Cities of Hope brings Amazing Street Art to Manchester

During May 2016 for Cities of Hope, some of the World’s biggest names in street art descended on Manchester’s urban Northern Quarter. This was a street festival aimed at raising awareness of a variety of world issues.

We’ve already covered where some of the best places to see street art might be in Manchester. Indeed this post highlights some of the best streets in the city to spot street art. The Cities of Hope festival was a major catalyst for some of the biggest pieces in Manchester.

Small stencil of a mother and child by C215 in Manchester
Just one of the many smaller C215 pieces that can be seen dotted around the Northern Quarter

Street Art of the Cities of Hope Festival in Manchester

For Manchester’s Cities of Hope nine street artists took part. They were asked to interpret works on the street which drew attention to World issues. These were areas which they themselves wanted to highlight.  The artists were then matched to the work of local social justice organisation.

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’. He was a king from Greek mythology who was punished by Zeus. Condemned 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. He quotes Albert Camus who is 1942 wrote “The Myth of Sisyphus”. There 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.

Mural by Axel Void in Manchester on Addington street. This was painted for the Cities of Hope Festival in 2016
Axel Void’s ‘Sisyphus’ on Addington Street

Hyuro – War Children

Argentina’s Hyuro focus was about the impact of war on children in conflict zones.  She explains the piece in her 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. These are issues caused by the acts of violence they witness.

The wall for Cities of Hope in Manchester, “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. It depicts a blindfolded child holding an AK47 behind his back. It also has an imposing shadow looming behind.

Mural by Hyuro for the Manchester Cities of Hope Festival
Hyuro – ‘War Impact on Childrens Lives’ on Brightwell Walk

Pichiavo – Conflict

Sadly no more, the piece from Spanish duo Pichiavo depicts Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus. This is against the backdrop of graffiti type scrawlings.  It was found on the back of a building towards the top end of Port Street. This was 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.

Mural by Pichiavo for the Cities of Hope Festival in Manchester
Pichiavo – ‘Conflict’ Hercules fights the Centaur

Phlegm – Sustainability

Sheffield’s Phlegm is well known for his detailed black and white illustrations. 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. These 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. You can read about that 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. He doesn’t really do a lot of explaining. The image of a self sustaining city stuck inside a bottle is a strong one though. Inside life is happening but on the outside the world is just full of blank walls.

Mural painted by Phlegm in Manchester. Showing a city in a bottle this was painted for the Cities of Hope festival
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. 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 appear to find the climb too much. The mural then shows people falling from the bottom.

The mural by Never Crew on Tariff Street. This was painting as part of Manchester's Cities of Hope Festival
Never Crew ‘Inhuman Barriers’ on Tariff Street

Martin Whatson – Environment

Norwegian artist Martin Whatson’s piece can be found on Faraday Street. It 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.

Mural by Martin Whatson on Faraday Street in Manchester. Painted as part of the Cities of Hope festival
Martin Whatson on Faraday Street

C215 – Homelessness

French artist C215 has painted a number of portraits around the area. These include two large scale pieces on Tariff street and Spear Street. Also 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. 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.

nomad clan port street manchester
C215 portrait on tariff street

Case Maclaim- Disability

German artist Case has a photo realistic style. His impactful piece can be found on Cable Street on the side of Swan Buildings.  The piece depicts a men resting in apparant 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.

Large mural by Case Maclaim on the side of Swan Buildings in Manchester. Created as part of the Cities of Hope Festival
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. This was recently evidenced by this post. So it’s good to see her back in the country. Her mural for Cities of Hope in Manchester is big and impactful.

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. It overlooks the canal which runs underneath on the side of a warehouse building.

Mural by Faith47 overlooking the canal in Manchester. Created as part of the Cities of Hope Street Art festival in Manchester.
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.


  1. Is there any chance you might do Kathy Rocker as a tribute, in the future, somewhere in the NQ, as she was a huge Icon of the area…

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