Sketching the King Street Festival in Manchester

Manchester’s King Street Festival is now in its 3rd year and it is the first year it has included the top area of King Street, with parking bays turned into mini parklets for the duration! All along this iconic and historic shopping street there was al fresco dining, free fizz, gifts and goodiebags, a bandstand, a grand piano, pop-up parks, an art garden together with heritage tours and events from Manchester’s premium names in shopping, food and drink. The festival was also supporting The British Red Cross We Love MCR emergency fund for those affected by the Manchester arena attack.   This year I sensed, amongst the sadness and quiet reflection of the St Ann’s Square flower memorial, togetherness and a feeling of Manchester pulling together in solidarity. This is what makes Manchester special: its people and its places.


I started to discuss my involvement in the King Street Festival with CityCo just over a year ago, whilst delivering reportage illustration for another Manchester-based project. We wanted the sketching activities to engage visitors to the festival as well as involve myself recording the event in drawings, so we set up a Street Sketching workshop where people could drop in for an hour, learn some top tips and then do some of their own sketching. In between times, when I wasn’t organizing the workshops, I captured aspects of the festival activities in sketches so it was a full-on couple of days! If you came along to the workshops, I do hope you had fun, and if you didn’t come along, I hope my sketches below, give you some sense of the activities of King street on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th June 2017.

We ran 3 workshops on each day and these were well received by people that had signed up for them. Each participant was given a fine liner and A5 sketchbook and after an initial introduction and sharing of my top urban sketching tips, they had about 45 minutes to sketch their favourite scenes before coming back to share their sketches and tell us how they had got on. We had some great results and everyone seemed to enjoy the process. Sketching really is a good way of recording your life in a diary, the drawings and notes give you a narrative that you can look back on and remember and of course the sketches mean that you remember more, because you are looking at things for longer.


Because I was working around the workshops there wasn’t time to capture everything.   I tried to sketch my key take away scenes from the event,  so I hope the drawings below give you a sense of the place and the occasion.





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