Two months ago we hung five oil paintings on the outside of The Pilcrow hoarding in Sadler’s Yard. The paintings are stately portraits of the square’s namesake – James Sadler. Each one is hung on two screws and exposed to the elements.
There is no statement about the paintings and no instruction not to touch them.
We liked the idea of finding out what would happen to them.
How would they fair in the middle of Manchester city centre? Would James grow a beard, or some other unnatural appendage? Would he become the victim of a violent attack?Would he be abducted in the dead of night?
Want to know what has happened? Nothing. They are in box fresh A1 condition.
I think the fact that that the paintings are clearly the product of hours of careful work must have earned the respect of the general public. Even the most industrious vandal will skip past oil paintings on his daily rampage.
If you put work into something people will pay it respect.
The only other thing that is on the hoarding is a small black chalkboard, a little distance from the oil portraits.
If graffiti in pub toilets and on dusty white vans has taught me anything its that we could expect a raft of ‘non-workshop tools’ and declarations both for and against United and City.
Last weekend I walked into the square and this is what was on the chalkboard.
I love it. I love that totally unprovoked, somebody has stood in Sadler’s Yard and created an off the cuff cubist portrait, just like that.
Could it be that the Sadler’s paintings had set a standard of behaviour that the chalkboard artist has followed?
If you make a place interesting will people behave interestingly?
If you would like to see Neil’s many Sadlers, head to Sadler’s Yard.
And the chalkboard drawing? The Manchester weather has removed it but I have plans to use the image in the pack of The Pilcrow playing cards we are currently working on.