Manc of the Month: Adam McWhinnie

Adam is a lovely man, very friendly and welcoming and always there to help! We first met Adam when we attended a Drink and Pour workshop a year or so ago. Since then, we have bumped into him at every exhibition launch and art event in town! He is a talented artist, manager and more! Read on to find out more about Adam, he work and workshops and why he was interview by This Morning!

Cotton On MCR: You seem to have a bunch of different jobs, tell us more about what you do.

Adam McWhinnie: ‘Yes, I like to keep myself busy! My day job is manager of the art supplies shop Cass Art on Oldham Street in Northern Quarter. It’s a fantastic place to work and company to be part of, and I have a brilliant team to support me. I work with local partners such as The Whitworth, Manchester School of Art and Manchester Art Fair on a number of projects as well as supporting our customers with advice on everything art related!’

‘Last year I set up ArtMCR as a platform to host and promote creative workshops that were accessible and fun and include participants who may shy away from traditional art classes. I usually host two workshops per month mainly on the art of acrylic paint pouring, but I am also researching new areas to bring fun activities to the masses. Cass Art supports and encourages all our employees in their creative practice and we have 4 staff bursaries awarded every year worth £500 each.’

CO: We have been to one of your Drink and Pour classes and had a great time, tell us more about these classes.

AM: ‘Drink and Pour came from my love of acrylic paint pouring and wanting to host an event that wasn’t your ‘traditional art class’. A lot of people don’t want to get creative as they see a cliché image of a painter producing a ‘masterpiece’ at an easel in a rustic looking studio, or they log onto Instagram and see photo-realistic sketches that have taken years of practice and skill to perfect – and see these as bench-marks to getting creative. I hear “I can’t draw, I can’t paint” I often tell them, “yes you can!” all you need is the will to explore!’

‘For the workshop we break down pouring into a 2-hour session on the essential materials and techniques, add in bring your own booze and some lively music in the background and you walk away with 3 pieces of art work, that you created! It’s amazing that by making the setting and feel of the class relaxed and casual, opens people up to putting paint to canvas, where they wouldn’t have previously. I am not the first to come up with this concept of a relaxed art class but it’s definitely gaining more momentum as we look for a break from our vast digital world.’

CO: You’re an artist too, with some work for sale on your site. How would you describe your art?

AM: ‘I love colour, so I would say my work is an attempt to celebrate colour with quite abstract shapes and textures. I mainly work with a print roller, brush and acrylic to create my pieces, keeping it simple allows me to focus more on the design. Acrylic paint is a versatile medium which comes in a variety of formats such as ink, fluid and markers, this gives an artist a huge amount of choice when creating work. I also work predominantly on paper as I have often found canvas a barrier – you could call it blank canvas syndrome – I like to start with either basic shapes or large brush strokes and then layer more on top. Working in an art shop also gives me endless inspiration when looking at the paint racks for new and interesting pigments!’

CO: We saw you recently at the Short Supply ‘Made It’ launch, you had some involvement in that exhibition, can you tell us more about that?

AM: ‘I was there representing Cass Art, Mollie and Rebekah [Short Supply] have been customers of ours for the past 2 years and we were honoured to support their ‘Made It‘ show with a solo exhibition prize in our Art Space. Supporting local art projects is one of the favourite parts of my role and even better to see how it all comes together in person.’

CO: We hear you have an exhibition of your own coming up – what are the details of that?

AM: ‘I am in the process of planning a show for next year. It is still early stages but I want to bring together all my recent work and combine this with interactive workshops during the exhibition. I really enjoy making work and learning new ways to use materials, I want to share that with visitors and give them a connection to the work on the walls, and definitely get some paint in their hands!’

CO: What has been the proudest/best moment of your career so far?

AM: ‘It’s a bitter-sweet moment as it falls on the day after the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. Walking into work that day felt very odd, town was very quiet and everyone looked lost in thought (not your usual day to day commuter thoughts) but I think everyone was just in shock at what had happened just 12 hours previous. I knew that it was probably going to be a quiet day so we filled up some containers full of tea and coffee and put out a large table with big sheets of paper and art materials. We challenged people to stop and put their feelings to paper instead of keeping it inside. If they wanted a brew or a chat they could do so and we just wanted to allow everyone to stop and have some small outlet of whatever emotions or thoughts they had. It was picked up by The Telegraph and This Morning, where I was interviewed about why we had done it. It was very humbling, I had only set out to give people a creative outlet that day but the response was incredible. We filled 4 x A1 sheets full of messages, bees and drawings. We still have those in store and looking to display permanently somewhere.’

CO: That is amazing and so thoughtful! Good on you! So what do you think of Manchester’s art scene?

AM: ‘I think it is very active, the high number of openings I get invites to or see online (Cotton On website of course!) is a positive sign that there are a lot of active artists, showing work and collaborating. I think it is undergoing a lot of change due to studios being closed or re-located out of the city centre, but the suburbs and outer areas of the city are benefiting from creatives moving in. Rogue Artists Studios is a key example of this in Gorton, an old school building has taken on a brand-new purpose and bringing a lot of good to the area once again.’

CO: You have 5 people to invite to a dinner party – dead or alive. Who would they be and why?

AM: ‘- Peter Kay – It’s always good to have laughter at a dinner party, especially if the guests are a bit quiet at the start of the night. He is my favourite comedian so he would definitely be on the top of the list.

– David Attenborough – Who wouldn’t? You would get some incredible after dinner stories, and I could listen to his voice for hours! I would like him to live narrate an episode of Planet Earth from the couch!

– Delia Smith – I think the host is meant to cook but why not invite a chef? She makes everything look so simple, so if I messed up the food I am sure she would step in and save the day.

– BB King – We would need some music for the dinner party and he was an amazing guitarist. I always have music playing when I am painting or creating, and his albums do appear on rotation.

– Donald Trump – A scary and fascinating individual, I would really like to see what he is like in person. Not sure if he would swap Mari Lago for Manchester but I would throw in a KFC to tempt him. I also want to check his hair is actually real.’

CO: Hahaha! Some good choice! Attenborough is on our list too! So what’s next / What are your plans for the new year?

AM: ‘Spend more time on my painting practice. I have put most of my time into workshop development and hosting classes this year, and whilst very fun and rewarding, it has been at the expense of creating more work and learning different techniques. I will be creating more work to show in next year’s exhibition so I will be non-stop from January onwards!’

‘I am also developing another two new workshops which I hope to launch Spring next year. They will be a mixture of social and creating, like Drink & Pour but not paint pouring! Watch this space.’

CO: And to end, if you could live in any painting/artwork, which would it be?

AM: ‘The Night Watch, Rembrandt – I would love to be housed in the Rijksmuseum’

You can find out more about Adam and book onto one of his workshops via his website –

And if you think you should be considered for Manc of the Month – get in touch!

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