Call out: Socially Engaged Photographer. Brief: The People’s River

Manchester Histories is seeking a socially engaged photographer to work with us on an exciting new project. The People’s River is a community-led project that will collaborate with different community groups who live and work along the River Irk in North Manchester.

The project will reveal and share the often hidden histories and stories of people’s heritage in a creative way.

The Photographer will work collaboratively with community groups and residents to co-produce a series of photographs that respond to their lives, the history of the River Irk and Fredrich Engels writing.

People’s River is inspired by and designed to commemorate the bicentenary of Friedrich Engels’ birth and his connection to the industrial river. Engels, a German socialist philosopher, wrote about the River Irk in his 1845 essay ‘The Working Conditions of the Working Class in England’, based on his experiences in Manchester

Current groups collaborating with Manchester Histories on the People’s River include HMG Paints Ltd, Collyhurst Big Local and the Friends of Angel Meadows.

The photographer will work with the groups and others to co-create an exhibition or installation of photography in the public realm.

The exhibition will be coordinated in partnership with the organisation Wupperverband in the city of Wuppertal, Engels’ birthplace in Germany, as part of their celebration of Engels’ birth (‘Engels 2020’).

The project has been funded by Manchester City Council through their Neighbourhood Investment Fund and Economic Regeneration Fund.

Project agreed outcomes:

  • Increase the confidence and pride of people taking part in their local area; they will learn about how the River Irk has played an impotent role in shaping Manchester’s rich industrial past and the world as we know it today.
  • Bring different people together, providing a place where people can meet new friend and socialise; improving health and wellbeing and social isolation.
  • Enable people to learn new skills in historic research, exploring archives, photography and visual story telling; improving their employability and life chances
  • Increase people’s knowledge and understanding of their own histories and heritage; focusing on where past generations have come from and their role in shaping the local areas, improving their sense of place and belonging.
  • Raise awareness and encourage new audiences to the North Manchester area, changing perspectives and encouraging people to see their local area in a new light, inspiring people to see what can be possible in the future in public spaces where they live and work.
  • Provide people with the opportunity to experience a cultural exchange; widening horizons and providing people with alternative lens on the world and acceptance/knowledge of others

How to Apply.

We welcome applications from photographers or lens based artists with a proven track record of working collaboratively with communities to produce artistic outcomes. We would like to see applications from artists who have experience of teaching basic photography skills.

Are able to facilitate creative workshops with the different community groups in North Manchester.

Can work collaboratively with people to co-produce a series of photographs that respond to their lives, the history of the River Irk and Fredrich Engels writing.

Can evaluate and reflect on both artistic practice and group learning.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it is important that the photographer’s workshops can be adapted to either be delivered remotely to keep the project accessible to participants who may be shielding or be produced in person complying with social distancing government guidelines.


The artist fee for the project is £2,000 inclusive of VAT. There is also a small budget for workshop materials if required.

The fee is based on a project plan of 10 days work at £200 per day.

Application Process:

Please send us a written expression of interest stating:

  • Why you are interested in the brief?
  • Your work and experience
  • Your approach to working with community groups
  • How you would adapt workshops with participants who are shielding
  • Your contact details
  • Reference details of two people
  • Examples of your work, 3 images or link to your website.

Please send to by deadline below. No more than two side of A4 please.

Key Dates:

Friday 21st August 2020

Deadline for artist’s applications

Friday 11th September 2020

Shortlisted Photographers contacted

Week commencing 21st September 2020

Interviews with the community groups

October – November 2020

Research and development of workshops

19th - 22nd November 2020

Fredrich Engels Birthday and the main weekend for workshops

January – February 2021

Final selection of photography for exhibition.

Printing and installation of exhibition.

February – March 2021

Exhibition opens

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