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Cities for Artists: Manchester

fred aldous manchester postcard

5 Places You Must Not Miss

Rippingham Art’s roots are firmly in Manchester. Jan grew up here, and we all love this incredible city.

Regular trips mean that we know what’s great about this city. Hard as it has been, we have whittled the best spots for artists down to our favourite 5.

1. Fred Aldous

An absolute favourite. Talk about moving with the times. Fred Aldous opened in 1886! The shop is constantly updating and along with art and craft materials, it now has a knockout gift shop upstairs which is always deservedly busy.


Jan discovered the magic that was, and still is Fred Aldous whilst studying textiles at Manchester Uni in the late 1970’s. Most evenings, waiting in Stevenson Square for the 216 bus to arrive, she would go into the basement to look at the craft materials and spend far too long down there. It seemed that you could buy anything to make anything.

Jan was in love and was sad to leave Fred behind when she moved to London in the early 80’s. Thankfully you can now order art materials from them online. It remains one of the few places where Jan can find her much loved ‘Tulip’ pens.

A personal note from Jan: My daughter Lauren visits Manchester frequently, and she always makes her way to Fred Aldous, it’s like a magnet. As a small child I was always taking her to art galleries and art shops, and she seems to have inherited my love for the art shop to beat all art shops.

P.S. Have you seen their Instagram account?

Fred Aldous: Art and Craft Supplies

2. Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Every artist should go here, you cannot fail to be inspired. Housed in a Victorian  fish market built in 1873 (sounds cool already), this is home to seriously talented designers, artists and craftspeople. Each is tucked away in a cosy unit which you are welcome to pop into and explore. Studios house jewellery makers, ceramicists, painters, glass-blowers and illustrators.

The centre takes an active part in the makers’ community. They have a dedicated ‘Makers Network Blog’ to help craftspeople sell their work, excel at social media and meet other likeminded artists. This is a community of makers which feels intimate and welcoming. It also has a fab cafe.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

3. Whitworth Gallery

We will admit that there was a bit of a gap between our 2 most recent visits to this gallery. While we hang our heads in shame, it does mean that we can fully appreciate the changes that have taken place over the last few years. And there have been changes aplenty!

The Whitworth is conscious of it’s cultural heritage and social responsibilities. The reflection of society’s changing attitudes is clearly paramount to the gallery. Their priorities are apparent in the breadth of exhibitions taking place within the gallery spaces. Current exhibitions include:

Four Corners of One Cloth – Textiles from the Islamic World

The Reno at The Whitworth – Exploring the Reno nightclub- a popular venue for mixed-race Mancunians in the 1970s and 80s.

Bodies of Colour – Exploring wallpaper as a contributor to racist visual histories.

Facing Out – Life after treatment for facial cancer, an exhibition of portraits

Prints of Darkness: Goya and Hogarth in a Time of Europe Turmoil – an exhibition timed to coincide with Britain’s efforts to leave the EU.

All this and we haven’t even mentioned the gallery’s £15 million redevelopment in 2015 which doubled the size of the gallery and married the gallery with the surrounding Whitworth Park to beautiful effect.

Whitworth Art Gallery

4. MIF Manchester International Festival

Not so much a place to visit but the now biennial festival is certainly worth talking about. This year the festival is taking place between 4th and 21st July and we cannot wait – a full post will follow! Festivals typically include music, visual arts, including theatre and art exhibitions, dance and film, talks and walks. This year includes The Nico Project inspired by her 1968 album ‘The Marble Index’, a solo show by Anna Calvi and David Lynch will be taking over HOME with a programme of art, films and music. We cannot wait.

MIF Manchester International Festival

manchester international festival david lynch

[Speaking of…]


A centre for international art, in the last 4 years HOME has already become one of Manchester’s leading cultural venues. You should go to see the exhibition spaces, the cafe, the screening rooms, the staircases, the big neon sign, the toilets. It’s on Tony Wilson Place and it’s also open really late. Everything here is cool.

HOME Manchester

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