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Farewell to Cornerhouse. Welcome, Home

Cornerhouse storming

Saturday night was The Storming – a final farewell to the much loved Cornerhouse in Manchester. After 30 years the iconic cinema has closed its doors ahead of a short but significant move down Whitworth St West to a new venue. Split across two distinctive buildings (one round, one cheese wedge) that bookend the familiar slope up to Oxford Road station, the Cornerhouse has been an iconic part of Manchester’s cultural identity during that time.

After the last ever screening on Thursday night (David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET), many of the staff seemed to have a countenance that suggested they couldn’t quite grasp that it was actually closing. A surreal and relaxed atmosphere of people enjoying themselves in the bar for the final time – without it feeling like the final time. Maybe it wasn’t closing after all.

Cornerhouse blue velvet

Listening to some of them discuss their feelings on their new home, ‘HOME‘, it was clear that nothing was certain, beyond that Home would be different. There would be things that people would miss (the location on the stoop of Oxford Road station opposite the grand Palace buildings), and much that will be gladly left behind (the leaking roof in cinema 1). There were things to look forward to (new facilities – the new cinemas, galleries and theatre), and other less so (the grand office view over the, er, carpark). My theory is that the bar will be the litmus test – will people want to hang out and drink there?

“Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal! The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world!”

Dr. Vornoff’ (Bela Lugosi) in Bride of the Monster (Ed Wood, 1955)

Some things wont make the journey. The Strong Super Lume-x 35mm projectors, that for so long were in service of cinemas 2&3, were sold last week on ebay (for a combined total of £590). Thankfully Home will be bringing a couple of 35mm projectors from screen 1, which will be complementing the new Sony 4K setup.

cornerhouse 30 years

And what about the home they leave behind – the house on the corner? No doubt regulars will be struck by that odd feeling that occurs when a new family moves into your old house (“I dont like what they’ve done with the front room”). We don’t know the new tenants but suffice to say it probably wont feel ‘right’ because of our memories to how it was. Those memories have been collected and transcribed over the last month via the Cornerhouse Scribbler – an online / realworld interface that allowed people to share a memory via the site and have it ‘written’ and displayed in the building.

“I’m standing where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I guess you can shop there.”

Marty Blank (John Cusack) in Grosse Point Blank (George Armitage, 1997)

 

They are like a family leaving their family abode to move to a bigger house on the same street – of course, they are still together, but it just wont be the same home. Will it? Well, it comes down to how we define ‘home’. Its clear the aim of the new moniker is to suggest a place that is welcoming, friendly and familiar. Home is, to a large extent, what you make it.

To that end, I’ve made a playlist below that explores different aspects of HOME – from leaving the old house (or burning it down), to missing home, and being welcomed home.

 

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