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B of the Bang implodes

Manchester’s best public artwork becomes any old iron

Published on February 11th 2009.

B of the Bang implodes

The Bang is doomed, the Bang will die. This is what we got today from the Council at 11.30am.

‘Manchester City Council’s Executive committee today made a decision on the future of Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang sculpture at Sportcity in east Manchester.

‘The sculpture will be dismantled and parts of the sculpture – the core and possibly the legs – will be stored for possible use as part of a rebuilt structure on the Sportcity site, either in its current location or elsewhere on the site as part of its comprehensive redevelopment.

‘Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said after the meeting:

“Manchester would not once again be a world-class city if over the last decade we had not been prepared to be bold and visionary.

“Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang is a magnificent artistic statement that was just right for modern Manchester. It is regrettable that technical problems have undermined that artistic vision.

“And so, after taking into account expert views, the only practical alternative is to take the sculpture down. We have committed ourselves to continue to work with the artist to determine whether there is a robust and affordable strategy for the re-construction of the structure on the site.

“We have, however, made it clear that the will be no City Council funding made available to support its rebuilding even if the further work shows this to be a feasible option.”

Confidential thinks this is a crying shame. As Sir Richard Leese says, B of the Bang is ‘a sculpture that is just right for modern Manchester’. If the engineering difficulties could have been overcome, opinion would have mellowed and the work would have become a Manchester classic.

That won’t happen now. Pop goes the Bang. We can’t see any way in which private investors will stump up the money, or for that matter the Heritage Lottery Fund or the NWDA, to re-erect the sculpture. One of Manchester’s seven wonders is about to bite the dust.

Time then, Confidential thinks, to build the next wonder. This is where our Brick Man comes in (click here). Look out for more news about our campaign to get this built in the next couple of weeks.

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

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2009.

Am gutted this is going.....looks wonderful on the skyline at dusk.....

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 11th 2009.

Susie, it's not fickle. It's just that we don't think once it's gone that the desire will be there to rebuild it. We love the thing and have always said so, it's superb and a thing of beauty - albeit in the wrong place. If it has to go, as we said, it's a crying shame for Manchester. But Richard's quote here is ominous: “We have, however, made it clear that the will be no City Council funding made available to support its rebuilding even if the further work shows this to be a feasible option.”

Ali McGowanFebruary 11th 2009.

Bingo [well, not bingo] - where is the bloody compensation money being spent?????? The massive payment to the Council should be used to rebuild this properly... Not impressed - B of the Bang is truly awe-inspiring.

Bill MithersFebruary 11th 2009.

Lovely thing. Can I have it my garden?

Peterloo Memorial StatueFebruary 11th 2009.

Any update on that? It's been agreed hasn't it?

AvoFebruary 11th 2009.

With the price of scrap metal rising at an exponential rate, I reckon the Council would be quids in if they took it to Steptoe's Yard for a quick buck!

SusieFebruary 11th 2009.

Wow, that's some fickle article! A few weeks ago you were wanting to start a compaign to save it and now you're on to the next thing! I was at the council meeting and it was very clear that the council are intending to bring it back...engineered perfectly this time! We should stand up for great projects, not dump them and move on to the next 'cool' thing. It's great and we should start that campaign from now!

SamFebruary 11th 2009.

B of the Bang is stunning and there is nothing else like it in the UK. I for one am gutted to hear this news... I'm considering chaining myself to the sculpture, and would have no fears for my safety since no-one has yet been speared or impaled by a falling spike!I'm not a fan of the Brick Man. As a North East native maybe I'm too used to an enormous Gormley figure (albeit with gigantic wings), but the Brick Man will never be as inspiring as B of the Bang.

DFebruary 11th 2009.

The council have already bailed the project out with council tax payers' money once.Why? Because there was no other money to go in.Since then the economic climate has got much, much worse. Where are they going to get £1m of private- or public-sector money? And for a project which is, in any case, a bit of a laughing stock?And even if they get the money, will they really be prepared to risk something going wrong AGAIN?Nope. It's been kicked into the long grass, and it will stay there.

burt CodeineFebruary 11th 2009.

Crying shame. I know folk 'vox popping' on bbc news cried it foul, but I've shown it to the most cynical of people (the people who unreservedly detest public art) and even they viewed it in awe. I just hope this can somehow be resurrected during the mooted redevelopment of sportcity this summer...but I'm not holding my kerplunk.

Lewis SansomFebruary 11th 2009.

That's not a bad idea. They'd look like javelins then. Hey there's the Commonwealth Games connection.

Cllr Mike AmesburyFebruary 11th 2009.

B of the Bang is a complex, bold, iconic and thought provoking sculpture. I personally liked the explosive mesh of swaggering metal. The central problem has been to much swagger and sway a great piece of art work that was too challenging to engineer in its current form. Manchester as Richard asserted will continue to commission world class public art. While the current economic climate is challenging in the medium term this will not be the case. I and the cities leaders are confident that Manchester will continue to work with the very best artists in the UK and beyond to deliver world class public art in our city.PS: Interesting debate with regards to Brickman

susieFebruary 11th 2009.

Jonathan, that's exactly why I think they can find the money...he clearly specifies 'city council' money - he doesn't say that all potential pots of money are unavailable to the project. Be postive and if you love it, support it!

Cllr Mike AmesburyFebruary 11th 2009.

Yes in reply to Peterloo Memorial Statue - under a whole scheme of work marking three strands of Manchester's radical past.

jimjamFebruary 11th 2009.

Outrageous. Such a unique sculpture, don't let it go to waste in pieces in a warehouse.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2009.

YES where will the compensation money go? I absolutely love this piece of art and am devastated that it is going to be pulled down and put into indefinite storage. Surely something can be done to save it?

DaveFebruary 11th 2009.

Is the council hoping the sheikhs of eastlands will offer a bit of loose change to save it?

Giles GibsonFebruary 11th 2009.

Good idea. Or maybe we could make Ashton New Road or Alan Turing Way an avenue of spikes

outragedofm1February 11th 2009.

Overrated for me. I liked it when it was all chromed, but as it rusted I just couldn't get the image of a dead plant out of my head. Now that giant white horse in Kent on the other hand....

scoteeeFebruary 11th 2009.

when are we going to debate our case for the angel of the west(north west)? We have the north and the newly commissioned south!

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2009.

The council agreed an out of court settlement which effectively refunded the council its purchase price and subsequent works.Where is this money now? Why isn't it being used to restore the sculpture?

Cllr Mike AmesburyFebruary 11th 2009.


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