From performances to workshops and photography to music, we’re thrilled to present the 12 new Manchester Independents commissions of 2023! Here’s a taste of what’s to come this summer and onwards.
Ways to Speak Absence
Visual Art / Video
Chris is an artist whose practice spans across a range of media and methodology, including socially engaged projects, video essays, textile banners, and publications. His recent projects have involved; hosting meals where guests share experiences of grief, creating a mural in collaboration with teenage skateboarders, and organising a karaoke night for artists. Chris is also an active member of the Quaker community.
Chris will be working in collaboration with his brother, Matt Alton. Ways to Speak Absence will be a short video artwork that brings together spoken word alongside a choral performance of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’. The video will be staged in a Quaker Meeting House, a setting with spiritual connotations. It will address the guilt and dysfunctional behaviours that can arise from grief, as well as the unspoken parameters of mourning. It will be screened at Bankley Gallery in Levenshulme.
Hafsah Aneela Bashir
Four Dholis And A Divorce
Performance / Workshops
Hafsah Aneela Bashir is an award winning Manchester-based poet, playwright & producer originally from East London. Founder and co-director of Outside The Frame Arts, she is passionate about championing voices outside the mainstream, challenging the gatekeepers of knowledge and increasing diverse representation within the arts. She’s also the founder of the innovative Poetry Health Service providing free poetry panaceas as a tool for connection and healing.
Through five female characters from a South Asian Muslim background, Hafsah’s performance will explore what is often underrepresented and even stigmatised – divorce and intergenerational trauma. This performance will be the product of research workshops exploring the themes of marriage, divorce and mental health within the communities of Rochdale, Pendle, Bradford and Manchester. Lived experience of Muslim women shared through these workshops will help inform and develop the public performance piece.
R&D For Cerebral Palsy Graphic Novel
Literature / Visual Art
Julian Gray is an illustrator and comic creator. Unapologetically queer, trans, disabled, and mixed race, Julian is passionate about filling the world with stories featuring marginalised characters where their marginalisation is not the centrepiece. He has worked with clients such as the BBC, LGBT Foundation, Switchboard, Disability Arts Online, and DaDaFest.
He is planning to carry out R&D for a graphic novel exploring Cerebral Palsy, drawing on his lived experiences as well as comparing that to living with a visible disability. In the novel, “Wish-Granter” follows a Victorian aristocrat with Cerebral Palsy who lives an isolated life, until he meets an eldritch being who gives him an insight into life as an able-bodied person. The story will explore ableism (both external and internalised), privilege, the struggles of fitting into society, and ultimately embracing disability.
Performance / Spoken Word
Kao Hove is an interdisciplinary artist, combing poetry, music and movement. They make auto-biographical work about the nuances of identity, experience and mental illness. They’re working on developing a unique, integrated access practice using all their art forms.
Birthday will be a one person show about the journey of shame to celebration. Through the initiative, Kao will share the performance online to demonstrate how the project has developed and what creative access skills they learned from the process.
Ruins of Earth: A Walking Tour From The Future
Performance / Outdoor
leo&hyde seek to develop a fast and futuristic style of theatre. Since lockdown, they’ve been experimenting with cutting-edge techniques such as AI, VR, and live mo-cap, such as in their hybrid live-VR show Double Life, the AI-narrated musical The Coffee Shop Musical and their upcoming premiere of The Diary of Attica Lehane. The Ruins of Earth is a first: not only their first play without music, their first piece of outdoor theatre, but also, their first show written by AI (with a little curation from Leo Mercer). Ruins of Earth: A Walking Tour From The Future will lead the audience through a tour imagining a dystopian Manchester using an AI generated script.
The Glass House (Working title)
Michele Selway is a visual artist specialising in the historical photographic technique Wet Plate Collodion. Her work is mostly inspired by people and places in the style of a documentary.
The Glass House is a project about the neglected Horticultural Centre at Wythenshawe Park. Using Victorian photographic equipment and the unique 1851 Wet Plate Collodion process to photograph onto large format glass plates, mirroring the materials of the glass house, it will document the space and the people preserving it. These images, in the form of three-dimensional objects, will be the basis of a touring exhibition around Manchester, beginning as a site-specific display ath the Horticultural Centre.
Toilet Paper Diarys
Performance / Theatre
Porcelain Delaney is a multi-disciplinary artist and theatre maker passionate about centering access and sharing personal stories. Her writing was recently featured on BBC Scotland.
Her project, Toilet Paper Diarys, will be a fast-moving, comedy drama about life with chronic gynaecological disease. It will be a public performance, taking the form of a solo theatre show.
Princess Arinola Adegbite (P.A.BITEZ)
Portraits of a Poet
Performance / Spoken Word
Princess Arinola Adegbite (P.A.BITEZ) is a multidisciplinary artist. She is a winner of Slambassadors, BBC Words First 2020, Common Word Going Digital, Manchester Young Creative of The Year 2021, and the Castlefield Gallery Associates prize 2022, as well as being a member of Young Identity.
She describes Portraits of a Poet as a ‘surrealist work exploring perception and the ways we perform in society for safety, love and acceptance’. It’s told from the perspective of a Black female artist to investigate agency, spectatorship and power. It will be a live performance art piece interweaving music and spoken word, which will then be recorded and turned into a film.
Performance / Multi-disciplinary
SEEME are an interdisciplinary duet who mixes dance, contemporary circus, poetry and improvisation in their practice.
SEE. SURE? looks at mysticism, Afrofuturism and Black Feminist Hauntology through the duet’s connection with water, the life giving element. Following a 2-week R&D phase, this exploration will bloom into a public performance.
Shirley and Sam Jamil
Performance / Theatre
Shirley & Sam are a mother and son team bringing to life the many stories they’ve collected during Sam’s hospital visits over 12 years.
Ward 76 will be a play exploring Sam’s history of visiting Manchester Children’s hospital regularly, playing with comedy, sadness, perceptions and toilet humour often found in discussions amongst young patients. With Manchester Independents’ support, they will share a ‘work in progress’ performance at M6 Theatre in Rochdale, with invitees including charity organisations and hospital workers who have helped them along their journey.
The Anxious Photographer’s Handbook
Visual Art / Photography book
Simon Jones is a Manchester based photography and moving image artist who has received a number of national and international awards and prizes. Simon’s practice also involves regular commissions for socially engaged projects with communities across the country.
The Anxious Photographer’s Handbook is primarily aimed at individuals that live in isolation due to anxiety and other mental health problems. Expect a visually engaging book containing a range of photographic challenges, a unique way to connect with the local environment and society. Copies of the book are to be shared with libraries, community hubs, GP surgeries, and health professionals, towards the end of September.
yeguachita(yeh-wah-CHEE-tah) is a queer, neurodivergent musician from Abya Yala, bringing you tunes of all kinds – from hip hop to cumbia to vaporwave to psychedelia to andino to house – for the queers, the mentally ill, the global majority, and their friends. They make music to fall in love to/ to riot to/ to heal to: punk spirit and soundtrack for the revolution.
This is a fresh attempt from Jova and the wave to rebrand as yeguachita, and alongside the EP, they will also explore visual identity and video artworks, all while collaborating with other musicians.