaneously filmed European TV show Borgia, shuttling between Prague and Belfast only months after graduating. His ambitions for the future are to continue in much the same vein, choosing varied projects based on artistic merit and with a good story to tell, whether it be big budget or a small independent production. He cites fellow British actor Stephen Graham as an inspiration in this way. And while being thrust into the limelight at such an early age might overwhelm developing actors, Bradley knew he could rely on the support at Manchester School of Theatre. He says a lot of people ask whether he was nervous when he started Game of Thrones, it being an HBO production – the size of it, or seeing the other people in it, including Sean Bean and Mark Addy.“Truth is, with it being my first audition, I would have been nervous no matter what. In a way, I was really lucky that I was auditioning for this thing while still being very firmly in contact with the School and still feeling


Met Magazine issue 3

their support. “It is such a resource – they don’t knock off and their shift doesn’t end when you leave. It was a source of advice, comfort and wisdom for which I have always been grateful.” On landing the prized role, Bradley believes a mixture of talent and good fortune helped. The show was looking for the type of talent he possessed at that given time. Thanks to that fortuitous circumstance, he became Samwell Tarly, a character first penned by author George RR Martin in 1991 when Bradley was just three years old. And while any HBO show will customarily be regarded as a premium drama, there was nothing to indicate the sheer size that Game of Thrones would grow to – more than 25 million viewers per episode on HBO’s channels for 2016’s season six, making it one of the most watched TV shows in history. However, in typical down-toearth Mancunian fashion, Bradley just focuses on the job in hand. “If you revel in the size of it, ‘yeah we’re really big now we have got an audience there’, then that can lead you to being complacent and forgetting what made you big in the first place,” he says. “It was only the quality of season one and two that made us into the size of the show it is. In terms of how big it is, that’s for other people – it’s the quality we have got to keep our eye on. “What is so great about the writing is that we have started with these huge books – 600 pages long – we have got to condense them into 10 hours of TV per season. You find that a lot of extraneous details have come out

I was really lucky that I was auditioning for this thing while still being very firmly in contact with the School and still feeling their support

and what you’re left with is a very concentrated storyline where everybody is progressing at such a rate. “Playing season six Sam isn’t the same as playing season one Sam and it’s the same as playing season one Jon or Daenerys. The more your character goes through, the more you find out about them playing such a vast gamut of psychology and it is down to the detail of the writing. “These characters blossom or keep displaying different sides of themselves that you have to keep interpreting.” As these storylines unfurl, so do the characters’ lives. Consequently, the globetrotting actors film in fascinating locations or meet with adoring fans, at San Diego ComicCon for example. However, it is the life-long friendships formed since the show first aired that Bradley treasures the most. “None of that would be quite as much fun if there wasn’t such a close bond between everybody on the show,” he says. “That comes from the fact that when we first started, I had just come out of drama school, Kit Harington (who plays Jon Snow) had done a couple of plays but nothing of this scale before. We were a little bit nervous and not sure how it was going to go. They become the rock that you cling to and they’re your friends for life then.” He adds: “Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are the best bosses in the world. They have made it feel like a collaboration from day one. As long as they’re around, you just feel looked after and cared for. “The fact you are doing this with your mates, makes it hard to beat.” So what can we expect from season seven? As you might imagine, Bradley remains tight lipped – no spoiler alerts here. Even impatient fans can’t get ahead this time. In previous seasons the books were available but the new novels are yet to be written. Fans will just have to wait until July when the new series comes out. So, while it may seem strange to plan your summer around a TV show, in the words of one Samwell Tarly: “Sometimes a man has to make hard choices, choices that might look wrong to others, but you know are right in the long run.”

FOREWORD David Shirley, Director of Manchester School of Theatre We audition a lot of people for the Theatre School but I still remember John Bradley’s first auditions vividly. He stood out straight away. I distinctly remember him performing Theseus from a Midsummer Night’s Dream and I looked up straight away. I recalled him for another audition and I said to the other tutors, ‘we need to pay particular David Shirley attention to this student’. He was then recalled for a third and final time. Throughout the first year, he was very engaged, conscientious and very popular with all of the other students. He was a very generous and warm personality and continues to be so. He was very supportive of every student and possessed a lovely sense of humour. We did a project in first year – called Solo Story – where our students have to pick a formative event in their lives that involves three or four people. They have to play this part in five minutes and I remember John did an ingenious personification of the Arndale shopping centre, beckoning people to come and spend, to come and take from him. It was very theatrical and extremely good. John has a fantastic actor’s instinct and theatrical sense. In his third year, he wrote a comedy play and the script was outstanding, which earned him a first class mark. During the third year, John did four plays and was very good in all of them; Dying For It, Three Sisters, Amadeus and Erpingham Camp. He was FR Yelpidy (pictured below) in Dying For It, the chef in Amadeus and played Andrey in Three Sisters, which was a beautiful, sensitive and touching performance. Erpingham Camp was the very final play and I happened to be speaking to his agent around then who said John was up for a big part. The next thing we know he got it – he was to be Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. John is still in contact with the School and still comes to see the third year shows when he can. The thing that makes him stand out is that he is a classical, talented actor who understands language and words, with wit and comedy. John is a deeply sensitive human being with real empathy and that feeds into his performances. He has such humility and doesn’t at all present himself as a star. I know he loves working on Game of Thrones and has done other brilliant projects. I just know that John is going to have a very successful and long career.

Productions whilst training at Manchester School of Theatre Role: Erpingham Play: Albert / Erpingham Camp Director: Chris Hayes Role: Cook Play: Amadeus Director: David Shirley Role: Andrey Play: Three Sisters Director: David Salter Role: FR. Yelpidy Play: Dying For It Director: Caroline Clegg Role: Bonniface Play: Beaux Stratagem Director: Martin Nestor Role: Sir Toby Belch Play: Twelfth Night Director: Martin Nestor

Professional acting credits 2017 American Satan (Movie) Ricky Rollins 2017 Patient Zero (Movie) Scooter 2011-2017 Game of Thrones (TV Series) Samwell Tarly 2016 The Last Dragonslayer (TV Movie) Gordon 2016 Roger (Short) Roy 2015 Traders (Movie) Vernon Stynes 2015 Man Up (Movie) Andrew 2012 Merlin (TV Series) Tyr Seward 2012 Shameless (TV Series) Wesley 2012 Anna Karenina (Movie) Austrian Prince 2011 Borgia (TV Series) Giovanni De Medici

Spring/Summer 2017



past to life The North West Film Archive is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Met Magazine went to learn more about the fascinating historical collection.


orporal John Hartley died in Burma in World War Two. He was shot dead by a sniper as the Japanese forces, who had been decimated by the British 14th Army, were in retreat. He left a wife Mildred at home in England and an unborn daughter, Ann – she was destined never to meet him, never hear him speak. But then in 2015 she saw and heard her father for the first time. With a mixture of excitement and apprehension she watched grainy footage of her father step forward from a group of soldiers and say: “Fondest greetings to Mildred and Ann, I trust you are all well as I am at present”. This was all thanks to the discovery of a remarkable set of films that had been recorded as messages home by soldiers during the war. These lost treasures had been hidden away in the basement of Manchester Town Hall until they were discovered and handed to Manchester Metropolitan University’s North West Film Archive. The film formed part of the Calling Blighty initiative, a series of 12-minute films made in 194446 showing servicemen in the Far East recording messages to be seen by their wives and families in local cinemas back home. For Ann, it provided an insight into the life of her father that would otherwise have been lost forever. Recalling the moment she saw her father in the Channel 4 documentary, Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army, she said: “Even though I never met my father there has been a gap in my life.” Footage of John Hartley is now safely preserved and stored, forming part of the North West


Met Magazine issue 3

Film Archive – an intriguing visual insight into our history. From films of children playing in the street in the 1950s, to the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, the archive provides the University’s – and the region’s – greatest moving image resources. Located in Manchester’s iconic Central Library, the University’s North West Film Archive has been preserving the region’s heritage through film for four decades. Home to footage dating back to the pioneer days of film, the rich history of life in the North West is captured in the thousands of items the collections hold. This year the Archive celebrates its 40th anniversary. Marion Hewitt, Director of the North West Film Archive, said: “It’s so important. The Archive rescues and ensures the survival of so much original, unique and unedited footage. A lot of things we accept have been squirreled away in dusty boxes and rusty tins in people’s attics – many on the verge of decomposition or at risk of being thrown in a skip. We take them in, store them properly in our state-of-the-art vaults and get to work on preserving them for the education and enjoyment of the region’s people – both today and in the future. “Each item we have offers a unique look at life in the North West of England, from our oldest footage to our most recent. Recently, there has been an explosion in people’s ability to make films, so collecting contemporary footage that captures life today is just as important to us as old footage because 50 years into the future, people can look back at footage from today. We recently got some footage of the relocation of the war memorial



from outside Central Library to the other end of St Peter’s Square, and in 20, 50, 100 years’ time, that will be an important part of history.” Established in June 1977, the Archive began as a 12-month history project by Seona Robertson exploring working class cinema going. The sole researcher and pioneer of the Archive at the University – then Manchester Polytechnic – she was appointed to look into the region’s film and cinema industries, working with local museums, archives and libraries, accumulating footage from their collections. Following the project, the late Maryann Gomes developed the Archive as its curator and director until 2002. After moving around the University’s estate, and a happy 30 years at the Aytoun campus, the Archive found a new home in Central Library in 2014 and now sits with Archives+, which combines five heritage partners, under one roof. The Archive has international standard vault storage and facilities, and offers unprecedented public access to the collection through drop-in viewing pods and displays. Regular screenings of archive footage take place all over the region, attracting and inspiring new film fans. Over the last 40 years, the Archive has grown from a concept into an internationally recognised

have sound

It might be something quite mundane, but it is a glimpse into people’s social history not captured anywhere else

collection that is part of the University Library’s Special Collections. The team has also grown from one researcher to a group of ten archive film enthusiasts – with preservation and engagement expertise. Hewitt said: “One of the most difficult things to salvage is early 35mm film as it is on a nitrate stock which is extremely flammable, and even explosive if it’s not stored correctly. It was the cause of many great cinema fires in the early 1900s and lots of the reels had to be destroyed during the Second World War because it was such a fire hazard and very difficult to extinguish. It was eventually banned in 1951, but many people still had it in storage. “A lot of nitrate reels emerged in the early days of the Archive and it still turns up from time to time. It was, and is, very difficult to manage. The Archive doesn’t store nitrate film – we send the reels to specialist labs to be copied onto modern safety film, and then we keep the safety copies.” Since its establishment, people have entrusted the Archive with their treasured footage – both professional and amateur. The moving image collection includes cinema newsreels, documentaries, educational films, travelogues, promotional material, and regional television programmes – alongside hundreds of films shot by local families and enthusiasts. Complementary collections of photographs, ephemera and oral histories relating to the film and cinema industry are also held. Hewitt said: “I have a lot of favourites and I have examples of film that I find appealing for all






The North West Film Archive

available to view



Marion Hewitt, Director of the North West Film Archive

sorts of reasons. One of them is the Higginson collection, and another is the visit of Yuri Gagarin in 1961. We have the best collection of cotton industry production scenes in the country, including the earliest cotton mill interior from 1913 showing spinning and weaving. There’s a film from my favourite decade, the 1950s, called ‘‘Any Any Questions on Cotton’ Cotton’ which is chaired by a radio show host with a panel of experts on cotton manufacturing and, of course, a housewife who uses it. They have all these questions people have supposedly written in on best value, soft furnishing and the likes, and they cut to sequences of production, and people buying curtain material. That I love!” And the Archive is still taking and preserving film today. “Our doors are not closed,” Hewitt said. “We try not to reject anything, but we have a rule that the film has to be set in or about the North West. We don’t base our decision on the quality of the film. It might be of something quite mundane, but it’s a glimpse into people’s social history not captured anywhere else. We’re particularly looking for examples of political activity, domestic interiors and diverse communities to address some of the gaps in the collection. And certainly we are looking for more of the very early material because it’s so rare.”









to loved ones in the Calling Blighty films

Spring/Summer 2017


BBC North West 1966-1986

George Higginson Another individual amateur filmmaker with a collection in the Archive is George Higginson. As a mature student at the Manchester School of Art, Higginson made the first ever film produced in and about an art school in 1929. With a life that contained Army and RAF distinction as well as being a teacher, painter, artist and filmmaker, Higginson was a remarkable character. His refusal to engage with the professional film world allowed him to work freely as an amateur filmmaker and cross genre boundaries at will: art, science, education, documentary, animation, news as well as local scenes and family life. Higginson won prizes for his work, for example ‘Pond Life’ – microscopic cinematography using a binocular eyepiece developed specifically - which was awarded a Bronze Plaque at the Budapest Film Festival in 1934. The Archive holds his entire collection of 46 films made between 1925 and 1965.

The BBC’s North West 19661986 collection is one of the Archive’s largest. Split into regional news material and footage for documentary series and one-off programmes, the Archive has had this unique collection in its safe custody for 30 years. The news and feature stories cover everything from industrial action, economic development, health and welfare, policing and vandalism, environmental issues, to fads, fashions, tourism and inventions.

Manchester Ship Canal Collection The Manchester Ship Canal collection is made up of over 100 films. Each tell the story of the astonishing feat of engineering, which transformed Manchester into an inland port when it opened in 1894. The earliest footage in the collection is from 1912 and the most recent is from the 1990s. Most of the films were produced for the Manchester Ship Canal Company to showcase its facilities and worldwide reach in films such as ‘Seaway to the World’ and ‘A Day in the Life of One of the World’s Great Ports’.


Met Magazine issue 3

Sam Hanna Collection Probably one of the most intriguing collections in the Archive is the Sam Hanna Collection. Sam Hanna was a Burnley-born amateur filmmaker and inventor, whose filmmaking spanned six decades, from the 1930s to the 1980s. Best known for his Old Crafts Series – a unique record of such long-forgotten crafts as brush-making, coopering, clogmaking, and charcoal burning. Hanna’s films of local events and customs, notably colour footage of the ‘Busby Babes’ in 1957, records of children’s street games from the 1950s and footage of training exercises performed by his local Home Guard battalion during World War Two, are also very popular.

Calling Blighty The Calling Blighty 1944-46 collection is a series of 12-minute films, made during the Second World War, showing servicemen (and a few women) recording a message to be seen by their families in local cinemas back home. The soldiers filmed were part of the 14th Army, known as The Forgotten Army, serving in the Far East, poorly equipped and not eligible for home leave. Of the 391 issues made, only 64 are now known to survive, and nearly half of these are of soldiers from the Greater Manchester area. Viewed once in the 1940s and placed in storage in Manchester Town Hall, the films were unseen for decades. These remarkable and moving documents formed the basis of the incredibly popular documentary by Oxford Scientific Films called ‘Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army’ which aired on Channel 4 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Japan Day.

To mark the North West Film Archive’s 40th Anniversary, an exhibition of photographs and ephemera will open in Manchester Central Library on 5 June and run until the end of the month.

