Didsbury’s Doors

Their usual adornments often include handles, bells, knockers and peepholes, however for the week of the Didsbury Arts Festival the decoration on twelve front doors around West Didsbury will be a little more imaginative.

Shaun Rider on a door in Didsbury

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of leading independent lettings agency, Montrose Properties, local artists Ben Williams and Dan Mozley have decorated a selection of doors on Clyde, Old Lansdowne and Queenston Road with famous faces from the past 30 years.

Rob and Jennifer Wildblood, owners of Montrose, also invited pupils from Parrs Wood High School to take part in the collaborative street art exhibition which is included in the community festival’s Art Trail programme.

Four Year 11 students from the Didsbury school, along with head of art Sue Sheppard, spent a couple of days adorning their two doors with images of local artists Lowry and Ofili.

Jennifer said; “Being part of the West Didsbury community is hugely important to us, and the local people have shown us great support over the years, so to celebrate this milestone we wanted to do something that everyone in the area can enjoy.

“It was fantastic to get the school involved, and support a few budding artists. The work they have produced is brilliant!”

The properties receiving the temporary facelift are all managed by the agency and the landlords donating these unlikely canvases are thrilled to be involved.

“We’ve had a number of the landlords, and the tenants living in the properties, asking us if it will really be necessary to paint over the art work after the festival has finished. The usual paint job on front doors can be quite uninspiring, this exhibition will certainly brighten up the neighbourhood,” commented Rob.

Mick Hucknall on a door in Didsbury

For both Ben and Dan this is the first exhibition they have done on this kind of scale and the first time they have worked together artistically.

“Dan and I work together during the day however this is the first time we have properly collaborated on an exhibition,” said Ben.

Dan added; “I think our skill sets really complement each other and the freedom we’ve been given has allowed each of us to showcase our talents. We’re really thankful to Montrose and the Festival organisers for giving us this opportunity to work together and get our art in the public eye.”

The graphic style they have chosen for the doors means they are easily visible from the pavement and the doors are unmissable due to the neon background colours used. The theme they have chosen will also resonate with locals as some of the famous faces are previous Montrose tenants and used to live in the area.

Despite being slightly hindered by the weather the young artists had a lot of fun creating the exhibition. Dan said; “We have both, bizarrely, worked on human skin before, however a front door is certainly one of the more strange things we have used as a canvas.”

“It was a challenge but one we both gratefully accepted as it has been fantastic exhibition to work on, we hope the public will enjoy them!” added Ben.

The next stage of the exhibition is now well under way. The completed doors have been captured by fine art photographer Pete Kelly, who will create a photo montage using modern printing techniques combined with the ancient Encaustic process, where beeswax and resin are applied to the image to create a more painterly effect.

Pete’s unique photograph will be hung in the Festival Gallery and will be auctioned off at a classical concert, held in aid of the musical therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, which Montrose is also sponsoring.

“Throughout its 30 years in business Montrose has always supported local and national charities. We raised a lot of money for Francis House in our 25th year, much of which was raised when Rob did a charity sky-dive,” said Jennifer.

“Luckily I get to keep my feet firmly on the ground this year,” added Rob, “but our involvement with Didsbury Arts Festival is just exciting, and we’re giving the community a different kind of gift.”

DAF runs from the 24th of September to the 1st of October.

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