The People’s River project was a community-led programme, where I worked with people who live and work along the River Irk in Manchester. It was inspired by Friedrich Engels writings of the River Irk in his seminal text ‘The Conditions of the Working Class in England’. Commissioned by Manchester Histories, the project aimed to reveal and creatively share the often hidden histories and stories of people’s own local heritage.

I was lucky to meet and work with a number of local residents and businesses including people from
from Friends of Angel Meadows, HMG Paints Ltd, No. 93 Wellbeing Centre's weekly walking groups,
Many Hands Craft Collective and Collyhurst Big Local. Together we undertook a number of creative heritage photography walks to explore the local area and shared stories about the hidden histories of the Irk Valley from Angel Meadows to Collyhurst and Harpurhey.

People took photographs of what they saw by the river today. These images reflect the area’s ever
changing landscape, exploring ideas of personal journeys, community, nature and regeneration.
For the workshops with people from the No. 93 Wellbeing centre, the group explored the process of
turning their photographs into cyanotype prints using a special chemical process that reacts to
sunlight. The cyanotypes form part of the exhibition and are a reminder of both the surrounding
nature and the local industrial history which has shaped the landscape of the Irk Valley from Engel’s
period to today.

Each group also then went through a process of editing and co-curating the final selection of works for the cross-site exhibitions at Queens Park, Angel Meadows Park and 93 wellness centre. A wider selection of work and stories are also available via a digital walking trail app where you can follow the route of the Irk at www.loveexploring.co.uk