In Search of Places to Sit: Miss Pilchard at Manchester Free For Arts Festival

Once every hour a single train takes passengers from Scarborough to Manchester (and beyond – Liverpool Lime Street is the final stop). Last week Miss Pilchard – spinster, adventurer and alter-ego – undertook this journey.

More accustomed to provincial gentility than the bustle of the city, her explorations formed part of the 2014 Free For Arts Festival.

From October 3rd until October 10th, the 2014 Free For Arts Festival provided Manchester with a feast of art – hosted in across all kinds of places; from conventional gallery spaces to shops, studios and differing sorts of buildings. Miss Pilchard’s visit formed part of this festival, challenging visitors to spot her amidst the crowds, the noise and the general eccentricity of the city’s inhabitants.

The clear blue skies of Yorkshire gave way to menacing clouds and feverish moments of rain, as Miss Pilchard’s train approached Piccadilly Station. After disembarking she took a moment to settle her nerves – by taking a seat and reading the local publication.

To her enormous horror and embarrassment, our enterprising spinster was thwarted by the suspicions of station security, who politely requested that she vacate the premises.

Flustered, indignant and a little lost, Miss Pilchard made her way to Piccadilly Gardens, in search of a new seating place – hopefully with minimal interruptions. But alas she was to be thwarted again – this time by pigeons.

As soon as she sat down, the pigeons attacked.

Not even Queen Victoria offered any suitable respite.

It was impossible to sit comfortably under the stern glare of the former monarch.

There were, however, a number of curious distractions to dispel Miss Pilchard’s earnest frustrations. Such as plants apparently growing from walls.

And the spectacular collection of paintings at Manchester Art Gallery.

Furthermore, Miss Pilchard, attired in ill-fitting tweed, a smart hat and sensible shoes, was willing to consider all manner of places to sit.

Some, however, were more suitable than others.

Having explored various corners of this vast city, and having sat upon an assortment of benches, seats and so forth, Miss Pilchard made copious notes in her bulging pocket book. The question is, what were the nature of her observations?

And where, if anywhere, will she choose to publish them?

All photography © Liz Coggrave