Buy of the Week – Lily Greenwood Printed Canvas Bag

Lily Greenwood’s studio in Manchester’s Craft & Design centre is a true gem of a shop and is always a pleasure to visit. Lily’s work always brightens  up the greyest of days, and this weekend was no exception. Since interviewing Lily for The Poplar Tree back in September, she has continued to keep busy working on new commissions and preparing for exhibitions.

Lily currently has a busy summer ahead which includes her work appearing at the Barcelona Showcase next month in the spectacular Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s stunning architectural masterpieces.  The exhibition celebrates the best in contemporary fine  art and will feature work by artists from across the world.

The Poplar Tree couldn’t resist buying one of Lily’s Printed Canvas Bags – priced at £10 these canvas bags make a lovely present for someone special, and there’s plenty of gorgeous designs to choose from. The bags feature her Japanese kimono inspired paintings, her iconic butterfly prints and art nouveau designs. The Poplar Tree opted for the blue canvas bag shown above. Not only do these bags look as pretty as her pictures, because they’ve made from canvas they’re really sturdy too!

Photograph taken from Lily Greenwood’s Facebook Page


studio 25, manchester craft & design centre, 17 oak street, northern quarter , manchester, m4 sjd

contact:  twitter@lilygreenwood

find out more:

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Home Sweet Home, Manchester – Food Review

Home Sweet Home describes itself as a “gourmet bake house and coffee bar” and it has quickly carved out a niche for itself in an area of Manchester that’s saturated with homemade food outlets and trendy bars. In fact, it’s become so popular they’ve recently had to extend.

What makes Home Sweet Home stand out from the other eateries in the Northern Quarter is its generous portion sizes, great value and delicious menu. Most of the dishes here have an American or Mexican twist to them – there’s pulled pork rolls, the San Diego toastie, chilli dogs, macaroni cheese, clam chowder and a Santa Fe salad. It’s easy to imagine Adam Richman from Man vs Food tucking into a few of these dishes and certainly feeling at home.  Continue reading

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Celebrity Wedding Planners: Jedward – Jepic

The true definition of genii - ladies and gentlemen, JEDWARD

John:                     “I’m John.”

Edward:               “And I’m Edward.”

Jedward:             “And together, we’re Jedward!”

Celebrities and weddings are two massive TV trends from 2011 which collided together in last night’s Celebrity Wedding Planners, a new series from Channel 5 which looks set to emulate the success of C4’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings franchise. Last night’s episode featured Jedward, the tall-haired twins from Dublin who bounded about on the goggle box like two oversized kids maxed out on Smarties and Sunny D. If you were to do a quick mental list of celebrities you wouldn’t want planning your wedding, Jedward would be on a par with The Chuckle Brothers and Des Lynam.

The show was filled with the twins’ Jedisms, “It’s gonna be Jepic,” said Jedward, “We hope it won’t be a Jesaster.” And if their appearance on Celebrity Wedding Planners is anything to go by, the pair could also start a sideline in their trademark PVC high-shouldered ‘Jedsuits’.

So, what better way to avoid racking up a huge wedding debt than by getting an unbeknown celebrity to plan it for you, and Channel 5 to cover the costs. What could possibly go wrong? This scenario didn’t put Beulah and James off, the happy couple who featured in the episode. Beulah is a self-confessed control freak who wears mad glasses that Gok Wan would be proud to sport, and James is a half-Scottish electrician. Beulah wants a ‘Princess wedding’ in an English country mansion, whereas James, if he’s completely honest hasn’t given it much thought. Continue reading

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Hungry the Stars and Everything: Emma Jane Unsworth

Emma Jane Unsworth studied English Literature at Liverpool university and is an accomplished writer of short fiction and a locally acclaimed journalist from Manchester. Her debut novel Hungry the Stars and Everything seamlessly interweaves tales of greed, addiction and love with a little touch of magic realism.

