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There's art in them there hills - Sunday 25 May, 6:00pm start

Sunday 25 May: There's art in them there hills

James Heartfield, Ann Jackson and John Siddique will explore the popularity of visual and literary art in the Pennines.

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There's art in them there hills - Sunday 25 May, 6:00pm startThere's art in them there hills

Sunday 25 May 2014, 6:00pm start

James Heartfield, Ann Jackson and John Siddique will explore the popularity of visual and literary art in the hills of the Pennines, chaired by Pauline Hadaway


James HertfieldThe Pennines have long been an alluring part of the world, both for industrialists utilising its natural resources and the workers in those industries escaping their factory life to enjoy the open and grand countryside. Developments in our technological infrastructure, particularly in the generation and distribution of electricity for power, has resulted in post war economic growth taking place in towns and cities rather than the countryside. There seems to have been something of a counter movement of preference by some for living in the urban countryside, particularly by artists, resulting in places like Hebden Bridge getting national recognition as a cultural hotspot.


Ann Jackson

Evan Davis in his recent BBC2 programme Mind the Gap, revisited David Fletcher's notion of Hebden Bridge for example becoming Britain's second city. This rather playful idea comes from Hebden Bridge being an inverted city with a greenbelt centre and suburbs called Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. The tension between urbane city life and the rather slower and historic pace of life in the country has long been the source of an interesting dialogue, codified in planning regulations around protection of the green belt and metropolitan types banning fox hunting or badger culls for example. The description of economic disparity across the nation, popularly tagged as a north / south economic divide in the Thatcher years, is today often used similarly used to explain a beleaguered countryside.


John SiddiqueThe Blair government response to the decline of traditional manufacturing industries and hollowing out of the economy was to front on Education, Education, Education, whilst heavily investing in the creative industries in the hope of giving UK PLC some sort of immediate purpose and niche offering beyond the City of London. Whilst some individual artists profited handsomely from this attention, the spread of funding for most was certainly far more modest. More importantly perhaps was the development of a new tier of state led funding agencies bringing into play a swathe of grant applications that effectively played off art project against art project, whilst introducing local participation, social equality and identity through locality agendas to the creative process, however loosely policed.

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First World War: origins and warnings for the 21st Century - Monday 16 June 2014, 6:45pm start

First World War: origins and warnings for the 21st Century

Monday 16th June, 6:45pm start

James Woudhuysen will introduce a discussion on the origins and warnings of the First World War.

James WoudhuysenThe origins of the First World War are variously attributed to the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the complex system of international alliances that developed before 1914, the way in which Germany's Schlieffen Plan depended on its army sticking to strict railway timetables, or the unreadiness of old dynasties to move with the times.


In fact, James will argue, it was the very 2014 phenomenon of Foreign Direct Investment that, before 1914, bound all the eventual participants in the conflict into a system of long-run, spiralling tensions. Today's commentators on the First World War often miss three other forces that mediated and accelerated the catastrophe.

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Cycling: four wheels good, two wheels better?

Possibly Monday 21st July 2014, 6:45pm start

Mark Birbeck and others will introduce a discussion on the impact of promoting two wheeled transport.


Mark BirbeckHaving a bicycle for a child was often a precursor to travelling beyond the physical confines of your neighbourhood, and the first steps to adolescent freedom. Getting on your bike and visiting friends without needing a lift from mum and dad, or being able to cycle to the countryside away from the watchful eyes of adults has long been a rite of passage for teenagers. Older generations may have known bicycles as their own mode of transport for going to work, but younger ones now have a car, though many commuters are frustrated by congestion, and a plethora of impediments on the road. A return to the bicycle as a realistic form of transport is being publicly promoted, so what are we to make of such campaigns to get us on our again?


Much is made of the health benefits of getting the nation out of cars and back onto bikes, indeed the government have designed tax schemes to incentivise us to buy a bike. Are we to believe they want us to experience that freedom we did as kids to whizz down a hill with our feet off the peddles, for no other reason than to feel the wind in your hair? That's clearly stretching things, but there's definitely a social trend to emphasise cycling as a modern and desired form of transport, well exemplified by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, taking every opportunity to promote it. Manchester may not yet have the cycle hire infrastructure of London, but the introduction of many more cycle lanes on main arterial routes, and the Tour de France visiting the region is a step in that direction.

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Writers and war: reflecting or shaping our perceptions?

Friday 24 October, 1:00pm start

Speakers will look at how literature shapes our perceptions of war, chaired by Rania Hafez

Popular cultural references to the global conflict of 1914-1918, which used to be called ‘the Great War’, would have us believe it was at best for no good reason, or more cynically with our Black Adder googles on, it was a parade of half wit toffs causing chaos with common folk bearing the real brunt of it all. There is clearly a grain of truth in such parodies, but are we collectively kidding ourselves with our modern sensibilities. Surely descriptions of the war as futile and incomprehensible obscure rather than clarify events. Indeed, it often seems that the First World War is even more perplexing today than it was 40, 50 or 80 years ago.


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Historiography, Histories and History Making

Saturday 25 October, 1:00pm start

Speakers will look at why we personalise History so much today, chaired by Rania Hafez



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