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Lines of Thought

Project Year




Lines of Thought is an art installation specifically created for independent theatre group 53two. The installation draws its inspiration from the cotton trade that once thrived in the area, and aims to celebrate the rich industrial history of Manchester. The studio has taken the unseen lines that resemble the network of movement travelled by those working in the cotton trade on the canals over 100 years ago as the central motif for the installation.


An image of a art sculpture in the floor of theatre group 53 two located in greater manchester. Near the royal exchange in the north west
"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 comprises of unique boats which were created using steel, as a nod to the boats of the era which were made from steel as used originally to build narrowboats. Within the main art sculpture, there were also pieces that resembled shuttles that were made from resin with cotton inserts, this was a nod to the cotton shuttles that were essential to Britain’s cotton industry

The shuttles and boats were both made from their respective materials to acknowledge the rich history of both the area and the era. They were also considered inspirations due to both being similar shapes. In addition to this, it was considered a circular stimulus as the canal boats moved the cotton, and the cotton was made using the cotton shuttles.

The shuttles have been made from resin and set within each shuttle resides cotton fibres mixed from Carhill Mill and Tower Mill in Dukinfield. The Carhill Mill was the last cotton mill to close in Manchester, and the Tower Mill is the UK’s only cotton-spinning company, opened some 30 years since the last mills closed. Each of these resin sculptures will house its own unique piece of intertwined, industrial history and be set beneath the iconic arches as part of this new evolution for the space.


Capturing stories and moments

It was important to include a part of the city cottonopolis aspect within the creation of this art installation.

Which is why the Science and Industry Museum’s involvement in the Lazerian Line of Thoughts art installation was a significant endeavor that aimed to showcase Manchester’s rich history in the cotton industry. The museum’s contribution to the installation involved spinning cotton from a loom to create a unique and authentic element that truly captured the essence of the city’s past.

The process of spinning cotton from a loom is a traditional technique that dates back centuries. It involves weaving fibers together to create textiles that were used to produce clothing, household items, and other everyday products. The Science and Industry Museum was able to replicate this process using original equipment and machinery, which allowed them to produce cotton thread that was true to the original process used in Manchester’s cotton mills.

Close up of yellow and blue cotton threads in resin in production

The resulting cotton thread was used as part of the Lazerian Line of Thoughts art installation, which was displayed in Manchester’s City Centre at 53two. The installation aimed to highlight the city’s rich industrial heritage and how it has evolved over time. The use of spun cotton added an authentic touch to the installation and helped to bring the city’s cotton industry to life.

Overall, the Science and Industry Museum’s involvement in the Lazerian Line of Thoughts art installation was a fantastic way to showcase Manchester’s past and its contribution to the industrial revolution. The use of traditional techniques and equipment helped to create an authentic experience that truly captured the essence of the city’s rich history.

When visiting 53two, Liam Hopkins of Lazerian, who is inspired and known for his unique and thought-provoking installations, was captivated by the space’s intriguing history and promising future. The common thread connecting the past and the future of the space is lines. The lines of the canal, used for transporting goods in the past, and the lines delivered by the actors reading their scripts in the present.

The artist’s inspiration for the art installation started with the lines from the visitors who have traversed through the space and also the lines that the future visitors will navigate. From here, Lazerian began his creative journey to design an immersive artwork that would enhance the audience experience at 53two.

Delving deeper, the installation is meticulously crafted with elements reminiscent of Manchester’s cotton industry, which also aligns with the theatre’s costumes. The cotton shuttles and narrowboats reminiscing the past are brought together to share a similar shape, while the costumes of the actors represent the present and highlight the intertwining relationship between the music, textiles, and theatre.



Line of Thoughts is an art piece that allowed individuals to leave their mark on the sculpture forevermore. The art piece is made up of several smaller shuttleboat sculptures that have been be cast into the floor of the new theatre building. This was a unique opportunity for people who loved the arts to purchase a piece of the sculpture and have their name or favorite theatre quote engraved into it.

The process was simple; people could become sponsors of the sculpture by purchasing one of the shuttleboat pieces. They could then provide their preferred text, and it would then be engraved into the piece before the integral part of the art piece was placed into the floor of the building. The result was an exquisite and personalized sculpture that would last for generations.

This initiative was an incredible opportunity for art enthusiasts to commission their very own part of history and create a lasting legacy in an important new theatre space in the city. By doing so, they were not only contributing to the arts but also leaving behind a tangible piece of themselves in a place that would be cherished for years to come.

The shuttleboat sculpture was a testament to the power of art to bring people together and create a sense of community. It was a symbol of the importance of the arts in society and the role that they play in shaping our culture and history. With the personalized engravings, the sculpture became a reflection of the people who supported it, and their contributions would be remembered forever.

“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 intricate mix of history and future, of industrial lines, and artistic expression in the installation is aided through bespoke patterns and shapes carefully embedded in the floor. The installation is a testament to the artist’s meticulous and innovative approach to art creation.

In summary, Lazerian’s artwork installation resonates with Manchester’s past and present by weaving together industry, costume design, and theatre.