#howto experiment with Vine

Well, there’s been a lot going on in Jordan-land this week. I started a new job and it’s going rather well, it’s a great team and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in! As part of my role, I’m getting to focus more on Social Media and therefore have lots of fun doing silly things (yey!). In addition, one of my projects this month is to convince the powers that be that Vine is the way forward.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the new social platform from Twitter, Vine is a whole new app that allows you (well, mainly Americans at the moment) to share 6 second videos. The app activates video recording when you press on the screen so as to allow for 6 seconds of footage that don’t necessarily have to be continuous. Oh the fun you can have.

In short, download the app and follow these people for starts!

Jordan J McDowell (me!)
Brittany Furlan
Simone Shepherd
Jake Holland

Then, navigate to the “explore” tab and search hashtags to find other Viners to adore.

One such popular hashtag is #howto, and this is how I aim to bring Vine under my SM portfolio at work, using the app to push videos to Twitter and Facebook on topics related to our other project. (I realise I’m being all cryptic, but it’s all hush hush atm medears)

So, this weekend was all about experimentation and tie-dye, here’s my four videos on #howto tie dye by hand and by washing machine. Enjoy!


DO IT: Manchester International Festival #doitmif13

It’s that time once again, when Manchester International Festival takes over the city, bringing culture, art and the bizarre to the forefront of everyone’s attention and this year’s incarnation doesn’t disappoint.

There’s still a whole host of incredible things to see and do before the festival is over, I’m off to the screening of Macbeth on Sunday, seeing Kenneth Branagh return to Shakespeare after over a decade and co-direct with Rob Ashford (a razzle-dazzle kinda guy with A Street Car Named Desire and an Oscars Beyoncé performance to his list of directorial achievements). The festival square at Albert Square is a lovely place to sit in the sun and have a drink whilst arty farty things happen around you. Plus, the ice cream van and pizza oven are amazing! There’s also the rather inspiring Biospheric Project, which looks at how we can grow more food more efficiently to feed a growing human population. Based in a disused mill on the banks of the river Irwell, the project is a living urban farm with tours and workshops around food and farming technology and science.

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But, one of the highlights for me so far has to be Do It, the group art show exhibited for free at Manchester Art Gallery. The last festival in 2011 showcased 11 Rooms at the Art Gallery, 11 rooms, 11 artists, 11 things/performances/experiences within. It was incredible and I still talk about it to friends today! Do It moves on from this and instead of 11 rooms with 11 artists, we have a whole host of artists including Manchester’s own Peter Saville and Yoko Ono who have provided short instructions to be read and enacted within the gallery or within our everyday life.

From the sweet like, “smile at the stranger,” (Louise Bourgeois, 2012) to the thought-provoking and yet seemingly pointless like, “DO something unique that only you and no one else in the world can do. Don’t call it art.” (Robert Barry, 2012).

Walking around the exhibit and reading all and adhering to some of the instructions written on paper, on walls, on plaques, squeezing lemons, humming at security guards and staring at Yoko Ono’s wishing tree was inspiring/confusing/funny/sad/emotional all at once and I urge anyone with a spare 5 minutes or a whole day to pop by Manchester Art Gallery (one of the most amazing places in Manchester) to see Do It 2013!

I’m going to do my best to do it this year and enact as many of the instructions as I can, I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

Oh, and if you do, you know, do it, upload your snaps to doit2013.org to take part in the project!


IRA Bomb Manchester: A contemplation

I recently wrote a Retail Gem feature on Marks & Spencer and it’s history in Manchester, including some snaps of the store’s old site before the IRA bomb attack in 1996. Y’all seemed to love learning more about Manchester’s history, so I thought I’d pull together some snaps from the web of this rather significant part of Manchester’s past.


I’m also reading an incredible book at the moment, a dystopian satire set in Manchester in the year 2018. Beetham tower has been bombed and toppled, the internet has been turned off, curfews are in place, Stockport is a wreckage after countless fiery riots, Ashton is unrecognisable, the underground canals ferry weaponry for the Nationalist front and the Council control all media. It’s grimmer up north.

It’s a fascinating read and in some way the imagery Matt Hill creates resonates with these images…

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Manchester Evening News
“Screams now and people running, people running with … grey faces with dripping features. The copper’s fucking screaming that we do one, running himself. The kid with rolling baccy’s on his arse head in hands.” p. 69 
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BBC News
“I were there, on Deansgate. There to see, Were standing there with our kid, just seven he were. Me, well, like me now but younger. … Lights go off first, black-out right down road. Like a corridor. Whole street shakes. No screams either, not like you’d think. And it went down fast – sand castles in the seas I thought, have thought since, like sand. And then the dust. Ha! Rolls like a bastard when it’s that hot, son. You felt shockwave, sure, but heat on your face. Deansgate were a tunnel, and all this dust flies at us. For us.”  p. 68-9
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Manchester Evening News 
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Manchester City Library Archive
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“The window goes in, just like that. Big plate glass bugger as well, floor to ceiling. Brian curses they day they glazed it; makes a pig’s ear of the shards and splinters. Still: man goes in. Nowt comes out. Your man just rolls in.” p.179
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“Manchester blinks to life in the distance, suddenly more than sagging towers held up by billboards… Greater Manchester, he gets to thinking, looking out on his city. Fifty miles square, half a mile tall, five years dead” p. 13
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“The spiked clock tower of Manchester cathedral peers down over railings and roadway fences – its face leaning forward as if to judge. … It is beautiful place. Is a safe place,” p. 165 

Buy Matt Hill’s The Folded Man here or loan from your local Library.


