Manchester creative community and mosaic master Mark Kennedy unite for Northern Quarter art exhibition

By Daisy Yates

The best of Manchester’s creative community are coming together in an exhibition set up in a Northern Quarter gallery this week.

10 x 10, with major Manchester artists like mosaic man Mark Kennedy and poet John Cooper Clarke involved, will kick off the first annual creative festival Design Manchester.

Exploring the theme of ‘longevity’ the exhibit showcases a huge range of collaborative art pieces, including Mark Kennedy’s Pub of the Week, Forever mosaic in partnership with one of his favourite pubs, the Smithfield Hotel.

Mark Kennedy told MM: “I have a special relationship with that place.

“It feels like the old and new Manchester which is something I value greatly, I feel most comfortable there, a real pub.”

The Ardwick-born artist’s work features on the walls of Afflecks, the Dr Martens Manchester store and Coronation Street sets.

He often focusses on cultural icons from Manchester, having paid homage to Ian Curtis, Morrissey and the film 24 Hour Party People

He said: “I combined three things, I combined the art form, the whole thing of iconography and myself.”

Mark revealed that his interest in the idea of icons stems from when he spent some time in a Buddhist retreat where the concept caught his attention and imagination.

This was coupled with an interest in mosaic developed in Madrid and a passion for his Mancunian roots to create his bold and instantly recognised pieces.

John Cooper Clarke’s contribution Things are gonna get worse, which has been laser etched into Perspex by designer John Owens, takes a slightly gloomier look at the theme as his poem exposes the misery of getting old.

Another must-see is Save Yourself by paper artist Helen Musselwhite and designer and maker Loz Ives who crafted different organs and appendages from paper to ask what it would be like if you could replace the old with the new. 

Don’t sit still. Keep going by designer David Sedgwick and maker Tim Denton explores ‘What is the secret to a long and happy life?’

They teamed up with a group of older Mancunians, Chorlton Good Neighbours, and used their honest and insightful answers to that long-debated question to make a collection of rubber stamps and wood devices which can be used by visitors of the gallery to make their own postcards.

The exhibit launches the Design Manchester festival which is sponsored by Manchester School of Art and will present the talent of the city’s creative community and welcome world renowned speakers to give inspirational talks, interactive workshops and evening events.

Mark said: “The aim of the festival is the same aim of everything, to unite the best parts of what’s available to you – something I think you can see they’ve done.”

The artist admitted: “To be honest it will probably make no impact as these things rarely do.

“Like most things the actual impact is mostly invisible but that’s what happens and things definitely come from ideas.”

The exhibition will be The Bench Self-Made Gallery on Church Street from August 15 – August 28.

For more information and updates about the festival go to

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