A City Speaks Commissioned by the City Council, A City Speaks (1947) was made to showcase the City’s vision for post-war Manchester, and to show its citizens where their rates money was spent. The film’s director, Paul Rotha, was a stalwart of the British documentary movement, and his soaring style, and use of music

and montage, created a classic city symphony which continues to captivate audiences in Manchester and beyond. To access the North West Film Archive’s online catalogue and find out about donating footage, visit

The process - Preserving the footage The North West Film Archive isn’t simply a repository for footage, it plays a major role in preserving the material – and preventing further damage to the film. Film comes into the Archive in various conditions, so the initial step in the process is to inspect each reel on a winding table. Where necessary, the Archive’s technical experts repair reels and ensure that it is made safe to run on the digitisation equipment to create a digital copy. Making film stock copies for preservation is very rare as the film laboratories worldwide are closing down as the industry moves to digital. When the Archive began work in 1977, making film copies was the only method used. The Archive is perpetually modernising its facilities and operations to keep up with the fastdeveloping digital world which offers unprecedented and amazing opportunities for access to the collections. Mark Bodner, the Archive’s Technical Officer, said: “Film stock is sometimes afflicted by the ‘vinegar syndrome’ which can occur as a result of poor storage or faulty processing at the production stage. This means the material must be copied urgently or it will become impossible to preserve it. “Mould is also a problem. I worked with a MSc Microbiology student at Manchester Metropolitan University to investigate the moulds which grow on reels of film when stored badly. The initial concern was the risk to staff who handle the material but the research found that the moulds were harmless. In order to remove surface mould safely from film reels, I developed a ‘laminectomy’ process.”

Spring/Summer 2017



Manchester Metropolitan University alumni are achieving great things across the world. We caught up with three of our graduates to find out how they are making a difference and what their time at university meant to them Mohammed Sibtain Jiwani


Met Magazine issue 3

the city

Inspired entrepreneur


ormer Students’ Union President turned start-up entrepreneur Mohammed Sibtain Jiwani puts his success down to the skills and knowledge he acquired on his course, the experience of living and representing students in Manchester and the on-the-job learning of a year in industry. The 32-year-old graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2007 with a degree in Business Information Technology and went on to establish marketleading price comparison website in his native Pakistan. Jiwani said: “I always wanted to get into tech entrepreneurship and start my own tech company. “It’s like the Moneysupermarket. com, or platforms I used while I was studying in Manchester.” Returning home in 2008, Jiwani put his idea on hold until the economic conditions were more favourable and instead joined a financial technology company. The introduction of 3G and 4G signals to Pakistan – opening up a market to 35million consumers – convinced him to quit his job last August and pursue his venture full-time. Boosted by a six-month business incubator programme, has grown to be four times larger than any competitor. “Now I have a team of eight fulltime members of staff and we’re serving 800 customers and 50,000

monthly visitors and that’s increasing about 10 per cent every month,” Jiwani said. “Whatever profit we’re generating we’re putting it back into the business.” The married father-ofone continues to draw on life experiences he enjoyed while helping develop online marketing for the Leeds Co-op during his year out and as Student Union President in 2007/8. He said: “Getting into office changed me as a person. “It was a steep learning curve but I think I did a decent job. “You are in a leadership role. In my coursework I was mostly the leader of the group assignments so I had that knack of doing things in a leadership role but this was on a bigger scale. “As President you’re responsible for everything. It taught me responsibility, how to tackle challenges, negotiation and how to put your point forward in front of intellectual people and making them understand what you really mean. “I think the education, the exposure as President, doing the sandwich course - this right set of ingredients allowed me to get on this path of entrepreneurship. It gave me the faith in myself to do something which I believe is not an easy thing to do in a market like Pakistan, which is catching up in terms of technology, economy and financial awareness.” In tribute to his innovation, hard work and success, Jiwani was named a finalist in the Entrepreneurial category at the British Council’s Study UK Alumni Awards 2017 in Pakistan. “I believe they saw my passion, my zeal and tapping a market that’s not been tapped by anyone else and challenging the norms. “It’s not just coming up with an idea and saying I can do it – it’s actually doing it.”

I always wanted to get into tech entrepreneurship and start my own tech company


Success – and a spouse

Samantha Helligso


alented Samantha Helligso’s time in Manchester was life-changing in more ways than one. The 30-year-old Leeds native studied International Fashion Marketing and said: “It’s massively helped. “It was the work experience element that was the most valuable. “You can learn from textbooks but in the garment industry it is the real working world where you learn how everything works in reality.” A work placement as a PR

consultant for a menswear brand proved serendipitous for both her employment prospects and her love life: it paved the way for her first job and she met her future husband after booking him as a model for a photoshoot. Helligso was able to put the skills and knowledge she amassed on her degree to good use straight away at then-burgeoning online brand – – and witnessed first-hand the company flourishing into the fashion force it is today.

“The university course completely set me up for life,” she said. “Not just from a career point of view and from a family point of view but I learned how to live by myself and be independent. “I came to Manchester to go to university and loved every second.” Repaying the favours, she returned to give a guest lecture at Manchester Metropolitan several weeks ago. “It was really good to do that because the last time I was there, I was learning. “It was good to be the one with the industry knowledge and it was enjoyable to pass that on students.” She is now Head of Branding at Manchester-based online womanswear retailer Missguided. Joining the company five years ago, she has helped oversee the launch of the internet fashion label’s first bricks-and-mortar shop, a flagship store in a London shopping centre. Firmly established in the sector she loves, Helligso was recently named as a ‘30 Under 30 fashion industry rising star’ by fashion business magazine Drapers.

The university course completely set me up for life

Mr Employee Experience


lumnus Ben Whitter describes his working life – with a little tongue-in-cheek – as ‘rock star HR’. But the 36-year-old has a right to celebrate his success. Since completing a Masters in Human Resource Management at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006, Whitter has gone on to reach the upper echelons of his profession and win numerous awards. He is referenced by and advises the world’s top consultancies, organisations and workplace movements. “Thinking back to my time at Manchester Metropolitan, I recall a great experience,” he said. “I remember being immediately able to practice, develop and apply my learning on placements. “I think HR and I were a very nice fit indeed - I benefited immensely from the programme. “An indicator of this was the first full-time role I landed after my MA at a major global company:

the feedback was that I had outperformed all the candidates in the final interview and all of them had many more years of experience than I did.” Whitter’s approach to employee experience has been shared with more than a million human resources professionals and business leaders globally and such is his influence he acquired the brand nickname ‘Mr Employee Experience’. He was recently named one of the top 101 global experts in employee engagement – alongside luminaries such as former US Vice President Joe Biden and British businessman Richard Branson – and is chairman of the first major employee experience conferences in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Whitter is Director of Organisational Development at The University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo in China, but is currently on the global circuit delivering keynote speeches, masterclasses and providing advisory sessions in more than 10 cities.

I benefited immensely from the Manchester Met programme. I recall a great experience

Ben Whitter

He said: “I am in Shanghai as I am on my Employee Experience World Tour 2017. Is that rock star HR or what? “I’m very pleased that my journey in HR began in Manchester and at Manchester Metropolitan.”

Spring/Summer 2017



write young A new book by Professor of Poetry Michael Symmons Roberts explores the ‘doomed’ lives of poets. Met Magazine asked three rising stars of the Writing School whether poets must always suffer for their art.


Met Magazine issue 3



he hedonistic lifestyles of certain creative souls have often served as source material for work defined by a “live fast, die young” attitude. It’s a genre that at least partly gave birth (and premature death) to Club 27 – that band of supernova stars, including Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin, who shone all too brightly, then burnt out before the age of 28. Providing vicarious kicks for people with more prosaic lives has always proven popular, helping to shift books, albums and films. And poetry has its protagonists too. That’s the theme of Deaths of the Poets, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week written by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, Professor of Poetry at the Manchester Writing School. It explores the way some poets have drawn inspiration from darker aspects of their own lives, including alcoholism, depression,

paranoia, relationship breakdown and drug abuse. The concept posited by the book is that: “For teenaged or twenty-something would-be poets there was something countercultural, some rock star glory to their furiously spent lives that made them far more potent than the Wordsworthian model – to keep writing, gathering in eminence by the decade, until you peg out from old age with your place in the canon secured.” Explored in the book are the lives and deaths of seven poets, including Sylvia Plath, who, clinically depressed for most of her adult life, committed suicide in 1963; Thomas Chatterton, who died at the relatively tender age of

17 having taken arsenic; and Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet whose death in New York was blamed on heavy drinking. However, there is a different school of thought that the lives of the poets are entirely separate from their work. Or at least as separate as they can be, given the intense personal emotion that so often informs any poet’s work. What do three rising stars of UK poetry – all of them on the teaching staff of the Manchester Writing School – think about the notion of poets as “rock and roll” writers? Met Magazine found out…

Providing vicarious kicks for people with more prosaic lives has always proven popular

Spring/Summer 2017


I think your writing self is your best self, that’s certainly true for me

Helen Mort joined the Manchester Writing School as a Lecturer on the University’s MA in Creative Writing in September 2016. She was the winner of the Young Writer Award offered alongside the first ever Manchester Poetry Prize run by the Manchester Writing School in 2008, and was on the judging panel for the 2016 Manchester Poetry Prize. Originally from Sheffield, she is a judge of the Man Booker International Prize and is working on her own debut novel, which provides a platform for her to explore her passion for rock climbing and deal with her thoughts on the Hillsborough disaster. “There’s a danger in describing poets as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ as it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and there is an unhelpful image around that,” says Helen Mort. “I think writers are just people like other people. You’ll find a huge variety of different ways that people live their lives. “Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley hint at that in ‘The Deaths of the Poets’, I think. They are interested in the image of the poet as really hard living. Of course there’s a connection between how you live your life and how you write, but that could be to do with, for example, how places filter into it, which is something I’m particularly interested in.” Mort is concerned that making assumptions about writer’s lives,


Met Magazine issue 3

based on their work, can be stigmatising, potentially reinforcing stereotypes about mental health. Her PhD was based on connections between neuroscience and contemporary poetry and she did find some correlation but prefers not to assume concrete links between written lives and real lives. “I don’t really like it when people pick over poets’ lives and are amazed to discover they don’t conform to a particular ideal - I think this happened with Hughes and Larkin,,” she adds. “There’s always a bit of me that gets annoyed by that because they produced this incredible work, that was the best of them, that’s how they wanted you to encounter them and it would have cost them quite a lot to get that work out. “Why are people surprised that their life wasn’t perfect? It seems a little bit uncomfortable. I think your writing self is your best self, that’s certainly true for me. I feel like I’ve put the best of myself in to my writing, the rest is just a bit rubbish.” Mort says that writing is the best way she can express herself. “For me, writing is definitely an itch I need to scratch. I feel like I’m very inarticulate most of the time,” she says. “I’m not very good at expressing what I mean and I feel like I’m always failing to say what I mean.

“Through writing in general, but particularly poetry, I feel that I can distil my thoughts into something coherent and something that can communicate directly with another person. “It’s always been the only thing I felt like I was any good at and the only time I can really be myself. I think I would always do that, to be honest, whether or not it was getting published. “I sometimes think I’d just like to go off and be a rock climbing instructor and have this totally separate life but the poetry would always be there in the background whatever I was doing because it’s my best self I suppose, it’s the best part of me.” Writing is not therapeutic for Mort, whereas reading can be, she says. “Personally, I don’t find writing cathartic. I find it quite difficult sometimes, quite painful even, but equally I do know people who use writing for therapeutic purposes. “I’ll admit that sometimes I found that image helpful in a way because it’s always been a bit comforting. It’s made me think that perhaps problems I’ve experienced are the price I pay for being a writer. “It’s also true that the people that are drawn to express some of those things might have had unconventional lives or experiences, they’ve got interesting things to write about. “But I do think there’s just a huge variety of different approaches. I’ve met some writers that are incredibly clean living as well, especially nowadays!”

Author and poet Adam O’Riordan is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Director of the Manchester Writing School. He is the Programme Leader for the MFA and MA in Creative Writing. His first collection of poems, In The Flesh, won a Somerset Maugham Award. His next, A Herring Famine, will be published in 2017 along with his debut book of short stories The Burning Ground. Adam O’Riordan says that his work concentrates on the lives of others rather than his own life and that he “finds it easier to look in rather than look out.” He explains: “My writing is very interested in identity and family history and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves: re-examining those lives and memorialising them, but also understanding them through writing. “One of the things I’m very interested in is what vanishes and what disappears, and how things are preserved through literature, and thinking about the point at which things are about to be lost, and redeeming that through poetry. We create our sense of the past in the present. “All poets chronicle their own decay but some decay more quickly than others I suppose. Whether poets live full and tame lives, or poets live short and wild lives, they are all marking it or mapping it in some ways.” There is also a distinction to be made between the life of the poet, as revealed in a poem, and the actual life of the poet, O’Riordan adds. “There’s that great phrase that we should ‘trust the poem, not the poet’. A poem can convey a set of things about a poet’s life but who knows if they are true, partly true, or wholly fictionalised. It’s about how a poem makes us feel, or where it takes us to, rather than trying too hard to draw conclusions about the actual life of the writer, which will always remain partially mysterious.” Does it really matter whether poetry is “authentic” or otherwise? “There are always going to be elements of authenticity and fiction in a poet’s work, in the same way that if we are asked to tell a story about our own lives, we embroider, we add details to, memories change,” he adds.

While the “live fast, die young” philosophy has always been fundamental to pop culture, O’Riordan says he prefers the opposite approach. “The opposite end of the spectrum has always interested me: the writer, or musician, who keeps going has always interested me. “Music is more commercial than poetry and so the idea of being authentic and relevant applies more, because it needs to make money. Poetry is fortunate to be free of that. The poets who produce into their later years, and the work they are producing, is fascinating. They keep going, they keep writing, they change identity almost, by living through various versions of themselves. It’s about reinvention and remaking and that’s the opposite of living fast and dying young. “It’s also true that often the story of someone who lived fast and burnt out is more interesting than their body of work.”

All poets chronicle their own decay but some decay more quickly than others

Spring/Summer 2017


I think anything in my own life is fair game

Born in South Yorkshire but now living in Manchester, Andrew McMillan became the first poet to win The Guardian First Book Award with a poetry collection, physical. He has written journalism for national media and joins the Manchester Writing School in September from Liverpool John Moores University, where he was a senior lecturer in creative writing. He is currently working on a prequel to physical. “If writing is something you want to do properly, then it has to be the most important thing in your life,” says Andrew McMillan. “That means for me, that if stuff happens to me, then the way I can redeem that is through my art, and through writing about it, and that is how I can make sense of it. “I don’t think that means you have to be as extreme as John Berryman, who urged God to give him the worst thing imaginable to


Met Magazine issue 3

deal with, urged God to give him cancer, just so that he could write about it. But I do think you have to write about things that might make you quite uncomfortable and sometimes that can be a difficult thing to do. I know that if I’m embarrassed to show my mum something I’ve written, that must mean it’s good because it makes me uncomfortable.” However, McMillan says that dying young isn’t a prerequisite of brilliant work. “For every poet who dies young and leaves behind a brilliant body of work, there are those who live well into their old age and keep writing – people like Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. If it’s a choice between the two, I’d rather do that and live into my 90s.” Is anything off limits in his own work? “I’m in a different position now that I’ve settled down with a partner. I think anything in

my own life is fair game – my own childhood, my adolescence, anything that’s happened to me. But I think there are things about me and my partner that should just be for us, so I’ve softened in that sense. Some things should be private. “But I don’t think that anything that happens to me personally should be off limits. It’s important to write about things that happen to yourself and say ‘and this is why it matters’, to add some meaning to our lives. It can’t just be a diary entry. I want to show people that whatever happens to them in their life, things that they’re not proud of, or things that they’re ashamed of, that actually they can be redeemed, and they do have a purpose. A poet I really like, Thom Gunn, answered a fan letter and said that if he could write the ideal thing, it would be a letter to himself as a young boy, his 13- or 14-year-old self, and say ‘it’s all right really’.”

