Finding Manchester's Lord Mayor
When we were busy picking leeches off our shins while looking for Manchester in the Bolivian Amazon, we never dreamt where it would take us.No, not A&E, but rather the Lord Mayor's chambers in Manchester, England. It is now 8:21 on a frosty English morning and recording equipment is all around us in preparation for the interview that the Lord Mayor has agreed to do. WAV audio recorders, two HD digital video cameras and one stills camera are all lined up.
As we searched for the long-forgotten village of Manchester in Bolivia, established by a Mancunian metal engineer named Anthony Webster-James during the days of the rubber boom, it never occurred to us that our search would lead to an entirely different journey. Then, we were simply looking for a lost village with the sole purpose of satisfying our own curiosity. We didn’t think that it would lead to a five-month exhibition and a rather large draft manuscript for a future book. And we didn’t think that we would be organising ourselves for a second Finding Manchester venture. The project has snowballed from two people in a canoe in the middle of nowhere searching out just one village, to our latest preparations for visiting and documenting 52 Manchesters around the world in 52 weeks, across 5 continents. It's certainly an ambitious project and it's not even funded yet, but its something we have to do.
So where does the Lord Mayor come into all this? Well, rather than just travelling for the sake of travelling (not that there’s anything wrong with that), we’re going to be creating a historical archive of interviews, images, and a collection of contemporary historical items from each of the Manchesters as we go, including those from Manchester England. Following the success of the initial exhibition at the Manchester Museum, they have partnered with us again to host a second exhibition which will showcase the modern-day historic collections and stories of people from Manchesters around the world. We’re also working with the city Archives to ensure that all this material is safeguarded for generations to come.
The Lord Mayor will be the very first interview we do for the project and we’re very proud that his office is supporting us. Once edited, the interview will go on the Finding Manchester website. The Lord Mayor will be the first in a series of hundreds of interviews, which will come together to paint a picture of the world of Manchesters in the 21st Century. Finding Manchester is all about celebrating and exploring places and cultures around the world which are united by a common name.
As I’m writing this, with a slightly numb backside because I’m sitting on the floor while the dog (and Finding Manchester mascot) enjoys the comfort of the chair, the leeches of the Rio Manuripi, where Manchester Bolivia can be found, seems like a world away, and in fact they are. But one journey leads to another. Evidently adventure comes in many forms.
How do you address a Lord Mayor anyway?