Atelier[zero] artists finally take up residence in Piccadilly Basin’s Olympic Village – following weather upsets

By Kevin Benson

A brand new public art installation, Atelier [zero], if finally open to the public in Piccadilly Basin, following its initial launch being hampered by severe weather.

The artwork, which is the only design commission to be accepted by the Cultural Olympiad, takes its inspiration from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and centres around the themes of sport, play and culture.

The official launch was hampered by the severe wet weather that has been wreaking havoc across the country, but now the artwork, which is a collaborative effort between students from the Manchester School of Architecture and the École Spéciale d‘Architecture, is finally open to the public.

Atelier[zero] is situated behind Jackson’s Warehouse on Tariff Street in the Piccadilly Basin.

Although this part of the city features modern apartment’s blocks and trendy bars, there are still signs of its industrial past everywhere you look, so the addition of Atelier [zero] adds a new dimension to the space.

Helen Aston, Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture said “Situating this innovative installation in the basin automatically changes the immediate perception of how public realm is occupied and used.”

MM was invited down to take a look at the current artworks which occupy the wooden chalets which form the centre piece of the art installation.

The chalets, inspired by the Olympic Village, are lined up on the tow path in a quirky take on a terraced street.

Three of the chalets contain works by interventionalist artist Jason Minsky, whose work taps into everyday practices or routines to reveal a fresh and alternative way of looking at them, and all follow the theme of sport.

The first chalet contains a collection of rugby balls to be taken out and played with and it also serves as the Atelier information hub where visitors can find out more about the project and be taken on a tour.

The second chalet is the Ballpool chalet where adults and children can interact with the plastic coloured balls and enjoy the freedom of play. Also in this chalet is Daniel Fogerty’s new commission on the blackboard called ‘Pre-Fab’.

The third chalet is the ‘library with no books’ – a book exchange where visitors are encouraged to bring and borrow books. The space has a seating area with a table where people can study or read.

Andrea Booker’s ‘Non-Placed’ commission in the form of a vinyl installation on the window can be seen here. ‘Non-Places’ are referred to in Gaston Bachelard’s book, ‘Poetics of Space, with references to spaces such as airport car parks and hotel lobbies.

The fourth chalet is the projection chalet showing Stuart Edmonson’s ‘Echo Beach’ from 2009. This is a sculpture on a plinth displaying an image of a sunset and visitors can lie down and dream of the setting sun in some far-away place.

Leo Fitzmaurice’s ‘Falling together’, a collection of British flags, is installed in the chill-out chalet. Leo is the winner of the 5th Northern Art Prize and the piece is related to previous works where he has looked for potential in things from flyers to cigarette packets.

Also sharing this space is Ottmar Horl’s ‘Schutzengel’ from 2007. This includes a golden angel sat on a ‘cloud like’ bench where people can sit and join it in tranquil thought.

In the sixth and final chalet, Design by Day have created and installed ‘Peter Saville said my Name’, an AO luminous print which playfully reacts to the bright environment of the chalet, featuring a brightly coloured hammock which people are invited to lie in at their leisure.

In addition to the chalets are five rowing boats, moored up creating a bating lake in the wharf and a selection of ball games are available, all designed to inspire people to creatively use pubic space.

The temporary architectural installation will be open until 2 September 2012 and open Tuesday to Saturday 11-5pm and Sunday 12-4pm.

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