Vitriol Works

Manchester LeftWriters has been through a fallow period due to busy lives. Here is the first wave of Vitriol Works material, made for a projected series of interventions in 2017 that never happened. The first publication, Vitriol Works 1 was to be the opening publication, A3 folded. This was to be followed by a series of fake news flyers that were to begin believable, then degenerate into ludicrousness and then not-so-funny dark psychedelic vomit. This page of Numbers had a very particular purpose in all of this. A piece called Come On Back to the War was also on the table and typeset for this phase. Posted for posterity.

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Coming soon…

Logo copy

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MLW at Granada Studios


After our Castlefield Gallery show we read at an event at the old Granada Studios. MLW were invited to repeat their ‘Cacophony’ performance to close Manchester University’s ‘Art of Devolution: Culture and the North’ conference, which took place at Manchester’s Old Granada Studios in June 2016. In addition, films from the Powerhouse Liberation Movement exhibition were shown throughout the day.

We also read at Verbose during this phase. Here is Natalie Bradbury’s description of the Powerhouse Liberation Movement work:

‘Manchester Left Writers were selected to undertake an exhibition as part of Castlefield Gallery’s ‘Launch Pad’ series, chosen by Jerwood Charitable Foundation Director Shonagh Manson.

The Powerhouse Liberation Movement brought together film, installation, music, performance and a new publication based on searches across the city, dubbed the ‘economic powerhouse of the north of England’ by Manchester City Council, for ‘free’ spaces where notions of commonality, free expression and liberation are discoverable and can be accessed by all. MLW recorded their exploratory journeys across the city, from the Gay Village and ancient earthwork the Nico Ditch, to the satellite towns of Stockport and Rochdale. This resulted in a series of lo-fi ‘Notebook films’ documenting places, encounters and experiences, which were displayed alongside maps, notes, photographs and objects found and made during the process of making the films. MLW also commissioned a critical essay by Dr Gavin Macdonald, Lecturer in Art History at Manchester Metropolitan University.

During the public preview, and repeated for Manchester After Hours, MLW performed new poems to accompany the work on show. In addition, the quintet Vocal Harum (of which MLW writer Bob Dickinson is a member) performed a set of a cappella songs about buildings, by Talking Heads among others. MLW also discussed and answered questions about their work and the exhibition at a public event chaired by Dr Gavin MacDonald.

The ‘Notebook’ films can be viewed online at

Manchester Left Writers were invited to repeat their ‘Cacophony’ performance to close Manchester University’s ‘Art of Devolution: Culture and the North’ conference, which took place at Manchester’s Old Granada Studios in June 2016. In addition, films from the Powerhouse Liberation Movement exhibition were shown throughout the day.’

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MLW at Castlefield Gallery

Manchester Left Writers won a round of bids for Castlefield Gallery’s Launch Pad series, administered in association with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. We then showed in May 2016.

Part of the pitch was for us to make some experimental films. Here are some of the films so far. The films were pitched as ‘Notebook Films’, lo-fi, ideas-driven, quick. Here are some brief explanations and glimpses of each of them:

Notebook Film No.1 begins with the Millbank Riot as an augur of the austerity to come and its responses, 2011 included. It comes into the city of Manchester past shipping containers, and meditates on the ‘parliamentary stop’ of Ardwick Station, which has featured in other MLW pieces. It then travels out of the city with all of the riotous noise of recent protest marches. It begins to demonstrate the methodology of making ‘notebook films’ with iPhones etc, and foraging for scraps to make work with. It challenges the relevance of ‘magnetic north’ and brings in Manchester’s science history. This film sets the scene.

For continuation, Notebook Film No.2 begins again at the Ardwick parliamentary stop. It passes the council clad high-rises named after suffragettes, to ponder class and housing, gentrification, gender and plein air sleeping, via a piece of tent graffiti. It then arrives in the city again at Victoria Station, past relatively new high rise housing stock, to consider Blake’s ‘Ratio’ and what Adorno and Horkheimer called ‘instrumental rationality’. The soundtrack comes courtesy of Onion Widow via Chelsea from Essex.

