Friday, 22 June 2012

New e-mail address for the Portico Prizes.

In order to improve communication for the prize, we have created another e-mail for the prize. Our intern, Richy Campbell, is only in on Thursday and Friday and, owing to access, communications are only enabled on those days.

The e-mail is Entries to the competition via the address are still valid, however pressing queries are best sent to the gmail address.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Intern reading at the Anthony Burgess Centre.

Portico intern and poet Richy Campbell will be reading a selection of his work as part of the MMU End of Year Poetry Reading on Tuesday, 26th of June.

The event, hosted by MMU lecturer Adam O'Riordan, is at the Anthony Burgess Foundation. It is free to attend and will commence at 7PM.

For more, including contact details, please visit

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Paranormal Performance at The Portico Library

Quite recently the Library collaborated with Faro Productions to host the premier of their new play Apparition. It was an absolute success. With the lights dimmed, the audience awaited the performer’s emergence to the shadowy platform in apprehension. The atmosphere was ghostly and the suspense ripe.  The team did a fantastic job with effect lighting, sound and costumes, and together with the surroundings of the library they managed to evoke an eerie ambience and transported the audience back in time to a grieving family sheltered by their country house during the Second World War. Their isolation soon breeds resentments, paranoia and something altogether much darker! With two performances a night the production team did a fantastic job and watching all four performances gave me an interesting perspective on how the different audiences perceived the performances in their own ways.  I enjoyed a superb two nights and the performances provided an altered angle at which newcomers and members alike could experience the library.  

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Portico Library - Music Through a Lens

Manchester based photographer Priti Shikotra approached the Portico regarding a photo-shoot for five-piece indie Manchester rock-band The RubysShe has shared the experience with us in writing and pictures: 

Manchester is famous for it’s music scene - The Stone Roses, Oasis, Joy Division, heck even Take That! We have had heaps of talent starting their journey right here. The talent of the past has been great - but the light needs shining on the talent of the present and future. Manchester has such a fantastic music scene - multiple live music venues and such amazing musical talent. For a music photographer, well, that’s bliss.
The Rubys - An up and coming band is one that I slowly approached over social networking site Twitter, after seeing them live at Manchester HMV Ritz back in December.
I loved their sound and turned around to a girl friend of mine and said ‘I’m gonna work with these guys’ - Fast forward a month or so and Dave Earlam aka The Bat Ruby (Drummer, The Rubys) and I were discussing locations for a photo shoot.
The guys didn't want a typical northern grimy location - I began researching into whats in and around Manchester. Having been away for the best part of a year travelling, I came back with a different perspective on Manchester and was keen to find hidden gems that would be perfect for this shoot to pitch to the guys. You appreciate whats around you a hell of a lot more when you haven't been around it for a while - everything is the same yet so different.
Some how - I came across The Portico Library. I arranged a meeting with the lovely Emma. When I went by to see the library - I was surprised to see where it was - for the sheer fact that I had walked past it heaps of times before and never noticed it!
Have you seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? You know the Library Belle has all to herself at the castle? Yep, The Portico Library reminds me very much of this! 
I was blown away by how quirky the library is - the smell, the feel, the look of the library - it tells a story even just by standing in there. Such a stunning library with so much personality. The interior has been well maintained and the stacks upon stacks of books - piled high to the ceilings - it’s such an atmospheric place.
Fast forward another few weeks and the shoot was about to take place - The Rubys were super excited about the venue - it definitely doesn't have the typical northern look and feel after all! We were at the library for a few hours, and then shifted outside and hit the streets to get some shots on location.  We got some great shots and The Rubys were happy with the results. So happy, that the shots have been used on the album artwork for their new album - ‘Limelight Paradise’ . You can have a listen and buy the album over at - Head on over!
As a photographer - the place is perfect - so many different angles to shoot from, multiple rooms to work with, plenty of natural light, so quirky, and so many props to work with ( with permission of course! ) Not only that, but since it’s bang right in the middle of Manchester, there are surrounding areas which can be of good use in a shoot. So you can get various different feels to different shots.
This is what Dave from The Rubys had to say about the venue.

