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Afflecks' mosaics disappear and Piccadilly lawns dug up

Two Manchester landmarks disappear, one permanently and one just as predicted

Published on March 17th 2008.

Afflecks' mosaics disappear and Piccadilly lawns dug up

The Afflecks Palace mosaics have been removed and the lawns at Piccadilly Gardens have been dug up, again.

Afflecks first. Bruntwood are in the process of taking over the lease of Afflecks Palace from Elaine Walsh who created and ran the business from the 1980s. The formal hand-over is on 1 April.

The mosaics summed up, as Kennedy himself said, “the rebellious, bolshy, radical side of the city’s character.

The Afflecks Palace name, which is owned by Walsh, will change to just Afflecks – its present nickname. There will also be a whole raft of works designed to update the building.

The big casualty is the artwork. The mosaics designed by Mark Kennedy on the west of the building bordering Tib Street have been removed. These referenced key moments in Manchester’s pop culture history with representations of Morrissey, Anthony Wilson, the Oasis boys, Bette Lynch and a jokey play on the classic Manchester t-shirt which read, 'On the sixth day God created Manchester'. There was even a representation of Friedrich Engels, the German merchant who wrote part of the Communist Manifesto in the city with Karl Marx.

The mosaics summed up, as Kennedy told Confidential, “the bolshy, radical side of the city’s character." They were regularly used by tour guides as a tool to describe Manchester’s extraordinary achievement in these areas. They added colour to the Northern Quarter and will be missed.

Mark Kennedy told Confidential: “Bruntwood never bought the mosaics with the lease and they still belonged to Elaine and me. We’ve taken them down as they didn't want to pay extra for them. They’re now in storage in Ancoats. It's sad in some ways but things move on, the city evolves.”

Bruntwood intend to use the spaces vacated by the mosaics as a showcase for Northern Quarter artists. They've said: "We're sorry to see the mosaics go but replacing them with work from local artists will look great on the outside."

Mancunians may get to see the mosaics again though.

“If anybody wants to display them, then get in touch. Maybe we can put them up somewhere else in the city,” said Kennedy.

Meanwhile down the road at Piccadilly Gardens it’s time for Confidential to feel smug. Last Spring we predicted that the lawns expensively replaced from previous wear and tear would need it all doing again by winter, that they'd 'alternate between mud pits and dust bowls'. We were a few months out but once again the turf replacement men with spades are digging in.

Confidential still stands by these words: 'Manchester is confusing squares with parks and coming up with a compromise that pleases no-one. Given the nature and location of Piccadilly Gardens we should forget they were gardens (they've been rubbish as that for two decades) and re-design the space with hard paving throughout plus lots of really good seating. Piccadilly is too small an area for an adequate green space, it can never be a city centre park, but it is big enough to be our Piazza del Campo in Siena. Let's go down that road rather than up the garden path.' A real city square, bigger than any other in a UK provincial city (once we've got rid of the mistake that is the concrete wall containing Caffe Nero) would save money too. Can Manchester really afford, like Manchester United, to replace it's verdant sward every year?

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

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

You are not alone Anonymous! I loved the gardens, too.

sadoMarch 17th 2008.

Piazza del Campo in Siena! why the f##k would we need that? why are we so desperate to be some poor imitation of some other city. As for Mark's mosaics, They belong to a time when we were all cool. When we had the edge, And even though we were potless we could sing and the world took note. we struggled to become Milton Keyens and the Lord hear us.............

justinMarch 17th 2008.

Whoever agreed to that wall needs hanging. they should all be ashamed of themselves.

DaveMarch 17th 2008.

The grass is great in the summer and kids love the fountains. All it needs is a fence around it to stop people using it to cut across to the bus station from market st.

VicMarch 17th 2008.

Hi, does anyone have Mark Kennedy's email. I can't get into his website???

Carl AustinMarch 17th 2008.

The miserable, dull boring concrete walls in Piccadilly would be a perfect location for the recently removed mosaics from Afflecs Palace. About time something was done with this monstrosity that welcomes you to Piccadilly Gardens.