BAGGED: A post of purchases feat. Criminal Damage and BOY London

SS13 SALE season is nearly over and I’ve nabbed a modest selection of bargains from the rails.

The last instalment of my SALE purchases was from the rails at Selfridges, here goes!

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Jumper, Criminal Damage, Selfridges, WAS £45.00 NOW £19.00
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I love the print, I’m into print, as some of you will be aware, and what a better way to celebrate that than with the most bizarre print ever to reside on a sweater? Part of my smart SALE shopping regime, this piece is perfect for colder AW13 months!
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Jumper, Criminal Damage, Selfridges, WAS £45.00 NOW £19.00
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Strictly speaking, this is Adam’s but isn’t it a cute one? That kind of blue that reminds me of primary school uniforms and with a touch of pop-art reference for good measure.

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Jumper, Criminal Damage, Selfridges, WAS £45.00 NOW £19.00
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The last sweater steal for the season, a marl grey with hand-cuff design, cool enough for dressing up at night!
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And now for the obligatory BOY london…
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Vest, BOY London, Selfridges, WAS £35.00 NOW £10.00
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So, I have a complex about BOY London. I really like the stuff and I really like the look, but I really hate how mainstream it is. I’m not one for shying from mainstream, but when it comes to BOY London, it all seems a little contrived. However, this vest is a little a-typical, in that it has a snap of Andy Warhol with a BOY London cap superimposed onto his head. I like that it isn’t typical BOY London, so, I was sold.
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YEY for filthy Salford!


Retail Gems: Marks & Spencer, UK

Retails Gems are my way of describing retailers that I’ve come across and felt were worthy of a mention, mainly because of their certain je nes se quois, perhaps their charm or their service. I intended to only really pick up on slightly less well-known retailers and so it would seem odd, at first, that I would choose to blog about Marks & Spencer, perhaps one of the best known department stores in Britain and one that upholds the brand of “Britishness” in 51 territories throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Well, that’s only if you don’t know about its history, and more specifically about Marks & Spencer’s closely knitted alliance with Manchester, the city where I live.

Firstly though, it started in Leeds, 1884, when Michael Marks opened his first Penny Bazaar. Partnering with Tom Spencer in 1894 Marks & Spencer as we know it today started life. Yada yada yada, by the turn of the century Marks & Spencer had 39 stores blah blah blah and then they both died.

Now, this is where things get especially interesting. After a bit of a to-do between Simon Marks and the Executer of Spencer’s Will, the ownership and control switched back to the Marks household, the company went public and opened its first registered Head Quarters just off Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester City Centre.

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Derby Street during the M&S years.

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Derby Street more recently, within Manchester’s wholesale fashion district.

This is where the multi-national multi-channel retailing juggernaut really got moving, excelling in all thing thrift throughout the war-years, focussing on Christian Dior’s “New Look” with the introduction of ready-to-wear fashion in the 1940s and 1950s, home ware and modern cooking throughout the 70s and 80s and of course, the irresistible Christmas TV adverts throughout the 90s and naughties. 

M&S championed refrigerated transportation and the retail of chilled chickens in a time before Tesco, they pioneered man-made fashion fabrication and were the first retailer in Britain to operate testing laboratories, with the purpose of inventing and discovering new fabrics for apparel. Marks ‘n Sparks were pretty incredible and it seems they want to keep their history alive with the unveiling of their Company Archive.

Marks & Spencer have opened an incredible Company Archive centre in Leeds, the historic home of the brand. Whilst I think it would have been nice to have the archive on my doorstep, in the city where the modern M&S brand took off and where the brand continues to house one of its largest stores, y’know, I’m not bitter. You can find out more about the Archive and the rather amazing work of the volunteers in this short film here:

Although, the affiliation between M&S and Manchester doesn’t end at Derby Street. As I just mentioned, one of the brand’s largest store calls Manchester its home, situated in the city centre. The store is a rebuild after the former store was obliterated in the IRA bomb attack on Manchester in 1996. Along with an estimated £700m worth of damage the Irish Republican Army took M&S from Manchester.

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Marks & Spencer city centre flagship store in Manchester, pre-1996 IRA Bombing.
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Cooperation Street and the fascia of Marks & Spencer in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bomb.

Still, incredibly Greater Manchester Police managed to evacuate all 70,000+ people in the city centre at the time and whilst many were hurt, no one was killed and M&S were back in business with their new swanky store on the original footprint of their bombed-out shell, within a few years!

Quite the retail gem, don’t you think?

You can watch historic adverts and discover more about your M&S at the Marks In Time timeline here.
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