Creativity Unwrapped is this year’s Heritage Open Days theme, which Victoria Baths is bringing to life with Pools of Creativity taking place across Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September (11am to 4pm). It will be a creativity takeover as the pools and spaces throughout the Grade II* listed complex are filled with art, photography, workshops, performance and more. Entry is free and no booking is required.
The whole weekend is inspired by the creativity, past and present, that Victoria Baths has become renowned for. Art installations, promenade theatre productions, acrobatic aerial dancers, classical music concerts, end of year art shows and so much more; creativity is part of the fabric of Victoria Baths. An important part of this legacy is Pool Arts, which from 1999 to 2005 had its studio at Victoria Baths. For Heritage Open Days the charity will be curating a diverse and immersive experience for visitors that takes in different artists, genres and media.
Every area will be filled with art from the Superintendent’s Flat to the Turkish Baths and in the space that is affectionately known as the Pineapple Room there will be creative activities running that visitors can take part in. This will include paper quilling, charcoal sketching and craft activities that are Family Friendly. There will also be a special showing of work that has resulted from a photography project run by Back on Track, a Manchester based charity that supports adults who experience multiple disadvantages through community learning and holistic support. The exhibition features Manchester landmarks with a particular focus on Victoria Baths.
The creative endeavours that the building has played witness to will be showcased in a new temporary exhibition, Vic51. Going back to the 1950s, when the Gala Pool was covered and used as a dance hall, through to Tony Wilson’s infamous broadcast The Other Side of Midnight, and then to the creative responses that followed Victoria Bath’s closure in 1993; for many it will bring back memories and for others it will highlight the limitless creativity that the building sparks.
The art will lead you around the vast complex that makes up Victoria Baths, but to hear more about the building itself there will be tours running each day. The Discover Victoria Baths Tour will start at 12:00 and 14:30 and Off Limits Tour (guaranteed to be a favourite if you are a Peaky Blinders fans!) will start at 13:30 (Saturday Only). Tours are £8, or free for under 16s / Friends of Victoria Baths and last for just over an hour.
In the Pineapple Room the VB Craft Station will be set up for families and this includes the opportunity to make a stained-glass decoration or a mosaic fish. The Sports Hall will include a play area for children and a tea room which will be serving hot and cold drinks, snacks, sandwiches, cakes and cream teas and the Gift Shop will be selling a great range of Victoria Baths merchandise, which includes its own small batch gin. On Sunday a whole programme of musical entertainment is added to the schedule, with She Choir and Ordsall Acappella Singers amongst those taking to the floor.