The Manchester Lamps
The Manchester Lamps celebrates the city’s rich history of innovation and community.
Inspired by the famed Sir Robert Peel quote, ‘What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow’, this public art sculpture honours Manchester’s industrial past whilst optimistically looking towards the future.
The artwork is centred around five playfully oversized domestic lamps that invite interaction and engagement with this key public space in the city centre. Each of the five installations marks a significant local historical innovation, its time period echoed by the lamp’s distinctive design style; Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Victorian, mid-century and contemporary.
Woven into the intricately designed shades of these lamps are the stories they tell. The motifs illustrated on the Art Deco lamp celebrate Earnest Rutherford, whose research conducted at Manchester University in 1932 led to the splitting of the first atom, whilst the book pages and fountain pen designs on the Art Nouveau lamp pay homage to the education and learning celebrated by Chetham’s Library, which lies in the heart of Manchester and is the UK’s oldest public library. Similarly, the honeycomb design lattices across the 1950’s bedside light denotes the famous Mancunian ‘worker bee’ mantra, whilst the humble green desk light represents world famous mathematician, Alan Turing, and his dedication to maths and computing technology via the famous Enigma code displayed overhead across the glowing green canopy. Finally, the modern Anglepoise lamp is turned upward, projecting a vibrant display of shape and colour onto the surrounding wall, and representing the next chapter of this city’s compelling and ever-evolving story.
A series of bespoke signs, all created using a unique graphic language, invite viewers from the surrounding streets into the square. They are based on an abstract depiction of the map of the city, and culminate with a playful reveal to emphasise the sense of arrival. It is hoped that these lamps will serve visitors and locals alike, providing a unique meeting point for the people of Manchester to come together and connect in the way they do best.