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The Lowry and the IWM North


Sal and I thought we'd have a change from the norm and decided to shoot across the Pennines to visit Salford Quays and in particular, the Lowry Gallery and Theatre. The M62 isn't my most favourite of road but at least it gets you there quickly. I don't think she was all that impressed with me showing her the Theatre of Dreams on our way but then again, I never expected her to be! A few wrong turnings and we arrived in the Imperial War Museum car park which is a very impressive modern structure.

It was designed by Polish born Daniel Libeskind who said that he sought to "create a building ... which emotionally moved the soul of the visitor toward a sometimes unexpected realisation". Libeskind envisaged a 'constellation composed of three interlocking shards'  with each shard being a remnant of an imagined globe shattered by conflict. These shards in turn represented air, earth and water, and each formed a functionally distinct part of the museum. The 55m high air shard, provides the museum's entrance way and a viewing balcony above the Manchester Ship Canal with views of the Manchester skyline.The earth shard houses the museum's exhibition spaces, while the water shard accommodates a cafe with views of the canal. We decided to make that our last port of call.

The Quays are a photographer's dream especially in clear sunny weather when all the modern structures are reflected off of each other because most are constructed mainly of glass and steel. Today was a rather dull day though but it still made for a pleasant walk and good photographs.

Our first port of call was the Lowry Complex for a customary cappuccino (which scored 10/10), followed by a walk around the galleries and it ended with Sal's traditional visit to the tat shop where, if I recall, she was very good and didn't buy a single thing. It's certainly vibrant, colourful and interesting building, .

We then had a walk around the Quays which have been very tastefully renovated over the years. It's surprising how quiet it is because you are only a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Manchester. The only downside about the place was the lack of a decent pub. We called into the local Beefeater Inn but I can't say either of us was impressed.

Finally it was the Imperial War Museum which housed a mightily impressive display of wartime memorabilia and artifacts from the First World War onwards. Amongst the more up to date exhibitions was one of the Falklands War which I found interesting as I had a friend who was sent over there and served on HMS Bristol which was a decoy ship for the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invinsible.

Another was by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller which examined the devastating impact of modern terrorist war. There were two main pieces to this, one was a car destroyed in the bombing of the historic Al-Mutanabbi street book market in Baghdad on 5 March 2007 and this was sitting next to a 7-metre piece of steel recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre.

The aftermath of the bombing was also shown on the walls of the main exhibition centre. For this the lights are all turned off for a 360-degree audio-visual reminder of what the survivors must have gone through. Seeing things like these really brings home the horrors of modern warfare. The bombing killed 38 people and wounded many more, no one has ever claimed responsibility for the attack.

We stayed there until it closed and I think we could really have stayed a lot longer. Then it was then back over on to the right side the Pennines and to Hebden Bridge for a pint before heading home.


Imperial War Museum

Part of Media Centre, The Quays

Golden Reflections

Bridge over The Ship Canal

Sal by the Lowry Centre

Part of the Outlet Shopping Centre

The Lowry

Lowry interior

Salford Quays

Salford Quays

The Theatre of Dreams

Bridge over the Quays

Salford Quays.

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