A place Lived

Spinningfields Art Commission 2019
a place lived
by Maddi Nicholson.

So often we hear people say of Spinningfields, ‘there was nothing there before’ but ours is not the first city centre community to thrive in this location.

a place lived is a new artwork for Spinningfields by Cumbrian based artist Maddi Nicholson that seeks out the hidden history of the area and introduces us to characters from Manchester’s past. Taking the form of a series of cast iron enamelled sculptures that bring to life the stories of the residents of Grove Street, a dense terraced area that stood on the site, the work invites us to reflect on those who lived in and shaped Spinningfields in the 1800 - 1900s.

Each house model is a replica of the actual terrace, with steps up to the front door and a basement, set on a pin head, and sited where its corresponding house was located. The sculptures tell the story of the residents of the original Grove Street terraces, many of whom worked in the industries operating close by at the time. Hand painted and enamelled, the works highlight the role of women within these families: a Washerwoman, Keeper of the Mangle, Knocker Up, Silk Winder, Weaver, Assistant Confectioner, Wet-Nurse and Shirt Maker.

This site is an opportunity to delve more deeply into the rich history of Spinningfields and its historic communities, as well as find information on Nicholson’s research and production process.

19 & 20 July 2019: a place lived launch weekend with related events and walking tours taking place on these dates, and into August and September 2019.

19 July – 17 August 2019: an accompanying display to the sculpture series on Hardman Square will be on display in Archives+ in Manchester Central Library.

Admission and Access: FREE, and open to the public. The sites are wheelchair accessible.

See: www.castlefieldgallery.co.uk for further information.

a place lived has been co-commissioned and produced by Katie Popperwell and Castlefield Gallery for Spinningfields Estates, with support from Arts Council England.

About the artist
Maddi Nicholson

“As a girl I made things and entered them in Carlisle’s Cumberland Show, ‘industrial section’ classes, and won on a regular basis the most points in the Junior Section. I took home the Springfield Silver Trophy for 7 years in succession from 1974 – 1980, a record not yet beaten. Looking at these childhood beginnings, I now set myself new industrious challenges, in classes of my own making. ‘a placed lived’ is one of them."

Maddi is an artist and Co-Founder Director of Art Gene, in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. As an artist she produces challenging work for varied and diverse situations nationwide. She is interested in working primarily with people and place, her interest is in communities: of people, objects, of interest, of life.

Maddi’s images have clad castles, London tower blocks, town halls, art galleries and vehicles; from a Norwegian car and passenger ferry to a fleet of lorries and a Double Decker bus. Her inflated works range from a replica of a Barrow terraced house, in Going home from here, which toured to beauty spots in Cumbria, to an inflated 6m bathtub installed balancing high up on the balcony of Bishop Auckland Town Hall, entitled Shall I Draw you a Bath My Dear, and 1000 inflated dog bones wallpapering gallery walls in her installation Bone Idle.

Maddi Nicholson undertook the first Artist’s Fellowship for English Heritage in Belsay Hall, Newcastle, and her work formed part of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 commissioning programme. Her coastal works with Art Gene include the Roker Pods for Sunderland City Council, The People’s Museum on Piel Island for Barrow Borough Council, and a non-civic war memorial gate and sculpture for Natural England’s North Walney Island national nature reserve.

Maddi Nicholson as a giant woman, with her terrace on tour, inflated house, Cumbria 2009. Image courtesy of Rob Fraser. Maddi Nicholson as a giant woman, with her terrace on tour, inflated house, Cumbria 2009.