"Had a brilliant day exploring street art in Manchester for an upcoming project. HIGHLY recommend @skylinermcr (and baby Malin) for the most amazing tour!" - Instagram post, July '16
I was managing the beginnings of a big, public art project. I was digging, researching and seeking out the places doing it well already. So it's no surprise that I ended up in Manchester; a city with a long and colourful history of artists taking ownership of the city's streets and leaving their mark.
But how do you get to know a city beyond the points of interest on a tourist information map? How can you scratch below the surface to find colourful history, interesting relationships and hidden cultures? This is where I become really grateful that I met Hayley Flynn.
Hayley is the creator of Skyliner; a multi-award winning, one woman mission to promote and preserve our region's heritage and to explore urban issues. Skyliner is 'dedicated to the pursuit of rare and fascinating art and architecture, and the hidden histories contained within the concrete of a city.' Through endless research, thousands of conversations and years of walking around, looking up, Hayley has built a unique understanding of Manchester that she shares generously and with pride. Her love for the city is infectious.
Once the first, and only, City Curator for the National Trust, I'm not sure she ever really stopped being a custodian of concrete jungles. And why shouldn't we deem them as precious as our crumbling archives and ornate country houses?
Skyliner offers tours for groups of all sizes and with a whole range of interests. The content is carefully shaped in response to any questions or lines of enquiry you're starting with, but there's a guarantee you'll come away with more than you bargained for.
Hayley is a dedicated researcher, articulate writer, talented photographer, committed activist and incredible storyteller. Oh, and she's responsible for her miniature sidekick, Malin. So not busy at all, really...
Everything I really know about Manchester, I owe to Hayley Flynn. Take her for coffee. Take her up on a tour. She'll open windows into worlds you've not even thought about.