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Frank Street

Submitted by on July 4, 2012 – 4:03 pmNo Comment

Little Ireland, an area off Oxford Road, stood for a relatively short time yet became synonymous with filth and squalor as poor Irish immigrants sought to survive in unbearable conditions.

Despite this horror, creativity flowed and many of the first ditties about our fair city were sung among the sewage that caused Engels so famously to write in The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844:

The … most disgusting spot of all is one … called Little Ireland. Some four thousand people, mostly Irish, inhabit this slum. Heaps of refuse, offal and sickening filth are everywhere interspersed with pools of stagnant liquid. The atmosphere is polluted by the stench and is darkened by the thick smoke of a dozen factory chimneys.

The creatures who inhabit these dwellings and even their dark, wet cellars, and who live confined amidst all this filth and foul air – which cannot be dissipated because of the surrounding lofty buildings – must surely have sunk to the lowest level of humanity.

On the average twenty people live in each of these little houses, which at the moment consist of two rooms, an attic and a cellar.

In spite of all the warnings of the doctors and spite of the alarm caused to the health authorities by the condition of Little Ireland during the cholera epidemic, the condition of this slum is practically the same in this year of 1844 as it was in 1831.

The area is, of course, unrecognisable in today’s modern façade of glass and exposed brick. Yet a red plaque still adorns the wall of a former factory so that the Irish poor are not forgotten and their first contributions to Manchester can be remembered.

It still hosts some of the oldest street signs in the city, made from wood. One bears the name ‘Frank Street’, which sets the mind off in a wander about how that came to be. The signs are a link to the past among the newly refurbished buildings of what is now a quite non-descript section of Manchester.

A group of artists and graphic designers are hoping to change that though, as they seek to return creativity to the former slum. They hope to add to the positive influence of the nearby Anthony Burgess Centre, which already provides a potential hub for artistic types.

The Print and Paste project was an idea hatched by Micah Purnell, Dave Sedgwick, Nick Chaffe, Jim Ralley and Daniel Jones. They describe it thus: “Print & Paste is a curated outdoor art space in central Manchester, located on Chester Street just off Oxford Rd, opposite the old BBC building. Hundreds of commuters, students, and tourists pass by each day.

“Every month an artist is invited to exhibit work on a large 16-sheet board traditionally used by advertisers. We aim to support the artist and inspire the public by using the space for positive social commentary.

“Contributors have freedom of expression and can share old, new, or purpose-made artworks on the space. You design it. We print and paste it up.”

A not-for-profit venture aimed at improving the drab confines off Oxford Road, Print and Paste is open to anyone who has a good idea. As Dave Sedgwick explains: “We accept proposals for exhibitions from anyone, we only ask for it to be original, positive, and thought provoking.

“Walking around the city you see hundreds of adverts all vying for your attention, but very little art. This is a space for creativity, debate and beauty.”

If you’d like the chance to exhibit your work for free, you can send some examples of your work (maximum of three jpegs), or a short paragraph with some ideas about what you’d like to do with the space to info@printandpaste.com. For more details visit printandpaste.com

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