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Festival of Imagination

January 8, 2014

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Festival of Imagination

For the start of 2014, Selfridges becomes a portal into the creative mind, as we explore the power of imagination to drive the process of innovation and inform the shape of our future.

Open your mind. Be ready to explore. Let the festivities begin.


Find out what’s on and when in Manchester’s first festival of 2014.

This is a festival of three halves (and yes, we know that’s not mathematically possible): a series of headline evening talks with some of the UK’s most successful artists, writers, musicians, actors and innovators, a clutch of hands-on lunchtime workshops and – drum roll please – the marvellous Pop-up Whitworth, an in-store version of Manchester’s gallery in the park. And all within the inspirational setting of Manchester’s best loved retail emporium, Selfridges. Read on for full event listings and booking details.


Wednesday 15 January – Wednesday 19 February 2014, 6pm-8pm, £10

Lower Ground, Selfridges, Exchange Square

Book via 0161 838 0610 or email


A series of intimate, early evening conversations with some of the UK’s most creative minds, from Turner Prize-winning artists and writers to BBC 6Music DJs, actors and designers. Find out more about the creative impulses that drive them; understand the power of the imagination. Ticket price includes glass of wine on arrival and tasting place of San Carlo signature dishes.

Wednesday 15 January, 6pm-8pm

“The artist’s mind”: Richard Wentworth in conversation with Dr. Maria Balshaw

Join one of the most influential artists in the country, a giant of British sculpture and photography, as he talks to Dr. Maria Balshaw about artistic method, experiments and leaps of faith. Maria is the joint director of the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester City Galleries; the pair has worked together on several projects, notably do it 2013, the critically acclaimed group show that was part of the most recent Manchester International Festival.

Wednesday 22 January, 6pm-8pm

“Creative collaboration”: Ben Kelly in conversation with Andrew Stevens (Graphic Thought Facility)

What makes for good collaboration? Join two of the UK’s most respected graphic and interior designers as they discuss what makes for a productive, creative working relationship. Ben Kelly is the founder of interior design practice, Ben Kelly Design, and is perhaps best known in Manchester for his work on Factory Record’s Haçienda nightclub. His client list reads like a who’s who of British art and culture: from the Sex Pistols and Somerset House to the Design Museum and Vivienne Westwood. Andrew Stevens, meanwhile, is the co-founder of Graphic Thought Facility, the London-based design consultancy responsible for projects, books and campaigns for the likes of Frieze Art Fair and the Gagosian Gallery; the studio was profiled in a dedicated exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. Ben and Andrew regularly work together.


Wednesday 29 January, 6pm-8pm

“The writer’s mind”: Jeanette Winterson, introduced by John McAuliffe

Jeanette Winterson is one of the UK’s leading literary minds, a multi award-winning writer who has published countless novels, short stories, children’s books, essays and TV adaptations including the celebrated novel, Oranges are not the only Fruit. Also a professor at The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, join us as Jeanette gives an energetic, stand-up talk about her work. Jeanette’s session is introduced by the poet and founder of the Centre for New Writing, John McAuliffe.

Wednesday 5 February, 6pm-8pm

Danger: Imagination at Work”: Jeremy Deller, Mary Anne Hobbs and Dave Haslam in conversation

Our ability to imagine and to create new ideas, worlds and concepts is often used for the common good. It fuels scientific discovery. It underpins the best art, literature, music, design and architecture. But the imagination has a dark side, too. Explore its subversive side in a one-off conversation between Turner Prize-winning artist, Jeremy Deller, BBC Radio 6 Music DJ, Mary Anne Hobbs and the DJ and historian, Dave Haslam. In a talk that ranges from William Blake to Johnny Rotten, find out just how disruptive the imagination and creative vision can be – and how the imagination has fed countless cultural and social revolutions.

Wednesday 12 February, 6pm-8pm

“The theatre of the mind”: Maxine Peake in conversation with Sarah Frankom

The acclaimed theatre and television actress, Maxine Peake, has had a long and fruitful relationship with Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. In 2014, she becomes its Associate Artist, a role that will see her work even more closely with its artistic director, Sarah Frankom. Join both Maxine and Sarah for an intimate conversation that explores the impulse to create drama – and which uncovers the creative process behind theatre, radio and TV drama. This talk has been arranged with the support of the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Thursday 20 February, 6pm-8pm

“Fashion, science & the imagination”: Helen Storey in conversation with Caryn Franklin, introduced by Jean M. Franczyk

Helen Storey MBE is an artist and designer whose early career in fashion saw her win multiple awards for design and innovation. Since 1997, Helen has pioneered work that brings art and science together, and later set up the Helen Storey Foundation. She continues to broker audacious fashion and science projects for social purpose and is a Professor of Science Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and London College of Fashion. Helen’s recent project, Catalytic Clothing, uses nanotechnology to create ordinary clothes able to purify the air; it was a major part of Manchester Science Festival in 2012 with which she continues to have strong links. Helen met Caryn Franklin while both were studying design at Kingston Polytechnic in the early 1980s. Caryn Franklin MBE is a fashion expert and campaigner who was co-editor of i-D Magazine in the 1980s and presented the BBC’s The Clothes Show for 12 years. She was also co-chair of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer for 17 years, co-founded the award-winning All Walks Beyond the Catwalk and is an ambassador for the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Don’t miss a fascinating talk between two long-time collaborators that touches on science, art and the creative process. The talk is introduced by the director of the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, Jean M. Franczyk and has been arranged with the support of MOSI.


