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Wythenshawe Forever!

Wythenshawe Forever! was an artist-led environmental project located on a Manchester housing estate characterised by social exclusion, deprivation and huge levels of resilience.

In collaboration with community radio station (Wythenshawe FM) and the MERCI environmental centre, the project interrogated attitudes toward climate change through a combination of artist led activity and the development of community agency and social capital.

UHC worked with local residents to develop and deliver a series of artist-led projects centering around the ‘power station’; a thirty foot installation housing workshops and activity. The project culminated in the ‘Party Without Pollution’ in July, 2007. This unique community festival was powered by the energy saved and generated throughout the project, making Wythenshawe the UK’s first town to have its own totally carbon neutral free festival.

More than 800 visitors attended the event, which featured the world’s only bicycle powered photocopier, a solar powered cinema, a chip fat fuelled sound system and a free organic restaurant. The restaurant was stocked by the project allotment, cared for by children from St. Paul’s High School. UHC has continued to run the allotment as the ‘Food Factory’ project and it has provided opportunities for local people to examine health and food sustainability in their communities.

Wythenshawe Forever! created a unique local funding model; due to its proximity to the airport, projects situated in Wythenshawe are habitually funded and branded by a handful of local businesses. However, this project provided the opportunity for local people to create, drive and power their own events.

Commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


 
 
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SketchUp Handcart

UHC worked with Google’s SketchUp programme to design and render a new agricultural vehicle for use in urban gardening environments and guerrilla gardening projects on Google Earth.

The design was based on descriptions and images of contemporary communal farming equipment, specifically on a cart used by Californian Schools’ city farm projects.

The piece had an eye on the Middle Ages and a Britain pre-enclosure, our agrarian past and collective farming. It was partly inspired by an interest in the enclosures, Levellers and in particular the ‘True Leveller’, Gerrard Winstanley. Predominantly it was an experiment in tactically infiltrating the 3D Warehouse / Google Earth project for gentle radical environmental activism; ensuring the virtual representation of our world contains subversive toys which promote sustainability, radical agriculture and guerrilla gardening.


 
 
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The Tiny Travelling Treasury

A mysterious set of instructions, dispensed by a lucky Chinese cat, awakens the participants’ urge to navigate through the city streets, make discoveries, collect treasures and contribute their gathered fortunes to the museum, in this site specific installation created in 2007.

The Tiny Travelling Treasury was a unique interactive object which stood at over eight feet tall and was handmade from 100% recycled materials. It was specially commissioned for the 2007 ‘Play’ exhibition.

During its installation at Urbis, the Treasury grew and evolved in response to the people who interacted with it and the objects they added, creating a living document of the city. It quickly became the most popular exhibit in the show, used by 1000′s of intrigued visitors.

The Treasury began life as a brief for a print based exhibition guide. UHC designers and artists collaborated with Urbis to develop and deliver a wider, more effective and captivating brief. And we saved a lot of paper.

Commissioned by Urbis


 
 
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A Public of Sorts

In February 2007, UHC embarked on a 12-month research project into the audience for contemporary radical art in Manchester.

The project engaged with existing art audiences in Manchester, as well as encouraging dialogue between UHC and non-art-going audiences. The research also included several provocative art interventions in public spaces.

A Public of Sorts resulted in the publication of a hand-made, limited edition report, written and designed by UHC and produced by artist Lucy May Schofield. The 57-page report draws together findings based on interviews, public surveys, consultation sessions and a series of seminars with artists, art professionals and community activists.

A Public of Sorts explores questions relating to art, the city and the concepts of public. The terms and nature of contested public space in cities continues to inform UHC’s practice.

Funded by Arts Council England


 
 
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Incursions in the Knowledge Capital

A derelict city centre church became the venue for this installation exploring Manchester, its economic landscape and the public and private partnerships in Manchester City Council’s Knowledge Capital project.

Castlefield Chapel, designed by the same architect as Manchester’s famous Free Trade Hall, was temporarily revived by UHC as a gallery space. UHC designed specially created underfloor vitrines which were hand crafted in wood.

The exhibition was staged as part of Architecture Week 2006 and also included a guided bus tour around key Knowledge Capital and regeneration landmarks. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication and website.

Supported by Castlefield Gallery and Arts Council England