Sculpture In The Streets At Manchester Central Library

By Katie Allen | 18 April 2006
photo of a statue of a man in a suit holding a football outside a glass fronted building

Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby is remembered with this statue outside Old Trafford. Photo courtesy Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library has opened a new photographic exhibition focusing on public art in the north-west.

Showing until May 19 2006, Sculpture in the Streets covers Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Tameside and Trafford and reveals the often forgotten origins, histories and cultural purposes behind public art, from ancient market crosses to war memorials.

Greater Manchester possesses a considerable amount of historically significant public sculpture, with works by many important artists including Thomas Woolner, Alfred Gilbert, Matthew Nobles, George Grey Barnard and Charles Sargeant Jagger.

Some of the area’s public art represents popular icons, like the sculpture of legendary Man Utd manager Sir Matt Busby. Others are of more controversial figures - the statue of Abraham Lincoln (now in Lincoln Square, Manchester) was originally intended to stand outside the Houses of Parliament, while Manchester's Wythenshawe Park contains the first public statue to honour Oliver Cromwell.

photo of a sculpture of several stylised red cars lined up on a cobbled pavement

The photos show the wide range of public sculpture on show around the Greater Manchester area, like this piece in Rochdale. Photo courtesy Manchester Central Library

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in public sculpture, using it in schemes of urban regeneration, such as Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang and the Spirit of Sport in Bolton.

“We often take public art for granted, passing it in the street every day,” said Councillor Mark Hackett, executive member for culture and leisure at Manchester City Council. “This exhibition leads us to stop and take stock of some of the extraordinary examples of art we have in our city and the north-west.”

“It is a great subject and I am sure people will enjoy learning about the statues and sculptures and the stories behind them,” he added.

Sculpture in the Streets is supported by English Heritage, the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association and the Manchester Metropolitan University.

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