Not Quite Light festival brings art, debate, music and architecture to Swinton

It’s been away for four years, but artist Simon Buckley’s unique event returns to Salford, Greater Manchester this March.

There’s something quite enchanting about the hours of dawn and dusk, those otherworldly moments between night and day. Artist Simon Buckley certainly thought so, leading to a project titled Not Quite Light, where he explored Salford and Manchester during these spellbinding times.

Not Quite Light then grew into a festival, which launched in Salford in 2016, won much acclaim, and received a CityLife Award. So he decided to build it into something much bigger, staging it in Salford, where he lived at the time.

From there, the festival grew, with the last event taking place in 2019.

The 2020 edition was set to be the biggest yet before being cancelled, but it was cancelled just ten days before launch due to Covid-19.

Recently, Simon was commissioned to make the film Gathering Points in Swinton, and he felt it was the right time to revive the festival, with a vision of getting it back to the level it was at in 2020 by 2025. And so now, Not Quite Light is back with a vengeance.

Back in style

The 2024 revival edition is taking place at various locations across Swinton, Salford, from 15-17 March, including Swinton Square shopping centre and the Grand Palais ballroom.

The event promises to bring people together, breathe new life into some of Swinton’s spaces, and involve the community in building a weekend of workshops, exhibitions, live performances, talks and guided walks.

Full programme

With support from Salford City Council, this year’s Not Quite Light will feature 12 events around art, debate, music and architecture, including a premiere of Gathering Points, followed by a cabaret and dance festival launch event at the historic Grand Palais.

There will also be a performance and soundscape set in the shopping precinct in collaboration with artist Lowri Evans, musician Biff Roxby (Wood Rooms Studios/Honeyfeet), and artist Len Grant leading sketching sessions in the precinct.

Adding to the programme will be workshops for kids with Buttress Architects, a social drop-in session by Swinton’s thriving knitting group, guided walks with historians and members of the Modernist Society, a music production workshop from charity Brighter Sounds, a dawn photo-walk along Swinton Greenway, a music and dance event featuring Swinton musicians and performers such as headliner Gideon Conn, and an exploration of Pendlebury-born Coronation Street creator Tony Warren’s work.

Underground talent

“I love Salford and find it a very exciting city,” says Simon. “It’s not got one centre, but several, and I think this gives the communities that live here a unique character and strength. There is so much local talent and a real underground dynamic.

“I’m delighted to bring back the Not Quite Festival, to again have the opportunity to commission some great artists and bring community groups together for the people of Swinton to enjoy,” he adds. “This year, we’ve had fantastic backing from Salford City Council, which understands the value of creativity within the city. I work out of Islington Mill in Salford and am very aware of the commitment shown by the council to making Salford a tremendous place for cultural activity.

“It’s been a wonderful experience bringing together various community groups and artists and discovering how much talent and energy there is within the town,” he concludes. “Like so many places that might not be on our radar, there is so much more going on than is immediately apparent if we’d just take the time to explore and discover.”

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