Citizen Manchester

A new artwork in response to Manchester Central Library’s transformation.

By Lee Isherwood | March 11th '14

Artists Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward have created Citizen Manchester, a new artwork comprising a book, plus an exhibition of 40 large-scale interventions to be hosted at the Central Library and the nearby Manchester Art Gallery.

Through photographs, recording tales and research into the city’s archives, Dubowitz and Ward captured the moment when the public had been locked out of Central Library and the Town Hall Extension, with the spaces stripped back in preparation for their refurbishment.

Manchester’s Central Library will reopen to the public on Saturday 22 March, following the successful completion of a four-year project to transform the iconic building, along with the adjacent Town Hall Extension.

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Citizen Manchester explores the relationship between a city’s civic buildings and its citizens. According to Dubowitz, “When a city’s public buildings and public spaces are transformed, so is the relationship between that city and its citizens.”

Ward adds, “Citizen Manchester provides glimpses into the buildings’ souls and reveals unexpected stories. The artwork provides insights into the reciprocal relationship between people and place and reveals how the refurbishment of a building can go far beyond physical refurbishment.”

Citizen Manchester was commissioned by the international engineering firm Laing O’Rourke, who partnered with Manchester City Council to deliver the refurbishment of Central Library.

Tom Higgins, Director at Laing O’Rourke, said: “Throughout the project, we have never lost sight of how important these buildings are to the people of Manchester and the responsibility we have been entrusted with. When we heard about Citizen Manchester we were really excited not just by the idea of documenting the transformation of the buildings themselves, but also by exploring what the transformation of these architectural icons means to the people of Manchester.

“The result is fascinating, and adds yet another chapter to the illustrious history of the buildings”.

Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “Citizen Manchester documents an important point in the process of renewing Central Library. In restoring the library, we have celebrated and protected its inspiring original features, while also sensitively introducing a host of 21st century elements, which will see the building serve our citizens for generations to come.”

The exhibition opens Saturday 22 March and runs until Sunday 22 June.