New city-wide open air exhibition launched as part of University Bicentenary celebrations

Manchester city-wide open-air exhibition features words from Cheddar Gorgeous, Jeanette Winterson, Josh Widdicombe, Lemn Sissay, Mathew Horne and Rob Rinder.

Universally Manchester: Where Great Things Come Together, is an open air gallery of celebratory art, spanning 130 sites across the city centre this week, taking inspiration from people’s time at The University of Manchester.

The exhibition marks the run up to the much anticipated Universally Manchester Festival - a once in a lifetime, four-day festival to mark the University’s 200th birthday taking place from 6-9 June, with hundreds of free tickets for events with speakers and performers including Professor Brian Cox, GRRRL, Ed O’Brien (Radiohead) and Professor Daniela Delneri (with Cloudwater Brew Co) available to all from the 9th May. Visitors can sign up for early access to the popular events here .

Reflecting on their love for the city, and the lasting impact their experiences have had, contributors to this citywide visual art project include award winning author and Professor of Creative Writing Jeanette Winterson , and poet and former Chancellor Lemn Sissay , alongside alumni including drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous , comedian Josh Widdicombe , actor Mathew Horne and barrister and broadcaster Rob Rinder.

The artworks are a fusion of creativity, each designed by different Manchester illustrators, breathing life into the inspiring quotes and the colourful personalities behind them. From 7th May the artworks can be found exhibited at Mayfield Park, St Peter’s Square Metrolink , and on over 130 digital billboards and poster sites across the city.

The Josh Widdicombe artwork was created by Ellie Thomas, Lemn Sissay by John Owens, Rob Rinder and Matthew Horne by Beth Wilkinson and Cheddar Gorgeous by Louise Hardman.

Louise Hardman, on illustrating part of Cheddar Gorgeous’ quote, which has been painted as a mural by , in Mayfield Park: " Drag performer, producer, academic, and visual artist - Cheddar Gorgeous is a Manchester powerhouse. For this piece, I was deeply inspired by Cheddar’s playful and unapologetic approach to their art and activism; exhibited by the vivid colours, bold type, and whimsical patterns within the design.

"Through the incorporation of illustrated theatrical iconography, the artwork spotlights Cheddar’s impressive lifelong career in the performing arts, in addition to their conceptual approach to storytelling and self-expression. It’s been an utter honour to have had the opportunity to help visualise Cheddar’s beautiful words."

A mural of Rob Rinder’s words, illustrated by Beth Wilkinson, will be painted live, by , at Mayfield Park on Thursday 9th May, to coincide with the release of hundreds of free tickets for Universally Manchester Festival, which are available via www.universallymanc­hester.com .

Universally Manchester: Where Great Things Come Together

"A show of grit and glass, a beautiful contradiction. Beyond everything else I admire Manchester’s self belief. it punches above its weight and more often than not comes out top of the bill. The city revels in being its own main character. A perfect production; protagonist, antagonist, stage and audience, all rolled into one." Cheddar Gorgeous: - Drag performer and alumnus.

MAN-cunians or MAM-cunians’ The Romans called this place Mamucium. MAM is Celtic for mother, breast, river goddess. The women of this city are its ancient and forever energy. Jeanette Winterson - Writer

"The ultimate place on Earth to become a grown up, go out until 3am and occasionally go to lectures." Josh Widdicombe - Comedian and alumnus.

"If it were not imagined, It could not be made, Therefore imagination, Must not be afraid."
Lemn Sissay - Poet and former Chancellor .

"Manchester was the place to be and remains so. I look back fondly at my time living and studying there. It really was the beginning of everything for me. It’s the city of opportunity." Mathew Horne - Actor and alumnus.

Manchester never compared itself to anywhere else. I loved the pride the city took in its unique identity. It was, in so many ways, my most important gift. It’s where I discovered that cultural and intellectual curiosity is limitless and where - like the city itself - I found the courage to be different. Rob Rinder - Barrister, broadcaster and alumnus.

The Festival

Welcoming over 60,000 people, Universally Manchester Festival offers everything from poetry to physics, music to medicine, computing to creative writing and more. With events popping up in labs, concert theatres, outdoor spaces and the University’s award-winning culture hotspots Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum.

Universally Manchester will acknowledge the University’s global impact; the world firsts, the life-changing discoveries, the music, art, science and creativity, all sparked in Manchester, featuring contributions from Professor Brian Cox, Professor David Olusoga, CBeebies presenter and Down’s Syndrome ambassador George Webster, Ed O’Brien, (Radiohead), international supergroup GRRRL directed by Laima Leyton (Mixhell / Soulwax) , poet Lemn Sissay , Dr Sarah Crowther (member of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Sample Analysis Team), immunologist Professor Sheena Cruikshank , director of Jodrell Bank Professor Tim O’Brien , exonerated postmaster Tom Hedges and many, many more.

This has been made possible with the kind support of Manchester City Council and Transport For Greater Manchester (TFGM).

Free ticketed events will be available to book from Thursday 9 May, with early access available for those that sign up for information here .