Thursday 16 January, Friday 17 January, Thursday 23 January, Friday 24 January, Thursday 30 January, Friday 31 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm, free (drop in)

3rd Floor, Womenswear, Selfridges, Exchange Square


Use your lunchtime imaginatively with our series of drop-in, hands-on workshops and talks that allow you to unlock the creative power of your imagination, or simply inspire you to see the world in a different way. Places are very limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Thursday 16 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

Alternative Camera Club (workshop)

Learn street-style photography in this one-off, Instagram-based workshop where the only kit you’ll need is the smartphone in your pocket. The Alternative Camera Club is a Whitworth Art Gallery-based club that takes a more considered, conceptual approach to photography. With regular guest artists and speakers, it’s a place to get inspired – and it comes to Selfridges for this one-off, hands-on session. No experience necessary but you will need to bring your own Smartphone as participants will take pictures using their ‘phones during the workshop.

Friday 17 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

Manchester Urban Sketchers (workshop)

See the world through an artist’s eye with this on-location art workshop run by the founder of the Manchester Urban Sketching group, Simone Ridyard. Bring drawing materials with you and learn the basics of urban sketching before heading out into the store to take inspiration from its imaginative displays. Regroup for an impromptu exhibition of your work and take tips from Simone and your fellow sketchers. No experience necessary but please bring drawing materials with you.

Thursday 23 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

Alternative Camera Club (workshop)

Learn street-style photography in this one-off, Instagram-based workshop where the only kit you’ll need is the smartphone in your pocket. The Alternative Camera Club is a Whitworth Art Gallery-based club that takes a more considered, conceptual approach to photography. With regular guest artists and speakers, it’s a place to get inspired – and it comes to Selfridges for this one-off, hands-on session. No experience necessary but you will need to bring your own Smartphone as participants will take pictures using their ‘phones during the workshop.


Friday 24 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

The reading room (talk)

Is your 2014 resolution to kick-start your writing? Get inspiration from three of the North’s leading authors as they each pick a short story to read to you – in an intimate, one-off reading. Emma Jane Unsworth’s first novel, Hungry, the Stars & Everything won a Betty Trask Award, while her short story, I Arrive First was included in The Best British Short Stories 2012 (Salt). Richard Hirst’s story, School Report was joint winner of the 2011 Manchester Fiction Prize, while Marli Roode’s debut novel, Call It Dog, was shortlisted for the 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize. Her short story, Pieces Green, was also shortlisted for the 2011 Bridport Prize. Join all three at Selfridges in January.

Thursday 30 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

Crafternoon Tea on Tour (workshop)

The Whitworth’s popular Crafternoon Tea sessions are a social kind of affair, drop-in workshops where you get to try your hand at the latest contemporary craft techniques. In a one-off event for the festival, Crafternoon Tea goes on tour, bringing craft into Manchester’s best-loved retail emporium and taking its inspiration from the fashion and merchandise in-store. Join us and get making. All materials provided, no experience necessary.


Friday 31 January, 12.30pm-1.15pm

Thinking with Dinosaurs (talk)

Refresh your lunchtime brain with this rather insightful talk between Dr. Phil Manning, one of the country’s leading paleontologists, and Nick Merriman, Director of the Manchester Museum. It provides a quick-fire introduction into the captivating study of life on Earth, including Phil’s international work on excavating dinosaurs (often filmed by the BBC and National Geographic). But as well as capturing the imagination of the public since the early 19th century, this lively talk on dinosaurs, fossils and life will uncover how imagination itself, alongside scientific enquiry, helps resurrect, reconstruct and understand dinosaurs.



See work by some of the world’s greatest artists at the Pop-Up Whitworth. Although the Whitworth Art Gallery is closed for much of 2014 for a major redevelopment, fourteen of its internationally important collection of paintings, drawings and prints – some of its greatest treasures – go on display at Selfridges in January and February. The Pop-Up Whitworth is an unprecedented opportunity to see works by artists such as Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, Albrecht Dürer and Tracey Emin outside of a major gallery.

The Pop-Up Whitworth features three, themed displays:

  • Great British Art. Large-scale installations of oil paintings and sculpture by 
some of the best modern British artists, including works by Jacob Epstein, Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley and Peter 
  • Great British Women. Smaller, more intimate works by some of Britain’s leading women artists, including Tracey Emin, Cornelia Parker, Paula Rego and Rachel Whiteread.
  • Historic Greats. Small-scale artworks by historic greats such as Albrecht Dürer, William Blake, J. M. W. Turner and Pablo Picasso.

read more on Creative Tourist here…

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