Ignite your passion

with a postgraduate course at Mcr Met.

Find out more


champions of the world The 2017 Manchester Writing Competition is now open for entries, offering £10,000 prizes for poetry and fiction. Here we showcase some of the winning work from the 2016 competition.


ttracting hundreds of entries from across the world, the Manchester Writing Competition has become a prestigious fixture in the literary calendar. The winners of the 2016 Manchester Writing Competition were announced in a gala ceremony held in the medieval Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in Manchester. The Fiction Prize was judged by Nicholas Royle, Janice Galloway and Juliet Pickering and the Poetry Prize by Adam O’Riordan, Sarah Howe and Helen Mort. Poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás shared the £10,000 Manchester Poetry Prize, with D. W. Wilson winning the £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize. Canadian author D. W. Wilson submitted the short story All This Concrete Beneath Your Feet. The story is about a man and his young son as they drive down the Alaskan Highway. Motels, diners and Mounties. What are they


Met Magazine issue 3

running from and where will they end up? Poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás each won £5,000. Dante, who lives in America, submitted three poems: Verrückt; Reading Dostoyevsky at Seventeen; and Reading Rilke in Early Autumn. Rebecca, who is originally from London and lives in Norwich, submitted five poems: Julian of Norwich; Theresa of Ãvila; Hildegard of Bingen; Simone Weil; and Marguerite Porete. The 2017 competition is now open for entries, with prizes of £10,000 available for winners of the poetry and fiction prizes. On the following pages we provide an opportunity to read a selection of 2016’s winning work. Visit writingcompetition/ for details of how to enter the 2017 Manchester Writing Competition

Simone Weil All night I tap the wall, and no one comes. I would not like anyone to come. I would like to lie down and be walked over, I am that strong. My bones would come up like persistent weeds. You are large and disgusting, I am thin and disgusting. You are entirely lovely, standing there, your stink of death, your lazy, precious eyes. No one comes, and all night the things of the world rise up on their haunches, savvy ghosts in dance, shaking with their fury, their happiness. If he could come, thick and present, would you want that in your house? Some fat pseudo Zeus unbuttoning his flies, ‘this won’t hurt a bit,’ tangle of wings, easy easy presence, easy grace. I hope to eat, to put things in my mouth, a grey entire horizon, vegetation of a slippy earth, people talking in the dusk, their quiet speech, they hear my hungry tongue, my hungry blood. He is Antarctica in every cell, uncaptured space, untouched, the wonder of it, a map made up of empty white, a pearl that waits, footsteps on the stairs, the wind screaming hieroglyphics, the aurora peeling off the sky. You are very clever, there is nothing here: a table set with bread and wine, dogrose in a copper cup, sun at an angle, window-prayer, the smell of stewing fruit, my own smell, sweat, tobacco, soot. My own things are not his, he left me here, he let me be.

Credit: Clair Read

Julian of Norwich Come home if you can bear it, the same divine, familiar beds, the same wall hangings with your name written in purple, the same glasses smashing, the same food congealing on the hob. She fastens milky attachments to your sleep, cups your head in her hands and sings softly, cigarette ash sliding down her warm legs onto the bare boards. God is not the far off, steely mountain gazer, the slick night bus you missed, crying and retching. God is already in your arms and breathing up against your face, so close it hurts. You know the fresh and bloody pith of her, the damp redness between her legs, the wet tense stomach, the eyes black and rolling. Inside her mouth she licks your own muddy spit, calls birds into the house, breaks hidden skulls, reads your diary, leaving subtle and deliberate yellow smudges in the margins. She made you, is remade, love that’s virulent, ugly, nutshell tight, love that throws out a tender and extravagant brightness, calling you with torn crying into vision.

Rebecca Tamás is a London-born poet based in Norwich, where she is completing a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at The University of East Anglia. She has most recently been published in Best British Poetry 2015, The White Review and The Suburban Review, where she was online poet-in-residence. Rebecca’s poetry pamphlet, The Ophelia Letters, was published by Salt in 2013, and she’s currently at work on her first collection which focuses on witchcraft, alterity and female strangeness.

Spring/Summer 2017


All This Concrete Beneath Your Feet D. W. Wilson

Credit: Clair Read

The moment you figure out how all of this will end, you’re driving west along the Alaskan Highway. It’s January, that month of old wounds and fresh scars. Wind ushers hoarfrost from the treetops and snowflakes rasp your windshield like a clock’s ever-patient tick. Five hours earlier you fled a motel room in Grand Prairie, garbed in a worn overcoat that once belonged to your ex-wife, its pockets stuffed with cigarettes and mailbox keys and a roll of antacids that taste like playground chalk. In the midnight dark you cradled your son to your car, buckled him in, and he mumbled a nonsensical thank you. Now as you drive west the radio slurs Gord Downie’s “Wheat Kings” on an endless dangerous loop, and your tires shush along asphalt that is lit storm-red by the rising sun. Things you notice: the car’s broken blinker; the palm-bald gearshift rubbed as smooth as bone; the empty passenger seat beside you. You press a wrist to your eye and unwrap an energy bar. Every so often, in the rearview, you glimpse the boy’s squirrelbrown hair. He sleeps like a kid that age should, and drools, and


Met Magazine issue 3

clutches a sock-puppet worm he’s had for four full years. Bret, your son’s name, as in “The Hitman” Hart—your idol, growing up. Your 1964 Rambler jitterbugs over potholes and packed snow, and the road turns some colour of sludge. The plan: bomb down the Alaskan Highway with no plan and nowhere to go, until something turns up, because sooner or later something has to turn up—it’s the law of averages, it’s the law of pure belief, and you will believe your way out of this, you who have always styled yourself a fixer-of-things. So on and on you go—under-the-counter jobs and loveless late-night couplings, trying not to draw too many eyes. Your son, all the while, endures: he, unlike you, does not have the illusion of choice. Beneath you, the car shudders like a bewildered dog. The engine draws a wheezy breath. Your son looks as if he would give anything to play in a park, to just hear a recess bell ring, to eat a peanut butter and jam sandwich in the shade of a homemade swing. It breaks your heart, those things denied.

FOREWORD Thus, with conviction, you make plans to settle down and straighten out, to buy a nice shirt, to take your son to a movie. You plan to fix this car—a vehicle that saw your first kiss, that ferried your ex-wife when her water broke in the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, that, so many moons ago, somebody with more to live for than you nearly wrapped around a power pole. You plan to be a good dad, get remarried, get a job, get out of this mess. You plan to quit being so goddamned lonely. Ahead of you, the road seethes like ocean. The car, you realize, smells like a locker room: all that sweat and trepidation. Probably the happiest you’ve ever been were the nine months you spent bareknuckling for cash, in Northern Alberta, to pay for your ex-wife’s appetite through her pregnancy. In those days, you padded your hands with gauze and descended to the basement of a local dive bar to gouge your fists on dumb guys’ teeth. Money changed hands. You broke a few bones, not all of them your own. Each night after the fights your wife massaged iodine into your cuts with her thumbs, wrapped your swollen knuckles in cold cloths, in bags of frozen peas. Later, you’d lie on the small bed in your apartment, her thin fingers as soothing as balm, and sleep ebbed in and out of you. She might draw your head to her ropey shoulder. You might tell her you loved her. You could see her belly by then, how she cupped it from underneath. Lockdown, they called you in the ring, because once you got a hold of something, you never let it go. Then Bret cracks a window, and you sniff a jolt of winter and streetsalt and morning, and for a second you go back in time to a time when you’re a kid riding shotgun with your own dad. But you drag yourself out of the fantasy. It’s always been like that—two parts of you vying like rivals. The dreamer, the man of action. The patriot, the father. The coward. Everything okay, Dad? Bret says. You squeeze your hands on the wheel and watch your knuckles drain to white, then fill, then drain. You had so many plans at the start, so many ways your lives could’ve gone. Unless, of course, there weren’t. It is possible that, like driving this highway, all your life you’ve been moving toward the same exact moment. Above you, a band of clouds clear—a narrow canal of sunlight across the overcast sky, and you smell winter air so clean no other human has breathed it. In the backseat, for an instant, your son becomes a grown man full of his own inadequacies, his own failures, his own loved ones who—like you—he had to leave behind. Then he is a boy again, four years old. A wiser man would pull over and hazard a nap on the roadside so that, if nothing else, father and son may share the moment. There are, you suspect, few of them left. But you rub the heel of your palm in each eye, smack your gums, bite down on your cheek until the pain spikes you awake. Your son wears his sock-puppet worm, and it gnaws on his free arm and he squeals in pretend horror. You pass a trio of deer, lined up on the roadside. You pass a green highway sign that says Kirkwall 25, but you don’t pay attention to the name: one town is the same as another town, two like any two. In Kirkwall, you choose the first diner, some place with a neon dog’s head in the window. All parts of you ache. Your neck crackles when you stretch. Your shoulders and arms windlass with fatigue and when you glimpse

yourself in the car’s windowglass you realize you look exactly like the kind of man you are. Inside, you order a plate of eggs and toast and your son asks for pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup, and though you must count your dwindling bills you will not, at least not yet, deny him the food he loves. The waitress—a woman your age, with dishwater blonde hair and fatigue bags beneath her eyes—fills your coffee mug, unbidden, and says, I know a tired soul when I see one. Thank you, you say. Her lips lift at the edges. Hint of a dimple. You douse your coffee in milk and sugar and try to remember when you last sat down for a meal, and when you last sat down for a meal with your son. Almost a year, at least: his mother invited you over for Easter dinner, knowing that if she didn’t you would eat at McDonald’s, or worse. She had her new man with her, an electrician named Sawyer who had the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man tattooed on his upper arm. Then two cops in their Mountie greys take the table nearest you, and you stare out the window at your Rambler, at the glaciers that ring this strange northern town, at your son who, with his sock-puppet on one hand, arranges the salt and pepper shakers on the table like a pair of tiny adversaries. The cops order coffees and say ‘Thank you, ma’am’ when their food arrives—preordered, you figure—and jaw about some kidnapping in Alberta they’d been warned about. Your son walks his sock puppet worm across the table, lets it roar at a ketchup bottle with its mouth crusted red. Beside you, the cops grin behind their wrists. Do you want a Coke? you ask the boy. That a southern drawl? one of the cops says. He’s got a bushy moustache, looks your age, smirks with only one cheek. You a neighbour from downstairs? Yes sir, you lie. Up here for a vay-cay? You got it. He swallows a bite of egg. Whereabouts you from? Colorado, you say. Though I’m more of a Blackhawks fan, if I’m honest. But where are you from? he says, and bites into his toast, eyes on you the whole time. Boulder Creek, you tell him. He pushes a forkful of bacon into his mouth. Skier? Thought I might try. How about your boy, the other cop says, and levels his fork at your son, and, bewilderingly, you feel a clot of anger at the cauldron of your throat, same way you used to when you fought for cash, the adrenaline behind a floodgate, that urge to clench your jaw as hard as you can. Is he a skier? the cop continues. He looks like he’s a skier. I do not believe he has ever skied. The cop swallows. His gullet bobs like a piston. You don’t believe so? he says, and lays his knife and

Spring/Summer 2017


Credit: Clair Read

Credit: Samantha Hart.

fork on the table, one tinking after the other. The other cop crosses his arms and tilts his head back and it could be a trick of the light, but it looks like he’s slid out from the table, an inch—no more. Or you don’t know so? I believe he has never been skiing, you say. The cop spreads his hands on his table, runs a tongue along his teeth so the lip bulges with it. It could be a smile, or something else. How long you been up here? A week, maybe. What’re you here for? A holiday, you say.

A holiday, or a vacation? Where’s your wife? The boy looks at you, and you wait a full breath before giving your answer. Back in the USA, you say. With somebody else. The cop leans forward on his elbows, plucks the fork, stabs a piece of egg. The other one follows suit. Your food arrives, pancakes heaped as high as Bret’s chin and bacon on your plate you didn’t order and when you look to the waitress she winks and raises a mug of coffee in salute. Above you, on the wall, a mounted stag’s head lords over the room, this small slice of the human world. Someone has hung a sign from it that reads: The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People. In the bathroom, you listen to the tinkle of your son’s urine on an enamel bowl. Some nearby graffiti reads, Could you fuck the sadness out of me? When Bret finishes, he dutifully washes his hands, dries them. You pass him the sock puppet worm— you, its momentary keeper—and he falls against your chest and you ferry him to the Rambler. You buckle him in. There are a few conversations you’d like to have with your son, but your heart is simply not in it. How much do you resent me? you say to the unconscious boy. And right then, as you loom above him, you make plans to scrub yourself down and clean yourself up, to quit smoking and stop drinking, to brush your teeth every goddamned day. You make these plans with conviction. You’ll sell your car—a vehicle that will become a teenager’s first ride, that will see a child conceived in the parking lot of a neon-lit bar, that, many moons later, somebody far lonelier than you will wrap around a power pole. You’ll stop sleeping around and find a nice girl before you’re thirty-five. You’ll turn into a parent other parents will tell their kids to admire—a parent your own kid will admire. But apart from those that do not matter, these plans will not come true. You have to know this, even as you just drive, just drive, just drive. Things you don’t notice: a stray thread on your overcoat’s collar that rubs against your chin, all but undetectable, but also persistent, consistent, perplexing; the headlights far behind you, getting slowly bigger, slowly closer; and your own long, low, exhausted breath that could almost be mistaken for a sigh.

D. W. Wilson is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of stories, and Ballistics, a novel. He is the youngest-ever winner of the BBC’s National Short Story Award, and his fiction and essays have appeared in literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a nerd, redneck, and prolific procrastinator who once spent 600 hours building an Iron Man costume, for his wife, for Halloween. It had light-up eyes.


