Spotlight on Statues: Who Do You Think Should Be Next?

The number of interesting statutes in the city to write about is dwindling, so I've been thinking about who we should memorialise next.

By Manchester's Finest | 17 May 2019

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I’ve been around and asked as many people as I can and I’ve come up with a list of eight candidates that I will present to you in two sets of four. I will then take things to Facebook to let our readers VOTE, as well as offer up new suggestions for potential candidates.

The idea is to get the 4 most voted on people and then we will get an artist to design the statues and put them to one final vote. The winner we will take to the council who will probably say no anyway but at least we tried.

So, without further ado, the first selection is as follows:

Shelagh Delaney

After the unveiling of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue earlier this year, it seems fitting that we might strive to celebrate another woman in our next statue. After all, Emmeline was the first woman to be memorialised here in Manchester since Queen Victoria back in 1901 which is too long if you ask me, so we have some catching up to do.

In case you haven’t heard of her, Shelagh Delaney was a dramatist and screenwriter who is best known for her debut play ‘A Taste of Honey’. Born in Salford to a family of Irish immigrants, Delaney came from humble beginnings which were wildly influential in her work.

In short, she paints a gritty true expression of life in the North of England in the 1950s which was as bleak as you might imagine, but she is celebrated among critics and the public alike for her sentimental yet realistic portrayal of working-class life in the north.

‘A Taste of Honey’ was written in just ten days and was extremely well received for its ability to address social issues head-on. Delaney knew what she was angry about, and what she wanted to show the world. She was an icon for Morrissey, and not only was she the cover art for ‘Louder than Bombs’ many of her words are embedded in the lyrics of The Smiths and it doesn’t get more Mancunian than that.

Eric Cantona

I am not going to sit here and pretend like I know ANYTHING about football, but when I asked the boys in my office who should be immortalised in statue-form they all shouted, practically in unison ‘ERIC CANTONA!!’

So I did a little research. Eric Cantona is a French (former) football player who is much loved here in Manchester. After a strong and successful career playing for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes and Leeds United, Cantona ended his career playing for Manchester United. It was at this club where he won the Reds four Premier League Titles in just five years as well as two League and FA Cup Doubles.

Known for sporting his signature number 7 shirt with the distinctive turned up collar, Cantona is often regarded as playing a key role in the revival of Manchester United as a footballing force to be reckoned with. In the 1990s when Cantona was playing, Manchester United went from being average to being iconic.

Cantona is affectionately nicknamed by Manchester United fans as “King Eric”, and was voted as Manchester United’s greatest player and I think he would be a cracking choice to be commemorated here in Manchester.

The Droogs (A Clockwork Orange)

Anthony Burgess is already immortalised in the street art of the NQ as well as in the minds and hearts of many Mancunians, but thinking about statues in a more Avant Guard way, it got me thinking about Burgess and his characters a bit more.

Burgess was a Mancunian writer of comic, dystopian satire in the form of novels, libretto and screenplays. Most famous of these was ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1962) which was a futuristic satire which commented on the ever-growing youth culture in a time where England was gripped by the fears of juvenile delinquency.

Written in just three weeks, the book addresses the idea of free will, behaviourism and youth culture in a way which was simultaneously cutting edge and revolutionary.

Of course, we could erect a statue of Burgess himself looking stoic and intellectual, but team Finest thought perhaps a homage to his most famous novel would be pretty fitting too. A representation of Alex and ‘his Droogs’ (Georgie, Pete and Dim) or another symbol from A Clockwork Orange would be pretty artistic and interesting if you ask me – but we’d have to make sure it was a reimagining of the characters rather than a copy of Kubrick’s which Burgess thought was ‘badly flawed’.

Ray Boddington

Back in April of this year, singer, dancer, public legend and frontman of The Piccadilly Rats Ray Boddington sadly passed away after a tragic tram crash on Church Street. Ray was known by many in the city as a musical legend, and no Saturday afternoon mooch in Piccadilly was complete without a few minutes watching The Rats and Ray dancing with his top of.

Loved by more than just Manchester after performances on X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, as well as festivals like Kendal Calling and Parklife, I can’t help but feel the busker’s presence will be missed. I know his loss is still recent in our minds, but he seems like a good candidate to be memorialised somewhere in the Piccadilly area which would act as a permanent reminder of the joy Ray Boddington brought to a lot of people.

Head over to our Facebook Page to cast your vote.