EloiseMarch 17th 2008.

I'm disappointed that Manchester Confidential feel smug about the grass having to be dug up again. Plus, as has already been pointed out, the grass would've have more of a chance if they didnt keep putting Ice Rinks etc on it. Even with the valiant groundsmen at football grounds, even they have to replace grass every season due to non-football usage.

squirrelitoMarch 17th 2008.

ps: Have we ever been told why picc gdns is all rusty these days?

prettygirlsmakegravesMarch 17th 2008.

celery soup and the word monstrosity:eating celery soup whilst typing has led to an excessive use of the word monstrosity. For this, I sincerely apologise. I am usually excessively verbose. x

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

Why are so many people on here determined to turn Manchester into some continental style cafe society town centre. Manchester is Manchester, not Milan, Siena or Barecelona. Afflecks was born from our culture, the Mancunian identity not some pseudo-European copycat crap

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

I think this person (http://www.lasvegas365.net/index.html) has got some good ideas for the Gardens, the visual 1 is more like the sort of thing a city like Manchester should have. Not some Eastern bloc inspired concrete mess. Thought they councillors may have learned their lesson with Hulme, masses of concrete = not good. Or maybe someone in the town hall has shares in a turf company!

KarlMarch 17th 2008.

what is with the space invader mosaics anyway? anyone know?

blandvilleMarch 17th 2008.

yeah but the problem is if they put those mosaics up in Pic gardens they will just end up getting trashed by the local wildlife that hang out there...there's got to be a better way!

jimjamMarch 17th 2008.

which is worse, the dustbowl gardens or the dustbowl outside urbis?i love sitting round by the triangle shopping centre, watching sport and eating my pre-packed sarnie. thats a good spot fo a pit stop. i never consider pic gardens. its too much of a throughfare for people and traffic.I also love the appeal of things like the german market outside the townhall. It's brilliant on the old cobbles outside such an imposing building. So that has its purpose.the 'gradens' need to find purpose and go with it not against it. its a busy thoroughfare for people and traffic, bustling, noisy and probably needs to play to that. it might sounds stupid but it needs a modern day bandstand, or a massive piece of scultpture, something as a centrepiece for the space allowing the everyday hustle and bustle to carry on around it. whoever the mancunian banksy is should be commissioned to build a stone henge, some form of installation. art, man.

ktfairyMarch 17th 2008.

Angel Meadows is great - but I don't want everyone to know about it!! Shhh!

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

Mark Kennedy and Email don't mix but he has got a furniture shop on Oldham Street, you can't miss it.Oh and Elaine Walsh founded Afflecks Palace.

Ben CookeMarch 17th 2008.

Could we not turn the gardens into a 24 hour Novelty Island paddock like Vic Reeves had in Big Night Out?

RobMarch 17th 2008.

Yeah agreed - would be a good plan for Aflecks mosaics to be displayed in Piccadilly - it'd tie together the NQ and Piccadilly area more. I live locally and have noticed more PCSO's and police in Piccadilly Gardens recently which is a good thing. Hopefully when Bruntwood finish the refurb of the area by the bus station there will be new shops and frontages - who would have thought a few years back that we'd have M&S, Philpotts, Starbucks and a lovely Kro bar in this area of the city?! Also the Platform 4 Art festival on Piccadilly Gardens last year was a superb use of the space! It's getting there... ;-)

Anthony McCaulMarch 17th 2008.

Agreed Pat - would be good to find a new home for the artwork. Anwers on a postcard please...Right on Piccadilly too Confidential - more work needed here. Interesting ideas - why not call some kind of design competition - and while we're at it, if we can't find a home for the artwork straight away, why not use the concrete wall in Piccadilly - have always thought we should display some kind of public art on here. Let us know what you think...

Grandad.March 17th 2008.

Leave the fountains alone! The kids love them! And I love watching the kids love the sun love the water love the stone.

SimonCarringtonMarch 17th 2008.

