Manchester Evening News
Brick does the Trick
Friday, may 9, 1997
Artbeat by Rachel Pugh
How about a womb for a view as tracey designs a new age of Aquarius?
There's something curiously gratifying for artist Tracey Sanders-Wood in seeing her womb-inspired sculpture for the soon-to-open Aquarius Centre in Hulme portrayed in the ultimate hard material - brick. "It really means a lot to me," says the mother of two who lives in Moss Side. "I like the fact that it's such a soft subject put into such a hard substance."
The £50,000 project to build a 19 metre sculpture - consisting of a design in glazed brick built into the end wall of a youth club and flowing out into a pattern of coloured concrete on the floor next to it - is a real community event. Tracey whose children went to nearby Martenscroft Nursery school, designed the work based on three superimposed views of the womb to symbolise the vessel of Aquarius but also the focus for the life-blood of Hulme's local life. But her designs which some think are like Triffids or flowers, have come about through workshops with people in the area. She has also taken casts of local people's hands and feet, which will be built into the sculpture as it is assembled. Work starts tomorrow. Perhaps the most impressive co-operative aspect to the whole project is the way that local people have taken to cutting the specially designed bricks. tracey says: "They have been absolutely brilliant. In effect they have made the front of their own community centre - you cannot get much more hands-on than that!" For Tracey herself there is personal joy in the work. She is the daughter of a stone mason. Brought up in Gilfach in the Rhymney Valley in south wales, she has fond memories of going out on jobs with her father as a small child and featured images of bricks in her first paintings. She's also built wallls for herself and friends. She says: "Bricks come naturally to me!"
These particular bricks are a special joy. They are handmade by Ibstock's in Leicestershire, who have sponsored the Aquarius art work. the last artisst Ibstock's sponsored was Anthony Gormley, the Turner prize winner. It is also the eighth art work she has created in the Hulme area in the past few years. the other seven - all mosaics - are at Martenscroft nursery school (three depicting Hulme past, present and future), two at Sanctuary Close about the issues around asylum seeker Viraj mendez and one each at North Hulme Community Play Building and St Philip's C of E primary school. According to Tracey, who has made a speciality study of the artistic imagery, eight is a magical number symbolic of regeneration. Her art works are also dotted around the Hulme area in the shape of a figure eight. the language of symbolism has formed the basis of her thesis for a masters degree in art which she has just completed for Manchester Metropolitan University. the Aquarius Centre has been at the centre of Hulme life for the last 26 years. the new building is almost complete, except for the sculpture, which will be completed by a sspecialist bricklayer and Tracey herself.
Tracey has a finger in a number of artistic pies around Manchester. Much of her work is related to health, in particular a sex education scheme called Kiss project. She has also been working with the Miles Platting/Ancoats Youth Project an anti-drug posters with a striking impact and heavy with imagery. She sees the sculpture at the Aquarius centre as something to which everyone can relate. She said: "I know there is a universal language of symbolism that you have wherever you come from."
PHOTOGRAPH: DESIGNS ON A BETTER FUTURE: Artist Tracey sanders-Wood (right) discusses her new sculpture with helper Michelle Marsland.