These are the first four of a series of eight paintings that respond to Victoria Baths, a disused Edwardian swimming pool in Manchester.
Opened in 1906, Manchester’s water palace was designed by architect Henry Price for Manchester City Council and no expense was spared to create one of the most impressive Edwardian swimming pools. At the time the baths served an important purpose in combating the spread of infectious disease in the city’s cramped housing, in which many people died due to poor unsanitary conditions. So people came here to bathe, to swim and experience the Turkish Baths and as they arrived were divided into hierarchies, First Class Males, Second Class Males and Women and children, according to their ability to pay.
It was interesting to be painting this subject and this space at this time, as measures to control the spread of Coronovirus were being implemented, leading to the eventual lockdown. Offering an interesting point of reflection, a parallel in time, considering the original purpose of the building and the importance of water and washing. It also meant I couldn’t visit the baths and instead I worked from the sketches I made in my last residency, as well as from memory; I also had sketchbooks in which members of the public had drawn their impressions of the baths, which offered a removal from the subject and a way into abstraction.
Watch my artist film about this work here.
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