Last updated : 30 June 2004 By Editor
From the MEN:

We think they are criminals in shell suits, they think we are gun-toting gangsters.

The way the people of Manchester and Liverpool view each other is at the centre of art exhibitions opening in both cities.

A collection of street interviews shows the rivalry between the two cities is still alive, if less vitriolic, with football and now regeneration cash being points of contention.

But the interviews - the work of Manchester-based Laurence Lane - also reveal a mutual respect.

And they show that people from the two cities can not impersonate the other's accent.

On the whole, Scousers grudgingly agreed Manchester is great for shopping and is more integrated, with ethnic minorities, lesbians and gays all mixing in the larger community.

Mancunians were most interested in Liverpool's nightlife and its emerging cultural sector.

The two LIV/MAN exhibitions are split, with the Scousers' responses residing in Manchester Art Gallery and the Mancunian collection housed at the Walker museum in Liverpool. It is the first collaboration in an initiative which will see the exchange of artwork, ideas and exhibits between the two galleries.

Laurence, 44, and his assistants interviewed people over two years to discover whether attitudes have changed.

"I was really interested in the contradictions in the relationship between Liverpool and Manchester," said Laurence.

"They are traditional rivals but are now branded together as the north west and can benefit from working together."

Most agree the rivalry began with the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal at the end of the 1800s, which meant Manchester was no longer reliant on Liverpool for its supply of cotton, but it has been football that have kept the conflict alive.

Almost everyone who said they didn't mind the other city usually clarified the remark by adding "except the football team", although it is between Liverpool FC and United where the most rivalry resides.