Navvies (2022)

Public artwork, Salford, UK

An artwork recognising the role of the 17,000 navvies who dug the Manchester Ship Canal. From their labour flowed the city of Salford, Greater Manchester’s industrial success, and eventually: The Quays and Media City itself. It is estimated by the Navvies Union that up to 1,100 of these navvies died digging the Canal, with more injured. These were men who migrated from all areas of the UK, alongside thousands from Ireland, who in particular faced extreme prejudice.

The project was formed around the action most synonymous with the navvy: digging. The multi-strand project was made with the Salford community and comprised of a series of workshops and events, a new co-created piece of orchestral music, the creation of a navvies community garden at MediaCity, and culminated in an audio visual installation in the Ship Canal itself.

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Artist: Matthew Rosier
Music: Composer; Hayley Suviste. Arranged by Daniel Whibley and recorded by the BBC Philharmonic.
Executive Producer: Mediale
Commissioned by Mediale, Quays Culture and MediaCity
Workshops & Consultation: Dr Jessica Symons
Community Group: Salford Loaves & Fishes
Supported by Arts Council England, Historic England and Greater Manchester Combined Authority