Why cant they make raised bed grass seats so there is still a park feel but with a new twist?? Its far easier to replace them then if needs be. Get in touch with me and I will give them a few pointers.. :~)

daveMarch 17th 2008.

piccadilly is a mess, and as long as i've lived in mcr always has been...maybe the council and planners should communicate with the people that use this space

prettygirlsmakegravesMarch 17th 2008.

It's a travesty that the mosaics are gone, I think they would look really good showcased on Ando's wall in piccadilly gardens. Get rid of the grass because it doesn't wear, but don't necessarilly make it all "for walking on", provide seating areas, and small beds of flowers and trees to allude to its former garden. Can we please get ride of Nero and whatever that Rice monstrosity is from under the wall? It would look better as discreet public toilets (getting rid of the eyesore pissoirs) or a small art showcase. We could paint the wall. I don't think Tadao Ando's wall is the monstrosity, I think you will find it is actually that vile brick monstrosity that houses KRO piccadilly (actually scummier than the wetherspoons across the way) and the effervescent bar burrito. Knock it down, get it sorted, and lets get guerilla gardening. xx

Picc since 2003March 17th 2008.

Franks Trousers -thanks for the tip, love the park and nearly bought in The Tobacco Factory (wish i had now) back then - 900sq ft for 120k!!!. Friends live in Citadel and we have spent he odd sunday in the sun there. I'm hoping for Ancoats but City Lofts, ISIS and urban splash are having a laugh with prices. We'll have to see how things shape with Property in the next http://year.Pat/Mark - see you there on saturday. The Gardens are great and the grass needs to be open for use, we just need more!!!!

Frank's TrousersMarch 17th 2008.

Piccadilly since 2003, it's a shame you're leaving. My apartment overlooks Angel Meadows - a lovely park 5 minutes from the centre. Very leafy and green and the park is full of people enjoying the open space (moreso when it's not raining of course) we even see children playing in there.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

I was born in Manchester and have always lived here. I agree with an earlier anonymous comment about the old Picc Gardens. It takes me back to my childhood and had a very nostalgic feel about them. My dad always said that he and his business partner would one day sit in the sunken gardens in their later years to kick back when he was too busy to do so before! He no longer has this opportunity as its now a concrete jungle. I love that much effort has been put in to improve it, but we are still MANCS and we are still here. We certainly shouldn't be trying to lose our sense of identity as to what Manchester is really about. People forget that the lovely European cities that are referred to above were created that way. Picc Gardens is what it is. A bit of space in the centre of Manchester. Please make it lovely ;o)Pat Kerney, would love to join, but alas, my filial duties call as I convince my poorly dad that the memory of Picc Gardens will be safe in years to come. Have fun.

KevinMarch 17th 2008.

Bit late on posting for this, but how about AstroTurf? Woudl this work? I think it is essential to have a nice green space in the Gardens, as it breaks up from the Bus/Tram station next to it, and all the other concrete. I think puttig the mosaics up on the monstrous wall is a good idea as well. Having a nice gren space all year round that people could use will keep it looking nice. Don't really want too much concrete paving everywhere, otherwise it's just another city centre. I moved to Manchester 5 years ago and I like most of what the council do to improve and make it a bit different. Sometimes it's right and sometimes it's wrong, but ultimately we ALL need to come up with good ideas for the Gardens. how about more lights like down Canal St in the trees? More seating is a must, keep the fountains as they add some vibrancy.

cllr.pat karneyMarch 17th 2008.

On Afflecks surprised that Bruntwoods would not buy them I will ask them for the story when I bump into them It would be good to see them mounted in another part of the Northern Quarter. Mark please contact me if you are interested---better than storage in Ancoats.As regards Picadilly we defo have not got this right I am interested to hear what everyone thinks.

stejaskiMarch 17th 2008.

