Monday, 28 September 2015

Trails around Salford

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that Chickpea and I had continued our journey along the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Today (well, end of August really) our adventures take us to urban Salford.

The first couple of sculptures are in Peel Park behind the Museum and Art Gallery. At 11am on a sunny Saturday, it was deserted apart from a few dog walkers.

This is the rather grandly titled Monument to the Third Millennium which was inspired by the park being regularly flooded by the river Irwell in the past.

If you look really closely, you can see that the brown steel is shaped into fishes surrounded by the blue-grey swirling water.

Next to it is Fabric of Nature by Julia Hilton, looking sadly neglected and vandalised. It's only when you see what it looked like when it was first installed, how much of the brickwork and metal sections are missing.

In the centre there used to be an etching of a dandelion. The text which swirls around the middle says “We are but whirlpools in a river of everflowing water.  We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves”.

Around the edges are metal panels etched with leaves of trees found in the park.

We had planned to go to the Art Gallery at this point but it was still closed so we decided to head over the river to explore.

Once there, we found an unexpected bonus.

In a loop formed by the Irwell is The Meadow, a new park which has been planted with wild flowers and houses a pond, benches, footpaths and sculptures.

It's still a work in progress but we were thrilled to stumble across it.

Thankfully, by now the Museum and Art Gallery were open or, more to the point, the cafe! A coffee and sandwich later, we were raring to go and explore the collections.

Our favourite part was Lark Hill Place which is a recreation of a Victorian street. It's set at teatime on a winter's evening which is why it's so dark. Most of the shop fronts were rescued from demolition as were many of the fixtures and fittings.

Chickpea loved the sign in the pub saying that children under 13 would not be served!

I think my favourite was the cosy worker's cottage. I much preferred it to the grander Victorian parlour. Maybe a reflection of my own humble roots?

After a look around the picture galleries upstairs, and a couple of purchases in the craft shop which I will reveal at the end, it was back to the trail.

Next stop is Rise by Liam Curtin. The artwork which wraps around the bottom of the building commemorates the trade union movement - the building was formerly the HQ of the Transport and General Workers Union.

The writing is a verse from Percy Shelley's 'Mask of Anarchy':

“Rise Like Lions after slumber
in unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are many, They are Few”

I didn't realise until I looked at the web site later that the panels light up at night and change colour.

Next to the 1825 church of St Philip's with St Stephen is the next sculpture.

Seed by Andrew McKeown is an iron sycamore seed. Originally it was bright yellow! I much prefer the natural rusty colour it has now.

And onto the final piece which is in Islington Park.

The mosaic was originally created in 1992 but became damaged.

In 2010, the Friends community started a project to restore it.

The middle section had to be replaced. The new design was inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett who lived in the area as a young girl.

I didn't realise until I was writing this up that the park was once the site of a chapel and 17,000 residents were buried there between 1829 and 1858. Shocking numbers and even more so if you'd seen how small the park was.

A sobering thought to end on so let's lighten the mood. I promised to show you what I bought at the Art Gallery.

I couldn't resist this lampshade decorated with 6 machine-embroidered hares. It was made by Jill McCarthy and now sits in my living room. I love it!!

I also couldn't resist this beautiful drawing of a kingfisher is by Caroline Daly. I only bought a card but there were also framed and unframed prints for sale (also available on her Etsy site). The detail on them is stunning.

So that's 5 out of 13 clusters which we've now visited on the Trail. Plenty more to discover and to lead us to new places.

This weekend we stayed very much with the comfort of the familiar and went blackberry picking in our favourite local spot. I hadn't intended picking any this year but it was such a gorgeous day that we decided to head out to the fields. We didn't really expect to find any either as it's quite late in the season. The bramble bushes though were laden with fat, juicy berries and 3lbs of them came home with us.

I also spent time working on a journal quilt and should have something to show you soon. I know I've been pretty absent lately - a combination of back-to-work tiredness and lack of inspiration I think. In fact, this month will be the first in about 2 years that I won't be posting an entry in the Scavenger Hunt. Until this weekend I'd barely taken a photo all month. I wish I'd had my camera with me this evening though as the sunset was stunning. I didn't get any photos of the lunar eclipse either. I did set the alarm for the early hours and managed to drag myself out of bed but only to peer out of the window for a couple of minutes before climbing back under the duvet!

Enjoy your week. I'll be back on Friday. x


  1. I could quite happily pinch your purchases, they are beautiful. Despite living not far from Salford, it's not somewhere I have ever spent any time. You have prompted me to investigate a bit more.

  2. Beautiful lampshade - what a find! Some excellent sculptures, I love how the tree roots and stumps have been turned into works of art.

  3. Some wonderful public art! Great to see what the trees and so on had been carved into isn't it. xx

  4. I just love that mosaic! They always fascinate me, especially when they're full of detail. That lampshade is beautiful, what a great purchase. x

  5. The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books. I love that quote.
    You always have such interesting posts, so much to look at and savor! xx

  6. I love the sycamore seed sculpture it's so cool. Lovely post showing me lots of places I have never been. I love your hare lampshade too.
    Marianne x

  7. Hi, I worked on the original mosaic in Islington Park - it was in fact in 1991. The commission was won by Chrysalis Arts and Pete Hatton and I made the sections of it with children at St. Philips Primary School. The title of the mosaic was "Salford Views" and we wanted the pupils to reflect the panorama from this viewpoint. Lots of fun working with the children. You can see two photos from the project on this page of my blog:
    By the way, anybody interested in learning to make mosaics might want to check out my weekly evening class or occasional Saturday studio workshops: