Quays Festival review: ‘A little bit of local culture’

Our community reporter Paul Sherlock popped into Quays Festival in Salford and shares his photographs and thoughts from the event. 

Having spent my working life in science, my post-retirement interests have been largely occupied with local history, so I guess I’m now into humanities but I often feel that I am somewhat lacking in my involvement with the fine arts.

I like music but mainly low-brow stuff like pop. Sometimes local history leads me into the world of the arts, so I can be fascinated by the stain glass windows of a local church or delight in our local ownership of the heritage of L.S. Lowry (even if we in Salford do have to share him with Tameside and Trafford).

Photo: Paul Sherlock

I do feel, however, that I definitely need to get myself more ‘cultured’. Recently, when I was following postings on social media, I came across the announcement that Quays Festival was going to take place on August 14 and 15.

I decided to avail myself of a bit of culture locally, even if those delivering were not necessarily all Salfordians or even Greater Mancunians. That is what I’m claiming, although to be honest, I think I was attracted by the exciting photo opportunity of recording people descending the outside of the tower of the Lowry. After all, with no air shows or anyone pole-vaulting in Albert Square for the last couple of years, I hadn’t had many occasions when I could use my telephoto lens.

I wasn’t allowed to play out on Saturday, as my wife had other plans for that day but I managed a trip on the 29 bus on Sunday afternoon. On arrival, after my obligatory cup of tea at a well-known coffee bar, I set off to find some “performances and events” and near North Bay, I found Liz West’s “Through No.4”.

Photo: Paul Sherlock

Now I’m told that this will be at its best when the sun is shining, which it wasn’t but the good news is that this piece was not going to be packed up after the two days of the festival but will remain semi-permanently for at least five years. Now, even I am reasonably confident that we will have some more sunny days in Salford within that time period.

I asked the guys looking after that installation where else I should look out for and they posted me in the direction of the Lowry. Had I come on the Saturday, I might have witnessed on my way there the Colour Swim near the Alchemist, organised by Uswim Openwater.

There were, however, plenty of other events taking place on Sunday. I then made my way into the Lowry, with a slight detour to buy something at Quayside. By now I need another cuppa and foolishly I lingered over it and didn’t avail myself of the “Lowry Shorts”, the “Backstage Tours” or any other indoor events staged in there before setting off outside once more.

By now I was thinking of getting a good viewpoint for the forthcoming aerial event but I did manage to catch a distant view of “Distant Drums” (good job I had my telephoto lens with me), whilst somehow managing to miss Bee-ology.

As the time approached for Scarabeus’s performance – Powerflex, the weather was looking a bit threatening and there was a possibility that it might have to be abandoned but it went ahead. There was some rain towards the end of the performance and some of it got on my lens, as can be seen.

I thoroughly enjoyed this performance as four aerial gymnasts descended the tower to a musical accompaniment until they finally met up with their thrilled and very appreciative audience, who by now didn’t care about the rain. I was told that some of them had chickened out but I was too enthralled to notice their departure.

Photo: Paul Sherlock

Well, that was that and having been suitably cultured and having also missed my 29 bus back, I set off to find an alternative way back home.

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