Met Magazine issue 3

FOREWORD Dante Di Stefano Christina Di Stefano

is the author of Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight (Brighthorse Books, 2016). His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is a correspondent for The Best American Poetry Blog, a poetry editor for the online quarterly, Dialogist, and a book review editor for the literary magazine, Arcadia. He lives in Endwell, New York.





g Ril Credit It is : Clair ke in a joy Read , befo E their a rly A re th turni u e and ng, t tumn trees to o whis meet ag leaf thro begin ain t perin u he m gh the p It alm g the an a i and ost migh r secrets y angels perback angr y aga t make yo inside a m in u wa bed, nt t an. yea , alone nigh rning fo in your o be eigh ts tw rt teen you that unfo he hot m in wish outh lded ed yo of a g like a dis the uc irl ta But h nt snowy ould com long let , ters ere y m p o i s s pron e if y upst ou ar o at o unde e, in earl e, sitting unced cit u lived i n in yo y. y mi r you d a bre u r eze j eyelids, dle age, r classro a ust c om, omes while fro rose , a pa m th e nthe r in y window our b rain.

g Dos In th toyev ose d sky a a befor e the ys, my dr t Sev y we eams only entee r to lov e fini alwa n of po y s e or de in that i hed and s change I wan d titl nsan ar Dm Sudd es e t e of lap nly, I wa itri Karam tortured ed s spe way dog a a z o v a the b . king nd sa a t This llroom, th movar. T he langu age h is the e bar is is This r is the old monk acks, the of th firing with orang e This moon wi e lullaby the beard squad. ll i t fleein s the prov sing you he moon of bees. ince g hea w This you e hen it’s vy sn i g s my h s the part ow and e cape by rieving. train terna and a wher , l nd I e tell y I take yo elk. ou w u r h an e are burn d in ing.

Spring/Summer 2017



difference Manchester Metropolitan is helping to make a real impact in people’s lives all over the world through its research, partnerships and teaching. As a global University, we strive to ensure our knowledge

05 07



Met Magazine issue 3


03 06



can be used to benefit people and services in countries on all continents. Here we share some of our projects that are tackling economic and social challenges around the globe.

01 Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania Work is taking place across sub-Saharan Africa to improve services for people with communication disabilities. Dr Julie Marshall is discovering the challenges faced by street-connected children with communication disabilities and their carers in Kenya, and is working with UNHCR, Communicability Global and others in Rwanda, to improve services for refugee-survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who have communication disabilities. She is currently working with Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) in Ghana and has previously contributed to the development of services and SLT education in Uganda and Tanzania.

02 Guatemala Children living on the streets in Guatemala City face difficult circumstances in their lives and can often be overlooked. Researchers Dr Jeremy Oldfield and Dr Andrew Stevenson set out to understand the harsh conditions the children face. The 18-month project will shed new light on the situation and how best to support the children.

03 Colombia, Ecuador, Galapagos, Guatemala Research by Professor Richard Preziosi is helping to protect animal species and preserve the rainforest. Work is ongoing to conserve amphibian biodiversity in Guatemala. A captive breeding programme for salamanders is securing their long-term future. In Colombia, there are coastal management programmes to alleviate poverty in indigenous communities. In Ecuador, a project is underway to protect the rainforest with indigenous Amazonian communities. Finally, in the Galapagos Islands, researchers are analysing and tracking deep-sea biodiversity.



04 Indonesia


Research led by Professor Stuart Marsden is helping to protect and support endangered birds affected by habitat loss and capture. The team hopes to identify suitable new areas in the West Java mountains for reintroduction.

05 Greenland Dr Kathryn Adamson is monitoring the impact of climate change by analysing glaciers and fluvial sedimentary records to identify past environmental change and landscape evolution. This research will help scientists to better understand the impact of future climate change scenarios on ice caps.

06 Nigeria The Faculty of Education is working with the Corona Schools’ Trust in Lagos to develop teacher training and education. The Faculty has already developed a summer school programme for educators in Nigeria’s most populated city.

07 Europe Researchers in the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) are leading a team of nine European universities to review social investment policies in all 28 EU member states and undertaking detailed case studies in 10 member states, including the UK. Using Silent Talker, Manchester Metropolitan’s patented lie detection technology, a project is looking to improve border control of third country nationals crossing EU member states. In Norway, aviation researchers assisted the development of the sustainable jet biofuel currently in use at Oslo Airport. The Norwegian airport is the first in the world to offer airlines the option of refuelling with aviation biofuel through its hydrant mechanism.

08 China

Work is ongoing in the UK and China to track the transformation of cities and the impact on urban morphological changes, urban growth, job accessibility and social changes. Research by Dr Jianquan Cheng is helping to develop new strategies to tackle the challenges of today’s cities. Computer scientist Dr Liangxiu Han is collaborating with colleagues in China to improve crop yields. Her big data algorithms will analyse satellite, drone and smartphone images to spot disease outbreaks and assess their severity.

09 Bolivia Bolivian glaciers shrunk by 43% between 1986 and 2014 and will continue to diminish if temperatures in the region continue to increase, research led by Dr Simon Cook has found. Glacier recession increases the risk of lakes bursting and flooding downstream, while also putting water supply in the region at risk. The study is one of the first to monitor recent large-scale glacier change in Bolivia to understand how it could affect local communities.

10 India

Manchester School of Art researcher Professor Stephen Dixon is helping to preserve and promote traditional Warli art and craft in India. Located in the Warli heartland of Palghar district, Maharashtra, the project focused on the tradition of Warli painting. The installations, now showcased at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, bring together Warli artists, craftspeople, ceramic artists, a musician, filmmaker, designers, sculptors and architects, from India and the UK, to imagine a new centre for the promotion of Warli culture.

Spring/Summer 2017



gracefully We are living longer than ever before, creating new obstacles and questions. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan are meeting these challenges head-on.


e’re all growing old. Older than ever before, in fact. Longer lives are, of course, rightly welcomed as a by-product of modern life. It poses a tricky conundrum, however, namely: just how are we going to live well as Old Father Time marches on? Thanks to a combination of medical and healthcare advances, the average life expectancy of someone in the UK is 81, it has increased at an average rate of 13 and a half weeks for men and almost 10 weeks for women per year since 1980-82. And it shows no sign of slowing. Our lengthening lifespans create issues for the health service, social care, communities, families, transport and buildings. We are locked in a race against the clock. In Manchester, the city is fighting back with the launch of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub to coordinate its response. While at Manchester Metropolitan, researchers are rising to the challenge to keep us healthier and happier in our twilight. While creaking bones and aching limbs have long been a staple complaint of advancing years, new light is being shed on how to keep our muscles and bones stronger. Additionally, researchers are helping those affected by dementia to continue to live independently, helping to transform our environment into age-friendly cities, supporting older people with alcohol or drug problems, improving care home training and even overcoming old age’s relationship obstacles. “As other areas improve so much and at such a rate,


Met Magazine issue 3

Our research is helping to develop targeted interventions to enhance strength in later life

we are now living longer. The critical thing is that we aren’t necessarily living in good health,” says Neil Reeves, Professor of Musculoskeletal Biomechanics at Manchester Metropolitan, whose research into gait and muscletendon mechanics is tackling the menace of falls in older age. “Our research is helping to develop targeted interventions to enhance strength in later life and contributing towards mitigating falls for older people with diabetes, for example.” Dr Jamie McPhee, Reader in Muscle and Exercise Physiology, says: “We’ve got to make sure people are ageing in the best way.” His multifaceted research is analysing the impact of exercise on bone and muscle strength, neuromuscular decline and the benefits of nutritional supplements.

“Certain aspects are inevitable with ageing, such as a decline in muscle strength or a reduction in the nerves serving the muscles,” he adds. “But, there are some simple steps people can take in their daily lives to mitigate these effects. Our research shows that older people who are physically active and exercise most days of the week can achieve very high levels of athletic performance, if that’s what they want to do. “They also avoid accumulating body fat, which tends to accompany ageing in most of us, and keep their muscles, bones and nerves in better condition.” The illuminating studies are aided by the state-of-the-art facilities found at the University that boast an MRI scanner, motion analysis suites, x-ray scanners and bone density measurement equipment, for starters. Their physiological insight feeds into new ageing roadmaps so that society can address – and fund – solutions. For example, stemming falls in later life can

FEATURE Do sit-to-stand exercises to strengthen knees and hip

Stay physically active throughout your life: research at Manchester Metropolitan showed tennis players’ bones were up to 63 per cent thicker due to exercise

Physical activity can be recreational such as gardening, shopping or walking

provide extensive savings for the healthcare system – fractured hip incidents are estimated to cost the UK £6 million a day. However, our bodies and bones are but one string of a complex bow. To stay healthy and happy requires both body and mind to be in harmony. Josie Tetley, Professor of Ageing and Long-term Conditions, is working to extend independence as we grow old. Often described as one of society’s biggest challenges, dementia is set to affect more than one million people in the UK by 2025. The insidious condition can be a combination of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, requiring round-the-clock care. In response, Professor Tetley’s assistive technology is freeing people with dementia and cutting social isolation. “We want to create dementiafriendly and therapeutic environments that support families and carers,” she says. “For instance, the GPS assistive technology tracking device can provide both peace of

Take part in arts and culture. Research at Manchester Metropolitan has demonstrated wellbeing benefits from arts and culture participation

Our experts’ top tips for ageing well

Keep socially active to cut isolation

Do stair walks and use a good support or handrail

Avoid gaining fat Do exercises aimed at strengthing muscles. It doesn’t have to be in a gym

Use a theraband for light resistance training in your own home

mind and independence. “Quality of life and social interaction is hugely important as we age. The physical and emotional are the same package. We want to look at the whole.” In a separate research project, Professor Tetley highlighted that older people can struggle to maintain sexual activity in later life. Healthcare science colleagues are lined up, too, in the battle against dementia – looking on the inside for answers. Research by Mark Slevin, Professor in Cell Pathology, is analysing a protein strongly linked with the increased risk of dementia in stroke patients. Patients who suffer a stroke are up to 12 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and he proposes to block the monomeric C-reactive protein to stop its harmful effects. This tireless work is set against the backdrop of the newly launched Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, which is brimming with ambition: to be the first agefriendly city-region in the country; to be a global centre of excellence for ageing, pioneering research,

Move your leg up and down while sitting to strengthen muscles

technology and new ideas; and to increase economic participation amongst the over 50s. Greater Manchester, much like the rest of the UK, isn’t immune to the ageing enigma and will experience significant shifts in its population. Estimates suggest that by the early 2030s, half of the UK adult population will be over 50, and by 2037, the over-80s group will have expanded to six million. As part of a joined-up approach to region-wide problems, Manchester Metropolitan partnered with Salford and Manchester universities to launch the joint Greater Manchester Dementia Consortium in 2016. And there is the University’s Manchester Movement Unit which will drive positive lifestyle changes for the city’s population as part of Manchester’s muchpublicised health and social care devolution revolution. Together, they are helping to tackle the ageing challenges that lie ahead. Yes, we’re growing old. But we can grow old gracefully.

The physical and emotional are the same package. We want to look at the whole

Spring/Summer 2017



future a reality

A digital skills gap threatens to stifle the stunning potential of virtual and augmented reality. Our academics and students have the answer…

S We research the real value of this technology for use in a business context. That makes us different


oaring over the Lake District National Park, a ‘visitor’ enjoys a breathtaking bird’seye view of the region’s many natural wonders. Seconds later, she is back on terra firma and planning a return trip that she is happy to pay for. Only this time the visit will be for real rather than via a virtual reality headset – a prospect that serves to emphasise the still largely untapped business potential of this amazing digital technology. This project, on behalf of the Lake District National Park, is just one example of the way in which Manchester Metropolitan University is already helping businesses to take advantage of emerging technology. The app taking people on a Lakeland tour features 360-degree drone camera footage, but the principle works equally well whether virtual or augmented reality and the latter is being used to boost museum attendance at the Jewish Museum – another Manchester Metropolitan project or showcase new technology. Elsewhere, students at the University are combining VR technology with computer gaming skills to support the next generation of nursing students. (See case study on following spread)

Met Magazine issue 3

While the world is clearly ready and willing to embrace both VR and AR, there are concerns that a digital skills gap among businesses is standing in the way of progress. Fortunately, academics and students at Manchester Metropolitan University are already showing companies ways to utilise the technology. Dr Timothy Jung is Director of the University’s Creative Augmented and Virtual Reality Hub, established in 2013 with a team of 10 people, including Dr Mandy tom Dieck, Dr Dario tom Dieck, PhD researchers and several former students. Taking time to fully understand the business potential of AR and VR has made the University a leader in the field, Dr Jung explained. “We research the real value of this technology for use in a business context. That makes us different. “At the proof of concept stage, we do interviews with all stakeholders. We then develop a small scale demo, obtain feedback, make modifications and then we have a pilot scheme. “We work on user requirements, how to develop the app, the customer experience, and develop the business model. The commercialisation aspect is important because otherwise

businesses won’t invest. “Sometimes we manage the whole project and sometimes we collaborate with companies who are developing an AR/VR application.” Dr Jung sees massive potential for AR and VR across many sectors and the University already has many stunning examples to share. In the case of the Lake District National Park project, the hub’s role was that of facilitator, introducing the park authority to partner firms with the expertise to get its ambitions off the ground. The hub is also a partner in the

FEATURE £1m Euro Box Project funded by TEKES (Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) in collaboration with Finland’s Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. The project will investigate the impact of multi-sensory stimuli on service experience design in the mixed reality environment. By bringing together partners and contacts, Dr Jung believes the University is leading the way in tackling the digital skills gap. This mindset paved the way for the University to organise and host an annual Augmented and Virtual Reality Conference, now in its third year and sponsored by tech giant Samsung. Dr Jung says that the University is at the heart of a growing community of AR and VR experts in the North. “London is naturally very strong, but in the North West, Manchester and Liverpool have a legacy of digital technologies,” he added.

We identify digital skills gaps in these areas and how the University can help businesses to overcome them

“There are conferences in London where companies simply pitch their latest products. Our conference is about presenting what current projects we have, discussing current trends and the future, especially what we can do in the North West in line with Northern Powerhouse agenda. “We identify digital skills gaps in these areas and how the University can help businesses to overcome them.” Dr Jung believes that the cost of consumer AR and VR equipment will continue to fall and that it will also become more powerful, citing the Google Daydream headset as a game changer. Though the hub’s specialism to date has been arts and leisure – helping art galleries, museums and attractions with apps - the capabilities and knowledge that exist within the team means the hub can tackle a wide range of challenges in a broader range of sectors. Major brands and marketers are keen to embrace the tech too. Dr Jung is excited that the technology is unlocking new opportunities for the University.

The AR/VR hub recently won funding through the Royal Society International Exchange Scheme to facilitate the development of a collaborative AR/VR project with the Institute of Smart City at Shanghai University. Focused on the health and tourism sectors, the work highlights the opportunities ahead. Dr Jung added: “We ask: how can the technology be used for commercial benefit and are we using the technology in the right way and in right place? “We can support any business which is looking for opportunities with VR or AR.” Case Study: VR and AR in health.

Dr Timothy Jung

What is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? Virtual reality (VR) is the computer-generated simulation of an interactive three-dimensional image or environment. Augmented reality (AR) allows the user to see a still or animated digital image superimposed on their real world view, such as through a smartphone or tablet screen.

