Turner Prize-winning artist, Jeremy Deller, has collaborated with Caruso St John Architects on designs for a permanent memorial in Manchester to commemorate the Peterloo Massacre and those who died there. Commissioned by Manchester City Council, the memorial will be in place for the 200th anniversary of the massacre in August next year.
A watershed moment that marked Manchester as a radical city like no other, Peterloo was a defining moment for democracy in Britain. Two hundred years on, the permanent memorial to those who died at Peterloo will be erected at the junction of Lower Mosley Street and Windmill Street – just a hundred meters from the heart of St Peter’s Field, where the massacre took place.
The monument, designed by Jeremy Deller and Caruso St John Architects, has been designed as a landscaped “hill” made of concentric steps with hopes it will serve as a gathering place and a platform for oratory – carrying on the tradition of democracy in the honour of those injured and lost in the crowds at Peterloo. The arrangement of the monument also commemorates and echoes the march of people from the surrounding towns and villages, gathering to demand recognition of their rights at this spot.
The place names of the surrounding Manchester towns – along with the names of the 18 men, women and children who died – will be engraved onto the steps around the memorial. The design within the top of the memorial marks events similar to Peterloo from around the world, where peaceful protest has been violently broken up by the state.
“It’s important for the memorial to not just be something to admire. It has to have a use for the public. It will articulate the story of Peterloo, but will also be a place of meeting and assembly" says Jeremy Deller.
“The shape reminds you of the form of a burial mound, a place to commemorate the dead. But the stepped form also means that lots of people can stand and sit on it together. In fact, once a year, on each anniversary of Peterloo, the memorial should almost disappear, as it becomes populated by the public. It should be a civic space in the best tradition of Victorian architecture," Jeremy adds.
Set to be created in a range of bright colours and textured stones, alongside the engraving of names, emblems and texts, will make reference to the bold graphics of banners held up by protestors worldwide in the fight for social reform. The design concept will be on view at the Manchester City library and online for the next week, with both Jeremy, Caruso St John architects and the council keen for feedback and conversation around the memorial. A fitting show of the popular respect and democracy that those at the Peterloo Massacre were peacefully protesting for.
To view the design concept plans and comment on them visit www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations