Arts and Culture
Afflecks Palace Exhibition

Afflecks Anniversary: The exhibition celebrating 40 years of alternative spirit

Afflecks is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style with a portrait exhibition showcasing the colourful characters which shaped its history.

The shop’s third floor has been transformed into a stunning exhibition of portraits which aim to encapsulate the spirit of Afflecks over its 40 years. 

Since 1982 it has been a haven for the alternative scene in Manchester, with each shop having its own quirks fitting together to create a unique space. 

On the entrance to the third floor, the vibrant walls have now been transformed with portraits of those who have contributed to Afflecks over the years, from traders and creatives to poets and actors. 

One of the famous faces includes Coronation Street star Antony Cotton:

The exhibition even features the traders who make Afflecks what it is, such as Joy France, who used to head up the creative space on the third floor and is also known for her gangster rapping:

Stationed in the middle of the exhibition is George the lion from the Sale Art Zoo, designed by children in Sale to represent where they live:

And peeping through the doorway as usual is the Frank Sidebottom costume, the comedy character of the musician Chris Sievey, who passed away in 2010, a reminder of the alternative essence displayed in the exhibition.

The curator of the exhibition is photographer Paul Wolfgang Webster, whose work has previously been displayed in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Nico, 18, has been going to Afflecks since they were 13 and now works at Punk’d Image.

They shared their thoughts on if the portraits captured Afflecks’s inclusivity.

They said: “It shows how far it has come and how many people it’s included and reached.

“For people who have never been there before, it’s a good thing to show them what it was and what it has been for years.”

Nico commented on Afflecks’s inclusivity: “You meet people who are like you, and it’s a place to come where you feel you’re OK.

“I’ve never felt left out or anything like that. It’s a nice place to come and not feel judged.

They shared their best memory of Afflecks: “A kid came in and I had a pronoun badge on (they/them), when he was leaving he said ‘they were really nice’ – it was one of the best parts.

“It made me feel amazing”

Faith, 50, owns the Lock Stock and Smokin’ Arts shop, and is a fan of the exhibition: “I think it’s hit the nail on the head, really.”

On what it’s like to be a trader, she said: “It’s just unique, no two days are the same.

“One day there’s a live owl in the building, the next there’s a cat on a lead.

“The inspiration behind the business was that it was a little bit of Afflecks, so it made sense when I was up and running to come here.”

The portraits will be displayed for free until 25 November, with a book chronicling the history of Afflecks also available to buy in store or online.

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