Withington has been known to take on poignant murals, namely the Marcus Rashford piece by AKSE P19, and now a new mural featuring a flock of parakeets and Cottongrass – the flower of Manchester – has appeared in the South Manchester suburb.
The artwork by artist Peachzz – real name Megan – was completed last week, and is the latest in a series of paintings that make up the Withington Walls street art project.
Despite being an indigenous bird of Australia, a flurry of parakeets can regularly be seen in the skies across South Manchester, and, naturally, there are a number of wild theories around why so many of the colourful birds live in Manchester’s suburbs. The general consensus is that they were simply pets that escaped or were released from captivity way back in the 1970s, when exotic pets were all the rage.
Speaking about the reception she received in Withington whilst working on the parakeets mural, Megan said: “Everyone’s been so welcoming, they’ve really looked after me. The response has been pretty incredible. There has been no end of people coming and saying hello and offering cups of tea, which I’m thankful for.
“The idea came from Ed Wellard, who runs Withington Walls. I could paint whatever I wanted, but he was telling me about all the parakeets here in Manchester and I found the whole concept of birds being released really interesting. They are beautiful birds and it’s really brightened up the area.”
The mural wraps around The Albert, an Irish pub that has sat in the heart of Withington since the 1850s, whose landlord is Tommy Grogan – at 91, he is thought to be the oldest landlord in Britain.
Tommy has been at The Albert for almost 40 years and is originally from County Mayo in North West Ireland. He moved to Manchester more than 60 years ago with his wife, Anne, opening his first bar in Rusholme before moving to Withington and The Albert.
As well as being the flower of Manchester, Cottongrass – which is officially known as Eriophorum – is popular in Tommy’s former home in County Mayo, what a coincidence!
Speaking about the artwork, Tommy said: “I think it’s wonderful, and Megan has made it even more precious with the parakeets. I have been here nearly 40 years now and it’s a very old fashioned place but this has really brought us to the fore. I’m sure we’ll get a lot of comments, most of them have got to be good. It’s just marvelous.”
Withington Walls is a community project that aims to reinvigorate the area by commissioning and delivering quality street art. Withington has, over the last few decades been a student hotspot, but the demographic is starting to change with former student homes being snapped up by young professionals and families.
There are well over 100 pieces of artwork now scattered across the village, on everything from shop shutters to utilities boxes, and you can find a map of their locations here.