Cork & Canvas: The BYOB Painting Workshop held in a Warehouse in Ancoats

Produce your very own canvas painting to take home, whilst enjoying plenty of booze, top tunes and great company...

By Ben Brown | Last updated 12 July 2022

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The last time that I’d held a paintbrush was approximately three years ago when, panicking with just 3 days to go until my mum’s 60th birthday, I painted a picture of me and her dead dog on an old canvas for her.

Needless to say, it wasn’t very good, and the painting ended up being thrown in her shed where I then retrieved it a couple of months ago and installed it in my house. My wife hates it too.

So my life as a painter was both short and rather uneventful. But last Friday I started it all up again – and you know what – I think I might just be the greatest artist of all time.

I was in a warehouse on Radium Street in Ancoats, home to Block 23 and a fully-fledged art and photography studio, Witch King’s Rum, Ancoats Pop-Up Market and most recently – Brazilian bakery The Flat Baker on the ground floor.

I was on the top floor, apron on, canvas in front of me and a bottle of Prosecco which I’d just bought from Ancoats General Store a few minutes prior. As people came in and got themselves settled, I mentally prepared myself to unleash a whirlwind of artistic brilliance upon the room.

The event is called Cork & Canvas and it’s billed as a “pop-up evening with a difference“. It’s the brainchild of the ever-enthusiastic Emily Jackson, who orchestrates and comperes the evening with panache.

Each Cork & Canvas event has a theme, and this one was Picasso’s Cubism, so we were tasked with painting our friend (or random person sat opposite) in that style, as Emily assisted in every step. Theme-wise though, it could be anything from landscapes and objects, to self-portraits and even Frida Kahlo.


As I meticulously created my Picasso masterpiece, enjoying the booze I’d brought and chatting to the very nice people at our table, time flew by in a flurry of top 90s tunes, silver paint and constant assistance with my mixing due to my acute colour blindness.

The end result was a little by-the-numbers for my liking – and at the end, Emily nominates three people to come up to the front of the room to show off their painting and talk about it. It seemed that everyone’s was vastly better than mine, which was a bit disappointing – but you can’t be the best at everything now can you?

My wife’s painting, on the other hand, ended up being absolutely bloody brilliant – an explosion of colour and an eccentricity that flows through everything she does. It was so good in fact that it’s been put on display behind the bar at Junior Jacksons, where we headed to once we’d finished at Cork & Canvas.

My masterpiece

It was a great evening, we learnt some skills, made some new friends and even had something to take home with us at the end.

Cork & Canvas will next be appearing over at Escape to Freight Island in the Plant room on Sunday 10th July. Keep an eye on their socials or website to check for the next appearance in Ancoats.


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