On Tuesday March 14th, we met with Sibby, a local tour guide, at the canal side in Ancoats. Ancoats grew out of the industrial revolution and was populated with streets of warehouses supporting the growing textile industry. The canal system served as a transport route for goods and materials and these remain, to this day, under the cobbled streets and into subterranean loading bays beneath the factories.
Part of the tour that we received, included information about the Ancoats Peeps. The creation of British architect and artist Dan Dubowitz, the peeps are a series of spy glasses that have been installed into walls for the general public to catch a glimpse of the areas heritage. They were installed without explanation or maps, the peeps are designed to intrigue passers by and allow them to interact with those which they pass. Over recent years Ancoats has been the subject of ongoing regeneration and not all of the spy glasses have survived.
A great deal of the warehouses, once standing dormant, have undergone massive regeneration and are helping to turn Ancoats into a lively neighbourhood filled with desirable apartments, upscale offices, on trend shops and restaurants as well as spaces to take a breath in the city; an irony considering it’s beginnings would have seen the area thick with a dense, industrial fog. Many of the buildings, roads, and spaces still bare names linked to their past, such as Flint Glass Wharf, Ice Plant, Radium Street, and Cutting Room Square.
Following our tour with Sibby, we regrouped at Saddler’s Yard to take part in an afternoon of Urban Sketching. This activity is something that takes me entirely out of my comfort zone, as I prefer to draw perfectly measured angles and straight lines. Sitting in an open space and free hand drawing what I see strips me of all of my usual drawing methods but in some ways graces me the freedom to express drawing in an entirely different way. For this session the sun was shining, however the wind was at it’s northern best and was determined to blow my sketchbook, as well as myself, right into the canal!