In Haunt

The award-winning Not Quite Light Festival is back – spanning 26-29 March, this unique festival explores Salford and the changing environment around it, through an intriguing programme of events including photography, art, music architecture and debate – using the half-light of dawn and dusk as inspiration. 2020 takes the theme of ‘connections’ and features everything from a blindfolded guided walk to a Tesco Disco!

Not Quite Light

Explore alternative angles of the cityscape and be inspired. This year the festival hub is New Bailey in Salford – located just a few minutes’ walk away from Deansgate and an ideal location to consider the fascinating connections between Manchester and Salford, as well as new connections being made as this fast-growing development transforms.

According to the founder, curator and artistic Director of Not Quite Light Festival, Simon Buckley:

“Salford and Manchester sit side by side, and I criss cross into both cities all the time, so I'm constantly aware of the idea of being connected. This year it seemed to make sense to take this notion and make it a theme of the festival. In 2021 we'll do something really ambitious with the festival, and this year is vital in laying down some foundation ideas as we head towards that."

The Not Quite Light Festival – now in its third edition - takes its inspiration from Simon’s Not Quite Light photography project; considering the changing landscape, particularly of Salford and Manchester, in the half-light. His approach also considers the development of the cityscape and its buildings; and over the last two years, he has been documenting the construction of three new buildings at New Bailey, as the area evolves for future generations.

New Bailey

Hence the exciting choice of New Bailey as the festival hub – and it is here that Simon will be displaying some of his own work ‘New Bailey – Photographs of Construction’ over the course of festival (10am-5pm each day) in Riverside House, with the added experience of soundscapes recorded on the construction sites.

Yet as well as New Bailey, festival experiences and events will be taking place in a range of locations – including Chapel Street and the University of Salford. They certainly are intriguing too! Consider ‘Disco Tesco’ on Friday 27 March, a free event inviting people to come along to the Tesco Extra Café in Salford Precinct at dusk (7-10pm) to enjoy some international food and music – with DJs from a range of different nations on the decks.  Salford Precinct is after all a place where people from all over the world living in the local community shop together, with ‘Disco Tesco’ being an event designed to celebrate those connections.

Community connections are a long-standing feature of the Not Quite Light Festival – a festival by the people for the people. The curatorial approach has strived to find, include and encourage talent within the neighbourhoods of Salford, celebrating it as a place where people live, work and create.

Not Quite Light

An example of this is the chance to see the live recording of the award-winning 2 Shot Podcast, which will be taking place on the 28 March (3.30-5.30pm) at The New Adelphi Theatre in Salford. Using the title ‘Salford – a city of talent’, host Craig Parkinson will talk to a range of special guests about why so many talented actors, musicians and creatives have emerged from Salford over the years. Sit in the audience and enjoy two hours of inspired conversation.

The acclaimed actor and director Albert Finney – who sadly passed away earlier last year – is one such example of a pioneering creative born in Salford. His work is the inspiration for one of the Not Quite Light Festival events, as a screening of his cult classic Charlie Bubbles – a film that he both directed and starred in – will take place at Salford’s New Adelphi Theatre just before the 2 Shot Podcast Live Episode, at 1-3pm. This screening will include an introduction by Dr Kirsty Fairclough from Salford University.

Chapel Street

Not Quite Light Festival’s determination to celebrate Salford, creativity and connecting people with it is clear. Other events in the programme highlighting this include a tour of Chapel Street ‘the evolving heart of Salford’ with local guide Alexa Fairclough on Saturday 28 March, the creation of a ‘Salford time zone’ at New Bailey using light, music and storytelling from Walk the Plank with students at Salford University – and so much more.

Gaining a reputation for its innovative approach, the festival has already received one City Life Award and was nominated and highly praised in the City Life Awards 2019. With last year’s festival (see Haunt Manchester’s coverage here) featuring over 34 events, four world premieres and thrilling firsts – such as the first ‘Pilgrimage’ that involved 14 people walking the course of the River Irwell from source to Salford, raising over £1500 for Manchester homelessness charity The Booth Centre – it certainly has left an impression.

Pilgrimage is also going ahead for 2020 on Friday 27 March, with 16 spaces available to join Reverend Andy Salmon from Sacred Trinity church to walk the river route- a nearly 30 mile stretch – this year raising money for Henshaws, a charity supporting people with visual impairment and one of the oldest charities in Greater Manchester.

Not Quite Light

Another charitable event as part of Not Quite Light Festival 2020 is a ‘Dinner in the Dark’ on Thursday 26 March at Firefly restaurant, New Bailey – with 25 places available for this exclusive event. With all ticket proceeds going to Henshaws, this is an opportunity to experience a sumptuous two course meal like no other, relying on taste rather than vision – as diners will be blindfolded, in turn becoming aware of how the senses transform when we are unable to see.

And this is festival that doesn’t just think about its charitable cause – it invites people to empathise, even experience it. How? ‘Unknown Streets’, also raising funds for Henshaws, is a guided walk with a difference – as participants will be blindfolded and accompanied by trained volunteers, learning to consider first-hand what the city feels like to someone who cannot see as we do.

Experiencing the cityscape through moving within it plays a key part in Not Quite Light Festival 2020; with an intriguing night walk of Salford taking place on Friday 27 March, led by writer and Professor of Urban Design Nick Dunn and artist Andy Cropper.

Not Quite Light

There also is the chance to consider the impressive architectural links between Salford and Manchester, in the form of ‘Gothic Connections’ with an immersive guided walk led by Dr Peter N. Linfield - an expert on Gothic design in Georgian Britain and member of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Gothic Studies and History Research Centre. Join Peter as dusk falls on the 26 March at the starting point of Salford Cathedral, from where the fascinating route will weave its way back and forth over the River Irwell, exploring the relationship between extraordinary Victorian buildings in the two cities. The event is supported by Haunt Manchester.

According to Peter, who is also working on an article series for Haunt Manchester – exploring the Gothic architecture of the cityscape:

“Gothic architecture was, in eighteen-century Britain, considered to be a ‘dark’, haunting, spooky, and ghoulish style evocative of terror and oppression (as well as liberty, ancestry, and chivalry). Horace Walpole, the great supporter of Gothic architecture, wrote of the style’s overbearing ‘gloomth’—an effect that he wished to recreate and ‘imprint’ upon his newly-made ancestral Gothic villa built in view of the River Thames in Twickenham, London.

“The ‘Gothic Connections’ tour in turn demonstrates how this architectural mode was imprinted widely upon Manchester’s Georgian and Victorian architecture. Touring the Gothic sights at dusk—including both genuine, medieval Gothic, as well as more modern Victorian reinterpretations of the style—links the style to its popular perception as an oppressive, over-ornamented, and overbearing style. Prepare to be intrigued.”

With other events in the festival programme including the opportunity to be involved creating a giant mural, an Uncertain Spaces exhibition, an event curated and hosted by Manchester Modernist Society, a dawn bike ride, music and poetry blindfolded, Bridgewater Stories and so much more – there is something for all the family.

Not Quite Light

 Spanning dawn, day, dusk and deep into the night, Not Quite Light Festival 2020 is set to be an enchanting feature and an utterly unique experience to get involved with. Tickets are available for individual events and for more information, visit the festival website: https://notquitelightfestival.com/

All photography by Simon Buckley/Not Quite Light

By Emily Oldfield 

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