New Maker Yards, Salford / Neighbourhood Enlivenment

In early 2020, I was commissioned to create engaging, thoughtful and playful interventions to enliven the shared spaces of the New Makers Yard neighbourhood.

Connecting to the industrial heritage of the New Maker Yards site and working with local historian Mark Charnley, I created a visualisation which represents the jobs of people that lived in the area during the late 19th century which included a herbalist, tripe dealer, tailor, undertaker, plumber, pattern maker and blacksmith to name but a few.

I illustrated symbols to represent the different jobs and overlaid them on a historical map to correlate with where people would have lived. The visualisation was separated into equal parts and each part scaled up into individual murals which were hand painted on feature walls on all apartment receptions areas and across 6 underground car parks, 42 in total.

I also incorporated elements of this design into fabric panels and installed onto the existing outdoor furniture, including a full repaint of the steel frames, see the before and after images below.

Working in collaboration with M3 industries, also based at Islington Mill, we designed and fabricated custom outdoor seating.  Featuring two lounger style seats and a bench, the design reflects the form and materials of the traditional coal boats which would have been prevalent on the waterways of Middlewood locks.  Each seat is made from sustainably sourced larch and galvanised steel and includes a T-stud, commonly found on the helm of canal boats for mooring ropes, in this case they can be used to attach a dog leash.  Design features of the seating also nods to PR Jacksons ironworks and rolling mill which was situated on the New Maker Yards site. Details taken from the teeth of the rolling mill wheels have been delicately etched into each table top.

I have also designed a handmade soap for every home in the neighbourhood inspired by “Donkey Stones”.  First used in the textile mills of Lancashire, they would have also been commonplace in the industrial sites of New Maker Yards.  Donkey stones were used to clean greasy steps and gave them a non-slip coating. They became popular with mill workers who then used them in their homes to give their doorsteps a shiny, even finish.  These old-fashioned scouring stones, about the size of a bar of soap and named after their trademark donkey imprint, were moulded from a cement like mixture into a soft stone. Two fragrances have been created which include rhubarb & rose, as featured in the manchester flora and woodsmoke & leather which evokes the scent of the roaring furnaces of the ironworks. Each household also received a limited edition A5 print which on the reverse featured the story of the commissioned works as outlined above.

Thanks to Tasha Whittle for the mural plan and install and paint crew Gill Balfour, Michelle Tatton, and Lyndsey Lupe.

Photography by Joe Smith