Art/Museums/TheatreChallengesMiscThe Pica Pica Project

The Pica Pica Project: Manchester and Wakefield

Donna Brown789 views
The PICA PICA project
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I’m exceptionally behind in writing up my Pica Pica Project entries, mostly because I’ve been enjoying my adventures so much during the day and then working in the evening. It’s worked out pretty well and, so far, has allowed me to make great use of the summer.


A few weeks ago I returned to Manchester. I had already been once for a day trip but had decided I wanted to return to do an overnight and return to a couple of the things I had really loved, as well as seeing some new things. I did return to the Whitworth (and bought the Tibor Reich book I had so lamented not buying on my first trip). It was great to see Nico Vascellari’s installation again. I had been interested to see if, having been moved so much by it initially, I would respond to it in the same way when seeing it again. I did.

I also had the opportunity to visit Manchester Museum. It’s a massive museum with some extensive and impressive collections. They have an impressive collection of objects and specimens, particularly those related to natural history. They also have a live animals section, which plays a key part in their conservation efforts. All of the displays are very much driven around education and encouraging people to understand why species are at risk (or even extinct) and the steps we can take in our day to day lives to make small changes that, collectively, have a big impact.

On the second day, I visited the Museum of Science and Industry. Unsurprisingly, this includes lots of industrial history and it is presented in a brilliant space. The highlight of the visit was the Mills of Manchester demonstration, explaining the process of cotton sorting and spinning on scaled down, working machines. It was incredibly interesting but also quite sobering. I knew the mill conditions were far from ideal but seeing it brought to life was quite shocking, particularly knowing that the noise and the size of the machines were both fractional!

There was also a good exhibition all about cravings and the science behind them. I believe this was previously open at the Science Museum. I found out about Charles Michel and Charles Spence, among others, and their work to assess the impact of visual presentation on taste. (There’s a fascinating open access paper about this available here if you’d like to know more.)

Charles Michel
Kandinsky’s Painting No. 201, on the left. The art inspired salad on the right… (via NPR)

I had another visit to Manchester Art Gallery – much shorter on this occasion as I needed to catch the train back – and then my visit was done. I hope I will return before too long. I know there is much more to see.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The week in question was also the week I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the very first time, which I think is a bit shameful considering I live so close! Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed it a great deal. I went with my mum for a belated birthday treat and we had an excellent meal there followed by a wonderful explore. Not Vidal’s work was on show:

Internationally renowned as a leading sculptor, this is Not Vital’s first major exhibition in the UK. With studios in the tiny Swiss village of Sent and Beijing, China, as well as homes in Rio de Janeiro and Niger, the exhibition reflects Vital’s nomadic and diverse practice, including paintings and works on paper, indoor pieces made from plaster, silver, gold, marble, glass and coal, and outdoor sculptures in stainless steel and bronze.

We saw many wonderful sculptures on our meanderings, so I won’t list them all. It was a lovely afternoon, though, and I hope it is somewhere I will visit again before too long.

I’m aware that I’m seeing lots of things but not actually talking about very many of them specifically. I’m making notes of many of the artworks I’ve seen and loved and hope to put together a Padlet from my (many, many) pages of notes featuring some of these things. In the meantime, I’ve now been to London, Edinburgh and Liverpool for a couple of nights each since my Manchester visit. All amazing and all need a write up of some sort so watch this space. I can honestly say that this has been a summer far in excess of anything I could have hoped for.

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.