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The charity making life better by water

Dance on down to a new art trail on Rochdale Canal

A disco curtain, mirror caves, a gigantic flower mural and tiny horse sculptures are just a few of the exhibits in a new interactive art trail launched along the Rochdale Canal in Manchester city centre.

Woman painting mural on towpath floor

We've worked closely with Manchester contemporary art producers, ‘Things That Go On Things', to create a fabulous temporary exhibition to encourage people to explore the canal and spend time in nature.

What's on?

Twenty-two miniature digitally designed 3D horse sculptures created by artist, Sumit Sarkar (KrikSix), will be hidden along the stretch of Rochdale Canal from Deansgate to the Gay Village. A glittering disco curtain, inspired by the Gay Village, will be hung on the wall of Sackville gardens opposite Canal Street. The piece aims to spark joy and maybe encourage a spot of dancing in the street.

At Lock 89 (Tib Lock), artist Venessa Scott has created a gigantic floor mural in bright bold colours, inspired by the diverse wildlife and waterway plants and wildflowers. Located at Lock 88, a Mirror Cave invites the passer-by to take notice of the historic tunnels and bridges along the canal.

Bringing people to the canal

The art trail will encourage local people and families to visit the canal and enjoy the work of local artists during the Easter holidays and beyond. It is part of a wider initiative to ensure the Rochdale Canal is cleaner, greener and an attractive place for people to visit. Thanks to the hard work of charity's staff and volunteers, the canal has been awarded with a prestigious Green Flag award in recognition of its transformation.

Over the last 12 months through the Green Recovery Fund, we have worked with dozens of volunteers, community organisations and youth groups to deliver a community project to green up the canal. Alongside the canal towpath, walkers and boaters can now enjoy more wildflowers, spring bulbs, flowering shrubs, over 600 metres of hedgerow and new rowan, crab apple and ornamental cherry trees. Bare concrete lock sides and paved paths have been brightened with the installation of 17 large planters, including rainbow-painted planters in the Gay Village.

A new reed bed has been established in Piccadilly Basin and all along the waterway, there are new pocket-sized community vegetable gardens, linear orchards and wildflower meadows, improving biodiversity and air quality for local residents and workers.

Brightening up the towpath

James Long, our engagement manager, said: “This art trail will brighten up the canal towpath and bring the waterway to life, as well as showcasing some of the great artistic talents we have in Manchester.

“We're hoping this piece of work will attract new visitors and start a conversation around what we can do long term to bring more art and creativity to the waterways. Research shows that being by water makes people feel happier and healthier and I hope visitors will enjoy this fantastic artwork and take some time to explore the canal.”

Jude Jagger, co-artistic director, Things That Go On Things added: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with the Canal & River Trust on this pilot project to bring a range of different artworks to the canalside in the centre of Manchester. We hope it will encourage people to visit the area, spend more time next to the water and enjoy the artwork on display.”

Last Edited: 04 April 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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