Four Corners Transcript

Audio Transcription Four Corners by Noah Rose Duration: 03:30


This is ‘Four Corners’ which stands on what was once a busy working dock. Sculptor Noah Rose tells us how the stories from the docks past inspired him.

Artist (00:11)
Four Corners came about originally through work I was doing with Ordsall Community Arts. In some way capturing the lives of the people who had worked and lived at Salford docks in times when Salford Docks was the third busiest port in Britain. Basically working with Nancy Barrett from Ordsall Community Arts and an Illustrator Ian Cantwell from Liverpool. We spent a lot of time working with a group of former dockworkers from Salford docks, who told us an amazing amount of history really, reminiscences of things that had happened. From everyday things like how the cargos were handled and how the boats were manipulated, tragic tales of industrial accidents, terrible things that had happened and the bad working practices. Through to things like totally improbable urban myths type stories which were very funny but not very believable, through to things like the nicknames. The tradition on the docks, every docker had a nickname. There were some fantastic nicknames. There was a fellow called the ‘lobster’ because he was always seeing to his nippers. There was a guy called ‘ten to ten’ because of the time he always came in the pub every night without fail. My favourite was the ‘face against the window’ who was a fellow who had a very squashed nose as a result of a boxing accident.

Narrator (01:23)
The aim was to convey these stories in a way that didn’t require words.

Artist (01:27)
So myself and Ian did a lot of illustrations. Each drawing was different because it was influenced by the style of the story. This comical story became more cartoon like. If it was a story of an historical accident, we’d try and make it accurate and so on and one or two of these drawings were done by the dockworkers themselves. Some of them had been keen amateur artists. There are 24 drawings in total. I etched them onto stainless steel panels and then I made this large steel sculpture which contains them all. It’s about four and a half metres high. The shape is sort of inspired by marine architecture so it’s loosely based on the ships propeller and elements of the steel work, the rigs of a ship’s hull. It has a weather vane on the top, its kind of bird shaped but it’s actually a stylised map of the quays themselves.

Narrator (02:15)
And what of the title?

Artist (02:16)
Well ‘Four Corners’ came from the dockworkers talking with pride about how they would handle cargo coming from four corners of the world. There were a lot of early immigrants really from countries that wouldn’t otherwise be represented in an inner city part of Britain at that time. It was because of the tradition of maritime trade and so Salford and that particular part of Salford became a bit like Liverpool or somewhere, it became very culturally diverse and very open to new influences and exchange of ideas and so on. So really that’s what the sculpture is about. It’s about celebrating this huge richness of life around Salford Docks. It was felt very strongly by the east dockworkers, who were all fairly old at the time when we worked with them, that they were the last of their generation and that when they went their stories would go with them. The sculpture is a way of trying to keep their stories alive and trying to really celebrate the memories and the lives of all these people who lived and worked in this part of Salford, which is incredibly important for the whole of Britain.

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