Curated by artist Simon Buckley of NQL, the four-day event is back for its third year, with 30 events at 12 venues and locations across Salford. On the weekend the clocks go forward, the festival uses the time of dawn and dusk as a moment of inspiration for reflection and ideas.
With newly commissioned work by artists, musicians, historians and filmmakers alongside walks, tours, talks and workshops, the festival focuses on Salford as a place of change and regeneration and uses this to ask how our cities are changing, from a range of perspectives.
The weekend includes a walk to record sounds at dusk, a film screening projected on the back of a sofa, walks along the River Irwell, an opportunity for children to dream the city of the future and a question on how the way we light our cities is affecting our daily lives.
"I'm fascinated by Salford, the city I live in and, as an artist, it's impossible not to respond to the transition of the streets around me, as the pace of regeneration causes such rapid change," Simon Buckley tells Creative Boom. "I'm out at dawn as it's so magical, a time of possibility and beauty. I often feel as if I've stepped through the back of a wardrobe, and I never tire of seeing the new day emerge from the darkness.
"The festival will be held on the weekend that the clocks go forward, the official start of summertime. It allows us to reflect and to consider where we are in our world, and what we want from the city in which we live. The artists and performers that I've brought together are there, as always, to provide us with inspiration, to begin a conversation. The reason I do this is because of the magic that happens in the half-light."
Festival highlights include Beneath These Tarmac Cracks, a play specially commissioned for NQL 2019 with music written by Bruntwood Prize finalist, Joshua Val Martin and sound artist, Daniel Mawson, which tells the story of a Salfordian woman, born in 1913, who has developed a regenerative neurological disease that makes her vividly remember every second of her life. Are there some things better left forgotten?
Led by author and academic Nick Dunn, Dark Borders is a night walk that will ask "What is a border?" – looking at both Salford and Manchester. It considers what happens when the identity of places become smudged.
Elsewhere, Dave Haslam and The Option (Paris) perform their ambient soundscape ‘Breathless’ live for the first time in the UK – with an accompanying live video created by Donna Jevens, alongside sets by spoken word performers Eve Piper, Karl Hildebrandt, and Kieren King, and acoustic singer/songwriter Evie Russell. Utilising Dave Haslam’s heartbeat, together with found sounds, disembodied voices, and effects and weirdness galore, it’s an intense and overwhelming experience.
Lighting our Lives will be a fascinating talk by experts from Arup and a leading Manchester architecture practice on how we use artificial light. Light, of course, plays a vital role in our lives, affecting how we behave and feel. They’ll be discussing how a human-centered approach to urban lighting can create a truly 24hr city.
There'll also be an afternoon exploring Salford's Victorian architecture from two different points of view. Salford underwent extraordinary change during the Industrial Revolution, and the Victorians built a new city. Historian John Garrard will discuss the social and economic factors that inspired the architecture of the Victorian era, and that ultimately has led to its demise as a fresh city is built in the 21st Century.
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