Last night I went to the opening of Frankophilia!, an exhibition celebrating Frank Sidebottom. Frank was forever 35, relentlessy optimistic and did the shopping for his mum (most likely in his big shorts). Chris Sievey, the man behind the papier mache mask, sadly died earlier this year. Frank was never a mainstream comedian, but the news of his death was met with a lot tributes. Frank touched many people, especially in his home city of Manchester. Soon as Chris passed away I got talking to a man in the Northern Quarter. He pulled down his t-shirt to show me a large tattoo of Frank Sidebottom on his chest. “I’m getting a halo added,” he told me.
Exhibition curator Suzanne Smith contacted via Flickr to ask permission to use one of my pictures. You can see my photograph here, which I snapped on Oxford Road when I was taking a summer evening stroll in July. If I’d known it would end up on the Chapman Gallery wall I would have framed it better. I didn’t make the graffiti or the stencil, and don’t know who did. So it was a humble contribution from me, but I was really happy to be involved because Frank Sidebottom brought joy into my life – and introduced me to the word ‘bobbins’. Last year, I saw him perform in Liverpool with his Oh Blimey Big Band. It was a gig that make my jaw ache from grinning.
The exhibition itself was fantastic (to borrow Frank’s favourite word), and a poignant tribute to the man. Seeing the care and attention people had put into their artworks was touching, as was seeing the grins on the faces of everybody enjoying the exhibition. Of course, I didn’t take enough photos so will have to go back for a second visit. Thank you to Suzanne for inviting me to participate, and for all her hard work putting the show together.
Where: Chapman Gallery, University of Salford
When: 17 November-18 December (Wednesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm)
A set of Frank matryoskha by Suzanne Smith.
Some Frank needlework, but I didn’t note down the artist. My bad.
A Frank sofa.