East Manchester will be home to a one of a kind, major international piece of public art by renowned contemporary artist, Ryan Gander.
The public sculpture, titled “Dad’s Halo Effect”, will be installed as the centrepiece to the Beswick community hub regeneration project, and will be unveiled in September 2014 – along with the completion of a new local leisure centre and the opening of the Connell Sixth Form College at the site.
“Dad’s Halo Effect” is composed of three, 3 metre highly polished stainless steel sculptures that represent chess pieces in a checkmate position. Yet, due to each being made of the same material, it is impossible to know which piece is on which side – harking to the adage that it’s not the winning that’s important, but the taking part.
A theme unmistakably linked to the sport and leisure reputation of East Manchester. However, the design of the works are also based on parts of the steering mechanism of a commercial Bedford truck, originally described to Ryan by his father who worked for General Motors, and a link to the heavy industry past of the area.
The joint regeneration project in Beswick between Manchester City Council and Manchester City Football Club will encourage local people to engage with the public artwork sitting at the heart of their community – and take an ownership of the globally significant piece of sculpture that will link both the industrial heritage of East Manchester to the celebrated sport and leisure present and future.
Coinciding with a new Ryan Gander exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery – Make every show like it’s your last – opening 3 July 2014 – the gallery will host a month of community art education workshops with schools in Beswick and local community groups, sparking interest and discussion about the artwork in the local community.
The workshops – including sessions with Ryan himself, who will give a personal account of his Beswick installation – will give the local community an expert led insight in to the world of contemporary art with the help of Manchester Art Gallery’s skilled community engagement team.
Ryan’s reputation as an artist of world renown brings a prestige to the East Manchester community, being only the third piece of public art by the artist following hugely successful works in Central Park, New York – commissioned by the New York Public Art Fund – and a public sculpture in London’s Square Mile.
Ryan lived in Miles Platting, North Manchester, while studying Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University – graduating with a First Class Degree in 1999 – and already has an impressive résumé of exhibitions, installations and awards.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The fathers of the city were great believers in the self-improvement benefits that education and culture can bestow on a population, and Manchester has a rich history of making sure art is freely available to the people of the city – being custodians to many thousands of artworks housed at Manchester Art Gallery.
“We want to continue this great tradition, and public art has the extraordinary advantage of delivering art to the people in a way that is not always possible in a gallery. We hope the Beswick community take complete ownership of Ryan’s work and reap the rewards of having a globally admired sculpture on their doorstep.”
The shapes of the three forms are based on parts of the steering mechanism of a commercial Bedford truck and were conceived when the artist’s father worked for General Motors in the 1980s.
He conceived these forms with the hope of one day producing them as a sculpture. From his verbal descriptions, Gander has rendered the forms and continued his father’s project; just as stories passed down over time morph and change each time they are told, so too do the objects, just as his father’s verbal descriptions become Gander’s written and drawn instructions to the fabricators.
The artwork reflects on many aspects of the game of chess, a game that has been embraced by many artists and consequently either features in or hugely inspires their work. In many towns and cities around the world there are chess boards installed in public parks and squares on which anyone can turn up with a chess set and play a game.
Chess challenges players to use both sides of their brain in order to succeed. Equally, though, a game between a player whose brain is right-dominant and a player whose brain is left-dominant can make for interesting results; just as the collaborative exchange in which Gander and his father have engaged has produced this artwork.
The position of the three forms represents a Checkmate position: a position that marks the end of the game, but here it is not clear which piece is the winner due to the fact that they are all made from the same material, in the same colour and with the same finish. It’s the taking part that counts.
Ryan’s exhibition, Make every show like it’s your last, at Manchester Art Gallery will be open to the public from 3 July 2014 until 14 September 2014.
“Dad’s Halo Effect” sculpture will be unveiled at the heart of the Beswick community hub in September 2014.