Spring/Summer 2017


Case study: Health One wrong move and it’s a matter of life and death. While the similarities between computer gaming and medical science are apparently slight, advances in digital technology are now bringing the two disciplines closer together. A ground-breaking collaboration between two faculties could soon enable Manchester Metropolitan University Nursing and Health Profession students to hone their skills via virtual reality. Student nurses currently use replica clinical rooms in the University’s Brooks Building to practise clinical and practical skills on sophisticated mannequins. Video games student Ben Sinclair is now replicating a clinic in virtual reality with the ultimate aim of allowing students to complete the scenarios in a digital setting – providing a possibly unlimited array of exercises at the tweak of a button, and allowing learners to repeat them over and over again. The collaboration was initiated by Leah Greene, Senior Lecturer in Simulation-Based Education,


Met Magazine issue 3

who approached the School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology with the idea. Sinclair, a third year Computer Games Technology student, took on the challenge of developing the VR application for his dissertation. His game-like application works on the HTC VIVE VR headset and he has added more complex and challenging elements as he reconstructs equipment, furnishings and props. The virtual incarnation of the lab boasts a two-way mirror, dimmable lights and even a patient. Users can take the patient’s pulse, with the game controller vibrating to mimic a heartbeat. It is hoped that future computer gaming students will build on Sinclair’s progress. Theoretically, the options and variables could be endless, allowing for a better reflection of modern-day healthcare and a better preparation and education for the University’s health and social care students. “We’re looking at integrating augmented and virtual reality into our curriculum structure across the

We are trying to create an interactive, novel application for health and social care

Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care (HPSC),” explained Greene, who says there is now growing awareness of the role that both AR and VR can play in education. “VR simulation isn’t going to replace theory. We are trying to create an interactive, novel application for health and social care because there isn’t anything


that currently exists like that.” Clinical VR apps tend to be high-spec, specialist surgical programmes that are prohibitively expensive and therefore almost exclusively found in hospitals. Others are more cost effective and make good teaching aids by providing 3D representations of human body parts, for example. That leaves a gap in the market for more accessible and portable teaching tools that replicate real world scenarios, treatments and interactions. Greene adds: “We do a lot of physical simulation but we’re looking to develop the app so students have the chance to review and replay some of the scenarios with alternative endings.” VR could reduce the time required for students to complete mandatory training and offer new ways of accessing learning materials. Sinclair’s tutor Huw Lloyd, Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Technology, said:

“This is a great example of how gaming technologies can be applied in serious applications beyond entertainment. “I’m looking forward to developing this cross-faculty collaboration, which will enable more of our Games Development and Games Technology students to find novel and impactful applications for their development skills, beyond the world of gaming.”

Spring/Summer 2017


Devolution is the transfer of power and funding from national to local government and Manchester Metropolitan University is at the heart of a city region that is currently making history as the leading light in the Northern Powerhouse. But what difference will it make? Academics have their say‌


he May mayoral election in Greater Manchester was a landmark step towards the realisation of the Northern Powerhouse first outlined by then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, back in 2014. It puts Manchester Metropolitan University at the heart of a city region that has led the way in bringing about the devolution of political power and spending from Westminster. The first in a series of historic devolution agreements was

signed in November 2014 by George Osborne and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), comprised of the leaders of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs. The powers that have devolved to Greater Manchester include transport, housing, planning and policing; as well as funding and incentives to support local businesses, work-related training and getting people back into work.

A city region that has led the way in bringing about the devolution of political power and spending

Further agreements include devolution of the Greater Manchester health and social care budget, as well as further freedom and flexibility in relation to criminal justice. A directly elected mayor for the city region was a requirement of the devolution deal, with the first election due to take place as Met Magazine was going to press on May 4. Some powers and budgets rest with the mayor for Greater Manchester and some with the GMCA.

Rochdale Bolton

Bury Oldham

Wigan Salford Manchester

Trafford Stockport


Met Magazine issue 3


manchester Devolution: What powers and budgets have devolved? Housing and planning Housing and planning are key among devolved powers for Greater Manchester. The devolution agreement includes a £300m Greater Manchester Housing Fund to support construction of new homes and close the gap between supply and demand. Developers can apply for loans to fund construction, with the money repayable with interest within four years of work starting and recycled to fund further development. To date, funding of £97m has been provided for 1,184 homes across nine sites. The Greater Manchester mayor also has the power to compulsorily purchase land for development, but only if there is agreement from the local council leader. Action is also being taken to make 12,000 empty homes across Greater Manchester available for use. A new spatial framework for Greater Manchester, to be published this year, will outline plans for 225,000 new homes and four million square metres of industrial warehouse space by 2035. Suggestions that green belt land might be unlocked for development have prompted local opposition. The GMCA will also support local councils in revitalising town centres.

Criminal Justice For the first time, Greater Manchester will take on a greater role in the commissioning of offender management services, alongside the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), to allow more local flexibility, innovation and better coordination with other local services including healthcare and accommodation. The government is engaging with GMCA on its agenda to create a modern prison estate, including the potential for a new resettlement prison to serve the Greater Manchester area. Devolved powers will allow the GMCA to improve justice locally and reduce offending by integrating the crime and justice system (police, courts, probation) with health, education and accommodation services. The role of Police and Crime Commissioner will transfer to the mayor. It is hoped that local justice can be delivered more efficiently and effectively by using available venues innovatively and looking at the use of problem-solving courts. A transformation of youth justice services will see the creation of new models of secure schools, integration of youth support locally and redesigned non-custodial youth justice funding. The devolution agreement has given prison governors more autonomy, and education and skills provision is a key focus. There will be greater opportunities to look at resettlement and rehabilitation of offenders, as well as options to further devolve custody budgets. GMCA will also have greater influence over probation and the Manchester division of the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). Prevention and harm reduction


will become a much stronger focus as part of the devolution agreement. The agreement will allow the GMCA to better coordinate rehabilitation services with mental health and drug misuse services, with the aim of reducing reoffending. Grant funding by the Police and Crime Commissioner, in addition to other victims of crime funding, is now more flexible, meaning it can be used to help with the transformation of services. It is hoped that transformation will deliver improvements through early intervention and prevention initiatives.


In February 2015, the Government and NHS England agreed to devolve over £6bn in health and social care spending to Greater Manchester so that joint planning of these services can deliver better care for patients. The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care (GMHSC) partnership was launched on 1st April 2016, when the budget was formally devolved. The devolution agreement means that decisions can be taken locally about the services that should be provided, in response to local need. As well as the £6bn budget, the deal also saw a £450m ‘Transformation Fund’ made available. By 2021, GMHSC want a number of major improvements to the region’s healthcare, including fewer patients dying of cancer or heart disease, more people able to work, and more children getting off to a better start in life. One of the first improvements to be realised was making GP access available seven days a

Spring/Summer 2017


week. There is now at least one medical centre open for late night and evening appointments in each of the 12 Clinical Commissioning Group areas. Benefitting from the £450m transformation fund, a five-year improvement plan to redesign the commissioning of dementia care has been produced. One of the main ambitions is to assign a Key Dementia Worker to patients, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transport Transport infrastructure is key to the future prosperity of Greater Manchester and the city region, easing congestion and supporting economic development. New responsibilities for the mayor include a devolved transport budget to pay for infrastructure over the next 30 years. This could include further expansion for Metrolink. Regulatory reform – specifically, the introduction of the Bus Services Bill, which has just been agreed– provides the option for combined authority areas with directly-elected mayors to be responsible for the running of their local bus services – a franchised model. This could include Oysterstyle integrated tickets. The government says the move will allow cities to promote an


Met Magazine issue 3

The mayor will also act as an ambassador for the region

integrated transport system like that in London. A Transport for Greater Manchester document states that “a single coherent identity for transport in GM would ensure simplicity for commuters and improve the visitor experience”. Other powers devolved to Greater Manchester include consideration of how 94 local rail stations are managed. Under proposals described as the Case for Change, ownership and management of Greater Manchester’s stations would transfer from Network Rail and individual train operators to Transport for Greater Manchester, allowing stations to reach their full potential as community hubs. Other devolved powers and initiatives include partnership working with Highways England to enable a clear, strategic approach to the management of highways across the city-region; the development of pan-northern organisations such as Rail North and Transport for the North; transferring powers from a local authority level up to a city-region level – specifically, oversight and management of the Key Route Network (KRN) and increased collaboration on highways service delivery.

Education and skills improvement

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has new powers to support business growth and skills development. Its responsibilities include securing integrated business support services, including through the Growth Accelerator, Manufacturing Advice Service and UK Trade and Investment Export Advice; Control of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers in Greater Manchester and power to re-shape and restructure the Further Education provision within Greater Manchester; and control of an expanded Working Well pilot to support people back into work.

Policing and fire services The new mayor of Greater Manchester will have powers over fire and police services. This includes setting the police budget and deciding what the money is spent on.

Greater Manchester mayor Due to be elected on 4 May 2017, the mayor’s key powers are policing, fire, housebuilding and transport. The mayor is a member, and the chair, of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Why? Former Chancellor George Osborne felt that there should be accountability given the power and budget that has been devolved, and that electing a mayor would provide that. The mayor will also act as an ambassador for the region and will be the public figurehead to not only raise the region’s profile but to also have a voice on the national stage.

What will the mayor control? While the mayor’s key powers are policing, fire, housebuilding and transport, the role will also have influence on other areas of devolved powers, including the health service. The mayor has direct responsibility for a £700m budget, made up of the police budget, budget for the region’s fire service and housing budget. The mayor will set the police budget, deciding how funds will be allocated and will be accountable, alongside the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, when things go wrong. The mayor will make big decisions that affect the whole city region, while local authorities will still make decisions that affect services locally. Council tax bills will now show an amount for ‘Mayoral Precept’, previously the charge for police and fire services. The mayor has the power to add new charges to council tax for specific projects but this will be capped and will have to be agreed by local council leaders.

Dr Rory Shand

Dr Ian Warwick

Professor Cathy Parker

Senior Lecturer in Public Services and Programme Leader for Politics and Public Services

Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care

Professor of Marketing and Retail Experience

The context for devolution in Manchester has been one that has developed over time: throughout the last two decades, the local authority has been developing key partnerships with organisations drawn from the public, private and third sectors. The planning of devolution stretches back to the mid-1990s, and the present day devolution of health and social care shows the strengths within the combined authority: notably, that of the local authority and the large third sector in Greater Manchester. Following the then-Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that the government planned to foster a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ through investment in the North of England, the opportunities devolution presents for Manchester are vast: one of the fastest growing economies in the UK and across Europe, UK government focus and investment, and to increase community engagement through the visibility of local decision-making. However, these changes also bring with them challenges. How can devolution in Manchester respond to existing inequalities and distinct different identities within the combined authority? Areas such as Rochdale or Bolton need to profit from devolution as much as central Manchester yet there are large demographic differences in the combined authority, illustrated in the EU referendum. We also need to consider the broader effects of devolution in Manchester: a success would open the doors for the type of city regional governance model government has previously set out through the Northern Powerhouse agenda. We also need to consider the opportunities which success could bring for future policy areas - such as transport - becoming devolved to Manchester.

Greater Manchester has significant areas of social deprivation such that the divide between richer and poorer boroughs means that life expectancy can vary by as much as 15 years. Devolution has been met in many quarters with enthusiasm because it offers an opportunity to try approaches that could make a big difference to some people’s lives. There are concerns the arrangements will struggle to achieve the significant changes expected. The new authority is still faced with meeting a £2billion shortfall by 2021. The current system whereby NHS services are free and local authority social care services are means-tested remains a huge challenge. Current services have been established over many years of trialling and testing different health and social care interventions and in most cases are likely to be the best approach. There is a balance of enthusiasm and apprehension about the changes. Many people accept that nationally health and social care services are stretched and that there may be better ways to manage people who need these services. The British Medical Journal, local GPs and several local MPs have questioned the lack of clarity within the plan. They are concerned that all that has been created is another layer of bureaucracy. The Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care is very involved in the discussions around new ways of delivering innovative support to the 20,000 people currently in residential care and the 280,000 informal carers. After several years of austerity and continued budget cuts, there is a huge willingness to engage with the initiative because it offers the opportunity to trial new ways of tackling the region’s problems.

We hear a lot about devolution’s impact on services like health, policing and transport but how will it affect the places we live, work, shop and relax – will we see a noticeable change in the towns, districts and neighbourhoods around the region? Place management, my topic, takes a ‘whole place’ perspective on decision-making and action – which is exactly what devolution should enable. Decisions about the location of health centres, bus stops, shops and housing have often been taken independently of each other and this has weakened the overall attractiveness of our local town and district centres. With devolution comes the opportunity to use new powers to strengthen places. My concern is that siloed thinking is so endemic that this chance will be missed. We know that place-first decision-making is difficult. Places are contested, full of people with different opinions as to what should and shouldn’t happen. After so many years of centralisation, there is little experience of getting genuine crosssector collaboration and multipartner working in places. Without this behavioural change we won’t see much uplift, economically or socially. At the University our role is to support this change. For example, we are working with Manchester City Council to facilitate devolved decision-making. Our joint project will monitor hourly footfall activity so that the complex interrelations between housing, shopping, transport, leisure, work, school, health and so on can be understood at the neighbourhood level. Rather than treating everywhere the same, this project allows us to see just how different places are and help people make the right decisions locally. Ultimately, that is what devolution is all about.

