Harvesting Dreams

cash moneyWhat was our take away from Stock Exchange?


The people’s dreams.  

The people of Manchester’s dreams.  

Real dreams.  

The Manchester Art Authority was invited to take part in Stock Exchange in Sadler’s Yard, Manchester, May 25th 2019.  

Stall holders created street food, improvised art and offered clothing, bric a brac and beer.  Instead of money, a barter system was used.  Stock Exchange was cash free.  

“Do you mind if we sit here and talk to you for a bit?”  

Two cheerful and engaging men asked us about The Manchester Art Authority and what we were offering.  The shade beneath our awning froze our fingers.  The wind of the urban canyon swiped our stock, exchanging order for momentary chaos.

“We are exhibiting a series of works investigating the concept of financial value, in a broad sense, at The Old Bank Residency, round the corner, in late October.  The Old Bank asked us if we would like to take part in Stock Exchange as a forerunner of our exhibition.  We’ve been looking at classic aspirational slogans in our research – make a million by the time you’re x, retire by the time you’re y, make n by working part-time only.  Today, we will make you a bespoke and unique piece of MAA art, a collage created from our old work transmuted into currency you might be able to trade here at Stock Exchange… or take home and keep a close eye on its fluctuating value.  All we ask for… is your dreams.  Your own ultimate aspiration.  Write it down on a post-it here and now.  Place it in a brown, cash envelope.  We will read your dreams.  We might integrate some of them into the exhibition.”

There are pizzas wafting their incredible aroma across the Yard.  Serious sounds emanate from the decks up on the steps.  Neil Greenhalgh is painting animals rare and extinct in a luxury boiler suit.  

Sadler’s saddle:

“The wall you’re sitting on is as divisive as Berlin.  [It clearly isn’t]  On the other side of the wall is the capitalist world – you can buy a beer in the pub, as you have.  But step onto this side of the wall and your money’s no good here.  You need a different kind of currency.  The post-capitalist world is here; the capitalist world is over there.  And you are sitting on the wall…”

We are all sitting on the wall.  The wall is vast.  Several decades, or probably centuries wide.  It is built of robust stuff.  It seems impenetrable.  But when it falls – as all walls do – it will be rubble and dust and then one day it will be gone.  It will seem incredible that it was even there.  

“Do they have to be financial dreams?” she asks.

“… They need to be your dreams, your most authentic dream or wish.”

She writes her dream on the pad, peels it off the stack and folds it for the envelope.  Dream No.23.  

It’s freezing.  

“We think of dreams as being personal to us, our innermost ideals that we strive for.  To some extent our dreams determine the narrative arc of our lives.  But once you step back you begin to realise that your dream could be contingent upon living in a capitalist society… just as it could be dependent upon living in a communist society, or an anarchist society.  That which you held to be most personal might be part of a bigger machine.  Have we outsourced our dreams?  What would a post-capitalist dream be like?”  I say.  

She smiles.  And backs off.  

Maybe we’ll see you at the Old Bank Residency in October…

Stock Exchange


The Manchester Art Authority is excited to be part of Stock Exchange in Sadler’s Yard on Saturday 25th May 2019 12:00-18:00.

As part of Noma, this pioneering, post-capitalist event is being hosted by The Old Bank Residency and will take the form of an experimental barter system:

“The success of our current economic model relies on infinite growth and consumption in a finite world. This system is confusing, worrying and, above all, boring.

For one day only we invite you to go ‘off the books’ in an exploration of a more simple and enjoyable economic model – the barter system. Everybody is welcome to come along and take part in a day of cashless trading for our first annual Stock Exchange.

Through this event we are acknowledging our deep-seated consumer conditioning that gives us a buzz to acquire new things, despite the very real fact that we all have more than enough stuff already. By moving trade-able objects around through a frenetic days trading at our Stock Exchange we hope to sate our need for consumption without putting any additional strain on our wallets or the planet.


Come with handheld, trade-able objects. This could be pieces of art, tools, fresh produce, raw materials, clothing, books or vouchers for services to be rendered.


Swap your items for something you would like. The value of your item is dictated by the deal you do, an old saw for a pizza? Sure! A map of the far eastern fells for a candlestick? Don’t mind if I do.


