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Illustrating Manchester’s Heritage – Mr Ordinary’s Prize

Illustrating Manchester’s Heritage – Mr Ordinary’s Prize

12 January 2012

Mr Ordinary

The museum is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create a children’s picture book which will be launched as part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival in July 2012.   The book celebrates the rich heritage of Manchester and the qualities that people have shown to help it become such a vibrant city.

In 2009 we commissioned award-winning scriptwriter Emily Capstick to devise a performance for early years visitors.  The story is about Mr Ordinary who suddenly realises why he is so bored and why everything in his life is so ordinary – someone has stolen his thinking and doing!  The animals from the Manchester Coat of Arms hear his cries for help and they embark on an adventure to rescue his thinking and doing from the Giant who is called Lazy.  The story gives the animals the qualities that the symbols represent: the stag who keeps trying, the strong protecting lion and the hard-working bees.

We have the largest collection of trade union, political and campaigning banners in the world. Catherine O’Donnell, Learning Officer at the museum explains: “Our banner collection has a rich visual language, with symbols frequently used.  These symbols originated when the majority of the population could not read and write, but they could instantly understand what the pictures meant.  Visual communication continues to be very important particularly in a city with a hight proportion of people who speak English as an additional language.”

We have already partnered with a local primary school to get the pupils involved, as experts, in choosing an illustrator for the book.  There will be further workshops with the artist and the author both in school and at the museum later in the year. 

The book will be launched at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival on Sunday 8 July 2012 at a free event at the museum.  An exhibition of the illustrations will be on show throughout the festival.  The book will be available to families, children and those working with children through free distribution to schools, early years care providers such as children’s centres, public libraries and the museum itself.  It will also be available to download free of charge on our website.

Public performances of Mr Ordinary’s Prize run throughout the year – see the What’s On section for more information.