A Rubbish Night at the Museum

Do Manchester residents have to live surrounded by rubbish?
Or can we change it?  #GMTalkingRubbish

In 2018 we inspired the Manchester Museum to host a unique community-led exhibition and event to call time on the Manchester mess, and say “we need to talk about rubbish“.

Taking up Mayor Andy Burnham’s goal of “a cleaner and greener city region”, A Rubbish Night at the Museum set out to empower residents and call on professionals across Greater Manchester:

  1. to identify the multiple causes of the rubbish in our streets and alleys,
  2. to challenge the simplistic blaming of residents and communities for the mess,
  3. to use the systems, and question the policies, to deal with it,
  4. to work together to make a practical difference.

The exhibition had over 100 displays by over 40 contributors, and occupied the beautiful top floor of Manchester Museum. Over 200 attended the evening event. Given its success, the exhibition continued for a further two weeks, with family activities on the Saturdays.

‘A Rubbish Night at the Museum’ brought together residents, community groups, artists, businesses, social enterprises, students, waste professionals and others across GM and across cultures, to say it’s time for action, and it’s time for a policy that works:

The aim is to inspire the universities, the council departments, the contractors and other professionals, to work together with residents to rekindle the famously ambitious and pioneering spirit of Manchester – to build the capacity to address the global problem of rubbish on our doorstep.

Video 5 mins. By Zoe Parker Moon, studying at Manchester School of Art.

Major thank you to Esme Ward, who as the incoming Director of the Manchester Museum engaged with the ideas and challenge, made discussions inspiring, and ultimately made this event possible.

Event funded by the University of Manchester ‘Engaging our Communities’ fund. Inspired by the research and report ‘Talking Rubbish in Moss Side‘, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).

A Rubbish Night Contributors

Click to view credits

Coordination and networking 

Simon Pardoe, Mossimpact / Upping It.

Dr Sherilyn MacGregor, University of Manchester SCI.

Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum

Anna Bunney, Manchester Museum.

Rubbish Night discussions


Dr Sherilyn MacGregor, University of Manchester.

Phil Barton, former CE of Keep Britain Tidy.

Invited discussants: 

David Taylor, Director of Contract Services, GM Waste Disposal Authority.

Mark Atherton, Director of Environment, Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Christine Mathewson, Rochdale Env Act Network.

Sophie Walker, COO of Dsposal.

(Manchester City Council declined)


Clive Layode Asgill, Writer, performer.

Alison Jeffrey, Lecturer in Applied Theatre, University of Manchester.

Georgina Davidson, Daisy Williams, Ethan Fox, UoM Drama students.

Hussain Jafri, Jay Din, Urooj Arsalan, Moss Side residents.


Dr Sherilyn MacGregor – Research lead

Anne Tucker

Jay Din

Luke Nolan

Pete McCabe

Rosalind Wilding

Simon Pardoe

Ulka Gaitonde

Graphic design of displays

By the display contributors, plus:

Simon Pardoe, Mossimpact.

Rachel Harper, PomPom.


Real Junk Food – Chris Haydon.


Film of the event: direction, filming and editing: Zoe Parker Moon.

Puppet video: filming with children: Luke Nolan.  Editing: Tim Wilding.

Creators of the 100 displays 

– Individual residents: 

Claudia Alonso Puebla, artist – 11 artwork displays including entrance.  The event poster.

Phil Barton, artist – 2 artwork displays.

Carlos Vicente, artist – 1 artwork display.

Hussain Jafri – 1 display

Urooj Arsalan – 1 display 

– Community groups: 

Upping it

Rosalind Wilding – 17 displays.

Anne Tucker – 4 displays.

Simon Pardoe – 17 displays.

Rochdale Environment Action Group: Christine Mathewson and REAG team – 3 displays.

Leithers Don’t Litter, Edinburgh: 4 displays from their Crapitalism event.

Old Trafford: THE BACK gallery: Lynda Sterling – 4 artwork displays.

Rusholme & Fallowfield Civic Society: Sue Devlin – 1 display.

– University of Manchester:

Dr Sherilyn MacGregor – 2 displays.

Sustainable Consumption Inst. – 2 displays.

Manchester Museum – 2 displays.

– Companies, CICs and Charities:

Dsposal: Sophie Walker & Tom Passmore – 5 displays.

Recycle Bees: Luke Nolan – title display board with primary kids.

Furniture Poverty Hub: Helen Middleton – 2 displays.

Manchester repair café: – 1 display.

Displays with exhibits or workshops

Julia Kasmire, UoM – e-waste.

Bryony – Stitched Up Cooperative.

Naomo Kashiwagi, MM – waste origami.

Rosy Wilding – Upping It, Painted bins.

Mark Haig – Gismobots from e-waste.

Chris Haydon – Real Junk Food.

Volunteers on the night

Lucy Tomlinson, interviewer, Mcr Confidential.

Raphael Charles, Julia Loginovich, Joe Jorgensen, UoM students.

Assembly & disassembly 

Claudia Alonso Puebla, Carlos Vicente, Anne Tucker, Lynda Stirling, Pete McCabe, Rosalind Wilding. 

The reviews: A Rubbish Night on Twitter

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