Piccadilly Gardens only purpose seems to be as a place for scrotes to hang about, and for smackheads to wash their kids in the fountains. Pave it, remove that dreary wall that looks like its been relocated from the former Eastern Block and get the police to keep the area clear of scum. At least the No 1 Piccadilly Gardens building has bought life to that end, and the refurb on Parker Street is moving on (just get rid of the kebab shop, Mark One, Home Bargains and the amusement arcade-that should deter most of the scrotey elements.Theres plenty of room in Salford Shopping City for them, and their clientelle wont have to dodge the fares on the bus) Then replace Primark with Selfridges, renovate The Ramada Hotel and relocate the hideous bus station and the jobs a goodun.

PiddlingMarch 17th 2008.

Grass will never survive there because of the underground heating systems i am told there are.Thing is, they choose summer / warm months to replace it so we all have to cram onto the 3 benches whilst it's fenced off. Then in winter, we all walk on it because the paths are too thin and then they shove the ice rink on. Disaster.Plus, why is no one concerned about children playing in the glorified pigeon bath? Bleurgh!

shazMarch 17th 2008.

Gutted that the mosaics have been taken down as I really wanted to photograph them. If anyone know if this is possible, let me know! shazwilliams2003@yahoo.co.uk

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

I think I must have been the only one who liked the old Gardens. If you had just got rid of the junkies who used to live on the benches in the middle and showed it a bit of TLC it could have been lovely. Instead of the sunken gardens we now have dust fields in the summer and a muddy quagmire when it rains. Oh and the 'Wall'.

cllr.pat karneyMarch 17th 2008.

I will be in Picadilly Gardens on Saturday 29th March at 11 am in Cafe Neros if you want to join me on a walk and talk about the future of the gardens This is the first time in Manchester of a blogging into action get together.Join me.I will have my Town Hall look white shirt/blue tie etc Lets do it .

Simple SimonMarch 17th 2008.

The grass did well enough for decades as trampville before the square was transformed to what we see today. Perhaps cheap grass, or the fact half of it was covered for months with the ice rink has something to do with the problem? A tarmacked square would be awful, as would cobbles, and cobbles would just lead to court cases as idiots fell over. Keep the grass, it's brilliant in the summer. The mosaics need to come back, everyone's seen the space invaders all over yeah? Can't we commission more mosaics and put them in a similar stylee around random corners all over the n4?

Rachel GMarch 17th 2008.

i love the grass and as said children love the fountains in summer, i dont like the eastern bloc style walls but keep the grass, its nice to sit on at lunchtimes and mid shopping trips in summer. we have albert Sq so no need for two squares!!

Mark Garner, The PublisherMarch 17th 2008.

Ok Pat, if you are up to it then so am I. The coffee is on me.

matchesMarch 17th 2008.

Isn't it about time Manchester thanked Mrs Walsh for giving them Afflecks and sticking with it for the last 27 years.

squirrelitoMarch 17th 2008.

The grass is doomed. Not hardy enough to cope with the amount of usage it has to endure. For greenery and colour, add some raised planting with integrated seating, replace the lawns with warm honey-toned stone paving, reflecting the traditional colours of the city. If we have to live with wall, we need to address its utter drabness. The use of the Afflecks mosaic is a nice idea, anything to counter its brutalism really. The gardens are supposed to be for pleasure not to look like a punishment block.I will keep praying for the day that No1 Picc is accidentally felled and the view out to Portland Street is restored. The sense of perceived space lost in the gardens to that Lego monstrosity shouldn't be underestimated.

MarkMarch 17th 2008.

Every time I see them it still amazes me that someone actually went through the thought process of "concrete blocks, they'll look absolutely brilliant there." It looks like a half arsed Palastinian/Israeli wall, just without the Baksy's. We could learn alot from Italian cities like Sienna about using a city's open areas, can we have a annual horse race around Paizza del Piccadilly too please?

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

Funny how no-one's mentioned the hideous oversized daisy lights have also gone from Afflecks?!Keep the grass at Piccadilly - it's wonderful in the summer. Seems to me that the wear and tear is all from the icerink - which was awful this year - the skaters were screened off to passers by, so unless you were on it it looked like a load of hordings dumped there.

the priestMarch 17th 2008.

it would help if the grassed area wasn't covered with a ridiculous naff skating ring for two months. how will grass ever hope to survive that?does anyone else get fed up with the salsa drummers outside m & s every bloody weekend?

drew peacockMarch 17th 2008.

Take a look at Eastern European cities like Prague, Bratislava, Krakow and Riga to see how they make great use of their squares using stonework, fountains and statues with great seated areas...The grass isn't needed..it is a mess, as is "the wall" biggest mistake in the rebuilding of our city...get some arty lots to do mosaics on that..anything, please, it's just like the Israel/Arab border!!

Piccadilly since 2003March 17th 2008.

The reason why Piccadilly Gardens continues to fail is because THIS CITY HAS MASSIVE DEMAND FOR GREEN SPACE AND COUNCIL IS FAILING TO PROVIDE IT. I will be moving from the City shortly as we have a little boy on the way. I would be prepared to stay (and we have tried to find the right place) in the city but the green space is simply not here. PG is nice but we need more and the council need to get creative. Start using even the smallest spaces for public use and challenge the need for more residential developments. Example - Piccadilly Basin next to moon bar, lovely little area in the summer (can get a little over crowded with the canadian geese though). Will be flats in 2009. Why - I have no idea as the 2 bed 2 bath market has effectively disappeared for buy to lets. Why not use the CASH grant scheme to target small but usable areas for small gardens.There is not enough balance in the city and it will come back to bite the city in the ar5e.

RachelMarch 17th 2008.

Does anyone else feel like we've got ther Berlin wall ressurected in Picc. gardens?! When it first went up I reassured myself that it would soon be all nice and interesting with some sort of mural or something... but alas nothing appeared. We aren't living in East Germany for gods sake, even the West side decorated and painted their bit of the wall... we need the Hoff to come and stand on it in his leather jacket singing looking for freedom and swinging a giant wrecking ball!

ithastobemeMarch 17th 2008.

If you could just stop people walking on the grass there would be far less wear and tear! But please please keep it along with the fountains! It's a beautiful space in the summer... and all of the visitors to the city I meet from working in a city centre restaurant comment and say how lovely they are! As for Afflecks - shame on Bruntwood for not shelling out to buy them - its not like they cant afford it!! But let's hope someone sees sense in the city and finds a new home for them!

Battered ShoesMarch 17th 2008.

Please no more cobbles. I'm sick of wearing lovely shoes and boots to have the heels shredded by these bloody things! I'll have to start wearing clogs if there are any more in the city.

ChrisMarch 17th 2008.

Would be happy if the grass was changed, but keep the fountains... my kids love it in summer.. playing in the water is a great way to cool down.... good idea with the mosaics in the wall in piccadilly.... it looks like a half finished project.......

KarlMarch 17th 2008.

actually nevermind I just never bothered searching, heres the linkhttp://www.space-invaders.com/

Morrissey the 23rdMarch 17th 2008.

I think the perfect home for the mosaics would be The Salford Lads club.

JemmaMarch 17th 2008.

That wall around the Piccadilly 'gardens' must come down, it's bloody awful - what were they ever thinking?!

DescartesMarch 17th 2008.

Carl you're a genius, I second that!

DavidMarch 17th 2008.

I agree on Piccadilly, get rid of the fountain and pavillion, pave it all make it an events square for a market, concerts etc

jimjamMarch 17th 2008.

get with the times councillors, forwards not back. evolve, dont REVOLVE. haha.

Fence merchantMarch 17th 2008.

What's wrong with little picket fences around the grassed bits? You could have a little flower beds on the other side and little picket gate to get in through in the summer.

ktfairyMarch 17th 2008.

The Ando wall serves it purpose of blocking the noisy smelly bus station from the gardens. Rice is great - not sure about Nero - I don't drink coffee. Put the mosaics in the wall, dig up the bus station and put it underground (and the trams as well), then there would be plenty of space for both grass and some concrete type substance. Plus if Bank of New York keep growing Piccadilly One will not be big enough, therefore almost empty and ripe for replacing!

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