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Afflecks Palace In Pieces Once More

Ben Robinson interviews Mark Kennedy over the return of the Manchester series of mosaics

Published on June 6th 2012.


Afflecks Palace In Pieces Once More

SELF-made Manchester mosaicist Mark Kennedy has had seven mosaic art pieces installed on Tib Street along the wall of Affleck’s Palace. The colourful and cracked pieces feature the likes of Eric Cantona, Colin Bell, Karl Marx, Morrissey, Ian Brown, Emmeline Pankhurst, Bet Lynch and many other 'legends' associated with Manchester. 

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics

The city’s emporium for vintage clothing and curios recently celebrated its 30th Birthday with the new mosaics taking centre stage. The original works were commissioned to replace Kennedy’s previous mosaics which had adorned the same wall but were controversially taken down four years ago due to a change in the building's ownership from the original owners to Bruntwood, the Manchester property firm. 

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics

Kennedy was devastated when his previous work was removed from the Palace’s exterior: “I think I cried. I helped take them down, I made a film about it too. It’s emotional when you spend 10 years making them and then because the ownership changes they have to go.” he said. 

“It’s worked out better now in some ways because I’ve been re-commissioned to make them. It’s like if you were working in a shop and everybody knew you from that shop and it gets taken over and suddenly you don’t know what to do. 

“I’m just glad that the work is back there for people to see and I hope they enjoy it and realise that there’s only one Mark Kennedy,” he adds with a laugh. 

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics

In total Kennedy has spent almost 20 years crafting the two sets of mosaics amongst other on-going work. The theme on Affleck’s is Manchester heroes, with a nod given the shopping bazaar’s rock’n’roll past. Thus among the great figures of Manchester depicted there are musicians, actors, media and radical politicians. 

He also couldn’t help including something from his own Manchester memories of Tib Street.  

“When I was a little kid I used to go to Tib Street all the time to get my ferrets and buy mice from a little pet shop and that’s where we all used to go. Next door was Tib Street Joke Shop that used to sell masks and stink bombs so there’s one piece that represents all that.”  

You have to have a closer look at some of the new mosaics to fully appreciate them with some of them holding a few hidden surprises. Kennedy’s take on Joy Division’s classic Unknown Pleasures album cover features several tiny coloured tile fragments to set it apart from the now iconic original. 

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics

“It’s an image that was once independent but it’s become universal and it’s ceased to be anything independent so I’ve done it a bit abstract and partially in colour so it’s totally separate from the original. If you look at it closely there are some nice ceramics in there with dying stars and even Jesus if you look closely enough.” said Kennedy. 

The mosaics were painstakingly finished with the help of French Artist Flore Saucheux who has been living in Manchester for the past two years. After the pain of having the previous pieces removed Kennedy is now looking to expand his Northern Quarter presence and create further pieces for the area. 

“There are two spaces left and another four or five on the Church Street side too. I have a couple of ideas for the next ones: the next will be about industry, a few of them little ten year old chaps who used to work in cotton mills with dirty faces.”

Affleck's Palace is at 52 Church Street, Northern Quarter,  City M4 1PW. 0161 839 0718

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics

Affleck's mosaicsAffleck's mosaics


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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

CharlieJune 6th 2012.

Great to see the work......we need good public art in the city.....something that connects with people and is not pretentious........this is pop art revisited....good stuff.....

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

How about leaving one bay empty like the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for occasional, temporary works by local artists or even tenants of the building?

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

That's not to say Mark Kennedy's work isn't great - it is brilliant.

CharlieJune 7th 2012.

Fourth plinth idea is a good one...it encourages people to look......or even invite artists to make a temporary work for the space so it keeps changing....

Kevin PeelJune 7th 2012.

I'm looking forward to popping down to have a look this evening.

Too YoungJune 7th 2012.

Who is the lady we should call God and trust?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
paulsouthernJune 7th 2012.

"Trust in God - she will provide" Emmeline Pankhurst. Not sure she was talking about herself though!

paulsouthernJune 7th 2012.

"Trust in God - she will provide". Emmeline Pankhurst. Although I don't think she was talking about herself!

CharlieJune 7th 2012.

Where can I see more of marks work......

1 Response: Reply To This...
MysteryMancJune 21st 2012.

Charlie he has a studio inside the Den Furniture shop on the corner of Oldham St. & Hilton St. worth calling in to meet him he's a character. (or best try the Castle public house)

Phil MurphyJune 7th 2012.

They're dotted about ... e.g. one on the side of blackdog, one at the far end of the bar in night and day.

MysteryMancJune 7th 2012.

I think Emmeline Pankhurst

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