Hulme, Manchester-Shirley Baker-914f-25c2ee39787e-1325x2040
Hulme, Manchester 1965 photo:Shirley Baker

A new exhibition at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool is one of my must-sees early this year (it’s on until 19 March). North: Identity, Photography, Fashion includes the photographs of Shirley Baker, Alistair McLellan, Elaine Constantine, Corinne Day and Nick Knight. Together with work by designers  Paul Smith, Raf Simons, Peter Saville, stylist Simon Foxton and many more. I grew up in Blackpool and studied in Manchester and even though I’ve now lived in London longer than I lived up north, I’ll always be a northener at heart. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but I do think the culture and style of the region has been incredibly influential and is well worth celebrating.

Open Eye Gallery

Arguably some of the best bands, ever, came out of Manchester and Liverpool – and helped to determine my teenage style choices. It was the 1980s, when I lived in an ‘old man’s’ overcoat, Doc Marten’s and second-hand denim and spent more time at the Haçienda than I did in the lecture theatre. As co- curator Lou Stoppard has said, ‘Things that shape you when you’re young never leave you.’

Alyson Walsh IMG copy
My 1986 student card, I’d stopped backcombing by then

Time to hit the north.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion is curated by Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray – and there’s an interview with them HERE.

20 thoughts on “An exhibition about northern style

  1. Ooh me too! Thanks for posting this Alyson. Mention of the Hacienda takes me back (grew up in Manchester). And I might be biased but I agree about its impact on style. It still determines what I think is interesting now.

  2. I was born in Manchester and went to the High school before the family moved south when I was a young teen. Recently have been doing collaboration on art project in Leeds so spending more time up north. If in Leeds area check out Yorkshire sculpture park near Wakefield also the Hepworth art gallery designed by David Chipperfield also in Wakefield. Visit there a revelation not only Barbara Hepworth’s art but Martin Parr photography the day I went. So many school children and art students sketching and being inspired by the art. Good cafe and shop there too.
    Love the picture of Alyson as 80s student. I’ve kept my student ID too. One looks shockingly young and fresh.
    A bit worried about the return of some 80s fashion especially at Balenciaga. Not sure if I can embrace the big shoulders and overall baggy clothing silhouette at my age mid 60s but the less fitted look is good for comfort as is the return of shoes one can walk in. Platforms I don’t think so.

  3. Oh that’s a fab student photo. I never looked that cool 😉

    I shall have to make a trip to Liverpool to see this!

    LBB x

  4. I was in Manchester in 1964-65 at the University. To think I wandered the streets when
    those little girls were swinging on a lamp post. I loved the architecture of brick houses in a row
    and the bridges over canals or rivers.

  5. Still got my railcard from 1982 Unfortunately I had a long curly perm and wore massive bows on my head a la Bananarama /Boy George . #Northernlass

  6. That student id picture is the best. Those wide-set eyes of yours are mystical, they say “north” to me. Never been but I’ve always wanted to visit Manchester, I like grit, and I imagine it to be “gritty”…

  7. Ha Ha! ‘old mans overcoat’! That was me!! (also fond of the mens velvet smoking jackets from the charity shop) along with battered 501’s (or Burtons mens shiny grey baggy suit trousers), DM’s, batwing jumper and some blue colour hair mousse for my quiff! Would have looked really cool except for the Deirdre Barlow specs!

  8. Brilliant! As a Cumbrian lass I’m as northern as they come – although I too have lived ‘darn sarth’ longer than ‘oop north’. The old man’s overcoat thing brought it all back – Morrissey has a lot to answer for!!

  9. I love the ID card. I’ve still got mine as well. I’ve just come from barre where the shockingly young instructor treated us to a TBT mix tape of “oldies” as we’d braved ice and snow to make the early class. We appreciated the Boy George and Plimsols; the “oldies” moniker I could do without.

  10. I grew up in a suburb of Manchester and couldn’t wait to get away because I’d been through all the boys I liked in my town and wanted new .
    Now I see the quality of musical and artistic opportunities and teaching I regret that it wasn’t my focus back then .
    It took the menopause to make me practise the piano seriously and I haven’t looked back since .

  11. Speaking of the north I read today that Maria Balshaw director of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester will probably be appointed head of all of the Tate. Congratulations to her and to Francis Morris Director of Tate Modern now.
    How about a profile of Maria. She looks to be a most stylish, accomplished person with a great dress sense in every picture of her I’ve seen.

  12. Hi Alyson, I wonder if we ever crossed paths? I was at Manchester Poly on the fashion course from September 1982, only for two terms then I exchanged over to St Martins ( before it was part of Central St Martins). Which course were you on?
    Very best

  13. Oh, Alyson. You were so cool at that age. I can only wish I had been in your league back in the day. You’re still sitting at the cool kids’ table. Love your blog and your perspectives on fashion, culture, etc.

  14. I remember that look so well……you haven’t changed a bit! Will definitely go and see this exhibition as visiting Liverpool next month to see daughter no.1 Thanks for the heads up xx

  15. Thanks for the heads up in this Alyson, definitely one to visit. I am fortunate to live just an hour’s train journey from the great cities of Manchester and Liverpool. Until recently my visits would mostly be for shopping but I decided -in mid
    December no less, to have an ‘absolutely NO shopping’ trip to Manchester. I walked for miles looking up a lot & taking in the different modern architecture, new development & wonderful historic buildings ( that town hall!!!!) followed by an
    afternoon spent in the town art gallery. A grand day out.
    Liverpool’s next…
    By the way, visited Blackpool Lights for the first time in 30 years this year. Flippin’ fantastic!
    Love the blog, don’t usually comment but being a Lanky lass…….

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