MadLab may have a reputation for being overly geeky and tech focused, but we are also home to many creative groups (filmmakers, photographers, writers) and two book clubs. The Heritage Lottery Fund for All Our Stories gave us the opportunity to start a new one – around the industrial heritage of Manchester.
‘When the workers in Manchester finished their day at the cotton mills, Penny Gaff was probably the most popular and yet affordable entertainment for the vast working class, besides drinking. Last week on the 5th April, MadLab put up a set of red curtains and brought us a night of nostalgia, with a contemporary look.
History as they say is written by the winners and all too often not by the people who actually helped make it happen. This is why it’s become increasingly important for oral history to be recognised as a viable source of untold stories and perspectives that would otherwise be lost over time.
Our first Oral History event took place on 27th March
where a group of us fought the cold to come together and recollect how our beloved Northern Quarter has changed over the years. Some of us had only been in Manchester for six months, others for decades but we all had some unique story to tell, some unique fact that no one else would have known.
Forget chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, Easter weekend took a different turn at the MadLab when the Gorilla Kabaret came into town!
‘Do well with nothing, do better with little and do it now’ is the motto for Filmonik, an open platform for Independent filmmakers of the North West where filmmakers are faced with the challenge of making a film less than 10 minutes long to show at one of the bi-monthly sessions. The Gorilla Kabaret, however, takes it to the extreme.
Bereft of what the faint hearted might consider necessities – useful things like equipment and an adequate work space – at the Kabaret there is nothing pre-planned and equipment and props are not a given. It’s up to the filmmakers themselves to make the most of their many talents.
For three days a motley crew of directors, writers, actors and other creative types got together and turned the MadLab into a mini film studio in the quest to produce that extra special piece of cinematic goodness. Whether it be a connoisseur’s guide to eating Gregg’s pasties or a painful glimpse into a failed audition, it’s safe to say that the challenge was well met, resulting in an array of films ranging from the truly bizarre to the truly beautiful.
It’s a huge privilege for us to see so many people come together at MadLab, learning new skills and finding whole new areas of interests through the many and varied groups that meet here. This certainly holds true in the case of Amy Mather, who stunned us all with her humanitarian ‘Wood Street Mission App‘ that earned her a special mention at last years’ Young Rewired State, a nationwide coding event where under-18s are encouraged to get together and produce apps and new software for the benefit of their community.
Since then she has gone on from strength to strength, getting more involved with the Raspberry Pi through the Raspberry Jam sessions held here at MadLab (the next meet up will be on 13th April if you feel inspired to have a go!) and presenting at conferences and events like the Manchester Girl Geek’s BarCamp (check out #bracamp on twitter for more information). Here is an account about her talk at the Raspberry Jamboree: