The Northern Quarter Street Art You Should See
Once the home of the cotton industry, the Northern Quarter is now known as a lively, vibrant neighbourhood with a strong interest in the creative arts. Street art, in particular, has become one of the defining characteristics of the area.
When visiting the Northern Quarter, you won’t be able to miss the amount of great street art covering walls and buildings all around the area. The best part is, the city has embraced the scene with open arms, going as far as to introduce programmes and events like the Out House Project and Cities of Hope, which aim to inspire up and coming artists whilst raising awareness of important social issues alongside the Northern Quarter art scene.
One of the most exciting elements of Northern Quarter street art is that it’s constantly changing. More often than not, you’ll catch a great looking piece on instagram, only to find it covered over the next day by something just as powerful.
There’s no mistaking the facts, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one of the best places in the country to see a huge collection of amazing street art. But, with pieces changing so rapidly, what is the street art most worth seeing right now?
Here are our top picks for the Northern Quarter street art you should see.
Blue Tit by Faunagraphic
Take a trip down Newton Street and you may just be struck by the image of a giant Blue Tit resting on a vine.
This mural is the work of street artist Faunagraphic and was commissioned by Converse as part of their Wall to Wall project (hence why you’re able to see the Converse logo in the bottom right corner!) With its blue and yellow feathers shining out from the brick wall it covers, the piece has steadily become a staple of the Northern Quarter street art scene.
Created back in 2011, it’s also one of the few pieces of street art that has remained untouched in all these years – and it’s this longevity that’s no doubt contributed to the Blue Tit becoming one of the most beloved Northern Quarter art pieces.
Eleven by Akse
If you’re a Stranger Things fan, this piece is a must-see. Created by street artist Akse, this whole wall mural depicts Eleven from Netflix’s TV show Stranger Things and was made to coincide with the show’s third season release.
Akse is an infamous street artist around Manchester and is renowned for creating photo-realistic portraits. In the past, he’s produced a number of fan favourite pieces, including portraits of David Bowie and Prince. It’s this hyper-realistic style that makes the Eleven portrait such a sight to behold, and has definitely contributed to the mural becoming one of the most instagrammed pieces of Northern Quarter street art.
Anthony Burgess by TankPetrol
Behind a car park just off of Oak Street, you’ll see a wall length portrait of writer Anthony Burgess. This striking piece of art work was completed by TankPetrol during the city’s 2016 Cities Of Hope festival and depicts Burgess, who was born in the nearby district of Harpurhey.
The portrait is particularly popular amongst literary fans, bearing the quote “We can destroy what we have written but we cannot unwrite it,” across the background – a reference from Burgess’ most famous work A Clockwork Orange. This powerful message coupled with the mural’s arresting colour palette is why the piece has become such an enduring part of the Northern Quarter street art scene, and why it’s so worth seeing if you ever take a stroll through the area.
Birds by Mateus Bailon
Brazilian street artist Mateus Bailon has created one of the largest and most comprehensive pieces of street art in the Northern Quarter.
The piece in question is a large-scale mural covering the entire end wall of the Stage & Radio Bar on the corner of Port Street and Faraday Street. It depicts 10 birds, the artist’s speciality, flying upwards amongst a background of plants and leaves. With its attention to detail, vibrant colour palette and magnificent scale, seeing it in person is possibly the only way to comprehend the effort and labour that must have gone in to producing such an impressive mural.
Inhuman Barriers by Nevercrew
The Northern Quarter street art scene is awash with strong pieces which raise awareness of various rife social issues and the swiss art duo Nevercrew’s piece “Inhuman Barriers” is no exception.
Produced during Cities of Hope in 2016, the huge mural covers the side of Hilton House and depicts an iceberg shaped quartz, with silhouetted people free-falling from its base. Created to support WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together), the mural aims to address the conversations surrounding immigration and support for refugees, using the iceberg analogy to highlight the separation between what we see and the important, hidden reality of the subject. The powerful political statement of the piece coupled with its bold design and imposing form makes this almost impossible to miss next time you walk down Tariff Street.
22 Worker Bees by Qubek
In response to the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 in which 22 people sadly lost their lives and over 200 were injured, artists all around the city took to the streets and painted murals of bees in a show of support and solidarity.
One such artist was Russ Mehan, AKA Qubek, whose original work was so well-received that he was commissioned by The Manchester Evening news to create a special mural on the side of the Koffee Pot Cafe on Oldham Street, at the heart of the Northern Quarter. In this piece, 22 worker bees surround a heart containing the letters “MCR” in a touching tribute to the victims of the attack. The mural is also a simple but effective show of togetherness for the affected community and manages to embody the overall strength and power of Northern Quarter street art.
Papua New Guinea child by Dale Grimshaw
2016’s Cities of Hope brought together a number of talented artists to contribute to the Northern Quarter street art scene, highlight social issues and raise money for charity. Dale Grimshaw was one such artist, who created his Papua New Guinea Child mural during the festival in dedication to those fighting for independence in West Papua.
This striking piece depicts a child from Papua New Guinea, wearing traditional body paint and holding a rose. Located just off of Spear Street, the giant portrait covers the entire wall and is produced in strikingly bright red, blue and yellow. The piece has become something of a landmark in recent years and is well worth viewing if just to experience its powerful and vibrant colours in person.
Protect Our Wyldlife by Jim Visions
Known for creating bold and colourful pieces, artist Jim Vision is somewhat of a fixture of the Northern Quarter Street Art scene.
Completed in January of this year, “Protect Our Wyldlife” is Jim Vision’s third giant mural located in the same position at the end of Thomas Street. This new piece, having covered up the artist’s previous work and largely popular mural “The Tiger”, is a call to action over the environment. The mural, covering the whole wall, is an homage to woodland warriors and worriers alike, depicting various woodland creatures alongside the teary face of a human. Set to the backdrop of a forest seemingly being engulfed by the orange mist and glowing embers of its background, “Protect Our Wyldlife ” implores us to take better care of our planet’s forests, habitats and wildlife.