'Sightlines': A day in the life of Manchester


Soon to be launching at our Neo building in Manchester is ‘Sightlines’, an art commission by Andrew Brooks. This new film charts a day in the life of Manchester from the viewpoint of the city.

We spoke to Andrew about the inspiration behind the film and the work he has done throughout the city of Manchester.

Bruntwood first exhibited Andrew’s work at a pop-up solo show at Neo in 2016 and commissioned this major new work by him as part of the ongoing programme of digital art and film commissions for the Digital Art Space at Neo. “I was really keen to create a piece of work that fitted the screen at Neo, since there’s a lift area in the middle, it’s such an unusual shaped screen,” says Andrew. “Instead of that being a problem, I wanted to make it a feature and build the film around that.”

Sightlines captures the energy and pace of Manchester from Bruntwood’s Neo building. “I came up with the idea of what the building can see of the city,” says Andrew. “It’s sitting here every day with all these views, right from busy streets with people and buses rushing past; further away towards Mancunian Way and Piccadilly Gardens; all the way to the airport, the windfarm at Rochdale, and the Penines.” From faces to landscapes, this commission takes you through all that Manchester and the wider area has to offer.

While most of the filming took place on the roof at Neo, footage was also taken from the mezzanine level and inside the building. “It’s amazing what you can see from rooftops but then you might not be able to see certain buildings, like the town hall,” says Andrew. “You might go to a lower ground building and get a better view.” It’s through these different angles that Andrew is able to explore the sharp angles of the city and its buildings. “You could film down a road in the Northern Quarter and reveal a whole new area,” he says.

Sightlines explores the city through a day, even though the footage was filmed over four days, showing the city waking, evolving and changing. “Since it’s four days of footage joined together, we were able to show different weather patterns,” Andrew says. “The weather arrives, it’s misty, and then it brightens into a sunny day.”

These varying weather patterns enable the viewer to see the city in different lights. “When you’re up on the roof, the weather is all around you - it’s like you’re in the hills,” he explains. “In the city, you’ve usually got buildings blocking out the view.”

Andrew’s work has allowed him to see Manchester from all different angles; from underground bunkers, to rooftops. “There was a stage when I’d been in Manchester for five years and thought I’d photographed everything,” says Andrew. “But I realised if you really want to get to know your city, you’ve got to put in a lot of effort and energy.” Andrew spent his time in Manchester speaking to the locals, wandering down strange, unvisited roads and finding out about the history of buildings. “There’s a nice network of people who really care about the city, its stories and its myths.”

For over twenty years, Andrew has documented Manchester as the city changes and grows, also winning the Greater Manchester Arts Prize in 2016. He has also exhibited widely across the UK and overseas.

Catch Andrew Brooks’ Sightlines film at Neo 8th March - 31st May. The building will be open to view the artwork Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, with a special screening on Saturday the 10th of March from 10am till 5pm with a short talk by Andrew Brooks at 2pm.


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