We haven’t done this before; this is an experiment.
We would like you to approach all encounters with open-minded sense of possibility. We don’t encourage you to aggressively trade your way from a paperclip to a superyacht (please don’t bring paperclips or superyachts).


Trading commences in Sadler’s Yard at 12pm and will continue until all goods are swapped! We will have DJ sets, outdoor seating areas, beer tasting and talks throughout the afternoon about the sharing economy.”

Operating as a precursor to The Manchester Art Authority’s forthcoming installation on the subject of finance and value at The Old Bank Residency in October, we will be operating a stall providing you with the opportunity to create your very own unique artistic currency.  All you have to do is supply us with your most aspirational dreams.  So come down to see us at Sadler’s Yard on Saturday.  And dream out loud…

Find details online here: Stock Exchange

Twitter: @SadlersYard    @oldbanknoma


The rewilding remembered


It all seems like a very long time ago now…but the Buffalo came to Ramsbottom as part of this years Head for the Hills Festival

We were pleased to bring this unique exhibition and  installation (encompassing sculpture and sound) for people to visit as part of their festival experience. The exhibition itself explored a fascinating part of hidden local history and the work was created to respond to that and to begin a process of rewilding and bringing the buffalo home.

The response to the work was overwhelming as people not only shared their positive views of the work and the whole exhibition but also some people had a direct link to this history which we are hoping to explore further.

The rewilding has begun…but this is only the beginning.

The rewilding is the beginning.

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Sometimes you hear a story and it sticks with you.

Ideas related to it, possible avenues to explore and a project or work begins to form around it.

It started with the ghost dance, but soon pulled much closer to home

Famous Wild West figure, Col. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, twice brought his Congress of Rough Riders to Bury in around the turn of the 20th Century. For two days, they entertained the locals with displays of trick riding, recreations of famous battles and a world as for from the North West of England as possible.

It was from this jumping off point that we have been working on our new project entitled “Bringing the Buffalo Home”. For the first part of this project we will begin a process of “Rewilding” at this years Head for the Hills Festival in Ramsbottom.

This will consist of an exhibition and a sculptural element which explores this rich vein of our hidden history.

The rewilding is the beginning.

Can you hear the sound? Can you feel the rumble? The Buffalo are massing.

#rewildingrammy  #bringingthebuffalohome


The Conversation: Grandfathers’ Houses

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A conversation between two artists about their work.


Josef asks the questions, Lee answers.


How did the idea of the exhibition begin to form?

After my Taid (grandfather) died two years ago, I visited his bungalow where I’d lived on and off throughout my childhood, returning frequently as an adult. That last visit was to say goodbye to the place, to be there in such a personal, formative place one last time. I went there with my mother. The furniture had gone, it was being sold and it had been redecorated. Only the carpet really remained as evidence of someone’s personal taste. I took pictures, trying to savour being there for the last time while my consciousness was overwhelmed with the impossibility that I could be there for a last time – this house in which I’d always been.


We discussed it and your own life, currently in your own grandfather’s house. I think you pounced on it right then, it seemed like such a rich vein of experience, identity and place.


Why did this exhibition and the work in it need to be be shown?

The work leads us.  We’re just conduits for the play of these structures.  We’re caught in the matrix, sites of human frailty cross-contaminated by the effects of these forces: identity and place. We’re not just drawn to their pull, they warp the space of our experience. We are configured by them and The Manchester Art Authority is our attempt to gain a quick glimpse over our shoulders, to articulate those forces that form us.


Was the exhibition a success?

Personally and relatively – yes.


How would you sum up the work in one word?



Did you feel there was a clear idea underpinning the work?

There were strong ideas in the initial conception, the gestation, curation and installation. They were not homogeneous or singular – they were united. The Manchester Art Authority holds no truck with the single, the individual – it is a multiplicity; an organ of dynamism.


Why was this exhibition not sentimental?

It was riven through with emotional sincerity. Sentimentalism is the craft of procuring an emotional response deliberately and so it is always necessarily contrived. The work in Grandfathers’ Houses was not led by the desire to create a specific kind of response, it was rather an opportunity to think through the matrix of place and identity in which we are all caught.