Notebook Film No.3 explores Ancoats, Engels and myth. It examines contemporary spaces where poverty and the rag trade adhere. It then attempts to collapse the recent filming of Captain America in the Northern Quarter with earlier myths, in order to try to break up and loosen how ideology operates, so that we might think about that in relation to the Northern Powerhouse. The soundtrack by Chelsea from Essex provides a kind of folk elegy for the present, as the ghosts of Cheshire huntsmen – Engels himself rode with the hunt – appear on the streets, providing further augurs. Found scraps begin to re-map the island:

Notebook Film No.4 is by Natalie Bradbury and Steve Hanson. It explores the relationship between town and country, urban and rural, between Manchester and London, between fixity and mobility. It also begins to explore the idea of the ‘poor relation city’, to the north and south of Manchester, in this case the first in a series of meditations on Stockport, that will later be followed with further explorations of Rochdale. This film also finds spaces of hope, in passers-by, in tiny nooks, in small public sculptures like eccentric shrines, in tiny urban interventions, in windows, in walls:

Notebook Film No.5 is a short glimpse of a much longer film, just under half an hour, which takes a trip from Angel Meadow – the place of the extinguishing of Co-operation in the failure of the Co-op bank – to the birth of Co-operation in Rochdale, under harsh social conditions in the 19th Century. The film is subtitle ‘Top Deck As Method’, which is fairly self-explanatory:

Notebook Film No.7 uses the language of Stockport regeneration policy to make a critical but open short piece on the place. At one point, we are literally watching the traffic lights change, close up, trying to find meaning:

Notebook Film No.9 is about the worth of collage, and what Benjamin called ‘Botanising the Asphalt’, for urban exploration. It references Schwitters’ non-representational ‘stuff’ of ‘Merz’, and the ‘gesamtkustwerk’, or ‘total-work’ as smashed fragments. It uses Modern and Post-Modern references to Beethoven’s 9th to further embed the idea of the grand final masterpiece as ultimately shards, after Adorno, and Minima Moralia. This is a gutter version of Shelley’s Ozymandias, for the humanities in the early 21st century. Here it is:

All of the work here is credited on the Vimeo site where due – and Notebook Film No.4, which is by Natalie Bradbury, with my input. We will upload more work soon. Notebook Films 6, 8 and 10 were made by David Wilkinson.

Here are the End Credits:

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‘The Northern Powerhouse’, for Open Democracy

A series of MLW articles on ‘The Northern Powerhouse’, for Open Democracy, going live from Monday onwards. The aim is not to predict the future, nor dwell on the past, but to present ‘the Northern Powerhouse’ as a prism, dispersing different political colours, and structures of feeling, right now. We are looking at Manchester initially, the glittering prize in Osborne’s eye, asking how to reclaim this mythical space for its people. The Open Democracy series is here:

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MLW and Sleaford Mods!

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Our event at the Central Library in Manchester, as part of the Literature Festival, went really well, thanks to everyone who came along and made it possible, particularly the Northwest Film Archive. We read our Precarious Passages over cuts of Film Archive clips intercut with intertitles by Steve Hanson. One of these exclaimed ‘Only The Sleaford Mods Can Save Us Now’. This was picked up by Sleaford Mods and used as the backdrop to their Facebook page, gathering over 2,000 likes.

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Precarious Passages 003 is out!

Here is Precarious Passages 003, a collaboration between Bob Dickinson and David Wilkinson. It is an A4 edition this time. Again, this piece is a call-and-response on the affective dimensions of 21st century life under global capitalism. Look out for paper copies in and around Manchester.

Please also print out and circulate our State of Emergency notice. This is also an A4, printer-ready item, which will look great on office walls, in libraries, pubs and cafés, inside telephone boxes and police stations.

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News, July 2015

Manchester Left Writers are preparing for an event in October, we will announce the details of that very soon, but in the meantime, could you please circulate the Facebook page we have created, to enable our new phase of activity?

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Precarious Passages 002 is out!

Here is PP002, which is a collaboration between two MLW members on negotiating the fantastically real Stockport Road, the A6, every day into town. The two columns this time mirror the long lines of road in two columns, travelling by bus and bicycle. The piece can be read across, or down and over, in a number of ways. Please re-circuate. Paper copies should appear along the route soon…

Posted in Precarious Passages, The January 2015-2016 season | 1 Comment

Spring is springing

Spring has sprung in Manchester, on Saturday the 28th of February we have Real Media at Friend’s Meeting House, and People’s Question Time. This is the MLW member contribution to the Real Media spoof Daily Mail. In the evening of the 28th is a gig, Music Beats Austerity, with Billy Bragg and Grace Petrie, more than a whiff of Red Wedge, get ticketed up here:

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