With the creative community seriously affected by the Covid-19 crisis, MIF has repurposed some of its artist development funds to support artists and creative practitioners based in Greater Manchester to make work during the lockdown.

Following a recent call out, 16 artists and creative practitioners have been selected to create ‘remote residencies’ from their homes.  Here are just some of the projects to look out for over the coming weeks…

Art Unlocked, Unearthed by Jennifer Gilbert
Manchester-based curator Jennifer Gilbert set up the Jennifer Lauren Gallery to champion and exhibit self-taught and overlooked artists who create works outside the mainstream art world and art history. It aims to showcase undiscovered talents, evolving artists, as well as internationally recognised artists commonly seen as Outsider Artists, whose authentic, raw and honest work speaks for itself.

For her MIF Remote Residency, Jennifer held a two-week call-out in April 2020 for art work from artists that self-define as disabled and/or deaf. With the help of artist and adult survivor Terence Wilde and curator Lisa Slominski, she selected the work of 30 artists from 194 submissions. culminating in a rich and vibrant online exhibition and zine: ‘Art | Unlocked | Unearthed.

Jennifer says: “Art provides a much-needed distraction and connection point for so many disabled and/or Deaf artists in order to combat the loneliness and isolation that they are currently facing. I hope you enjoy some of the extraordinary art here, many from artists working out of supported studios who are doing an incredible job to move their programming online. Supporting artist’s wellbeing is of utmost importance to me and this exhibition is just one way of providing a boost to artists during this time.”

To view the exhibition which is online now and download the zines visit the Jennifer Lauren Gallery website

Hero Worship by Cheddar Gorgeous

Known for her unicorn, alien, and other fantastical drag performances, Cheddar Gorgeous is one of the UK’s most celebrated drag queens with over 112k instagram followers. The ‘drag daddy’ of the Family Gorgeous, Cheddar is one of the driving forces of Manchester’s Home of Fabulous, Cha Cha Boudoir, an infamous and inclusive late-night club cabaret for spectacular creatures. More recently, Cheddar is one of the stars of Channel 4’s new hit show Drag SOS.

Her project ‘Hero Worship’, developed through her MIF Remote Residency, is a series of nine photographic portraits showcasing unique drag ‘looks’. Each ‘look’ is made up of specially-designed makeup design and costume pieces that pay homage to a different group of key workers serving our communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Cheddar says: “Hero worship is a recurring current of inspiration and expression in drag. However, rather than the emulation or exaltation of celebrity, this project wishes to celebrate the truly heroic people in society that are only revealed in unprecedented times of crisis.”

Cheddar is releasing nine portraits via Instagram.

Rain Box by David McFarlane

Musician David McFarlane is interested in innovative and inclusive ways to create music, using new ideas and new technology. He used his Remote Residency time to develop his work on weather-responsive music, building on ideas first started during MIF19 as part of our Creative Lab programme.

Rain Box is a perspex cube with sensors inside it to detect when it was hit by rain. Each time a rain drop hit it, the box played a bell sound and a recording of a Manchester resident saying their own name. During the past few weeks David has created a host of new elements including sensors and a synthesiser that draws weather data from different sources and uses it to compose music in real time. Eventually he wants to assemble all these pieces into one unit, and present it as a longform audio piece that responds to its specific location.

David says: “There’s still a lot I want to develop, but the remote residency has allowed me the time and breathing space to explore lots of the ideas the original Rain Box left open. Big thanks to MIF for having me!”

Visit David’s website to see his full residency report including images and videos of the work in progress.

Meet You There by Ella Otomewo
Performance poet Ella Otomewo has performed at numerous spoken word events up and down the country and is a member of Young Identity, the acclaimed spoken word collective based in Manchester that uses performance to expose young people’s issues. Recently, she was chosen to be part of Words First, the BBC’s first spoken word season in collaboration with Roundhouse Theatre.

For her MIF residency Ella will be writing ten new poems inspired by ten locations. Her first step has been to issue a call out online asking people to submit the name of a location that is important to them. Once she has received ten locations, she will mark them on a world map, and then ‘virtually visit’ each place by using Google Maps, as well as asking participants to describe the place over the phone, so she can write a poem about their location.

Ella says: “Each person who sends me a location will receive a handwritten poem on a postcard about their location. The hope is that the two of us will feel as connected to each other as if we had visited the place together”

Receive and React by David Hoyle

Legendary Manchester-based performance artist David Hoyle came to prominence in the 1990s as the Divine David, a kind of anti-drag queen whose risky and risqué performances took swipes at both bourgeois Britain and the hedonistic gay scene, which he called ‘the biggest suicide cult in history. Following a couple of late-night Channel 4 shows and a cameo in Velvet Goldmine, Hoyle killed the Divine David off and retreated to Manchester. He returned to TV screens in 2005 in Chris Morris’s Nathan Barley, before returning to live performance, this time under his own name.

For his MIF Remote Residency David is presenting a series of portraits of key personnel delivering news and information during COVID 19.

David says: “I, like a lot of self employed artists, are finding it incredibly hard. Art is something to reach to get rid of the some of the pain,  articulating how the world that affects you – creating pictures that show how you feel”

David will be presenting his portrait series via Instagram

Class of 2020 by Michael Kelly
Greater Manchester-based artist Michael Kelly is using his Remote Residency to create a digital photographic yearbook – an homage to the spirit of Manchester – which depicts its inhabitants as they negotiate the current world crisis. Michael has issued a call-out to a diverse range of people from the Greater Manchester area who are willing to share their experiences of the past few weeks.

Michael says: “We’re looking at isolation, social distancing, going to the shops, family, friendship anything you’d like to share we’re happy to hear about. The Class of 2020 is about positivity and optimism so we hope that those who involve themselves with our project will be able to offer their unique and individual experiences to the project.”

For more information visit the Class of 2020 website


Including the artists selected for Remote Residencies, 35 artists and practitioners are being supported by MIF to produce work. Read the full list of selected artists.

Several artists have presented work as part of  Festival in My House.. And Yours – a reimagining of the micro-festival series. Find out more or watch them again online.

Keep checking our website for more information or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

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