Lines of Thought
“Lines of Thought” represents a bespoke art installation crafted exclusively for the 53two independent theatre group. This installation finds its muse in the bygone era of the flourishing cotton trade within the region, with the primary goal of commemorating Manchester’s prosperous industrial heritage. At its core, this studio creation revolves around the concealed pathways that mirror the intricate network of routes once traversed by individuals engaged in the cotton trade via canals, a legacy spanning over a century ago.
"What brought the past and future together for me were the LINES – Lines created by industry, the lines of transportation, what had been there before us, what will come after" Liam Hopkins
The installation is composed of distinctive boats, crafted from steel as a homage to the original steel-built narrowboats of that era. Nestled within the central art sculpture are elements resembling shuttles, meticulously fashioned from resin and embedded with authentic cotton inserts, paying homage to the indispensable cotton shuttles of Britain’s cotton industry.
Both the shuttles and boats were meticulously fashioned from their respective materials to honor the area’s rich history and the historical context of the time. Their shared resemblance in shape further inspired this creative endeavor. It also evoked a circular narrative, symbolizing the cyclical motion of canal boats transporting cotton, and the cotton itself, shaped by the very shuttles used in its production.
The shuttles, painstakingly crafted from resin, house a blend of cotton fibers sourced from Carhill Mill and Tower Mill in Dukinfield. Carhill Mill holds the distinction of being the last cotton mill to cease operations in Manchester, while Tower Mill stands as the UK’s sole cotton-spinning company, resurrected some three decades after the closure of the last mills. Each of these resin sculptures encapsulates its own unique strand of intertwined industrial history, carefully placed beneath the iconic arches as part of the ongoing transformation of this space.
Capturing stories and moments
Incorporating a facet of the city’s “Cottonopolis” heritage into the formation of this art installation was of paramount importance.
Hence, the Science and Industry Museum’s active participation in the “Lazerian Line of Thoughts” art installation represented a significant undertaking, with the aim of spotlighting Manchester’s rich legacy in the cotton industry. The museum’s role in the installation centered around the artful recreation of cotton spinning from a loom, thereby fashioning an exclusive and genuine component that authentically encapsulated the city’s historical narrative.
The act of spinning cotton from a loom is an age-old technique with roots dating back centuries, encompassing the intricate weaving of fibers to yield textiles employed in the production of clothing, household items, and various everyday commodities. Leveraging original equipment and machinery, the Science and Industry Museum meticulously replicated this method, yielding cotton thread that faithfully mirrored the processes once employed in Manchester’s historic cotton mills.
The resulting cotton thread played an integral role in the Lazerian Line of Thoughts art installation, which found its place in Manchester’s City Centre at 53two. The installation’s core objective was to illuminate the city’s illustrious industrial legacy and its evolution through the ages. The incorporation of spun cotton served as a genuine element, adding an authentic dimension to the installation and vividly resurrecting Manchester’s vibrant cotton industry.
In sum, the Science and Industry Museum’s active participation in the Lazerian Line of Thoughts art installation proved to be a remarkable means of commemorating Manchester’s historical past and its significant role in the industrial revolution. By employing traditional techniques and utilizing vintage equipment, the project succeeded in crafting an authentic and immersive experience that faithfully encapsulated the essence of the city’s rich history.
During his visit to 53two, Liam Hopkins of Lazerian, renowned for his unique and thought-provoking installations, found himself captivated by the venue’s fascinating history and promising future. What bridged the gap between the space’s bygone days and its potential ahead were the lines—the waterways that once transported goods in the past, and the lines spoken by actors reading their scripts in the present.
The spark for the artist’s concept sprouted from the lines left by past visitors who journeyed through the space, as well as the lines future visitors would traverse. With this foundation, Lazerian embarked on a creative odyssey to craft an immersive artwork that would enrich the audience’s experience within 53two.
Upon delving deeper, the installation unfolds with meticulous attention to elements reminiscent of Manchester’s cotton industry, which also resonates with the theater’s costumes. The cotton shuttles and narrowboats, reminiscent of days gone by, unite in their shared shape, while the actors’ attire represents the present, deftly highlighting the intricate interplay between music, textiles, and theater.
“Line of Thoughts” represents an art piece that grants individuals the enduring opportunity to leave their indelible mark upon the sculpture. Comprising numerous smaller shuttleboat sculptures, this artwork has been intricately embedded into the floor of the new theater building. This unique initiative offered art enthusiasts a chance to acquire a segment of the sculpture, allowing them to have their name or a cherished theater quote etched into it.
The process was straightforward: individuals could become sponsors of the sculpture by acquiring one of the shuttleboat components. They were then invited to furnish their preferred text, which would be skillfully engraved onto the piece before it became an integral part of the floor installation. The outcome was a magnificent and personalized sculpture designed to endure for generations to come.
This endeavor presented an extraordinary opportunity for art enthusiasts to commission their own unique piece of history and establish an enduring legacy within a significant new theater venue in the city. In doing so, they not only contributed to the world of arts but also left behind a tangible part of themselves in a location that would be treasured for generations.
The shuttleboat sculpture stood as a testament to art’s ability to unite individuals and foster a sense of community. It symbolized the vital role that the arts play in our society, molding our culture and history. With their personalized engravings, the sculpture became a reflection of the individuals who supported it, ensuring that their contributions would be commemorated indefinitely.
“When I visited the space I was intrigued with its past and its future. What brought them both together for me were the lines. Lines created by industry - the lines of the canal which brought down the goods for the city. The future of the space being brought to life through actors reading their lines, the journeys people have taken and the ones going to be made through the space. This was the starting point for the artwork in the floor” Liam Hopkins
The installation skillfully intertwines the complexities of history and the promise of the future, blending the industrial lines of yesteryears with artistic expression. This synthesis is achieved through the deliberate inclusion of customized patterns and shapes expertly incorporated into the floor. The installation serves as a testament to the artist’s precise and imaginative approach to the craft of art.
In essence, Lazerian’s art installation harmoniously resonates with both the historical legacy and contemporary vitality of Manchester. It achieves this by seamlessly weaving together elements of industry, costume design, and theater into a captivating tapestry of creativity.