from above

This project brought together young dancers and actors from Manchester and the North West in an exciting exploration of historical Manchester. By using archive photographs, artifacts and music as far back as the 1800’s and merging them with modern photography, it allows audiences to experience a new outlook on Manchester’s past and present.

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The process began by gathering the most interesting and thought provoking images in the archive collection. It was important to capture the diversity of Manchester and to recognise its industrial roots.  Through the timeline of archives, what stood out the most was how well images and sounds were able to capture a general sentiment and mood of that period: whether that was the melancholic industrial environment; the strong community settings at Hulme Carnival or the vibrant summer months in Piccadilly Gardens.

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Once images were collected, they became a stimulus for the movement and emotion of the dancers. Characters and certain personas formed by imitating the expressions on the people’s faces in the images. Actors listened to sound archives and their responses
were filmed. Mood and feelings of certain images were embodied through shape and movement.


Using editing software the modern photos were merged with the original archives, resulting in an exhibition “ArchivesMoved” which will be on display in Archives+, Manchester Central Library from March to June 2017. A map of Manchester in the exhibition shows the forever expanding history of arts in Manchester.

This blog post was written by Maya Marsh as part of the ArchivesMoved project supported by Archives+ and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.