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The charity making life better by water

Manchester art trail

We're working with incredible local artists to bring the Rochdale Canal towpath in Manchester city centre alive with art this spring.

Woman painting mural on towpath floor

We've commissioned creative producers Jude Jagger and Gemma Saunders, aka Things That Go On Things, to produce an art trail inspired by the unique character of Manchester's urban waterways. The trail features new work by Sumit Sarkar, Things that Go On Things and Venessa Scott.

About the artworks

Sumit Sarkar (KrikSix) I'm A Little Horse

This is a miniature sculpture trail from Deansgate Railway Viaduct to Lock 87 on Princess Street.

Sumit explains, "Inspired by the traditional use of horses to pull the canal boats laden with produce along the waterway, and Eadweard Muybridge's photographic studies of motion, I will create a series of 22, small, digitally designed, 3D printed horses, which will be hidden along the stretch of Rochdale canal from Deansgate to the Village."

Venessa Scott 'Wildlife and Waterways' mural at Lock 89 (Tib Lock)

Venessa has used her trade mark colour palette and bold, bright patterns to create this incredible floor mural around Lock 89.

Venessa gives us this brief description, "Inspired by the diverse wildlife and wonderful weeds and wildflowers that weave around the edges of the canals and waterways that peek from the bricks and blossom from the drainpipes. I see the plant life as mirroring the city; it displays vibrancy diversity and resilience, and energy around every corner."

Things That Go On Things

These are two unique artworks inspired by reflection called Mirror Cave and Disco Curtain.

Mirror Cave invites the passer-by to take notice of the tunnels and bridges along the canal and take in the graffiti tags as artworks and expressions of creativity often overlooked. This will be located at Lock 88.

Disco Curtain is inspired by the Gay Village, togetherness and inclusivity. The piece aims to spark joy and maybe encourage a spot of dancing in the street. Located on the wall of Sackville Gardens opposite Canal Street.

Stuck in the Lock by Ian Douglas

A charming story, taken from ‘Folk Tales from the Canal Side’ by Ian Douglas, canal dweller and master storyteller. Have a listen to this engaging short yarn while you explore the waterway.

Where can I find the trail?

The trail follows the Rochdale Canal through the heart of Manchester. We recommend starting by the Deansgate Railway Viaduct (access to the towpath is via Castle Street) and then working your way along the trail towards Canal Street.

The canal towpath is a short walk from Oxford Road Station, Deansgate Station, Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink and the main bus routes into the city centre.


Please take care on the towpath and be careful near the water.

The trail route is step-free, but some walkway ways are narrow, especially under bridges and through tunnels, and there are slopes on the towpath in some places. There is ramped access onto the towpath near the Deansgate Railway Viaduct and at Lock 87 (Princess Street). The Disco Curtain can be viewed from Canal Street opposite Sackville Gardens.

The best places for level access from the street onto the towpath are Beaver Street (near Lock 87) and Lock 92 (Duke’s Lock).

Let us know what you think

We are really keen to hear what you think about the art trail. If you have visited, we would be grateful if you could complete this short evaluation survey.

Last Edited: 19 March 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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