a print fair and a library

We spent a sunny Saturday in Manchester yesterday, hitting up the Manchester Print Fair and the John Rylands Library. I love going to print fairs to draw inspiration for my own work and the Manchester Print Fair, held only twice a year, never fails to disappoint. It was wonderful seeing and chatting with many of the artists I’ve met at previous fairs. It’s always so refreshing to get out of the parenting headspace (which feels like all I ever do every day) and immerse myself in art for a bit. I find I really need that these days. Raspberry was decked out in her brand new glow-in-the-dark bug shirt, which won her a couple of compliments. There were also workshops at the fair, and she had a good time screenprinting, rubber-stamping and doodling with Posca markers and coloured Sharpies. She drew a purple fox (which I was impressed by, as she hardly ever draws anything besides people these days) and made two drawings (one of a monster under clouds and another of a ghost caught in the rain) for two of the artists we know and got a pocket mirror as a trade, which she carried around for the rest of the day. The workshops served as a nice break from me dragging Raspberry all over the fair. There wasn’t anything similarly entertaining for Ares though and beyond the fact that he was tired (he did nap halfway through), he didn’t seem amused by the fact that I was toting him around to tables and tables of artists selling their wares, and he just wanted to crawl around to stretch his little legs.

I think he was relieved when we finally left and headed over to the library, where he suddenly became very chatty among the tomes and let me tell you, there’s nothing like the shrill shriek of a baby in a dark, echoey public space with people trying to soak up the atmosphere, to make you feel self-conscious. Similarly, Raspberry was more or less oblivious to the ancient books and was determined to complete her trail with the kind of single-mindedness found only in young children. I marvelled at the archaic building on my own. I did manage to get her interested in Later-day Saints, a hilarious exhibition of illustrations of saints situated in contemporary times. We popped in a coin to watch a mechanical dragon and old lady having tea, and were tickled by the unexpected results. Ares alternated between wanting to crawl and wanting to be held and fought tooth and nail against being put in the baby carrier when I had enough of this up-and-down business. He’s in a table-loving phase and after I set him down at a 130-year-old desk briefly, it was quite the challenge getting him away from it after.

Trail completed, Raspberry set to work making a dragon’s egg in the craft area while a fatigued and destructive Ares overturned containers of coloured pencils and sent them flying all over the floor. We left soon after, after the dragon’s egg was sufficiently stuffed with pom-poms, after encountering an older white guy who irked me by saying “xie xie” (thank you in Mandarin) to Raspberry’s spontaneous outcry telling him her locker was occupied, after browsing the gift shop, after I picked up a postcard. All in all, a good day.


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