Spring/Summer 2017



Running through the city’s DNA is a can-do attitude Retiring Manchester City Council Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein on his pride in the city


nyone who knows me will know that I’m not someone who habitually likes to look back. I would much rather focus on the horizon and the next challenge. But such reflection is something I’ve been asked to do a lot in recent weeks as my retirement as Manchester City Council Chief Executive, almost 46 years since joining the organisation as a junior clerk, approached. However, tracing the journey that Manchester has gone through over that period is instructive – both to understand how far the city has come and its future trajectory. It’s indisputable that Manchester today is a city transformed from its decline in the 70s and 80s – a place that had retained its soul but had lost both its manufacturing base and sense of direction – to a diversified, confident, growing city which once again walks with a swagger. It’s a journey that has had a unifying theme of making Manchester a premier league world city, whether it was the regeneration of the city centre, the transformation of East Manchester in the wake of the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the ongoing investment there, the creation and expansion of Metrolink or the collaborative working across Greater Manchester culminating in the groundbreaking devolution agreements including the devolution of health and social care. Our universities and flourishing airport are gateways to global investment and growth. It’s also a journey that is never


Met Magazine issue 3

We are competing on a global stage but Manchester has well and truly put itself on the map

over – cities such as Manchester have to keep moving forwards in order to create the jobs and opportunities which its people need. There are still challenges to address deep-rooted pockets of deprivation and poor health and connect everyone with the opportunities created by a growing economy. We also need to keep making the case for greater investment in Greater Manchester and the north to help rebalance the national economy after years of underinvestment. The ‘Northern Powerhouse’, the idea that the major cities of northern England can collectively be more than the sum of their parts and boost the UK, is one with genuine potential. Greater Manchester will be integral if this potential is to be realised. We are competing on a global stage but Manchester has well and truly put itself on the map – whether through its culture, sport (especially our two football clubs) or its cutting edge research and innovation. Manchester Metropolitan’s International Screen School, which is being supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, will make a significant contribution to the city’s mix. By attracting and developing the talent to support the region’s fast-growing digital, creative and media sector, it will help cement the city as a major European hub for the creative sector and generate an annual £13m boost for the local economy. It is, in the words of acclaimed director Danny Boyle – a proud son of Bury who will co-chair the school’s industry advisory board –

‘just what Manchester needs.’ I have no doubt that our growth trajectory will continue – the only question, even in the light of the uncertainty around Brexit – is not if, but how fast. The platform for growth is more solid than it has ever been. Serving Manchester and Greater Manchester for almost half a century has been a tremendous privilege. I’ve been very lucky to have the most exciting job in local government. While I’m proud of the role I’ve been able to play in Manchester’s transformation, it has been a real team effort and any achievements have been down to the shared vision and combined talents of many excellent people across public and private sector partner organisations – Manchester Metropolitan very much included. I like to think that running through the city’s DNA is a can-do attitude, and the council endeavours to help things happen rather than create unnecessary obstacles, Although I am retiring from my current role I am certainly not retiring altogether and look forward to continuing to help shape this great city and region in the years ahead. I’m relishing the prospect of taking on new challenges while I still have gas in the tank. While this is goodbye, it is certainly not farewell and I look forward to seeing the next chapter of Greater Manchester’s success story unfold. Sir Howard Bernstein retired as Chief Executive of Manchester City Council in March

Tech sector must reach out to the young To prosper as a technology hub, the right mix of education and training is needed, explains Lawrence Jones

I believe the link between education and business is one that is absolutely vital


anchester has been known throughout history as a great place to study and it has transformed itself as an amazing place to work too, now that the city is becoming a digital hub for the UK, on a par with London’s Silicon Roundabout. The creative and digital industries have been called the ‘industries of the future’ and the North West is perfectly placed for building on its tradition of science, creativity and innovation to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities arising from the digital economy. But to make the most of this opportunity, and to truly futureproof businesses, I believe the link between education and business is one that is absolutely vital. As a tech business, it’s our responsibility to reach out to young people to engage them in the potential of a career in tech, and to start a discussion with schools and universities about the types of skills we need to keep our business going both now and in the future. We’ve worked hard on this at UKFast over the last few years, in a number of ways. First of all, when we moved to our current home in Hulme, we built an onsite training and education centre and employed full-time teachers to not only help us provide training opportunities to our team, but reach out to the community too. Through our work with schools, we’ve seen that there are clear gaps in what traditional education teaches children and what businesses need from school leavers. We’ve been partners with The Dean Trust for many years now and we work with more than 57,000 pupils across

schools in Greater Manchester and the country, running Code Clubs, workshops, away days and helping to build the IT curriculum. We’ve also extended our work to universities. Earlier this year, we offered our first scholarship to the MBA programme at Manchester Metropolitan University. Although it’s great to be able to offer an aspiring entrepreneur the financial help to complete the course, the scholarship offers opportunities for mentoring and gaining business insight too. I really think that, alongside academic success, business people need real world experience: they need a network around them. But university is not the only way to forge a career in tech, or any industry really, and it wasn’t mine. In my opinion, a thriving tech industry is one that allows for talent to gain access to it through a number of routes. There are probably few industries that rely so much on diversity as the digital industry. This is why, through our work with the community and our local schools, we first decided to offer a bespoke apprenticeship programme in 2013. We realised there was an opportunity to match young people looking for an alternative career path to businesses like ours. Apprenticeships can offer the types of specific skills that employers like us are looking for. With our apprenticeship programme, we made a commitment to helping the government reach its target of three million apprenticeships by 2020, looking to connect businesses with educational establishments to support the

advancement of digital skills and digital education. I’m very proud of the fact that our apprenticeship programme has had a 100 per cent employment rate from the start, offering our apprentices a chance to become a full time member of the team and continue to forge their career. Today, current and former apprentices make up 15 per cent of our entire team, working side by side with some of the most senior members of the team and providing support to some our largest customers. In early April we announced our latest – and, without doubt, our most significant – move in education with the approval of our own school. In partnership with The Dean Trust, we’re creating a new high school focused on digital literacy, developing the skills young people need to thrive in an increasingly technology-led workplace. The school – backed by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash – is a first for the region, with UKFast providing curricular support, teacher training, work experience and placements as well as technical workshops and Code Club style sessions to 11 to 16-year-olds. This is a momentous occasion in our 17-year history but it’s a decision and direction that has to be prioritised if we’re to continue our growth as a tech business and as a tech city for generations to come. Lawrence Jones is founder and chief executive officer of managed and cloud hosting company UKFast

Spring/Summer 2017


Being different and taking risks is what Manchester is all about Professor Sharon Handley talks about the spirit and initiatives that make Manchester a great city for the arts and creative industries


ony Wilson famously said: ‘This is Manchester, we do things differently here.’ Doing things differently is part of the Manchester heritage along with a tradition of innovation and creativity and a spirit of risk-taking and unexpected juxtapositions. Manchester’s success in the creative industries is very much about bringing together unexpected combinations; from the juxtaposition of small digital enterprises in the Sharp Project to the grass roots arts and crafts centres in the Northern Quarter. HOME took a risk in moving from the much-loved Cornerhouse venue to its current location; there is another risk in bringing together cinema, theatre and galleries into one venue – but it works. The Manchester International Festival is another example of world-leading innovation, with unexpected combinations ranging from street dance to ballet, stories from the Partition of British India to Manchester Street Poem capturing individual stories of the homeless here in Manchester. A stunning line-up of events with something for everyone, but I am particularly looking forward to Cotton Panic, with its combination of history and creativity and an unexpected venue. Staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities are designing the Festival Square’s interiors and Manchester Metropolitan will host a Glass House event in Festival Square. The event will be themed as a Mancunion Salon, where leaders from around the city will join us to enjoy performances from our own poets, as well as performances from our visual artists and designers. It’s different, it’s a risk – but we think it will work! The newly formed Faculty of Arts and Humanities with


Met Magazine issue 3

disciplines ranging from sociology, history and English to fine art, fashion and architecture is another example of unexpected combinations. Yet the great potential of this unexpected combination was clear for all to see at the launch of a wonderful exhibition entitled Made in Translation, where writers from our Writing School and the Humanities disciplines worked in collaboration with artists and designers to respond to the Portico Library, a wonderful piece of history in the heart of the city. The result was a delightful exhibition and a beautiful book featuring the fruits of these collaborations. Unexpected combinations. Risks. And it worked. There will be a new Arts and Humanities building in 2019, coinciding with the next Manchester International Festival, providing an exciting new space where our writers, journalists and actors will be co-located with linguists and film specialists. It will include a poetry library, a studio theatre and performance spaces, along with provision for displaying the Manchester Metropolitan Special Collections as a major University and city asset. Unexpected combinations. Magnificent potential. The journey of Manchester as an exciting arts and creative industry hub will continue with the completion in 2020 of The Factory Arts centre, celebrating the legendary Factory record label and developing the site of the former Granada Studios. Sir Richard Leese, has said that this could ‘make Manchester and the wider region a genuine cultural counterbalance to London’. There are clearly opportunities for us to work together to build this legacy and develop the creative talent pipeline for the city.

There are clearly opportunities for us to work together to build this legacy and develop the creative talent pipeline for the city

Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle, will play a leading role in Manchester Metropolitan’s International Screen School Manchester. The new Screen School will work closely with key regional, cultural and industry partners including HOME, Red Productions, the Space Project, BBC and ITV to ensure Greater Manchester has the skills base urgently needed to support this continued growth. The International Screen School Manchester (ISSM) will provide a wide variety of digital media courses including film, photography, animation, applied games, special effects, sound design, software design for screen, user experience design and immersive media content production for more than 1,000 students every year. It will pull together colleagues from Science and Engineering, and Arts and Humanities, combining disciplines which are in separate faculties and often treated as ‘opposites’ in schools and universities. Bringing them together will create something new; working with industry partners to co-create the curriculum and bring industry expertise into the classroom is innovative and exciting. It is an exciting time to be in Manchester, and the creative industries are at the heart of that vibe, maintaining the tradition of ‘doing things differently’, risktaking and creating unexpected combinations. And Manchester Metropolitan University is part of that tradition, part of that vibe, and part of that journey every step of the way. Professor Sharon Handley is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester deserves the extraordinary John McGrath, Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival looks forward to a creative summer


’m sitting in Terminal One of Manchester Airport and an email arrives on my phone. In it, a link to the completed commission by the great Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth for Manchester International Festival’s Music for a Busy City programme. Usually an airport terminal wouldn’t be the best place to listen to a new work by one of Europe’s leading musical talents, but Music for a Busy City specifically asks six composers to respond to public spaces in Manchester, and Olga has chosen to write a piece that will be played across speakers in Victoria Station. I decide that Manchester Airport isn’t a bad substitution for a train station, so I put in my earphones and am taken, for seven minutes and 23 seconds, into another world. At the time of writing, in early April, my life lurches between such moments of joy, more nervous anticipation, and occasional crisis. Just two days ago, on a sunny Saturday that filled the city with summer spirit though it’s still early spring, I nervously visited a secret venue with Nigel and Louise (of the famed Shunt Collective) who are creating Party Skills for the End of the World – an audience journey of a truly unique kind. A few weeks prior we’d lost the original venue for the show, and I was here to see whether this new space could work for the artists. As we climbed abandoned stairwells and traipsed through underground tunnels, I watched their faces nervously. If this venue wasn’t right for them, we were running out of options. But as we emerged into the sun, they were beaming. ‘It’s perfect!’ And now I’m off to Berlin,

where no less than six of the artists we have commissioned this year, including Olga, are based. I’m there mainly to see a rehearsal of Returning to Reims, the new work from the Schaubühne’s Thomas Ostermeier, which will be one of the theatre highlights of this year’s festival, but I’ll also be meeting Yael Bartana, whose What if Women Ruled the World? – a re-invention of Doctor Strangelove for the post-Trump era, is proving to be one of the most talkedabout shows in the run up to MIF17. A meeting with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, also based in Berlin, has had to be rescheduled, as he’s over in Los Angeles finalising the score for the new Blade Runner movie, while Philip Venables, another Music for a Busy City composer, and Phil Collins, who is creating our closing event Ceremony, are both away from their Berlin homes in Manchester this week, working on their MIF17 projects. And in just a few weeks’ time, everyone will be in Manchester – artists from Berlin, from New York, from Hong Kong and Karachi, from Cairo, Canada, China and many more locations across the globe – all gathering for one of the most extraordinary celebrations of artists and creativity taking place anywhere in the world. At that point my rollercoaster of joy, anticipation and crisis will probably have gone from weekly to hourly in its changes, but it will all, I am sure, be worth it; and if all of the work is of the quality of Olga’s seven minutes and 23 seconds of music, it will be quite extraordinary. And Manchester deserves the extraordinary, because it has, over many years, had belief in the power of art and artists

unmatched by most cities – from the underground energies of the 80s and 90s music scene, to the citywide commitment to worldbeating art today. There are few places where the choice of gigs, of theatre shows, of movies and exhibitions is so rich on any given day: fantastic venues range from the grandeur of the new Whitworth and HOME, to pop-ups in arches, and artists’ studios in Salford warehouses. Since returning to Manchester in 2016, I’ve not had one evening in which I wasn’t faced with a tough choice about what great art to see where. The other day I had to run from John Akmofrah’s Vertigo Sea opening at the Whitworth gallery to the Tomcat gig at Gorilla because I’d promised to see both on the same night by mistake. I was tempted to take in a show at Contact on the way! I hope that this summer a lot of people will be having frantically creative nights like that as MIF fills the city with the best art you could imagine from a truly extraordinary range of places. Whether joining our unique public opening event in Piccadilly Gardens – What Is the City but the People? – and seeing Manchester in a very new light, catching the great French choreographer Boris Charmatz’s new work 10000 Gestures in the depths of Mayfield, or exploring Mary Anne Hobbs’s Dark Matter gigs on Whitworth Street, the only downside to your enjoyment might be that there’s something equally exciting happening somewhere else in the city.

One of the most extraordinary celebrations of artists and creativity taking place anywhere in the world

John McGrath is the Artistic Director and CEO of the 2017 Manchester International Festival

Spring/Summer 2017



Credit: Earl Wan

looking interesting


Met Magazine issue 3



he Pied Piper of design, Willy Wonka and the Leonardo da Vinci of our time. Thomas Heatherwick has been described in many different ways. The modest 46-year-old, whose incredibly diverse catalogue of design work has prompted wonder and criticism, could also be attributed a far simpler moniker – the problem solver. From creating the iconic Olympic cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics to creating a new headquarters for Google; from constructing a modern art gallery out of an old grain silo to reinventing how a building can assist study – the projects produced by the Heatherwick Studio are about challenging the norm and finding innovative solutions. Heatherwick told Met Magazine: “There is an unshakeable belief that people are problem solvers. We often undercelebrate how resourceful and ingenious human beings are. In each project we are trying to find what the real problem is that needs to be solved. “As a designer you are not really free. As a designer you are always working to solve problems within barriers. All projects have limitations, usually budgetary limitations. How can you make something within the restrictions? How can you still make something that is worth doing? This is something you are constantly wrestling with. That’s the challenge and you get so much pleasure when you feel you have come up with something that works well. “But freedom is really what’s inside you, how much you feel that desire to do something special.” It is this desire to solve problems, find better ways to build something and do something special that has made Heatherwick something of a design guru. Anyone who has watched the TED talk he gave in 2011 will remember a seemingly nervous, softly-spoken man running through a slide show presentation – but they will also remember an enthralling lecture and an audience that was in awe at the genius of his work. Heatherwick and his studio team – and team is a hugely appropriate term – are developing projects around the world and have become the people to whom governments and the wealthy turn

Vessel, Manhattan, New York Credit: Forbes Massie

Met Magazine speaks with Thomas Heatherwick, who has gone from studying at Manchester Metropolitan University to becoming one of world’s most talked about designers

Freedom is really what’s inside you, how much you feel that desire to do something special.

to create statement buildings or structures. His studio, which is located near King’s Cross railway station in London, employs more than 200 people. But despite Heatherwick’s global stature he is not some domineering figurehead – the projects are all about teamwork and collaboration, with the newest and youngest members of the team often being the first to be asked for an idea or opinion. Recent projects have seen the creation of a Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa, a converted grain silo housing contemporary art. Both were examples of the Heatherwick Studio’s problem-solving at its best. Heatherwick explained: “In Singapore (Learning Hub) the

real challenge was ‘what is a university?’. Is it just a place that provides computers and books? The academics said it should be a place to meet people, to meet the students. That sounded really interesting. “The existing campus was miles and miles of corridors with no real space for human interaction. So we wanted to make a corridor-less university building. It was a device to bring people together and encourage interaction. How the building would look came out of that – we wanted something that will be exciting to go to and be part of.” The result is a series of open pods around a central atrium, allowing for easy circulation and interaction. The Architectural Review said the building had “much to admire, clever tweaks, nifty surprises and inventive ‘why

Spring/Summer 2017


haven’t they thought of that before’ moments”. It is that last phrase which could be a mantra for the work of Heatherwick Studio. He once said in a CBS TV interview ‘why do something if it already exists?’. This desire to invent and problem solve first appeared in his childhood in London. When he was 12 he wanted to make some furniture. But that didn’t mean nailing together some pieces of wood for the young Thomas. He decided to make furniture out of bus tyres and travelled to the local bus depot to get the requisite materials. Heatherwick said: “When I was little I was allowed space to try things out. There was no-one creating blocks or asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, which I think can be a curse for children. I didn’t feel like I had multiple choice boxes to tick. I could make up my own answers – and my own questions for that matter. “I knew I was interested in building, but the architectural world at the time didn’t feel right, it felt very theoretical. It was like it was its own art-form, whereas I saw it as an extension of design, designing things that do jobs and also have many dimensions – environmental, material, crafts, aesthetic, sculptural and smell dimension. And then suddenly I discovered there was this threshold…where it became something else, architecture.” He went on to study 3D design at Manchester Polytechnic, now Manchester Metropolitan University, where his desire to break boundaries with regard to building came to the fore. For his final year project he announced he wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before – he wanted to build an actual building. “There was resistance and people were saying just build a model. But once I had some momentum and people


Met Magazine issue 3

Garden Bridge, London

There is a nervousness about things that haven’t been seen before.

The Olympic cauldron

understood, I had the freedom. There is a nervousness about things that haven’t been seen before.” And Heatherwick has continued to deliver things that haven’t been seen before. Asked to produce the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, Heatherwick shunned convention and produced a stunning “seed cathedral” – a cube structure made up from 60,000 translucent tubes, each containing a seed. For the Olympic cauldron at London 2012 there was never going to be a simple concrete pot. Instead, Heatherwick delivered a symbol of beauty – 204 individual copper petals (each representing a participating country) which rose up gently to join together, stunning the millions watching the opening ceremony. What could have been a straightforward project, placing

a bridge over a small inlet of the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin, London, ended with a stunning piece of mechanical engineering and a bridge that rolls itself up into a circle. Future projects include Pier 55 – a public events space sited on pillars in the Hudson River in New York; a structure called Vessel in Manhattan, which is inspired by the ancient stepwells of India; and the Garden Bridge across the River Thames in London. However by working on such iconic structures, Heatherwick is constantly opening himself up to criticism. The amount of money some of the projects cost often results in a media and political backlash. The Garden Bridge in London – a project to design a new footbridge over the Thames – has become a political football. But Heatherwick accepts this is part and parcel of his work. “We use criticism in our work,” he said. “It’s part of the process to use criticism to re-evaluate and redesign. We should celebrate that people feel they can say things. As long as they are forming their own view and not being sheep – and being constructive. We do notice comments and sometimes people have a genuine point and you think ‘actually they’re right,’ but then there is also a lot of nonsense and absolute untruths.” Heatherwick once said ‘there

are a lot of forces against anything with any special-ness happening’ – but with each special project his studio delivers those forces appear to be falling to Heatherwick’s unstoppable passion to reinvent ways to construct buildings. He said: “I think there is friction when you are trying to do anything special. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s and at college I assumed the things I was interested in and excited about had no place in people’s lives. Society seemed to be antiidea. “I didn’t feel they would be receptive. There were forces of fear and I felt sure they would be too strong. “I started the Studio believing it made sense that places should be themselves and not copies of anything else. You realise that often people are bored by what is around them and they need to realise that design and buildings can be interesting – that’s such a basic word, but humans are quite simple and we need buildings to be interesting.” And Heatherwick believes the future is looking bright. “I definitely feel very hopeful for the future,” he said, “because when I was a teenager I perhaps had less faith in human nature, but that’s grown since studying and starting to practice and grow an organisation – principally because of the push to make projects where we add something to the public experience of the life we have around us. “In some way I feel that there is more openness now than ever to be creative. I certainly feel lucky. Architects often don’t get to build their first building until they are in their 50s. I’m still in my 40s and have the experience of working on so many different projects and I have a lot of energy left.” So, given all his achievements, all the accolades and all the different titles that have been bestowed upon him by others, how would Heatherwick describe himself? He said: “At the root of everything I do is a fascination with ideas – what ideas are for, what jobs they do. An interest in ideas is a sign of human life. People are fascinated by what the future is going to be – and the future is going to be an accumulation of ideas.”

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

UK Pavilion, 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Credit: Iwan Baan Learning Hub, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Spring/Summer 2017



on the wall Manchester music needs a museum. But where would it be and what would be in it? Manchester Metropolitan University’s Dr Susan O’Shea joined the Manchester Music Legacies debate


Met Magazine issue 3



longside first-class education facilities and football, Greater Manchester owes much of its global reputation to music. From The Hollies to the Hacienda and into the present day with grime scene star Bugzy Malone, music has helped the city region to secure a prominent place on the world stage. But while music undoubtedly helps to attract students, investment and tourists, there’s a growing school of thought that too little has been done to honour the medium’s influence through the ages. With nowhere for Manchester music fans to get up close and personal with artefacts from the city’s musical past and present, is it time to build a Manchester music museum? It’s impossible to say how many people have opted to study in Greater Manchester due to its rich musical and creative heritage, but it will have been a factor for many. Equally, Manchester Metropolitan University has been a catalyst for numerous musical success stories. Alumni include Blues legend John Mayall, Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall, and Tom Hingley, original member of the Inspiral Carpets. The venues associated with the University over the years have attracted many of the biggest names in rock and pop too. And the University had a supporting role in the creation of numerous record sleeves, posters and CD covers. A graduate of the Manchester School of Art, Altrincham-raised Peter Saville made his name as the artist who helped to support Manchester’s dominance of underground music in the 1970s and 80s. He designed record sleeves for Joy Division and New Order, and artwork for the famous Hacienda club. Malcolm Garrett – see interview, Page 62 – studied graphic design at Manchester School Of Art and created many of the most iconic musical images of the last 40 years, with record sleeves for Magazine, Buzzcocks, Duran Duran, Simple Minds and Peter Gabriel. Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals – a performer at this year’s Manchester International Festival - was awarded a degree in art after studying at Manchester

Metropolitan University, while illustrator Ian Pollock has produced cover art for The Pixies. 70 Oxford Street, formerly known as the Cornerhouse and now home to a number of Manchester Metropolitan University faculties, provided the venue for civic action group Manchester Shield’s Manchester Music Legacies debate on the need for a Manchester music museum. Chaired by music journalist, author and former Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam, the event heard from panellists Mike Joyce, former drummer with The Smiths; Jon Drape, Managing Director of music festival and event production company Sound Control; Ab Ward, Manchester District Music Archive; and Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer, and Factory Acts member, Dr Susan O’Shea. General consensus from panel and audience was that Manchester does deserve a music museum, but not necessarily a permanent physical space. Mike Joyce argued against a ‘dusty old museum space’ and in favour of a living, breathing performance space. One suggestion was a “Pokemon Go-style” digital museum of virtual exhibits around the city, complemented by a pop-up museum containing artefacts. It was also suggested that the new publicly-funded Factory performance centre might devote some of its space to a Manchester music museum. Rather than a traditional museum space, Dr O’Shea favours a vibrant community space active in nurturing the thriving contemporary Manchester music scene. She says it should be a place where Manchester’s contemporary music story sits next to its diverse musical heritage. One of her main concerns is that a museum might celebrate the usual suspects – mostly male bands with guitars - while excluding the ‘hidden voices’ that deserve to be part of the story. For example, the traditional version of the Manchester music story has largely ignored the contribution that women have made, she said. “To me, Manchester music is really important. It’s one of the reasons that I moved to this city. But it’s not just about the traditional bands. It’s also about the hidden voices out there, the

ones that are not really heard, then and now. “In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been an awful lot of music-based activism in the city, so if you’re just thinking about a certain type of Manchester music, then you’re really missing out on an awful lot. The important role that women have played in Manchester music hasn’t historically been well documented. “Apart from The Fall, who single-handedly bring up the representation of women in Manchester music, it’s very difficult to pinpoint people in our narratives who you can look towards. Grassroots organisations like Ladyfest do brilliant stuff to engage women in music now, but they find it difficult to look back to the past to support their ambitions and their aims. “Manchester has a good tradition of disrupting those narratives. If we are looking at a music legacies centre, it’s really important to engage with those grassroots groups, those that are actually making music now, so that we can try to raise the profiles of different genres and different areas. “It’s about breaking down this tribalism in the different music scenes in Manchester, that Oasis are better the Stone Roses, or whatever. It’s really important to include them but they are not the only stories.” Dr O’Shea says another important role for a centre celebrating Manchester’s music legacy would be protecting the many small venues that provide a platform for a diverse range of music.

Dr Susan O’Shea Lecturer

To me, Manchester music is really important. It’s one of the reasons that I moved to this city

Spring/Summer 2017


“Many of the pubs and clubs that have provided a space for live music for a long time are being pushed out due to noise pollution, so we need to look at that rather than just saying, ‘here is a place that we can use to talk about Manchester music’. It’s OK to have a centralised space, but that space needs to be used to have continuous discussions about the future of Manchester music. “If you are going to move towards something which has a physical space, it needs to be a bit more living and active, a little like the People’s History Museum,

which hosts exhibits but also has a lot of active community space as well. It’s important to recognise the heritage of Manchester music but we shouldn’t get too hung up on that one particular era of Oasis and the Stone Roses.” Dr O’Shea agrees that there’s a bigger question that needs to be answered too. In the age of globalisation and digital tribes, influenced by people anywhere on the planet, is the concept of ‘local music’ still viable and valid? It would take research to ascertain whether music with a local accent still exists, but it would

Is the concept of ‘local music’ still viable and valid?

be worthwhile and could also further the cause for a Manchester museum. Dr O’Shea says contemporary students are less aware of Manchester’s musical heritage than she was when she came to the city from her native Ireland, attracted by the music of The Smiths. She concludes: “Music is an important part of people’s cultural identity. I think it’s really important that we’re having this debate now and definitely something we need to keep talking about.”

MANCHESTER What would we put in a Manchester music museum? Here’s what people on Facebook suggested…


rom Bez’s maracas to the formation of the Hallé orchestra, there are so many great musical events in Manchester’s history that any museum celebrating them would have to be massive. While many people assume “Manchester music” is a reference to the testosterone-teeming likes of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, New Order and Smiths, such a suggestion does a terrible disservice to other acts, great and small, who have formed and performed here. Standout happenings include Bob Dylan going “unplugged” at The Free Trade Hall; Morrissey knocking on the door of Johnny Marr’s home to see if he’d like to form a band; Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols performing a Lesser Free Trade Hall gig that everybody swears they were at (Peter Hook, Tony Wilson, Mick Hucknall and Morrissey were among those in the audience). Another highlight is Spike Island – the wildly windy Widnes show which arguably marked The Stone Roses high watermark. And what about Oasis at Maine Road in 1996, Rudy Mancini playing on the ‘shelf’ at Band On The Wall, Take That’s 1995 residency at Manchester Arena – said at the time to be the biggest movement of people around the UK since the Second World War? Then there’s 10CC’s white hot creativity at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios, the Bee Gees’ Chorlton years, Freddie And The Dreamers and the story of Herman’s Hermits – who became part of the successful British invasion of the American pop charts.


Met Magazine issue 3

museum As for artefacts, suggestions include the portrait of Tony Wilson which smiled down on clubbers entering the Hacienda, Mani’s hat and Noel Gallagher’s guitar. But not everyone agrees that a museum is a good idea at all. Some suggest that Manchester should leave the nostalgia to Liverpool, which has faced accusations of living on the past glories of The Beatles. Others point to the failure of the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, which closed only a year after it opened facing mounting financial difficulties. Urbis, now the National Football Museum, briefly provided a space to reflect upon Manchester’s music history in its role as the Museum Of The City. It too proved unsuccessful. Manchester music writer Sarah Walters says she would be opposed to any Manchester music museum that was literally a collection of pictures on walls, or a timeline of events. She argues that there is already sufficient knowledge of Manchester music and that what’s missing is a space where people can perform and experience music. “Then it’s a memory that’s alive, not set in aspic to be observed and ruminated on forever more by nodding visitors,” she says. “And celebrate the now: build in a bar and gig space, give new bands a free platform to play, build the kids a music room where they can come to learn instruments and meet likeminded souls and maybe start their own band or project. Music shouldn’t be an archive, it’s irrelevant unless it’s emotionally moving you.”

First Generation

The campaign to transform lives First Generation is a new scheme helping the brightest young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into university and then providing financial and professional support during and after their studies to ensure they thrive. It is about waking up ambition and breaking down barriers.

To find out how to get involved or donate to First Generation, please contact Alumni and Development at: +44 (0)161 247 2158

MALCOLM Heading?

in the middle

His time at Manchester School at Art put him at the heart of the burgeoning punk rock scene. Met Magazine meets legendary Buzzcocks designer Malcolm Garrett


alcolm Garrett is inextricably linked to Manchester School of Art and its role in the history of modern music. As a child growing up in Northwich, he would often skip school in Altrincham and stay on the train into Manchester so that he could watch the era’s monsters of rock performing at the Free Trade Hall. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Hawkwind were some of the acts he saw. Aware of the need to hone his art with a more creative attitude towards academic study, he completed the first year of a typography degree course at Reading University before returning closer to home in the north and Manchester School of Art. School friend Peter Saville, who was impressed by his own arts foundation course at the School of Art, said it was a great place to study. While Saville later became a vital component of Manchester’s post-punk narrative – record sleeve designer for the legendary Factory records – Garrett was in the thick of it as the north awoke to the


Met Magazine issue 3

emergence of the Sex Pistols and punk rock. He became part of the clique surrounding Buzzcocks, the architects of the emerging punk scene in the north, and went on to establish his name as the designer who gave their artwork a jagged edge. It’s safe to say that few graduates to this day will have produced a coursework portfolio with such lasting cultural significance. Forty years on, Garrett still struggles to contain the enthusiasm that he feels for those heady days studying in Manchester and his ongoing relationship with Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester School of Art. Today he is heavily involved in the annual Design Manchester festival. It’s a statement of fact rather than arrogance when he suggests that he helped to change perceptions of the School of Art forever. “The graphics course wasn’t particularly well known for graphics in those days although it was highly respected for illustration and advertising,” Garrett says. “Peter and I signed up for ‘general design’

