There’s an undistinguished, early twentieth century office building on the edge of the Northern Quarter where Oldham Street dog legs across Great Ancoats Street and becomes Oldham Road. It’s not a thing of beauty having none of the presence and attention to detail that the office buildings in the city centre had at that time. It has the words ‘Zen Offices’ stencilled on it in bright green. I can’t think that was its original name, they wouldn’t have been into names like that in those days. I’ve never really noticed it before. If I’m looking at buildings round there your eyes are naturally drawn to the magnificent curved glass walls of the Art Deco Daily Express Building and I’ve noticed some other little tiled Art Deco buildings in the area that need a bit of tlc.
But this building has got my attention because it has become home to two of the Cities of Hope artworks. Looming over Oldham Road is probably, in my opinion, the best of the ones that have been done. It’s a pictures of a man who looks like he’s in despair. The model for the painting actually lives in Manchester. I’m not sure what his story is but I saw a photograph of him looking at it with the artist. He was described as a ‘service user’ which implies he needs some form of help to get by in life. I’m hoping that this painting will give him a massive boost and help him overcome whatever problems bedevil him. I love the hands. Hands are notoriously difficult to draw or paint. The artist has managed to get them just right, get the colour and the texture of the skin right and do it on this massive scale while on a cherry picker suspended above the city. It’s a epic piece of work.
On the other end of this building is this city in a bottle. A painter guy was getting out of his van dressed in paint spattered overalls. I asked if it was his. He laughed. Turned out he was here with his mate to paint one of the offices inside the building. We all have our talents I suppose.