During August, work to prepare the site of our private rented sector (PRS) apartments development in Blossom Street, Ancoats, begins.
This means the former electricity substation that faces Great Ancoats Street, and the Guardian of Ancoats artwork which adorns its gable wall, will be coming down to make way for the scheme.
While we must say goodbye to the Guardian of Ancoats (the substation having long ago fallen into disrepair), this should be seen not as the end, but the start of a bright new future.
Commissioned by Curated Happy and painted by Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon in 2014, this big exotic bird has become a renowned piece of street art, instantly recognisable and much loved by the people of Manchester.
In summer 2016 we began conversations with Ben Barsky of Curated Happy to see how we might replace the artwork and contribute towards the creation of new street art once the substation is demolished.
Through Ben, we are currently scouting locations in the Northern Quarter where we can commission a new piece, either by Mateus himself or one of the many other talented street artists for which Manchester is famed.
Working with Manchester City Council, Ben is also looking to commission a pop-up exhibition of street art in Cutting Room Square in Ancoats. While this is still at an exploratory stage, Mulbury has agreed to contribute funding towards the project and we hope to see it come to fruition soon.
Furthermore, we will seek to support Manchester’s street art community by creating a new artwork within our other PRS development, currently under construction in Port Street in the Northern Quarter. Discussions are at an early stage, but we hope to be able to reveal more details soon.
As for Mateus’ bird of paradise in Blossom Street, we have agreed to salvage what fragments of the artwork we can during demolition. These pieces will be auctioned off to raise money for a local charitable foundation.
This is a new chapter for Ancoats, both in terms of building a new future for this site and in promoting Manchester’s street art scene. In that sense, the Guardian of Ancoats will have created its own legacy.
James Alderson is Head of Mulbury City, Mulbury’s city centre residential division.