The tale follows Helen Burns, a 29 year old food critic who is assigned to review a mysterious new restaurant called ‘Bethel’ which has been tipped to receive a Michelin star. With each course that is brought out by the maitre de, Helen recalls memories that link together to form the novel’s plot.

The novel delves into teenage fantasies and sexual awakening, as Unsworth explores how the decisions made during adolescence can deeply affect those made later in life. Zipping back and forth in time, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1991 when Helen is on the cusp of puberty and totally fed up of being a good little girl. After sneaking downstairs to eat one of her father’s Christmas presents, the birthmark on her palm begins to burn red hot and it’s at this moment that she sees the devil for the first time.

Unsworth’s writing style blends warm Mancunian humour with a journalist’s eye for detail, and although the novel is at heart a romance, it has a dark pulse beating away. At times it feels as though Unsworth has enjoyed playing with her heroine, as Helen lurches between moments of personal epiphany and the next is plunged into self-annihilation. You never know quite what to expect next in Hungry the Stars and Everything, and it is precisely this kind of plate-spinning of themes and plots which makes Unsworth such a promising new writer.

You really should get down to Waterstone’s on Deansgate and buy a copy.

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Filed under Books/Novels/Authors, Manchester Literature Festival 2011

Adam Buxton: BUG @ the Zion Arts Centre Hulme

Last night The Poplar Tree went to watch Dr Buckles at the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme doing his BUG routine. BUG was set up in 2007 to showcase the best talents in music video making and shows are regularly held at the British Film Institute (BFI).

Here’s my Top 3 favourite moments of the night:

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Sean O’Brien and John McAuliffe: Manchester Literature Festival 2011

Cladded in zinc like a huge roof tile, some might say that the Martin Harris Centre lacks the gravitas associated with other established poetry venues across the city such as St Anne’s Church, the Cathedral or Whitworth Hall. But once inside the 150-seat theatre, it’s easy to see, or rather hear why the venue has become a favourite place for the MLF to hold its poetry readings.

In 2009 the Irish poets Michael Longley and Tom French graced the Martin Harris Centre for an evening of poetry, and then at last year’s festival the poet émigré, Seamus Heaney, took to the lectern at Whitworth Hall. Can you spot the MLF theme that’s emerging here?

John McAuliffe is the latest Irish poet to showcase his works at an MLF event, when usually he’s the one introducing the Irish poets. Luckily for McAuliffe, Vona Groarke was on hand to introduce the poet from Kerry, and the other highly acclaimed poet of the evening, Sean O’Brien.

At first it might appear (and hear) like McAuliffe and O’Brien are an unlikely pairing, but what unites the poets in their latest collections is an interest for exploring what it is to be away from something you love, be this a person, place or thing. Continue reading

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Emma Jane Unsworth and John Niven: Manchester Literature Festival 2011

Event Room, Waterstone’s Deansgate, Saturday 15th October 2011

There’s a saying in Manchester that on the sixth day God created MANchester. While some may doubt the truth of this statement, what can’t be disputed is that on the sixth day of the Manchester Literature Festival, novelists John Niven and Emma Jane Unsworth held a hilarious reading of their new books The Second Coming and Hungry the Stars and Everything.

Both novels are an irreverent take on conventional religion; The Second Coming is awash with blasphemous characters (including God himself) while Hungry the Stars and Everything features a charismatic yo-yo playing devil.

Niven and Unsworth are both writers of fiction that defy standard classification, on a bookshelf they’d be more at home next to writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Jonathon Swift or John Kennedy Tool. When introducing the novelists to the sold-out audience, Cathy Bolton, the MLF’s Festival Director summed up the pair as “two of the wittiest and freshest writers writing in the UK”.

