I spied a chance to spend some quality camera time in an environment utterly alien to me with a vision of crafting some grungy monochromes. It was just gone 7:30pm and I’d dropped my two daughters off at the Manchester Arena with a promise to be back by 10:30pm to meet them after the Brian Cox show.
Both they and I were excited. They were in for a great night, and so was I. Parking up in the Northern Quarter on the recommendation of my youngest who knows about such places I took myself off into the underbelly of the city. My simple plan came together as I found my way to the river that oozes through the centre just beyond Deansgate.
Always wanting to work with a definite theme to prevent overwhelm or aimless wandering I decided to capture rebellious nature alongside urban depictions of nature, playing them off each other. I was shooting on my Olympus Pen F and visualising the images in very contrasty monochrome.
As the night fell I steadily made my way back to the Arena ready to meet my girls who were buzzing about the show. 10:35pm.
24 hours later and the scene in that very same spot was tragically different. I woke to a text off my eldest alerting me to the explosion and was immediately consumed by so many ‘what-ifs’. ‘What if the bomber had visited a night earlier’ being my first thought. My life could well have been taking a very different course today.
My creative work helps me plot a way through such dark moments, keeping me sane(ish), and this morning as I began to give time to my Manchester images I couldn’t bear to see them in black and white. Colour kept flooding back from the trees, the lights, the softness of the water, the darkening sky. I began to think of the folk who I’d interacted with in many small ways for those 3 hours, the people who make Manchester. I began to sense the common thread of sorrow and shock that now unites us all.
Gratitude and Colour
However my overwhelming emotion is one of deep gratitude. My daughters are alive and well and can continue to explore their lives in full colour. My heart goes out to those families who aren’t so lucky. The dads and mums, brothers and sister, grandparents and friends who won’t see their lost ones again. Those who won’t get to feel the joys and the concerns of having children loose in the world.
Manchester in colour. Lovingly defiant, deeply sorrowful, soothed by nature’s breath.