Cities of Hope brings some of the World’s top street artists to Manchester

Some of the World’s biggest names in street art descended on Manchester’s urban Northern Quarter over the month of May to take part in Cities of Hope, a street festival aimed at raising awareness of World issues.

We’ve already covered where some of the best places to see street art might be in Manchester and indeed this post highlights some of the best streets in the city to wander round if you want to take a look at some of the street art.

The Cities of Hope however was a very specific event with nine artists asked to interpret works on the street which drew attention to World issues which they themselves wanted to highlight.  The artists were then matched to the work of local social justice organisation.

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Just one of the many smaller C215 pieces that can be seen dotted around the Northern Quarter

Alex Void – Existentialism

Found on Addington Street, Spain’s Alex Void depicts a young girl having a smile forced on her from someone else’s hands.  The word written across the middle says ‘Sisyphus’ who was a king from Greek mythology who was punished by Zeus to roll a boulder up a hill and then watch it roll back down, repeating the action for eternity.

Alex explains the work in his instagram feed quoting Albert Camus who is 1942 wrote “The Myth of Sisyphus” where he related the punishment of the king to the human condition in an absurd sense for meaning.  According to Alex the mural approaches the condition from an “existential approach”, proposing a metaphor on the pursuit of happiness and who we are as people.

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Alex Void’s ‘Sisyphus’ on Addington Street

Hyuro – War Children

Argentina’s Hyuro focus was about the impact of war on children in conflict zones.  He explains the piece on his instagram feed saying that in addition to the direct consequences of war and armed violence children are also indirectly affected by displacement, loss of family and trauma cause by the acts of violence they witness.

The wall says Hyuro “is intended to give voice to all the lost innocence, all children who are fighting for their own survival, unable in front of the eyes of all, to live a childhood they deserve.”  The giant mural can be found in a small car park off Brightwell Walk and depicts a blindfolded child holding an AK47 behind his back with an imposing shadow looming behind.

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Hyuro – ‘War Impact on Childrens Lives’ on Brightwell Walk

Pichiavo – Conflict

The piece from Spanish duo Pichi & Avo depicts Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus against the backdrop of graffiti type scrawlings.  It can be found on the back of a building towards the top end of Port Street in a car park close the junction with Great Ancoats Street.  The work is striking due to it’s mix of classical and modern art.

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Pichiavo – ‘Conflict’ Hercules fights the Centaur

Phlegm – Sustainability

Sheffield’s Phlegm is well known for his detailed illustrations and we’ve seen a lot of work of his over the years on the streets of London.  Starting out as an illustrator he has created his own World of characters which have since evolved into some of his giant intricate street art.  We covered an exhibition of his work when he exhibited in London a few years ago which you can read here.

For Cities of Hope his work can be seen on the side of Swans Buildings on Cable Street.  A fantastic city in a bottle the detail is impressive. It’s not certain exactly what was in Phelgm’s mind when painting this as he doesn’t really do a lot of explaining but the metaphor of a self sustaining city stuck inside a bottle whilst outside the World is just blank walls is an interesting one.

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Close up of Phlegm’s work

Never Crew – Immigration

On the side of Hilton House on Tarriff Street the Never Crews ‘Inhuman Barriers’ piece is in support of WASP (Woman Asylum Seekers Together).  The Swiss pair of Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni have been working together since 1996.  According to the Cities of Hope website they specialise in the issue of confrontation, combining mechanisms and natural elements to create models of living systems.

The mural looks to depict a giant crystal or diamond which could also be an iceberg. Either way there are a lot of little featureless people trying to clamber up from the bottom, many of them though end up after finding the climb too much and the mural shows people falling from the bottom.

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Never Crew ‘Inhuman Barriers’ on Tariff Street

Martin Whatson – Environment

Norwegian artist Martin Whatson’s piece can be found on Faraday Street and focuses on the issue of the environment.  A combination of stencil and freehand spray in Whatson’s own identifiable style, it depicts a man painting the leaves onto a tree, except the leaves are actually graffiti tags.

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Martin Whatson on Faraday Street

C215 – Homelessness

French artist C215 has painted a number of portraits around the area including two large scale pieces on Tariff street and Spear Street, a number of smaller stencils and , rather obscurely, a number of cats.

His topic this time was homelessness.  Anyone walking through the centre of Manchester will know that this is the city’s dirty little secret.  The trip from Piccadilly to the centre makes this obvious and it really does beg the question what the authorities are doing about it.  C215 is well known for painting people on the fringes of society.  He will often feature the homeless, the elderly, street kids and refugees.

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C215 portrait on tariff street

Case – Disability

German artist Case has a photorealistic style and his impactful piece can be found on Cable Street on the side of Swan Buildings.  The piece depicts a men resting in seeming exhaustion on a bar.  Case is also part of the German based Maclaim Crew.

Partnering with ‘Back on Track’, a Manchester charity that enables disadvantaged adults to make lasting, positive changes in their lives.  The man in the painting is called ‘A’ a man who the project helps.

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Work from Case on the side of Swan Buildings

Faith 47 – Gay rights

We’ve been well used to seeing Faith 47‘s works in London as evidenced by this post featuring some of her last works, so it’s good to see her back in the country with smash our of the park mural celebrating gay rights.

Overlooking the canal side the mural depicts too men sharing a kiss.  It says a lot for where we are now in 2016 that for many this image just goes without comment.  The work can be found on Great Ancoat’s Street where the canal runs underneath on the side of a warehouse building.

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Close up of the work from Faith 47

Cities of Hope took place during 21-29 May 2016 and the area was visited on 10 June 2016.  For more about the street art of Manchester look here.