"The Portico Library is a literary 'Time Capsule of Cool' hidden away on the busiest of Manchesters' streets.

We found it like silence looking for sound; a clash of isolation centred in the chaos of Piccadilly.

The atmosphere bled into our photographs; split-second shards of frozen time caught in a timeless environment of books with leather-worn looks, furniture with overtures, taxidermy with history.

Unique is an over-used term, although we found the Portico to be just that,.....just not in the obvious sense. It has character that doesn't overpower, a richness which did not make us look poorer, a pride of vision that didn't put shame in ours.

Artists and Photographers know the power of a good location, and in the Portico, we felt that we were passing through the history of the Library. Melville stared at us from across the bookshelves whilst Rambeau waited patiently.

There are few locations in the world that will give you the same sense of time standing still, to the point where the hours on the clock had no Meaning; at the Portico, we found Meaning, Relevance, and Elegance bleeding from every fissure." 

PSHIKOTRA Photography :

Friday, 15 June 2012

Barry Smith's Kimberley Trilogy UK Book Lauch

Last month The Portico hosted author Barry Smith's book launch.  He writes about it below:

It was with great delight that I launched the first two novels - For Freedom’s Cause and Battle for the North - in my Kimberley Trilogy of Australian historical adventure stories, at the Portico Library in my hometown of Manchester in the UK.

Whilst a committed resident of Richmond in marvellous Melbourne, and Australian by choice, I was pleased to be able to introduce my family and friends to Dan Bevan, the Manchester coal miner-cum-First War Officer who is the hero of my novels, especially as there were several real-life Bevans in the audience. I was amused to reveal that the mine in the novel (Bradford Pit) near where I was born and raised is now the site of Manchester City’s football ground!

The setting was wonderfully appropriate and inspiring as the Library opened in 1806 encompassing a reading room and newsroom for gentlemen of a Liberal political persuasion. There is much evidence that long standing Chairman Reverend Gaskell, husband of Elizabeth Gaskell, renowned author of North and South and Cranford, borrowed books for his wife and Sir Robert Peel, reforming Prime Minister and founder of the Police Force (hence ‘Peelers’) was a member.

John Birkett, a friend from Cambridge University days, introduced me in his usually warm and witty style and invited the audience to question me about my books and motivation for writing. The questions were shrewd and some of my responses were a revelation even to me.

Then a mischievous Australian visitor asked the thorny one-“After 40 years in Australia do you feel more Australian or more English?” My answer ignited the fire of Anglo-Australian sporting rivalries and affiliations amongst the gathering to everyone’s amusement.

I am returning to Melbourne in early July and plan to launch the second of my historical adventure novels-Battle for the North-which has not yet been released in Australia- in Melbourne later in July and after in Perth, Broome and Darwin.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Portico Prize Preparations

Entries for the Portico Prize have been flooding in from publishers over the past few weeks, and with two £10,000 prizes being awarded this year, the competition is already proving to be fierce in both the fiction and non-fiction categories.  

Titles entered for the prize must fit two main criteria: as the prize aims to celebrate the strong regional identity of the North, including its cultural, literary and historical heritage, they must be set largely or wholly in the North of England. They must also have been published between the 31st of August 2010 and the 31st of July 2012, so as to coincide with the biennial awarding of the prize. Being open to both established as well as new authors, entrants will be made up of an intriguing mix of both new and familiar names, including Ann Cleeves, Nicky Harlow, Lynn Knight and John Champness.

As the books come in, they will be boxed up and sent on to the judges, who will receive an array of titles for their delectation. From these books they will have to perform the daunting task of deciding on the winning title. This year, Adam O’Riordan, Sarah McLennon and Arthur Bostrom will be choosing the winner of the prize for fiction, whilst Stuart Maconie, Kay Easson and Mike Rose will decide on the winning entry for the non-fiction prize.   
Entries for the Portico Prize will also be made available for members of the library.