Be a part of 53two...

Sponsor your own bespoke piece of artwork to be set in the bar floor of 53two - unique, personalised and there forever.

Independent theatre 53Two, is collaborating with designer and maker Liam Hopkins of Lazarian Studio, to create an extraordinary installation at its new venue in the historic

arches beneath Manchester Central. The project, which has been commissioned to celebrate the rich industrial history of the building, offers the chance for theatre lovers to be part of the installation, and the venue itself, having their own piece of art embedded permanently into the heart of the theatre bar.


Liam will be creating 140 individual sculptures to represent the heritage of the building which was once the beating heart of Manchester’s cotton trade. Seventy narrowboat and seventy ‘flying shuttle’ sculptures will be created by hand and each can be sponsored by anyone who wants to have their name set in history and support 53Two’s ethos of providing groundbreaking grassroots theatre. Sponsors will have either their name or favourite theatre quote engraved into the sculpture before it is

An example of a steel plate with an inscription in.

cast into the floor of the building forevermore. It is a unique chance for lovers of the arts to ‘commission’ their very own part of history, leaving a personal, lasting legacy in an incredible and important new theatre space in the city. 

The full length of the bar. Lights on the ceiling, coloured doors make the front of the bar.

These beautiful, individual boats and shuttles will be set throughout the floor of the theatre’s bar area, following the unseen lines that resemble the network of movement travelled by those working in the cotton trade on the canals over 100 years ago. Whilst the boats will be made from steel, used originally to build narrowboats, the shuttles will be made of resin and set within each will be cotton fibres from Carrhill Mill, a Greater Manchester Cotton Mill closed in 2000 intertwined with cotton from English Fine Cottons, the only commercial cotton spinner in the UK, based in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester and fibres spun on the 18th Century Spinning Mule at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester.

Liam Hopkins commented: “When I visited the space I was intrigued with its past and its future. What brought them both together for me were the lines. Lines created by industry - the lines of the canal which brought down the goods for the city. The future of the space being brought to life through actors reading their

lines, the journeys people have taken and the ones going to be made through the space. This was the starting point for the artwork in the floor”

There are just 140 pieces available; 70 resin and 70 steel and these can be purchased for just £175 with the option of donating more. Any further donations will go directly to 53two Charity (1179418) and support the building of the new venue. To be a part of history and our new building, you can reserve a unique, bespoke plate on the link below. 

Cotton, balled up.

Whilst the boats will be made from steel, as used originally to build narrowboats, the shuttles will be made of resin and set within each will be a mix of cotton fibres from Carrhill Mill, the last Cotton Mill to close in Manchester, and Tower Mill in Duckenfield – the UK’s only cotton-spinning company, opened some 30 years since the last mills closed. Each unique resin sculpture will house its own piece of intertwined, industrial history and be set beneath the iconic arches as part of this new evolution for the space.

Simon Naylor, Creative Director at 53Two said:

"Liam’s vision is stunning. When I was sent the idea, my jaw hit the floor. It will interweave perfectly the history and industry that formed the city over a century ago, with a prized aspect of the city’s identity today – the arts. We’re restoring a space for people to engage in enterprise of a creative rather than industrial nature and the worker bee spirit of Manchester will be just as strong. It also provides a chance for supporters of independent arts to be a part of the theatre and to help us deliver this extraordinary project” 

Simon Naylor, Artistic Director, 53two

The 53two team will be preserving the history of the arches throughout the whole restoration process. The original flag work edged by metal runners to guide the horses and carts transporting goods will remain, and the original granite cobbles from the road will be recovered and used to restore some of the century old flagstones in the 21st Century theatre and bar.

53two theatre bar is set to open in the Spring or as soon as restrictions allow, and will be phase 1 of Manchester’s only independent, city centre, fully wheelchair accessible theatre set for completion later in the year. As a theatre hub, support network and bar they will be delivering independent theatre productions, offering support for creatives in all disciplines through workshops, placements, opportunity and more, as well as supporting countless charities across the UK with mentoring, venue, equipment, tech support and other resources.  And, of course, welcoming anyone who fancies a pint in the bar.

Cotton, balled up.