The Human Condition in four dimensions: sculpture at Manchester Art Gallery

Posted on: August 31st, 2023 by mlpEditor

What can we learn about ‘the human condition’ through the artworks in Manchester Art Gallery’s ‘Out of the crate’ exhibition?

The gallery holds an early piece by the modern sculptor, Henry Moore, titled Mother and Child (1925), that will greet us at the start of this tour. This remarkable work seems to contain so much energy within such a restricted space. The emotional bond between mother and child is somehow intensified by the sense of mass and gravity.

Henry Moore said that sculpture was just an interest in shape and form and that anything at all (for example a tree, a cloud or a person) might provide the spark for a creative idea. And it is the extension of this notion that has enabled the frontiers of the genre to expand so that the more contemporary and ground-breaking works in our exhibition can challenge and provoke in the way that they do.

Perhaps it is because sculptures seem to occupy a similar space to ourselves that we find them so imposing. But how much do they reveal of the artists behind them and how well do they illuminate the joy and pain of human existence?

Join volunteer tour guide John Ward in an exploration of some of Manchester Art Gallery’s most thought-provoking sculptures.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

So, you think it’s easy to be an opera singer?

Posted on: August 29th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Opera is an extraordinary, multi-disciplinary art form. It brings together a variety of talented artists and performers. Orchestra musicians, singers, dancers, designers, scenographers, costume designers and makers collaborate to produce spectacular productions.

With its roots in the many forms of musical theatre practiced for centuries all over the world, opera originated in Italy c.1600. The first drama considered to be an opera was composed by Jacopo Peri in 1597. But the first opera of significance was L’Orfeo, composed by Claudio Monteverdi in 1607.

What does it take to become an opera singer? The writing is interpreted by singers of different ranges: soprano, mezzo soprano, contralto, counter-tenor, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, bass. Within those terms are further and notable nuances of vocal colour, description and flexibility.

Lynne Dawson, Head of the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, will give an insight into the training needed to prepare singers for this demanding profession. She will also talk about her career singing with orchestras and conductors all over the world.

Conversations through time: Historic and Contemporary Art

Posted on: August 21st, 2023 by mlpEditor

How do Historic and Contemporary Art speak to one another at Manchester Art Gallery?

One of the most exciting things about the display of art at Manchester Art Gallery in 2023 is the cutting-edge contemporary pieces living in the immediate presence of dreamy seventeenth century landscapes, Dutch Golden Age portraits and world-famous Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces. How do these vastly different pieces relate to each other?

Take the example in the illustration here: on the left, a detail from George Stubb’s The Cheetah and a Stag with Two Indian Attendants painted about 1764; on the right, a detail of 14/73 by Jeremy Moon (painted in 1973). The one draws upon the deep well of age-old human experience. The other operates on the very frontiers of the unknown. But are these paintings so very different from one another?

Few subjects divide public opinion in the way that contemporary art does. But we are also reminded that a relentless creative impulse has always driven artists to explore alternative worlds in which they can then provoke, challenge and question. This is equally true of these two very different artists, George Stubbs and Jeremy Moon. Their works will begin the tour.

Earlier this year, novelist and critic Sarah Dunant spoke on Radio 4 of how when “the past is speaking to the present, it can be a rich conversation”. Join gallery Guide John Ward as we put this observation to the test, by taking several different journeys back and forth across the centuries.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

Great Expectations – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: August 3rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Theatre Group’s visit to ‘Great Expectations’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

From the Royal Exchange’s website:

This adaptation of a classic by Tanika Gupta is just pure genius. You’ll get to see the familiar Dickens framework, but it comes with a twist.

All my life they looked down on me, always cursing and abusing. But you, you will be different!

Bengal, 1903. Rumours that the British Empire plans to partition Bengal spread and uncertainty is never far away. For one Indian boy destiny is found on the banks of the River Padma before the Goddess Lakshmi. Here a promise is made. Born out of terror or kindness the choice Pipli makes that night will shape his life forever.

Pooja Ghai directs Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pipli moves from his home in Rajshahi to the bustling streets of Calcutta. With an open heart he navigates unforgiving darkness and unsettling friendships in his search for a better future. For Pipli, dharma – the right way of living, is never far away.


Lit & Phil members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the 2.30 pm matinee performance on the 20th September.

There will also be a post-theatre meal at Cote Brasserie in Manchester at 5.30 pm. This will be an opportunity to share our views about the play in a relaxed atmosphere.

Please email the organiser, Joanna Lavelle, via the button above if you would like further information or if you would like to join us.


Good to know: There will be an online pre-event discussion led by Dr Manju Bhavnani before the play on Tuesday 12th September at 6.30 pm via BlueJeans and an online post-event discussion on Tuesday 25th September at 6.30pm. Email the organiser via the button above for signing in details.

If you can’t go to the theatre on September 20th, you can still join in the pre-event discussion on September 12th and/or the post event discussion on September 25th.

Visit to International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Posted on: May 22nd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) was quite the polymath! He was a novelist, poet, playwright, linguist, translator and critic. And a talented and prolific composer who wrote over 250 musical works during a compositional career that spanned more than 60 years.

Join us for a tour of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester to find out more about his exceptional life and works.

The Foundation’s staff will introduce Burgess’ work and members will have the opportunity to see a selection of objects from the archive – which includes books, music and papers.

The visit will last approximately 2 hours. Tea/coffee will be provided.

Good to know: Places are very limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.


About the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

The Foundation encourages and supports public and scholarly interest in all aspects of the life and work of Anthony Burgess. Based in Manchester city centre, on Cambridge Street, they have an extensive library, archive and study centre containing Burgess’s books, music and papers. There is also a performance venue where new work by writers, artists and musicians is presented.

Established in 2003 by Liana Burgess (1929-2007), the Anthony Burgess Foundation is an independent educational charity which welcomes all individuals and institutions interested in Burgess’s work.


No Pay? No Way! – Theatre Group discussion

Posted on: May 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Find out more about the Royal Exchange’s production of ‘No Pay? No Way!’

This Lit & Phil member-led discussion last about 45 minutes and will include opportunities for questions and discussion among the participants.

All are welcome, whether or not you can attend the production at the Royal Exchange.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using Blue Jeans, allowing all users to be seen and to join the discussion.

No Pay? No Way! – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: May 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Manchester Lit & Phil’s Theatre Group visit to the UK Premier of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s play ‘No Pay? No Way!’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

The play was a smash hit at Sydney Opera House in February 2020. The Royal Exchange production is described as “a ferocious and feisty political comedy” and “an urgent exploration of our global and economic reality.”

‘No Pay? No Way!’ has received numerous rave reviews, including:

“Funny? There has to be a stronger word? Funny? If I wasn’t sitting down, I’d have fallen over. I mean, at one point I was crying.” Sydney Morning Herald

★★★★★ “A complete joy to watch… Liberation takes many forms in this stellar offering which contorts riotously for two hours to hit the frontal lobe along with the funny bone.” ArtsHub

Members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the matinee performance (2.30pm) on the 20th May. Visit the theatre’s website to book your ticket(s).

As part of this event there will also be an informal post-theatre meal. If members and friends would like to reserve a place for the meal, please contact the organiser, including a note if you have particular access requirements (as this may influence the choice of venue).

Good to know: Members and guests who register for the event will receive briefing notes before the visit. There will also be an on-line discussion on May 22nd at 6.30pm, led by Professor Tony Jackson. See details below.

A curious person’s guide to Digital Art

Posted on: April 19th, 2023 by mlpEditor

‘Digital art’ practice includes a wide variety of mediums. From computer, generative, robotic, kinetic and net art, through to post-internet, virtual reality, and augmented reality art.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms and technologies, it can be a confusing world to enter. But this art sphere – which conceptually has its roots in the avant-garde art movements of the first half of the 20th century – is a fascinating space to explore.

Dr Claire Reddleman’s talk will address digital art as a relatively new era of art’s development, while also looking at its roots in more traditional kinds of art making.

She will consider the current abundance of digital art to explore in three ways. Firstly, looking briefly at digital ways of preserving and displaying non-digital art works.

Claire will then consider art and artists who continue some traditional artistic concerns (such as depicting landscape, contemplating the self-portrait) but using digital methods.

And finally, she will look at some examples of artists who work in completely digital ways and whose work is only encountered online.

No prior knowledge about art practice or digital technology will be needed – just bring your sense of curiosity!


* We have changed venues. This event is now taking place at Friends’ Meeting House*

Facts and fictions of Renaissance architecture

Posted on: March 23rd, 2023 by mlpMemberAdmin

The Renaissance is widely considered to be one of the most fascinating and productive periods in European history. In the domains of philosophy, law, science and art, great strides were made in the pursuit of excellence. The physical and intellectual legacy that this era has left behind is staggering. What could have motivated it?

Historically, the Renaissance bridges the Middle Ages with the Enlightenment. It facilitated the seismic shift from religious feudalism to humanism and rationalism. The distinction between periods, however, may not be as clear cut as people might think.

With a particular focus on the architectural styles of the period, Frank Vigon will question what we’ve come to define as being ‘of the Renaissance’. Can a building be adequately categorised by its style, period or the ethos under which it was built?

Without losing the sense of wonder that these structures elicit, we’ll examine the nature of architectural styles across Europe. We will try to identify the similarities and, more importantly, the differences between the competing power bases.

Join us as we strive to uncover some of the most remarkable testaments to human genius. In doing so, we will come to terms with the socio-historical context from which they emerged.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Theatre Group discussion

Posted on: January 30th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Find out more about Tennessee Williams as a playwright, the context in which he was writing and the themes he tackled.

This Lit & Phil member-led discussion will consist of an informal introduction to Tennessee Williams’ play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, prior to our visit to see the production at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

A short presentation will be given by Tony Jackson, with additional input from Joanna Lavelle. As well as providing some background to the play and Williams, especially the battles he had with stage and film directors over this particular play, some questions and talking points will be suggested to consider when attending the performance.

The session will be about 45 minutes long and will include opportunities for questions and discussion among the participants.

All are welcome, whether or not you can attend the production at the Royal Exchange.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using Blue Jeans, allowing all users to be seen and to join the discussion. There will also be a post-production on-line discussion on April 25th at 6.30pm via Blue Jeans.