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The LEGACY Issue: aAh! launches its tenth print magazine and exhibition celebrating Manchester Met’s 200th anniversary and the legacy of student media

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Featured image and gallery: Bethan Kelly

aAh! launched its tenth print issue, The LEGACY Issue, on Wednesday marking Manchester Metropolitan University’s 200th anniversary and a decade of the online and print student magazine.

The student editorial team hosted a special event at MMU Special Collections Museum at All Saints Library, where they opened a new exhibition titled ‘aAh! Magazine: The Legacy of Student Magazines’ and announced the winners of the 2024 Student Media Awards.

aAh! Magazine, Manchester Met’s online student-led arts and culture magazine, saw the 200th anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on the history of the university and the city – from the evolution of the university’s student magazines to women’s literary legacies in the city to the (now infamous) family recipe ‘Nana Meg’s Tater Ash’.

The new issue looks back on the legacy of student magazines interviewing former PULP editors and photographers and uncovers what student life looked like in the early 90s.

The magazine also focuses on the present and poses questions about our future legacy and where we are headed as a society.

It explores the role the School of Digital Arts (SODA) will play in our digital futures, the influence of young environmental activists paving the way for future generations, and the future of female sports broadcasting with university project Matchday Live.

It examines how students are leaving a lasting legacy by volunteering at Hulme Community Garden Centre, as well as the sustainable and inclusive fashion brands creating real change.

aAh! Magazine Project Coordinator and Multimedia Journalism Senior Lecturer, Natalie Carragher, commented on the issue’s success. She said: “The LEGACY Issue is a brilliant collaborative effort by some of the most talented, creative, and resilient students I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

“The team have gone truly above and beyond to do our tenth print aAh! Magazine anniversary justice and celebrate the university’s 200th anniversary in style – and on their own terms.

“The latest print magazine is a stunning collection of quality journalism, illustration, photography, and design and is the result of months of hard work from our cross-disciplinary team. They have worked together to overcome challenges, meet professional deadlines and support each other to produce their very best creative work.”

aAh! Magazine’s Legacy

aAh!’s tenth print anniversary coinciding with the university’s 200th anniversary presented the team with a special opportunity to develop the launch event into a full exhibition celebrating the legacy of student magazines.

Opening with student journalist Ian Burke and illustrator Georgia Harmey’s ‘Celebrating 200 Years’ illustrated timeline, the exhibition was an chance to further reflect on the history of student magazines at the university, in particular, aAh!’s own journey.

The publication launched its first print magazine in 2014 as Humanity Hallows, publishing eight print issues before rebranding to aAh! in 2018, and then publishing a further ten print issues of aAh! Magazine to date.

The team uncovered stories their predecessors had produced including interviews with The Smith’s Johnny Marr, author and rapper Akala, American singer and bassist Suzi Quatro, and former Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.

The exhibition was designed to shine a spotlight the magazine’s back catalogue of 18 print issues of aAh! and Humanity Hallows over the past ten years.

These wall displays are presented alongside a collection of PULP magazines (the university’s student magazine from 1980-2010), L.S. Lowry’s pass to the Manchester School of Art, and photographs of All Saint’s Park which all inspired the direction of The LEGACY Issue.

The artefacts pulled from the MMU Special Collections Museum archives not only inspired the magazine’s theme and content but also Graphic Design Assistant Bradley Sansom’s design for the ‘What’s Going on In All Saint’s Park’ feature, focussing on the development of the park, as well as his broader vision for the issue.

Final-year graphic design student Bradley designed a special font for the publication, inspired by the Manchester School of Art logo. Bradley said: “This issue’s design is packed full of references to the university’s history. We’ve taken the DIY attitude of early editions of PULP, added some aAh! polish (plus a liberal coating of magenta), and delved into the archives to bring back memories for readers young and old.

“I wanted to represent the importance of the bicentenary in our type choices, so you might notice a few nods to Mancunian history, including a font inspired by the Manchester School of Art lettering that adorns the Grosvenor building.”

Reflecting on hosting the event at MMU Special Collections Museum, Natalie said: “The support and expertise shared by Louise Clennell and the MMU Special Collections team to make tonight possible has incredible. Having the opportunity to share our work in the exhibition space has been great and we couldn’t have done this without them.”

The LEGACY Issue Launch Party

The launch party was attended by a diverse mixture of students, staff, interviewees featured in the issue, past contributors, and friends and family members of the student editorial team. Special guests featured in The LEGACY Issue also attended including Professor Rob Drummond and photographer Richard Davis.

Richard, who studied at Manchester Met in the 1980s, was interviewed for the issue by Multimedia Journalism students Megan McCardle and Carla Acevedo-Ferron for a feature exploring his work and relationship to the city.

Manchester Met alum and photographer Richard Davis with Multimedia Journalism students Megan McCardle and Carla Acevedo-Ferron.

The photographer is best known for his images of Hulme taken in the late 1980s and his involvement with PULP magazine during his university days which saw him photograph Nirvana at the former Student Union.

Speaking at the event, Richard commented on how much had changed since he had been involved with the magazine and how impressed he was to see how the publication had evolved.

Richard said: “It was 35 years ago that I was at Manchester Poly with PULP and I still take photos now. What’s nice about coming here tonight to see all you young people still doing great work and the written word. And especially today with technology… How nice is it that it’s a physical item and not just online!”

Reflecting on his time as a student at Manchester Met, he added: “I wish I could go back because I had the time of my life. Make the most of our time and make the most of the opportunities that come your way with this beautiful magazine you’ve got.

