Ryan Gander Returns to His Beloved Manchester with General Motors-Inspired Public Art

The artwork is the centerpiece of a £43 million regeneration project.

Render of Dad’s Halo Effect (2014)
Photo: Courtesy of Manchester City Council

Ryan Gander’s new public sculpture, Dad’s Halo Effect (2014), will be unveiled today at the Beswick Community Hub in East Manchester. Currently protected by hoardings, the large-scale artwork will be handed over to the local residents during a public ceremony this afternoon.

“I don’t usually accept commissions that have judging panels or juries but I chose this one because I love Manchester, I used to live round the corner and passed this spot every day for 4 years,” Gander told artnet News ahead of the unveiling.

Taking as a starting point an idea described to him by his father, Gander’s latest artwork is composed of 3 meter-tall polished stainless steel sculptures shaped like chess pieces. Their design was inspired by the components of the steering mechanism of the Bedford truck, produced by the company General Motors where Gander’s father used to work.

“[My father] always said that if he ever made art, he would use these parts to make a sculpture of sorts,” the artist confided. “Through conversations with him, the work was conceived, leaving much to be lost in translation.”

Despite the pieces being arranged in the checkmate position, there is no winner in Dad’s Halo Effect. Since the sculptures are all made from the same material and color, it is impossible to distinguish sides. In typical Gander fashion, the pieces become cryptic ciphers, seemingly hiding a layer of meaning that simultaneously tantalizes and eludes the viewer.

Gander continued: “In my mind chess and the production of contemporary art go hand in hand—forward planning, strategy, cause and effect and the construction of consequence. Chess is a bit like taking your mind to the gym.”

The sportsmanship spirit of the work is in tune with its location. Dad’s Halo Effect is the centrepiece of the Beswick Community Hub, a £43 million project—led in partnership by Manchester City Council and Manchester City Football Club—to develop new educational and sports facilities for local residents.

Gander’s works sits alongside the newly opened Connell Sixth Form College, which will offer education to 600 students, and the £9 million East Manchester Leisure Centre, which opened last month and includes a swimming pool, gym, grass pitches, and a dance studio.

Although he was born in Chester, Cheshire, Gander has had a longstanding relationship with the city. Not only did he study Interactive Art at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the 90s, but he was also the subject of a major exhibition, entitled “Make every show like it’s your last,” at the Manchester Art Gallery last summer.

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