Whitworth Young Contemporaries hijack The Whitworth!

After months of planning the programme, booking artists, organising equipment, creating visuals & spreading the word within the local community, we couldn’t wait – despite a few last minute nerves – to see all of our hard work come together & (with the help of all the gallery’s amazing staff) to put on a night to remember…. Buzzing with everything from screen-printing to grime & poetry to circus skills, the night served to demonstrate how incredible & diverse the young talent in this city truly is.

We completed the set-up just in time for our first round of performers & workshops to begin, kicking off with spoken-word group Young Identity & Inna Voice hijacking the portrait gallery and Whitworth On Fire taking over the art garden to show off their circus skills. Everyone was enjoying the atmosphere sitting out in the sun & it was great to see unsuspecting members of the public wandering over from the park to investigate what all the commotion was about. As One69a’s screenprinting workshop got underway in the learning studio, MC’s Free Wize Men took to the stage in the central gallery to host an open mic session, sending the sounds of freestyling & beatboxing ricocheting around the building. Tucked away in the Study Centre, people could get up close to some of the pieces from the Whitworth’s collection & talk one-on-one with curators about the work. Over in the South Gallery, a large-scale piece of art gradually emerged throughout the night as part of a WYC Makes workshop run by Bella & Joy, which used coloured tape to reveal the letters W-Y-C spelled out across the floor.

Ivan Ooze opened up the Grand Hall, followed by Manchester’s home-grown hip-hop talent King Burga. BPM aka Big People Music DJ’d throughout the night whilst electronic outfit D/R/U/G/S headlined, performing to visuals created by our very own video-artist Sophie Mahon. RNCM’s Project Jam Sandwich performed in the central gallery with their world-music inspired sound to an astounded audience. The fire alarm going off during their set even triggered an impromptu outdoor performance in the art garden, which turned out to be a highlight of the night!

All-in-all as a group we were overjoyed with how well the night went. Despite all of the planning, we really had no idea how successful the night would be and were overwhelmed that over 1,000 people joined us throughout the course of the night. After the success of the hijack, we are really looking forward to what the future might hold for our next event & we cannot wait to showcase more of the young artistic talent that Manchester has to offer.

Special thanks to our partners & friends KYSO, Unity Radio, Brighter Sound, Odd Arts, Young Identity & of course to all our amazing performers.

Photography by Rachael Burns & Jack Makin