I was born in Ancoats, grew up in Levenshulme and Burnage, and I’ve lived overlooking Wythenshawe Park for more than twenty years.
My first job after studying American literature at Hull University was with Piccadilly Radio. This was in April 1974. I joined Granada TV as a researcher on local programmes in 1978 and left in 1989, having worked mainly in Regional Arts and Schools TV. Granada was the last company I worked for. It was also the most exciting, stimulating, creative and well-mannered environment I could have wished for, and Granada still forms a large part of me.
In the early 1990’s I worked alongside design and communications company Spoken Image, in offices on Canal Street, as it developed into Manchester’s Gay Village. The city centre was changing fast, and I began writing about it for the listings magazine, City Life. Mike Hill was my first editor. His successor was Chris Sharratt. In 1998 Chris asked me to write a regular column about buildings. An exhibition about the ‘sixties design collective Archigram had just opened at Cornerhouse and Chris titled the column Archisnap. I wrote it for six years.
We’d moved from Canal Street to Hewitt Street, Knott Mill in 1998. My local was Atlas Bar which, until it changed hands in 2002, was a kind of salon to the Manchester city centre renaissance. The 1996 IRA bomb, the Millennium, Commonwealth Games, thousands of carbon-copy two bedroom apartments, Spinningfields, Piccadilly Place, Civil Justice Centre, Northern Quarter and the red Bruntwood sign transformed the city.
I’d begun curating exhibitions in the Spoken Image building in Canal Street. My Archisnap column became an exhibition at Cube on Portland Street. Every Cloud was a show I curated at Urbis that marked the tenth anniversary of the IRA bomb. I’d put a couple of exhibitions on Platform 12 at Piccadilly Station with photographers Len Grant and Jan Chlebik. The last exhibition to be presented in Urbis was Ghosts of Winter Hill: Manchester, Television and the City. I curated this celebration of fifty years of telly along with Urbis staffer Paul Luckraft, who is now curator at Modern Art Oxford.
I’ve shared offices with Geoff Allman and colleagues at Spoken Image for over twenty years. We’ve made television programmes and films together, and they’ve supported me in dozens of different projects. The space next to the current Spoken Image office came vacant in 2010 and owners Rachel Haugh and Ian Simpson of Ian Simpson Architects agreed to let me use it for an exhibition of work by Jan Chlebik, Peter Seal, and my partner, Simone Ridyard. That was Pop Up 1.