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Stories / "There's no place I'd rather be..." - what's so special about New Islington

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Guest blog by David Scott

"There's no place I'd rather be..." - what's so special about New Islington

07 June 2021
A 3 minute read by David Scott

This month, we’ve teamed up with Manchester-based artist, poet and performer David Scott – otherwise known as Argh Kid – who’s helping us create a poem that encapsulates what’s so special about New Islington. As part of the creative process, David’s drawn inspiration from local children at New Islington Free School – a school we helped establish as part of a bid led by Tom Bloxham MBE, The Manchester Grammar School and Urban Splash. The pupils have now shared their own drawings and words about what makes the area so special.

“Manchester is my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be…” These are the words of one local child who’s been a part of my latest poetry project.

With lockdown restrictions slightly easing, I was delighted to be able to head into the New Islington Free School to meet with year 6 pupils and work with them to find out what they think about this area, and of Manchester as a whole.

Some Manchester inspired art produced by children at New Islington Free School as part of a recent exhibition

The last year has been unbelievably tough for kids – they’ve had no real outlet to express their feelings, so when the team at House by Urban Splash invited me along to work with the children on an arts project, it was right up my street. As adults we all try and make the best home for our kids but knowing exactly what makes a home for them is priceless.

Writing down or drawing out our feelings is wonderful therapy and some of the lines the kids came up with are award winning. One masterpiece said it all for me with the line “The things to do, the sights to see, brilliant street art filling all with glee. Our music, our culture, unmatched and upbeat, this is what Manchester means to me.” That kid summed it up in one. And there’s certainly some talented little artists at New Islington too – Banksy watch your back!

Some of the pupils at New Islington Free School

I also loved how proud and culturally aware the kids were of everything that makes our city so great; there were art pieces that drew on the Hacienda aesthetic, lots of bee-inspired pieces and sporting references (we are the home of football after all…).

Now, I’m taking the best of the kids words and fusing them into a new collaborative piece which will become a fixture of the local area. I’ve been really inspired and can’t wait to fulfil the next phase of the project.

Some Manchester inspired art produced by children at New Islington Free School as part of a recent exhibition

The arts class was part of a wider regeneration project at New Islington which is focusing on the positive difference the neighbourhood is making to everyone who lives, works or plays there. Just a stone’s throw from Manchester city centre, New Islington has already earned its special reputation as an independent thriving new quarter for the city, offering an eclectic range of food, entertainment and workspaces.

The area is now an established community filled with family homes, apartments and affordable and social housing aligned with independent businesses, places to exercise and its very own marina – a tourist attraction in itself. Additionally, there is also the New Islington Metrolink stop, the OFSTED outstanding free school and a health centre.

Creating new homes and communities at New Islington

House by Urban Splash, Toby Brown, concluded: “We’re passionate about the arts and embracing the soul of the communities in which we work.

“At New Islington we wanted to not only give our youngest residents a platform to share their views, but also give them access to an immensely talented Mancunian like David. We now plan to display the work around the area and celebrate what New Islington and Manchester means to the people who live here.

“New Islington is a bustling, vibrant and exciting neighbourhood – and a wonderful place to call home. We’ve continued to grow the area, even during the difficult past year, and can’t wait to show more people around and welcome more residents to the area.”

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