Statues are surprisingly animated in Manchester. Last month, outside Home, the city gained a new statue of Friedrich Engels. Well, actually it was a second-hand one brought by artist Phil Collins from Ukraine. Its unveiling, ‘Ceremony’, was the closing event in this year’s Manchester International Festival and took place in an NCP car park [see NT#43 and NT#44]. But this month, in another NCP car park on the other side of the city centre, Manchester lost one of its own, home-grown statues.

Dunnico Engels Cermony

David Kemp’s Tib Street Horn was commissioned in 1996 and unveiled in 1999 on the corner of Tib Street and Church Street, opposite Afflecks Palace. The sculpture looks like a serpent and a saxophone coiled around the remains of one corner of an old hat factory. It is one of the best known landmarks in the Northern Quarter and as the area continues its arc from rundown industrial seediness, via vibrant, edgy, trendy creative hub, to bland shopping and city living redevelopment opportunity, it is a quirky reminder of the area’s past.

Public artworks were one of the things the City Council and the Northern Quarter Association used to make the area to the east of Piccadilly Gardens a distinct neighbourhood. Kemp’s statue was perfect in both its quirkiness and location to serve as the gateway and symbol of what the Northern Quarter was being pushed as – a creative centre for a post-industrial city. It also hid a particularly ugly example of a car park.

However, the landowner’s bet on values rising as the area succeeded has come in, which isn’t surprising as said owner is bookie Fred Done. In the face of this success, they have gone and done exactly the same as a number of other sites in Manchester and Salford: they have gotten permission to bulldoze the lot and build the usual bland mix of flats and shops that developers do. For further examples, look no further than Peel Group’s development of the area around the old Pomona Docks.

Dunnico Car Park

There is a little bit of good news though. There is talk of the Horn, rather than being placed ‘in storage’, being erected instead at one of the Manchester universities. As a symbol welcoming those of a curious nature into an exciting new neighbourhood it is gone, but hopefully it will continue to welcome newcomers to the city who have instead chosen to move here to learn.

All photos by David Dunnico.
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David Dunnico