Tuesday, 1 June 2010

happy birthday manchester modernist society!

one year ago today i wrote about the brand new manchester modernist society on these pages.

i had just finished typing up our manifesto and had put the final flourishes to the fledgling website with a welcome call-out to fellow modernists near or far. our facebook page was a day or two old and had just three members; myself, young jack hale and my assistant maureen. we sat in cornerhouse cafe with our laptops and giggled at the arcane preposterousness of creating a society between us, a society that had no intention of being official or trailblazing or of marketing for members. simply an idea based on the gloriously amateur clubs of yesteryear, like the ramblers and the clarionettes or the even the suffragettes. a hotch potch of all the things that personally inspired us, with inclusivity and conviviality at their heart - plus a little civil agitation thrown in for good measure.

it was all a little tongue in cheek as little did we guess that anyone might be interested in our peculiar obsessions. we had no idea how to go about it or how it would work, we simply wanted to start doing something rather than endlessly talk about it. something that was in the playful spirit of the lovely loiterers, the specificity of the 20th century society and the art/subversion of apartment, my former home. something that combined actual live activity or exploration each and every month, with some solid but accessible information and signposting to further reading and specialists on matters of interest or topicality, and regular collaborations with other groups or disciplines to create new ways of celebrating or highlighting our 20th century cities.

our first tentative expedition was a trip to leeds to the New Monumentality exhibition & talk at the henry moore foundation, attended by just three of us. thank you alan and amanda for a great afternoon and for all your subsequent support and ideas.....

one year on we are busy evaluating our first art commission and programme of activities attended by about 90 people or more, a moonlit paean to the odeon attracting around 120 adventurous souls, plus the launch of our embryonic modernist map of manchester at salford's the hub, attended by 60 or so modernists, urbanists and map lovers.

here's to the coming year. whatever it brings, the heart of our remit remains the first thing we wrote one year ago today...

We want to explore the extraordinary story of the 20th century in the broadest possible sense, especially its everyday vernacular landscape, start conversations, bring people together, raise awareness and perhaps even make the occasional difference – but most of all to get out there and enjoy ourselves in it.

hope to see you enjoying the city with us sometime soon!

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