Issue 67Can you spell 'art school'?

Simon Branson, FCBStudios Partner and Manchester resident celebrates the energy and creativity that runs through the city and the effect it has on Manchester’s urban fabric.

Simon Branson, FCBStudios Partner and Manchester resident celebrates the energy and creativity that runs through the city and the effect it has on Manchester’s urban fabric.

Manchester is a place of industry founded on endeavour and creative thinking.

Manchester was the first industrial city and the legacy of this transformative past is still very much visible in the city today. Not just in the red brick fabric of the mills and institutions that were funded by the industrialists, but also in the energy that continues to drive the city: an energy that values action, values making things better and values the past.  

Industry, creativity, art, design and music have all shaped and influenced each other within this city. The cultural institutions were formed to support the industry and its output. Art is part of the DNA of the city but more than that it continues to shape the city. From the youngest occupants who can’t yet write but can sing and draw, to the life-drawing, wine-drinking, evening-classers, from the volunteers who take music into hospitals, to graffiti artists who make their mark in public, the city is enriched by art, artists, students and teachers.

An art school reaches beyond the confines of its four walls. If it sits within the city then the cultural and social histories that have formed the city are also endemic in the school itself. The school and its context cannot be separated. The city is the art school. 

The living rooms, offices and bedrooms are the workshops and classrooms. The galleries, streets and theatres the presentation spaces. Music is created, images are produced and cross-stitch is sewn within all of these hidden classrooms in the depths of people’s homes. The art school evolves and grows as new classrooms and studios are added and adapted to facilitate future works of art. 

The creative residents are helping to shape and form the city alongside the politicians, developers, architects, designers and engineers. We are all students and teachers within the school in the city. The creative skills that others have gained are constantly being passed on to others who are eager to learn.

Simon Branson

Can you spell 'art school'?  is a poem written by FCBStudios architect, Katherine McMahon to accompany a short film about Manchester for FCBStudios 4020 celebrations.

The film was shown at a special event for the Manchester International Festival on 9 July 2019.

FCBStudios Manchester office opened in 2015 and the practice is currently working on projects across Manchester and the North, including: Circle SquareHigh Street Manchester; Trafford Civic Quarter Masterplan; Manchester Metropolitan University SODA; Masterplans for Liverpool University and National Museums LiverpoolSheffield Heart of the City, Kirkstall Forge and CEG Southbank, Leeds.