Not wishing to sing our own praises, that was a very successful year

and, not wishing to sing our own praises, that was a very successful year. There was myself and Peter, the cartoonist Steven Appleby and a number of others who played an important role in the Manchester graphic design community. “Because of the success Peter and I had, me with Buzzcocks and Peter with Factory, the course developed a bit of a reputation. I think that did help to attract further students. “Manchester had always had a brilliant reputation in textiles but in graphic design, it wasn’t particularly well known. London College of Printing (London College of Communication) had that reputation, but not Manchester.” Garrett recalls wildly exciting times living at 199 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, the heart of what, at that time, was more of a ‘curry 50 yards than a curry mile’. It was celebrated montage artist Linder Mulvey (later known as Linder Sterling) who developed a friendship with Morrissey and introduced Garrett to Buzzcocks’ frontman Howard Devoto and manager Richard Boon. He accepts that being in the right place at the right time, and with the right frame of mind, was a significant factor in his own success. Among his first contributions was a poster that Buzzcocks could customise to promote their shows, establishing the band’s distinctive visual style and logo. The Love Battery poster has more recently

been on display in Liverpool’s Bluecoat gallery. Arguably his most iconic work remains the sleeve of the controversial 1977 Buzzcocks’ single, Orgasm Addict, which took Linder’s montage image of the female form, complete with an iron for a head, and turned it into cover art. Garrett recalls: “Linder had done this striking montage and when we came to do the cover for Orgasm Addict, it was an obvious choice as we needed something that was in line with the subject matter. I photocopied it to scale it down and prepare it for print, as I knew that I could only have two colours. The type was either stencilled or typeset in college. It was out of those constraints that the sleeve was formed. “Punk became a way of life as well as a design philosophy, the DIY, deconstructed style providing a two-fingered salute to the establishment. “It became my life, absolutely, and that’s how things work when it does have that level of importance to you. I was a bit of an arrogant arsehole and having learned the technical stuff in Reading – typography, bookbinding etc – it was important for me to break free from academic discipline. That’s why Manchester School of Art was so important. “In my first year I was struggling to find a vehicle for all of this energy and in the second year I found punk and the Sex Pistols and it became my main course work, especially because my other coursework looked s***. It’s interesting that I have since worked with other students who have brought me their coursework and looked a little bit embarrassed about it, and have then said ‘But I do have this other stuff’. “My ordinary college work was a bit pedestrian because I didn’t quite believe in it, or I didn’t think it was anything that I could get excited about. From day one to the end of my third year, I never once thought ‘what am I going to do to get a job?’ And that attitude has remained with me. There was briefly a time when I worried about finding work and then I stopped worrying because I always managed to keep busy.” Garrett says he had no option but to head for London after leaving Manchester School of Art. “The music industry jobs were in London and so I had no choice

really,” he says. As well as working with Manchester punk acts like Buzzcocks and Magazine, he also became a designer for The Members and later designed cover art for Duran Duran. Garrett still works with Buzzcocks and has recently produced more sleeve art for Heaven 17. He describes his work today as much more professional, earnest and honest. He’s true to his current self too. “I’m no longer able to change the world with my own graphics but I do try to engage with people who do want to change it,” he says. A challenge for young designers, he says, is maintaining discipline and focus at a time when technology offers so many opportunities that weren’t available to him in the days of photocopiers and two-colour record sleeves. “It’s knowing what to do with it that matters. Students today can produce so many versions of a piece of art or concept, but knowing which is the right piece and why is what matters.” He regularly returns to work with Manchester Metropolitan University – returning recently with his old Manchester flatmate, Judy Blame, for the Unit X Punk Workshop at the Benzie Building. He is also hugely proud of the Design Manchester initiative, which he helped start with Manchester School of Art, and attracts academics and interest from across the country. While music launched his own career, he does not believe that it is as potent a platform today but is optimistic that today’s students will find their own avenues of expression. “While music is still important, I don’t think it’s still as central as it once was,” he concedes. “We now have social media and people congregate in social spaces rather than physical spaces. The aspirations and energy that still drive people, between the ages of 14 and 24, still exist, but they have different vehicles.” DM17, Manchester’s fifth annual festival design, takes place at venues across the city from 11 to 22 October. For more details go to

Spring/Summer 2017


What’s on your bookshelf?

Met Magazine takes a look at the bookshelf of Senior Lecturer in American History, Dr Sam Edwards Running Free – Richard Askwith I’ve been a keen runner for nearly two decades and during that time have done everything from 5K runs to marathons. But in recent years, and having steadily progressed through what Askwith refers to as the Seven Ages of Running (from naïve interest, to zealous enthusiasm, to performance obsession, to silly challenges, to deep satisfaction and, ultimately, joy, pleasure and freedom) I have found myself turning to the fells, and to distance. Hence my first ultra marathon. For this stupidity, Askwith must again take some of the blame. His wonderfully evocative history of that north country oddity – fell running – captured my imagination on my first reading and it has recaptured it on each subsequent reading.

Feet in the Clouds – Richard Askwith Askwith, a London-based journalist, recounts a story which struck a chord: a ‘soft’ southerner transplanted to the North, and drawn to the fells. To walk, to think, to run. Feet in the Clouds came at an interesting moment in the literature of running. It was among the first in a new wave of thoughtful and, at times, radical examinations of human movement. For by the early Noughties, running


Met Magazine issue 3

had become both big business and a key element in often zenlike philosophies: manufacturers implored us to ‘just do it’, while the authors of self-help manuals invited us to run, zone out, and be ‘mindful’. And at the centre of this resurgent interest lay new science and new ideas. Running, we were now told, was absolutely and inescapably natural. It was what we, humans, had evolved to do. Running was in our blood, our biology and our history.

Born to Run – Chris McDougall and Why We Run - Robin Harvie Cue Born to Run which sees McDougall – an American journalist – seek out the legendary Tarahumra people in Mexico, rumoured to be capable of superhuman feats of endurance. Cue too Why We Run which sees the author, another running obsessive, interrogate his physical limits in pursuit of ‘success’ in the infamous Spartathlon (success being defined by Harvie as surviving it, nothing more).

Footnotes – Vybarr Cregan-Reid The best of the bunch, at least for me. Cregan-Reid revisits some of the ideas suggested by the likes of McDougall and Harvie but with a scholar’s attention to detail, to

precedent, and to culture. It is a page-turner, and a delight. I bought my copy whilst hobbling round Ambleside on a fell-damaged ankle. I knew I’d need something to help me endure a month’s enforced absence from the hills, and reading about the running of others seemed like a sensible way forward, especially as this personal passion had increasingly become scholarly interest. But I was wrong, for as I laid on the sofa, ice pack on ankle, the works of McDougall, Harvie and Cregan-Reid became a sort of subtle torture: so much inspiration, so many ideas, but no chance – for now – of ‘doing’.

Joss – Keith Richardson Among the fell-running legends detailed in Feet in the Clouds is Joss Naylor, Cumbrian shepherd and more myth than man. In Richardson’s beautiful biography we learn of the trials and traumas of Naylor’s early life, which included various physical ailments and injuries. It seems Joss lived with permanent pain, and throughout his career simply ‘ran through it’. Stirring stuff for this soft sofa-bound southerner.

A week in the life... Dr Sam Illingworth, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication


s a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication my role can basically be split into three sections: research, teaching and public engagement. However, I work hard to adopt a symbiotic approach, rather than treating these three aspects of my job as mutually exclusive entities. My current research is concerned with investigating how scientists can move from a purely one-way method of dissemination into one that includes a two-way dialogue of co-creation between scientists and non-scientists. To do this I work with a variety of different community groups and other stakeholders to determine what aspects of science they actually want to find out about, which new developments would benefit them most, and what expertise and lived experience they can contribute in terms of both science governance and the creation of original knowledge. For example, I am currently working with the Manchester Climate Change Agency to help develop Manchester’s Climate Change Action Plan for the next 20-plus years. For this to be effective it is vital that we work with different community groups, listen to what they are saying, and work with them to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies together. This bottomup approach helps to ensure that people other than scientists and policy-makers have ownership over the strategies, and makes them far more likely to be adopted than top-down missives that might otherwise be unsuitable. My research involves the use of interdisciplinary approaches to help facilitate useful dialogues between experts and non-experts, particularly the use of poetry and art. I also enjoy writing and performing poetry, and have done so at the Edinburgh Fringe, The Royal Society, and this year the Green Man Festival. Every week I write a new poem about a new piece of scientific research that I want to communicate to a wider audience. This poetry has contributed to original research, peer-reviewed publications, and successful grant applications.

My role as Programme Leader on the University’s new MSc in Science Communication means that I can integrate my research findings into the course, ensuring that the students benefit from the latest developments in science communication theory and practice. The Programme itself is also interdisciplinary, containing a unit on SciArt that is co-taught to students from the Manchester School of Art, and for which I am the unit leader. Our SciArt students recently exhibited their work with support from the Digital Innovation initiative at an event that was attended by over 350 people. The Faculty of Science and Engineering has a strong public engagement presence involving many members of staff; during the European City of Science we were responsible for organising over 50 events throughout the city, interacting with over 10,000 people! Other long-term initiatives that I am involved in include: a podcast investigating the science fact in science fiction films, which promotes the research of our academics; a monthly Scibar event, where researchers talk to members of the public about their research in a pub; contributing to MetroPolis, the University’s research-led think tank; and organising the University’s involvement with the annual Manchester Science Festival. One of my favourite things about working at Manchester Metropolitan is the opportunity to help contribute to and develop original knowledge alongside inspirational colleagues. Whether this is working with my students to test the boundaries of interdisciplinary thinking, critiquing science policy, or using poetry to help tackle climate change, there is never a dull moment and I can honestly say that I love coming in to work every single morning.

One of my favourite things is the opportunity to help contribute to and develop original knowledge

To find out more about the Faculty of Science and Engineering: science-engineering/

Spring/Summer 2017




ew people fully anticipated the major biennial spectacle that Manchester International Festival (MIF) would become when it was first mooted as a modern platform for original works to be premiered here and then showcased the world over. Appointed to explore ideas way back in 2004, founding artistic director Alex Poots arrived in Manchester with ambitious plans and succeeded in executing them with a supporting cast of talent from across the globe. A decade on from its debut (11 years on from 2006’s appetitewhetting trio of major trailblazing events) and MIF is firmly established on the world stage as an event that consistently delivers the unexpected. There have been too many highlights to name them all, but the list of talented individuals who have performed or participated at MIF is an eclectic one, ranging from Sir Kenneth Branagh to Bjork, and Damon Albarn to English National Ballet. It’s clear that MIF is now literally shaping the city that gave birth to it too. Having been brought back to life, the stunning deconsecrated Hallé St Peter’s church in Ancoats served as the venue for Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth at MIF 2013. Mayfield Depot, a 2013 venue and 2017 festival launch venue, is now set to become a vibrant fourstorey events space. The Factory, a £110m theatre and arts space, on the former site of Granada Studios, will be constructed as a permanent home for MIF. Fitting for an event intent on embracing the fabric of the entire city region, MIF owes much of its success to the support of a broad range of sponsors, including Manchester Metropolitan University, which is proud to be a Gold supporter of this year’s festival. This will also be the third festival running where students from the University will design the


Met Magazine issue 3

creativity There are only weeks to go until Manchester International Festival marks its tenth anniversary with another blockbuster

Manchester International Festival runs from June 29 to July 16.

Festival Square’s interiors, seating areas and furniture, working together with local design and making agencies OH OK LTD and Ferrious for their most ambitious collaboration. Manchester Metropolitan have also taken part in placements providing an insight into how a major international festival is staged. With founding artistic director Alex Poots now working in New York to build The Shed Arts Center, MIF 2017 will be the first for new artistic director and CEO John McGrath, who has programmed a tantalising schedule of events. Following MIF’s rich tradition of pitching novel ideas alongside established artists and relative unknowns, this year’s participants include New Order, Arcade Fire, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Mary-Anne Hobbs and Turner Prize nominee Phil Collins. For the first time, MIF opens with a large-scale public event, What is the city but the people?, which will see a unique selection of individuals from across Manchester, recruited via open auditions, walking along a runway through Piccadilly Gardens in front of an audience of thousands on June 29. Writing for this edition of Met Magazine John McGrath, says that Manchester can once again expect the extraordinary. (See Views, page 53). “And Manchester deserves the extraordinary,” he writes, “because it has, over many years, had belief in the power of art and artists unmatched by most cities – from the underground energies of the 80s and 90s music scene, to the citywide commitment to world-beating art today. “There are few places where the choice of gigs, of theatre shows, of movies and exhibitions is so rich on any given day.” That will definitely be the case come June and July. And we really can’t wait for the festivities to begin.

24/7 There is a huge range of events taking place around the University and beyond this spring and s ummer. Check out our pick of the best events below

For more information, visit


International School Psychology Association

Manchester International Festival Wednesday, 19 July – Saturday, 22 July

The Festival takes place between 29 June and 16 July and promises to be a cultural highlight of the summer. For full details of all the events:

University Events Manchester School of Art degree show The show will take place in the Benzie, Grosvenor and Chatham Buildings on the Manchester Metropolitan University All Saints Campus. Saturday, June 10 – Wednesday, June 21

Manchester Children’s Book Festival Fun Day Manchester Metropolitan University, Geoffrey Manton Building Saturday, June 24

Graduation Manchester Metropolitan University Graduation ceremonies, Bridgewater Hall Monday, July 17 – Thursday, July 27

Conferences at Manchester Met 6th International Fibre Recycling Symposium Tuesday, 7 June – Wednesday, 8 June

Public Health Collaboration Conference Saturday, 17 June – Sunday, 18 June

Tissue and Cell Engineering Society Annual Meeting 2017 Wednesday, 5 July – Friday, 7 July

GUADEC Conference Friday, 28 July – Wednesday, 2 August

Institute of Place Management Conference Thursday, 7 September – Friday, 8 September For more University events log on to our website

Manchester Events Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run This year’s event sees a half marathon and a 10km run, with more than 450 runners representing Manchester Metropolitan University Sunday, 28 May

Manchester Day Annual parade celebrating everything that is great about Manchester Sunday, 18 June

Manchester Jazz Festival Friday, 28 July – Sunday, 6 August

Manchester Literature Festival A city wide celebration of the written and spoken word – various locations Friday, 6 October – Friday, 20 October

Design Manchester Festival Wednesday, 11 October – Sunday, 22 October

Manchester Science Festival The largest science festival in England (various locations) Thursday, 19 October – Sunday, 29 October

Manchester Conferences UK Space Conference 2017 uk-space-conference-2017 Tuesday, 30 May – Thursday, 1 June

Soccerex Global Convention 2017 Monday, 4 September – Wednesday, 6 September

Health and Care Innovation Expo17 Monday, 11 September – Tuesday, 12 September


Caribbean Carnival of Manchester

Conservative Party Conference

Annual celebration of Caribbean culture Alexandra Park Saturday, 12 August – Sunday, 13 August

Manchester Central Sunday, 1 October – Saturday, 4 October

Manchester Pride Big Weekend Incorporating The Big Weekend at Manchester’s world famous Gay Village, The Manchester Pride Parade on the streets of the City Centre and The Candlelit Vigil in Sackville Park. Friday, 25 August – Monday, 28 August

Spring/Summer 2017


Manchester Metropolitan University values its relationships with alumni, companies and organisations, and is keen to make new connections. To find out more about any of the schemes or stories in this issue, please contact us.

Met Magazine Email: Tel: +44 (0)161 247 3405

Manchester Metropolitan University Met Magazine Bellhouse Lower Ormond Street Manchester M15 6BX United Kingdom

This publication is available in alternative formats. Please telephone +44 (0)161 247 3405

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.