FEC (Far East Consortium)
Angel was established due to a commission by the FEC who are developing the area around Angel Meadows in Manchester that will be known as Meadowside. The main purpose was to create a project that would create the allusive ‘wow’ factor and also be a talking point as well as a dramatic statement to introduce the city to Angel Meadows and the upcoming Meadowside area.
A collective community art project that led to a sustainable structure being created using 5,000 recycled bottles that were filled with paint, generously donated from HMG Paints, who are part of the Angel Meadows community with their head office to the north of Angel Meadows park.
Within the design of the angel, the purpose of the waterproof acrylic paint colourings were chosen to enhance the visual appeal of the sculpture and to help her be visible from the overhead view.
The structure measured 32.5 x 26.5 metre took over 3 weeks to be strategically placed on the grass section towards the south of the parkland. Due to the complexity of the design and the size of the structure, the placement work was all handled by the Lazerian team.
“As an artist I find strength and beauty in the lightest and most ubiquitous of materials and plastic bottles are exactly the sort of products that we want to work with in this multi-dimensional design.”
Sustainable community art project
The darkness of the city at the time was described by French philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville as
“A sort of black smoke covers the city. Under this half-daylight, 300,000 human beings are ceaselessly at work. A thousand noises disturb this damp, dark labyrinth, but they are not the ordinary sounds one hears in great cities.”
Angel Meadows is a city centre park which has an illusive history and a central location but was relatively unused in the past. After extensive research and exploration of the park itself, many significant factors came to light including the history of the area. Once described as ‘Hell On Earth’ and known as Victorian Britain’s Most Savage Slums.
Due to the rise of ‘Cottonopolis’ the area became overcrowded and the narrow streets became overcrowded, filthy and deadlier than anywhere else in the UK at that time.
According to the 1881 census there were just over 1000 inhabited dwellings in the region, the death rate was quoted as from 32 to 50 per 1000 per year. The average during the same timeframe for the whole of England was less than 19.
thousands of recycled bottles
St Michael and All Angels’ church was built in 1788 .The cemetery in the land adjacent to the church very quickly became one of the largest in the city. Angel Meadow was crammed full of 40,000 bodies of those who had no family, or those who couldn’t afford a proper funeral.
In the guidebook to Manchester released in 1816, the area was called a ‘depot for the dead’. It is now, an Angel Meadow which is ironic as the area is known as Meadowside today.
With all the lost souls buried underneath it made sense to have an angel on the land to watch over them when they gave their lives to making Manchester the place it is today.
The historical culture influenced the decision with regards to the design of the laid down art sculpture, as well as the current world situation at the time. It was important to have an angel to watch over Manchester in current times as well as a representation of the past.
Sustainability is at the heart of Lazerians ethos so it was of particular importance to communicate this within the commission. To create the structure from recycled bottles was an ambitious and resourceful task. Getting the community involved enhances the cultural aspect of the area and gives it a value of self worth.
Communities find opportunities for people to come together in creation and celebration of culture. They develop their social capital by co-operating, sharing, seeking and finding shared goals and by developing ties on a cultural level.
By creating a piece of lasting artwork from everyday used objects, (children) will learn first-hand the critical role recycling plays in our environment and will have lots of fun in the process
The collection of recycled bottles had a massive community following. Through social media, company shout outs, blog posts and word of mouth all of Manchester came and supported by dropping used plastic bottles in various drop off locations around the city.
Workshops at local schools were held, as well as organised litter picking events curated from local charity Moodswings. Moodswings, also based in the Meadowside area, were also instrumental in volunteering their time to help out with paint filling workshops. With guidance from Lazerian a certain number of the acrylic paint colours were allocated to a specific number of bottles to ensure enough of each colour was created to allow the design of the angel to take shape.
Other volunteers from the community who were vital to the impact of the sculpture were students from Manchester College who gave their time to fill bottles at the Lazerian workshop.
Local schools were visited by team members of Lazerian to explain the importance of recycling and to get them involved. They collected empty plastic bottles that were then used in the final design structure. It was necessary to involve the younger community and highlight the importance of why this sustainable sculpture was being created to educate them about recycling.
The art sculpture affectionately known as Angel made the park her home from November to the New Year.