“Make friends, make connections and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!”

Natalie said: “It’s been fantastic to welcome Richard [Davis] and some of the original contributors from PULP and aAh! Magazine to our launch and exhibition opening. The opportunity to connect our current students with the legacy of student magazines that have come before and to inspire them to be mentors in their own right was something we could not miss out on – That’s what student journalism is about!”

Other speakers included MFA Creative Writing graduate Jane Ashworth, whose creative writing has been featured in the past two issues of aAh! Magazine. Jane shared an intimate reading of her letter to Joni Mitchell, ‘Joni & Me’ published in The LEGACY Issue.

The launch party and awards ceremony were hosted by aAh! editorial team members Creative Writing student Georgia Pearson, MA Multimedia Journalism student Makenna Ali, and MA performance student Tara Morony.

The event began with a welcome from the editors who shared the magazine’s history and gave some insights into the process of creating this issue.

Tara, Media and Engagement Assistant and editor, shared her experience of joining the team and working on The LEGACY Issue. She said: “Working on this issue has been a process of building and discovering connections, with people within the university, and from different parts of the city, and a process of getting to know Manchester in a new way.

“I hope that it will open up some new stories, perspectives, and possibilities for readers. Although the theme ‘Legacy’ suggests history, this issue has been about making sense of our present and the role and impact we have in our institution and city – individually and collectively.

She added: “We are proud to be collaborating with Man Met Rise, who support our magazine and award Rise points for students who get involved with aAh! Magazine. They have some wonderful initiatives for students, from sustainability projects involving urban gardening to language courses to international film screenings, to regular yoga classes.”

Bradley gave an insights about working as the lead designer on this issue – including references to late-night gold foiling magazines in the Art School.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary, the team decided to create 200 limited edition copies of the magazine, featuring a gold-foiled aAh! Magazine logo, produced manually by the team at the MMU Bookbinding workshop.

Bradley’s moving speech shared insights into his own artistic development through his experiences at aAh! Magazine, as well as jokes about “thousands of Teams messages” and “late nights putting all of the spreads together”.

Georgia spoke of her experience working on The LEGACY Issue and what a pleasure it was to work with such a talented group of individuals.

She said: “This issue is great because it’s something physical that you can hold in your hands and keep forever. It demonstrates the sheer talent of the team. The entire issue is a masterpiece, celebrating the legacy of aAh! and the city and university’s 200-year anniversary.”

2024 aAh! Magazine Awards

The 2024 Student Media Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of team members and their contribution to the online and print magazine over the past 12 months. In total, eight awards were presented to students including:

  • Student Writer of the Year: Felicity Hitch (Multimedia Journalism)
  • Student Editor of the Year: Ian Burke (Multimedia Journalism)
  • Student Illustrator of the Year: Dylan Meek (Illustration with Animation)
  • Student Photographer of the Year: Gracie Hall (Future Media Production)
  • Student Designer of the Year: Laura Sheridan (Graphic Design)
  • Highest of High Fives: Jessica Berry (Events Management)
  • Rising Star Award: Amber Bermingham (Multimedia Journalism)
  • Outstanding Contribution to Student Media Award: Bradley Sansom (Graphic Design)

Student Writer of the Year was awarded to Felicity Hitch. Felicity has been working on an ongoing project covering Matchday Live, with a focus on women in sports broadcasting, which she developed into an article for The LEGACY Issue.

Ian Burke was awarded Student Editor of the Year. Ian was described by the hosts as: “A great presence in the weekly meetings, turning up every week with a smile and a brain full of great and often unconventional ideas.”

Student Illustrator of the Year went to Dylan Meek. Dylan joined the magazine only recently but blew the team away with his exceptional pieces.

Laura Sheridan received Student Designer of the Year for her impressive designs and impeccable work ethic. Laura also created the design for the cover of the new magazine, inspired by the iconic Manchester scenes.

Student Photographer of the Year was presented to Gracie Hall. Gracie’s photos are featured on the first page of The LEGACY Issue. Award host Tara and Makenna described Gracie as a hugely talented photographer who “has helped to transform the music section with her coverage, which has brought new levels of creativity”.

The Rising Star Award was awarded to aAh!’s Literature and Creative Writing Editor, Amber Bermingham. Another new member to the team this year, Amber was described as always puts herself forward and being full of inspiring ideas.

The Highest of High Fives award which recognises enthusiasm and building community, was awarded to Jess Berry – aAh!’s Social Media Assistant and journalist.

The final award of the evening, Outstanding Contribution to Student Media, was awarded to Graphic Design Assistant Bradley. Bradley has worked on the past three print issues of aAh! and he has worked tirelessly to make The LEGACY Issue their “best issue yet”.

Bradley said: “I’ve been part of the magazine for the last three issues, but none have compared to this. Everyone’s put in a huge amount of effort, and our launch and exhibition showed that it’s paid off. I’m proud to have led the design team for aAh!’s tenth issue and helped celebrate Manchester Met’s 200th anniversary with our beautiful new print edition.

“It’s packed full of excellent features, and the design, illustration, and photography teams have all done such a good job of bringing the writing to life.

“I was honoured to be presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Student Media award in recognition of my work on this issue. Throughout every one of its 56 pages, together we’ve produced something to be proud of. Here’s to the next 200 years!”

‘The Legacy of Student Magazines’ exhibition is open at the Special Collections Museum in All Saint’s Library and runs until April 17th. The LEGACY Issue is out now! Pick up your copy on campus or read online at aah-magazine.co.uk/legacy

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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