In 2008, Manchester decided to embark on a counter-cyclical project, much as the city fathers had done in the last great recession, and invest significantly in two civic buildings, two buildings that were cornerstones of the making of the first modern industrialised city: Manchester Town Hall Extension and Manchester Central Library.
Early on in this major redevelopment project, artists Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward were given privileged and open access to witness this transformational period in the life of these two iconic buildings. Through large-format photographs and interviews taken and conducted over a period of eighteen months, they captured the moment when the city's citizens and workers had been locked out and the spaces were being stripped bare; revealing both a glimpse of what they had been and what they might become.
The artwork provides insights on the reciprocal relationship between people and place, and reveals how the refurbishment of a building can go far beyond physical refurbishment, questioning the relationships between a city, its citizens and place.
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Number of pages: 160
Weight: 2037 g
Dimensions: 380 x 380 x 18 mm
"The result is a book - published as Central Library reopens to the public - which is not a dry account of a construction project, but instead an artistic appreciation of this Romanesque wedding cake of a building at a momentous point in its history. It combines archive photography with still life studies of books, furniture and clutter. There are lovely little details such as the list of items found during renovation of the readers' tables, including an unfinished essay on James I, an Orange Club biscuit and sweet and crisp wrappers spanning several eras."
Howard Bradbury, Cheshire Life, May 2014
"beautifully printed, elegantly designed"
(Owen Hatherley, Icon Magazine, 01/08/2014)
Based around a series of photographs taken and found by artists Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward during the refurbishment of Manchester's Central Library and Town Hall Extension, it is a huge, beautifully printed, elegantly designed...album.
As a piece of design and architectural exploration, Citizen Manchester is exemplary - contemporary without being grinningly Blairo-modernist, focused on history without heritage kitsch, local without being petty, serious without being scholastic. -- .