Emma Rodgers sculpture salford firsts

Renowned sculptor Emma Rodgers is working on a horse and lamppost sculpture for Bexley Square off Chapel Street to celebrate Salford’s pioneering history.

The sculpture Salford Firsts was granted planning permission for it to celebrate Salford’s world ‘firsts’, offering the public an opportunity to discover, explore and reflect on the city’s fascinating and inspiring history.

Sculptor Emma Rodgers said: “When making the sculpture, I researched into the area of Bexley Square and found it had such a rich history.

“After extending my research, I discovered key parts of history that had been based just roads away from the square.

“The design was developed and refined focusing on some of the firsts in Salford and people who have helped shape its rich history.”

Representations of Salford firsts within the sculpture:

The body of a horse is used to represent Salford having the first horse-drawn bus service and also to recognise the use of horses in Salford’s mining and canal history.

The veins of the horse’s thigh represent the Bridgewater Canal, which is the first cut canal in the world to have the first steam boat sailing along it.

The horse’s veins based on the Bridgewater canal.
Image copyright: Emma Rodgers

The horse will be tethered to a lamppost sculpture to represent Chapel Street as the first street in England to be lit by gas in 1806, which allowed deliveries to and from the factories to continue after dark.

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The lamppost will have details of willow trees as the name of Salford came from Sealhford meaning ‘ford by the willow trees’.

A voting slip will also appear to be pinned to it as Emmeline Pankhurst lived close by.

About the sculptor:

Emma Rodgers is a world-renowned sculptor, her work has been exhibited in galleries across the globe,  including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Stricoff Fine Art Gallery in New York, Art Paris at the Grande Palais and the Alice Mogabab Gallery in Beirut.

She has received a lot help from locals. Rodgers said: “Councilor Stephen Coen has been incredibly supportive throughout the whole project, introducing me to artists and musicians from this area and discussing how they could be included.

“And some famous faces have contributed too, from Graham Nash who was a regular at Salford boys club through to Tony Wilson and Peter Hook, to name just a few. A couple of years ago actor Albert Finney sent a quote from one of his films to be added.”

Rodgers was originally meant to be working in Salford’s artistic hub, Islington Mill, but due to Covid-19 she is having to work from home.

Emma Rodgers with the base of her sculpture. Copyright Emma Rodgers

“Luckily the maquette, a  small scale version of the sculpture, helped me work out composition and proportions and allowed me to analyse where and how details would be incorporated to tell some of Salford’s story,” she said.

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“A scaling up steel armature was then delivered to my studio, which is at my home, before lockdown along with one tonne of clay.

“I have cladded the armature and then started to build bone and muscle structure onto the horse.”

There are still many more details to be added to the sculpture, and there are many more Salford firsts to be added.

Keep a look out here on Salford Now and on her Twitter for updates through to its completion and eventual installation.

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