Mick Manning

Award winning children’s author and illustrator, Mick Manning, studied the Foundation in Art &
Design at Bradford College in the late 1970s. Since 1996 he has won countless prizes for his books, most often produced in collaboration with his wife, Brita Granström.

Mick Manning“It was 1978 when I arrived at College and my dad had just died at only 52. While we Keighley kids played pool in the student bar with Silsden and Bradford kids, the 1970’s Juke Box was busy evolving from playing Hawkwind and Hendrix to The Lurkers, Banshees and the amazing X Ray Specs. Sham 69’s single If the Kids are United might have been on Top of the Pops – but it didn’t stop some boot-boys breaking Eggo’s jaw in two places ‘cos he was a punk rocker.

It was Dave Rowling, Annie Watson, Ian Taylor and Chris Broughton at Bradford that first really pushed me to go out and make BIG drawings - and to treat drawing with respect. ‘Artists draw, amateurs sketch’ they would say. We had to do at least one large A1 drawing a week on top of project work and it was a great discipline. Dave and Chris would bang-on in crit’s about making individual, considered marks that reflected and represented textures and shapes; they told us to think about different weights of line; not make bland ‘one size fits all’ type of marks. What wise words! Not to be afraid of A1 and white space felt liberating!

Almost as big a revelation was eating my first real CURRY . . . There was a small curry house just round the corner and in the first week we went there for lunch with some of the already ‘initiated’ (respect to Stephen Manthorp). It wasn’t how you might think of a curry house now, with piped music, hot towels and a huge menu. It was like someone’s back room; with a radio playing out the back some place and Pakistani men eating, drinking tea and talking in Urdu. I thought that must be a good sign and it was ‘cos the food was great. We would order Mushroom Vindaloo and eat it with chapattis for about 50p... it was an epiphany for me, I’d had only had Vesta boil in a bag previously!

Another thing I remember about my Foundation was the wacky afternoon visiting lecture series. The staff brought in all sorts of people to talk to us. I carried that education with me when I went to do a degree in Newcastle and later a post grad’ at the RCA and much later taught at art schools myself. More recently I wrote Art School (in part dedicated to Bradford College) and the wise words and the rounded education I got at Bradford was reflected in that book.

My latest book is about my dad. It’s collection of the stories he told me when I was a lad about his days as a tail gunner in the RAF in 1944. It’s called Tail-End Charlie and it’s for my kids and my brother and sisters kids too - all his grandchildren who sadly never got to hear his stories.

To write and illustrate books you need ideas, imagination and a visual language . . . and Bradford Foundation helped me to find all those things . . . so here, 30 years later, and long overdue, is a big thank you.”

Photograph supplied by Mick Manning