For over a year, Salford photographer, Simon Buckley, has been taking photos of the city at dawn, when few are around and everything is rather serene. These photos, being exhibited at The Lowry Hotel between 17th May and 17th July, form the basis of a four day Not Quite Light Festival with twenty events featuring music, poetry, a mystery bus tour, a dawn Mobike ride through the city, guided walks and more.
On Thursday 17th, at the Kings Arms (7:30pm £5/£3), The Real Story presents In The Half Light, five writers reading five commissions on the themes of twilight and transition.
On Friday 18th, there's Transition, 'an evening of beautiful music exploring the themes of dawn, dusk and transition', featuring readings by Julie Hesmondhalgh at Sacred Trinity Church on Chapel Street (8:30pm £14), while between 6pm and 8pm there's an Evening With Private White VC, the high end menswear manufacturers at its Cottenham Lane home (£4).
Earlier in the day, there's a free tour of the Working Class Movement Library titled What Time Is This? with the emphasis on dawn and dusk workers (2pm-4pm), while in the evening, Jonathon Schofield does a guided tour of The River At Dusk, exploring the history of the Irwell and Chapel Street (meet at Abito 7:50pm £10)
Saturday 19th, very early morning, like 4am, there's a Guided Dawn Walk by Citizens' Journal (meet at Greengate £10), while at the same time, there's Urban Foraging at Dawn with Emma Roberts, in The Meadows and Peel Park (meet at The Meadow £10). All that fresh air limbers up nicely for a Magical Modernist Mystery Bus Tour of Salford by the Manchester Modernist Society (meet Greengate 11am £10/£8).
After walking, foraging and riding through the gentrification and destruction of Salford, what better way to contemplate it all with a screening of The Changing Face of Salford from 1968, followed by a debate on the subject with the very people who are facilitating it all – Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, Shelagh McNerney from the City Council's Development Office, and Andy Avery, one of the directors at Buttress Architects, designers of the totally unaffordable Timekeeper's Square development, plus Claire Devaney of Citizen-i.
One of the issues up for discussion will be 'How do we retain Salford's soul in a changing city?'...The Salford Star believes that you'd have to find the soul of most of those taking part (somewhere in the prison of Mammon, no doubt) before getting anything of value from them all. Anyone wishing to chip in will have to fork out £7.50 (£5) to attend (St Philip's Church 2pm).
To recover, St Philip's Church also hosts Night Lights on Saturday evening (7:30pm £12/£9), with light installations, music, DJs, poetry, ghost stories and a performance by Room 1985 with sounds of psychedelia, space rock, electronica, post-rock and synthwave...
At 10:30pm on the same Saturday night there's also a women-only event, Lone Women in the Not Quite Light: Flashes of Wilderness, on the top floor of Salford Q Car Park (£2), exploring 'experiences of aloneness, darkness and wilderness'...
...Or, at 8:30pm, there's a guided walk open to everyone called Loitering In The Not Quite Spaces, with walking artist Morag Rose, who will take participants on a psychogeographical tour of the night time streets with 'tales of wanderers, poets, rebels, magicians...'
Sunday 19th is another packed day. For early risers, 4:15am is the start time of Mobike Sunrise, a dawn bike ride through Salford, via Lower Broughton and Chapel Street. To take part, download the Mobike app (£1), enter the special #NQLWeekend promo code, and you will receive five free rides, including this one (meet at Greengate Square).
For those not so sure in the saddle, at 4am there's a more chilled event called Listen To The Irwell, a walk with sound artist Xavier Velastin to interact with 'natural matter, litter, railings' that are found along the path of the riverside (meet Peel Park £8.50).
Later on in the day, there's a tour of Blueprint Studio at 3pm and 4pm (£4), a guided walk of Timekeeper's Square (to spot the affordable housing?) at 2:30pm (£4.50!), while, also at 2:30pm is perhaps a more edifying experience, Following In Lowry's Footsteps, led by Royston Futter, starting at The Lowry Hotel and finishing on the Crescent (£3.50).
At 2pm on Sunday there's a free concert in Bexley Square with performances by FINOLA, Marc Gallagher and Laura Farrow, and John Dhali, before a Festival closing event called Awake, at The Meadow (£12/£9), where artist Lucy May Schofield will stage a 'social artwork' between 8pm and 11pm, involving light sensitive sheets and more...
"It has been a joy putting this programme together; the subjects in question are so interesting and important to the future of Salford" says Simon Buckley "Individually and collaboratively, I have created events at dawn, during the day, and at dusk, to explore the city in a unique way.
"I'm thrilled to be back with a 2018 Festival" he adds "It's a new festival for Salford, with the aim being to repeat in 2019 and 2020. It would be fantastic to see as many people there as possible to meet, socialise, discuss and enjoy the environs of a special place through the arts and these events."
For full information on all the events and ticket details see the Not Quite Light website – click here