Emma studied English Literature at Liverpool university and is an accomplished writer of short fiction and a locally acclaimed journalist, her debut novel Hungry the Stars and Everything follows Helen Burns, a 29 year old food critic who is assigned to review a mysterious restaurant called Bethel. The novel, which is set in Manchester, interweaves tales of greed, addiction and alcoholism with ‘magic realism’, hence the devil’s appearances throughout the book. Emma explained where the idea for featuring the devil came from,

“I was really interested in fantasies, especially teenage fantasies and sexual awakening. The devil fitted into this as the ultimate rebel and master of temptation.” Continue reading

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Commonword Poetry Factor: Contact Theatre

14th October 2011, Contact Theatre 7.30pm

The Contact Theatre is arguably one of the most striking buildings in the city and when you step inside this dynamic  building it’s easy to see why so many young people are drawn to it. Inside the decor is like a box of smarties, with walls painted in vibrant purples, oranges and reds, and there’s also smatterings of stainless steel silver everywhere which give the theatre an edgy, urban feel.

The setting was perfect for an evening of diverse poetry featuring seven young performance poets from across the North West. The Poetry Factor made its debut for the Manchester Literature Festival in ‘Space Two,’ an intimate theatre space that seats around fifty people. Commonword’s Martin Duella described the concept behind Poetry Factor as “the idea to give young people coming into spoken word a bit of experience and ongoing mentoring.” The night was hosted by Chanje Kunda, an established performance poet from Manchester who had a friendly rapport with judges Helen Clare, Baba Israel, Gerry Potter and Segun Lee-French.

Pooja Sitpura was the first performer to shake off nerves with her recitals of ‘Disarm Britain,’ ‘Wonderbra’ and ‘Hate’. Poojah’s poetry is inspired by personal observations of social injustice and negative portrayals of women and young people in the media. Her poetry was instilled with evocative imagery and delivered with a fiery passion. Similarly Paris Kaur’s first poem of the night entitled ‘Barbie Girl’ deconstructed the issues surrounding portrayals of women in the cosmetics industry. The poem included snippets of words from cosmetic adverts which contrasted to the lines of narration in which a girl “starves herself thin and makes herself sick”.

Kayleigh Kavanagh and Michael Benet’s performances both depicted love and relationships in all their stark realities. Kayleigh showed a vulnerability that was reflected in the content of her poetry as she explored love using conceits, this came across most poignantly in ‘Barriers’. Michael demonstrated an aptitude in his poetry to turn moments of ugly brutality into tender desire, in ‘I Kissed Her Twice’ the image of the poet tracing his lover’s palm with his thumb was particularly striking.  While in contrast, ‘The War’ was a torrid and intimate poem about a soured relationship which Michael recited with a confident delivery: “I’m scared of her just as much as me / We are too young to know how to clean this mess.” Continue reading

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Commonword Poetry Factor: Manchester Literature Festival 2011

The Poplar Tree is looking forward to reviewing the Commonword Poetry Factor for the Manchester Literature Festival’s 2011 website. The event is described as “a Dragons’ Den” of young performance poets. Each poet has to pitch their entries in a bid to convince judges Helen Clare, Baba Israel, Segun Lee-Frnch and Gerry Potter that they have the tightest verse and beats to find fame on the live poetry circuit. There’s a cash prize for the winner and an opportunity to take part in next year’s Lit Fest (oooo!)

The event is being held at Contact on Oxford Road, this Friday (14th Oct) at 7.30pm

Tickets: £5/£3 concessions book @

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Mississippi Mud Pie Muller Corners are back!

Hurray! Forget about Gypsy Weddings, book reviews, Missing Thumbs and the Manchester Literature Festival 2011, because guess what people…. Mississippi Mud Pie Muller Corners are back! On its travels in Morrisons tonight The Poplar Tree discovered the fabled yoghurt on an end fridge, picking it up in it leafy arms it exclaimed aloud: “They’re back!”. Nobody heard though, because Morrisons is very quiet at 6pm on a Monday.

I’ll put a photograph up of the muddy stuff tomorrow, until then go forth and buy  people – they’re only about for a limited time, but they need to be around forever and ever and ever and ever.


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