Serpent-like musical instrument coiled round the remains of a Victorian building
Out of the discussions within the Northern Quarter Association about the purpose of public art in revival and identity of the Northern Quarter, there was a recognition that alongside the smaller forms of public art - ceramic tiles, murals and poetry paving - there was a need for a gateway sculpture to help establish the identity of the district as Manchester's 'creative quarter. David Kemp, a sculptor based in Cornwall, was approached by the Northern Quarter Association with a view of providing a sculpture. He spent some time studying the history, buildings and cultural life of the area before proposing a sculpture which would be located on the corner of Tib Street and Church Street, a site dominated by the remains of an industrial building - a former hat factory. It was also opposite Afflecks Palace, a popular shopping venue. Kemp's landmark sculpture was a massive musical instrument, to which were attached various eye-catching objects; the whole serpentine-like composition being coiled in and around the remains of the factory building. It was by far the largest piece in a series of "Unsound Instruments" that Kemp had worked on over a number of years, representations of musical instruments whose music had to be imagined from their shape. It was commissioned in 1996. Negotiations with National Car Parks, the owners of the site, secured permission for it be installed. Finance for the project came from Arts Council through the National Lottery, the City Council, National Car Parks Ltd and the Northern Quarter Association. The sculpture, which underwent some changes from the original design, was finally completed in 1999. The complex operation of fixing the different sections of the sculpture to the building took ten days. The ceremony in June 1999 to welcome the "The Big Horn" included the performance of a piece of music especially composed for the event. To the question of What is it, Kemp responded: 'It's not really a saxophone, nor a dragon, coiled on the gothic stump of a Victorian hat factory. Perhaps it's a listening device, filtering the left-over sounds from the street corner below, where the past bumps into the future, shooting the lights.' Its form, size, colour and location has made "The Tib Street Horn", within a short space of time, one of the most recognisable of the modern public art works installed in the city.
PMSA recording information