London Road Project
Ten artists and designers from manchester, took interest in a rather intriguing building build over 100 years ago. A city fire station was commissioned in 1900, by the corporation of Manchester, no expense was spared, the finest architects, materials and fittings were employed and state of the art technologies were installed. This building, its fire brigade, police force and ambulance service safeguarded our city for over 80 years.
During that time London Road Fire Station became the nerve centre for the fire fighters defending Manchester during the air raids of WWII. Men and women based at London Road fought the battle on the home front to prevent the city burning during the bombing and the terrifying nights of the Blitz, when over 600 fires were recorded in Manchester.
This exhibition documents the lived experience and heritage of London Road. It showcases a selection art works, which celebrates the lives of the community who protected our city and commemorates the work of all those men and women who struggled in the war effort to protect our future and preserve our right to freedom of speech.
Jenny Walker is an artist and research leading projects focused on the relationship between regional history, creative interpretation and public engagement. Partnerships are central to practice facilitating projects which work with cultural institutions, artist and diverse communities. With a belief that heritage fosters community cohesion, the ambition is to tell connected stories of people and places, which have a contemporary and wider relevance, whilst maintaining a sense of regional identity and character.
Nerissa Cargill Thompson
Nerissa considered the beauty, value and purpose of the old and discarded, while working with used materials, particularly the decommissioned fire fight uniforms found at Rochdale Fire Museum. She deconstructed and treated the clothes with different types of prints and stitch, which celebrate the range of public interest in London Road Fire Station: the architecture, the memories and the poetry of decay.
Living in close proximity with other people stains a building. Terraces, corridors, stairways, lobbies and lifts creates hidden spaces and non-spaces - the pauses and breath that allows memories to swirl and permeate the bricks and mortar. Anthony explored these non-spaces and stories that bend marks and erasing, to trace the fluctuating rhythms of memory, and the imaginary presence of these communal spaces - the ways in which London Road Fire Station oiled a community, his drawings explore these themes.
Sophie took inspiration directly from the beauty of the neglected walls and floors of the station and Coroners Court. Providing her with a texture and patterns for her patchwork and quilting, creating a piece to represent the corners of a once thriving and busy working and living space.
Michele focused on the flaking paint and peeling wallpaper that infiltrates the living and social quarters. My aim was to create a piece of work that referenced the changing domestic design throughout the time the building was inhabited by the firemen and their families. The sample book documents the work and process I used representing a selection of colour, shade sand pattern that combine other design possibilities.
Angela found interest in the insects living and feeding on the decaying materials, plants that have found sustenance within small cracks and the obvious traces of bird life - wallpaper re-patterned by droppings, old nests, tattered feathers and papery, lifeless bodies. The recent chapter of London Road’s history that of a derelict building absent of human life, has allowed others to flourish - opportunistically seeking out nooks and crannies to live and die within a temporary haven.
Artist Harriet Shooter-Redfearn presents an archive of relics found within the bristles of the only remaining doormat in London Road Fire Station’s residential quarters. These physical traces evidence the everyday lives of the hose who once lived in flat seventeen. She questions, “If this music evidence of life can be found within on doormat, how much life once existed within the entire building?”
Beverley’s collected waste materials and dirt from the buildings, such as soot from a chimney and brick dust in the hearths. She then combined them with clays to create a unique material, which can be thrown on the wheel. The transient essence of London Road was then be permanently embedded within the object itself.
‘Firehouse’ is an interactive film that focuses on the life or former residents and workers at London Road Fire Station in Manchester. Keith combined archive film and photography with oral interviews from former residents and workers, the viewer is transported back in time inside the magnificent Edwardian building. Unearthing breath-taking stories of courage and day-to-day happenings in and around the station and ability to learn some of the fascinating facts and pioneering work that took place in Manchester.