Illuminated sculpture in Greengate Triangle is historic link to Salford’s industrial roots
- Life-size sculpture took 30 months to produce, standing 4 metres high and 16 metres wide
- Artist hopes sculpture will allow women to feel safer in Greengate when walking alone at night
- Permanent fixture acts as gateway to development plans in area
A new sculpture has been unveiled in Salford symbolising its historical roots with the Industrial Revolution.
The illuminated sculpture – entitled Slow Revolution – is also designed to make women feel safer at night when waking alone.
Artist Liz West graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2007 but it was not until she moved to Manchester in 2010 that she began to fulfil her dreams of becoming a full-time artist.
“With the number of galleries and exhibitions in Manchester it was an obvious place to move to,” she said.
Liz had to move out of her first studio along with 90 other artists after it was bought out by a property developer.
She said: “A lot of artists moved to another creative studio complex called ArtWork Atelier which was near Greengate in Salford.”
Four years later that too was taken over by property developers, leaving Liz with no choice but to set up her studio from home.
Ironically Liz’s next encounter with a property group provided her with an opportunity to produce a commissioned sculpture to act as a gateway to their development plans for the area.
“I really wanted to make an artwork here because it was literally on the site of where my old studio was,” she said.
“It was in a part of town which I really believed needed regeneration – it needed art and culture.”
“I’ve seen the plans for it and it’s fantastic. There’s going to be parks, shops, breweries, cafes, independent businesses in that area one day.
“It will be a hub for creatives and will represent diversity. The brief for me was to create a gateway to that.”
And two-and-a-half years later Liz’s piece entitled Slow Revolution has finally arrived.
She said: “A revolution is a physical twist of something, but it’s also a period of time elapsing.
“The work was both a metaphorical and literal play on this idea of the revolution of Manchester and Salford being slow and an integral part of the regions history.”
The sculpture sits in the heart of Salford’s Greengate Triangle which dates back to medieval times.
Liz said: “It was literally a triangular set of streets and in the centre, people gathered to celebrate and communicate all matters of life and death. It was the gritty hub of the city.”
She became inspired by the idea of producing a physical triangle, a shape she often utilises in her work.
The sculpture, which features predominantly primary colours, represents the dyeing process which would have traditionally taken place along the River Irwell during the Industrial Revolution.
Keen eyes may notice there are in fact two shades of yellow.
Liz explained: “Yellow is such a happy colour, it’s filled with optimism and positivity. I felt that’s what the sculpture and the area was needing.”
“Many people won’t know yet but when you shine a light at the work it will glow and self illuminate.
“The panels are made up of trillions of microscopic glass beads, giving the piece this dual life both in the day and night.”
Liz hopes this feature will allow women to feel safe when walking alone through the area at night, particularly in the wake of the deaths of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard.
“It’s very important for me as a young lone female traveller walking around that area to feel safe,” she said.
“The idea of making an artwork which is actually self-illuminating really appealed to me.”
A 2018 study by the BBC highlighted only one in five statues in the UK were of women.
Working among a predominantly male area in the art world, Liz added: “I’m in a position where I am being approached to make work of this scale and you’ve got to think ‘what is the feminine side of the story?’”
After opening two pieces within Salford in the last two months, Liz has turned her focus across the pond.
“Right now I’m working on two pretty large-scale permanent indoor exhibitions in America, one in New York and one in Chicago,” she said.
“I can’t say more than that, but they are due to launch in the spring.”
Liz’s first Salford based sculpture, Through No. 4, in MediaCityUK will feature as part of this year’s annual Lightwaves festival in December.