What was the one thing you are most proud of with this exhibition?

People genuinely engaging with the work.


What one thing would you change?

The luxury of time to proof-read before installation.


Where next?

Up, up and away…


Lee asks the questions, Josef answers.


Why did the ideas of Grandfathers’ Houses rise to the surface and persist over time?

It came out of long discussions about our connection with these space. Lee had his connection to this past place reignited by recent experience and I had been living in this house for some time living in and with the same memories as I grew my own family. The title (which  I seem to recall came along quite early) kept jumping back into my mind and sparking ideas for work and responses, again shaped through our discussion of the themes it raised: place, space, shared memory and family mythology.


If there was a budget what would you have budgeted for?

A structural element – a plinth or a space to display specific objects that had a connection to the two houses.  I would have also liked to experiment with a better way to hang the large wall piece.


This is not a site specific work. Or is it?

I don’t think it started out that way but when the work and the site came together I really couldn’t see it existing (in its current form) in any other space.


How does this project relate to Pomona Is Rising?

A focus on space and a response to it. Pomona was more abstracted as we adopted it whereas these spaces both had a deeper resonance with us. The use of a floor outline was a conscious link but only because we like the idea of marking a space which as a visitor you can feel inside or outside of.


Do you now reflect differently on the grandfather’s house in which you live, seen through the prism of this work?

I feel like the house is more mine now as I have created something unique in it and of it. In a strange way, focusing on the past of it also gave me a sense of moving on from it.


What kinds of responses have there been from other Manchester based creatives?

I was really pleased that people saw there were deeper points of abstraction underpinning the work and that there was a conscious and successful attempt to avoid sentimentality. It was positive that people came and engaged with it; when you produce the work you really want it to be seen and experienced. We made the exhibition, people came.


What was most difficult about the overall process of this project and why?

Installing work in an unfamiliar place under a very tight time pressure. However, the experience of doing it was in itself incredibly positive because we did it and created something very special in the time available.


How will your experience with this project inform the future work of The Manchester Art Authority?

Its given me further confidence to trust in our ideas, create the work and exhibit it. The process of finding and working with Insitu also made me feel that seeking out non-traditional spaces is something that works for us and our work and that the process of adapting and responding to place is a strong theme that we keep returning to. It was also a huge learning curve in all aspects of planning, curating and responding to an exhibition that will make us better placed for the next one.

The end of the exhibition is the start of the next exhibition.

Time. Space. Distance.


These are a few things you often don’t feel you get in the planning, build up and installation of an exhibition which you have been planning for a long time.

And then…it’s all over.

It happened, the work spoke for itself and we were overwhelmed by the positive (and sometimes unexpectedly deep) reactions to the work we have spent so long with.

The end of the exhibition is the start of the next exhibition.

Come and enter our Grandfathers’ Houses.



Although today (26/5/18) is the last chance for you to see it, you are kindly invited to step into our Grandfathers’ Houses and explore artwork created on themes of place, change and the connection to our past through the homes we live in. The First exhibition from The Manchester Art Authority was kindly supported by the excellent team at Insitu who not only provided a stunning space which complimented the work but also allowed pieces of furniture from the store to be used as readymades. We were also lucky to have the preview sponsored by one of our favorite local breweries  Silver Street Brewing Company  who donated some of their excellent beer to the artistic cause. Hopefully this kindness can be repaid with a future collaboration between artists and brewers- kindred spirits who strive to make something beautiful from nothing.   This is very much the beginning for us and we would love to hear your thoughts on the show so please leave a comment below.

Pomona: Legacy


At the end of 2016 and early 2017 we brought together work which had come out of  our long-term fascination with Manchester’s edge land, Pomona. A space with a long history, Pomona was the jumping off point for visual, written and site-specific work which blurred the lines between fact and fiction, truth and mythology. Both exhibitions took place at Nexus Art Cafe and were the first time we presented work together. The work created also included an ebook An Edgeland Tale and several short videos to promote the exhibition which featured original music by Josef.

There were also two short interviews at the time which put the exhibitions into more context

Lee Ashworth interview

Exhibition interview

We both feel that our work with Pomona is not yet complete.