Dog lovers, drag queens, students and doctors. These were just a handful of the 150 everyday Mancunians to grace the 100 metre long catwalk yesterday evening to celebrate the opening of the Manchester International Festival.
Also involved were a five-day-old baby boy carried by his mother, a survivor of the Kosovan war, a beekeeper, the owner of a taxi company which offered free rides to those caught up in the bombing, a woman who vowed to say yes to everything after her husband died, and Bez from the Happy Mondays.
Devised by Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, What Is the City But the People? featured Mancunians from all walks of life on a bright yellow runway in the middle of Piccadilly Gardens, in what was described as a ‘unique portrait of the people of our city.’
Work began around 18 months ago, but nobody could have imagined the events that took place in the city during that time. Not just the terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena concert but the mood of defiance and solidarity which followed. All this and more helped give the event an emotional core.
All 2.5 million residents of Greater Manchester were invited to take part in the show. Several thousand turned up to watch each person do the walk in their own unique style.
Not everything was sunshine and rainbows though with some participants talking about the effects of the drug Spice which has swept through the city. But there was still plenty to see of what makes Manchester the city it is today.
We were there to capture the show on Facebook live: