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How Manchester's creative spirit is helping the city to heal

A recent report revealed that Manchester’s creative industry is growing faster than anywhere in the UK outside London.

But then you don’t have to tell Mancunians that. Creativity is in the blood here, and last year’s bombing tragedy has only served to emphasise that.

In the past year it’s clear that Mancunians have been sewing, painting, knitting, singing, drawing perhaps like never before.

Outside the train station hang hundreds of handmade hearts, the public invited to take one home.

Hearts at Manchester train station Credit: ITV News

Around the corner outside the Manchester Arena there are 22 hand-painted stones, with Manchester’s famous bee emblem.

Literally a bee line outside the venue where 22 concert goers were killed.

Nikki and Jenny are advocates of rock art - the practice of painting pebbles and stones - as a form of therapy and community spirit.

They had originally planned to bring around 100 of the stones to the city today to mark the anniversary.

But when their call went out, so many people wanted to take part in the artistic project, they’ve ended up with thousands of bee covered stones, each taken to the city centre, drawing Mancunians in their hundreds today to see them and to choose one to take home.

Emily is there with her Mum, and it’s her ninth birthday today. Her eighth was spent at the Ariana Grande concert, and she escaped unhurt but has joined her Mum in the bee art project. "It just makes me happy," she tells me.

Credit: ITV News

Another Emily is also there. She too is marking her birthday today, she too was at the concert on her last birthday.

She picks a stone that has HAPPY painted on it. We can’t believe that all those people have painted all those bee stones to remember, says her tearful mother.

Nearby is artist Myro. She’s painting bees on the window of a jewelers. It looks like graffiti in action, but she offered the artwork to businesses in exchange for a donation to the Emergency Fund helping those affected by the bombing.

She expected to raise a couple of hundred, painting on 20 or so office and school windows. But it turned out many, many more businesses in Manchester wanted the artwork on their front windows.

Credit: ITV News

So she’s charging around the city today, with more than 200 interested. She stands to raise around £8000 for the fund.

And then there’s Manchester student Mohamed, who wanted to create something artistic to reflect the fact that people of all faiths have come together to remember the victims.

So he and his fellow students have created hundreds of stunning origami roses, each carrying the names of the 22 victims. They’re handing them out to passers by as part of the vigil to join the bee painted stones that many are clutching.

The hard working bee symbolises Manchester’s industrial past. It has now, in the present, come to represent the healing power of art and creativity.