Printworks Big Art Unveiled!

Printworks big art is our larger than life art installation in partnership with Wild in Art.

Printworks Big Art is our larger than life art installation in partnership with Wild in Art, (the great minds behind Bee in the City), and was commissioned alongside our creative work to launch Europe’s Largest Digital Ceiling. We have now unveiled our winning design in situ, after receiving applications from so many amazing, talented artists and designers within our creative community!

The Artist

The design is the work of winner Alex Sylt, a 32 year old screen printer based in Hope Mill, originally from Northwich. His concept was voted for by the people of Manchester and a panel of judges in 2023 and was revealed to the public by Norman Cook last year. Alex has been screen printing for over 10 years and this method of creating art has influenced his design for Printworks.

“This piece has taken almost a year to create from start to finish, no surprise considering the scale! Of course, I always knew it would be huge but when you see it for the first time it’s such a joy. I hope that people will enjoy trying to spot the different references and will see something different each time.”

The Design


The striking, intricate design is bold and bright featuring well known landmarks of Manchester including Manchester City and Manchester United football clubs, The Town Hall, Gotham Hotel, Ancoats Marina, John Ryland Library, and of course Printworks itself as well as many, many more. It is a celebration of Manchester past and present with the suffragette movementLGBTQ+ community, as well as iconic sport and music elements all taking a starring role.

From initial concept to final image, the design has evolved throughout the project. The image now blooms from three diagonal lines at the base of the piece, as the lines are an important motif in the crest of Manchester. The work of Malcolm Garrett MBE and the iconic album covers he created for Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Peter Gabriel and Buzzcocks magazine have been referenced as have the diagonal lines that are synonymous with the Hacienda. The central column of flowers acts as a statue held up by the hands of the people of Manchester, representing the diversity of the city. The story of the city is told through the languages of flowers and colours. This includes sunflowers for Alan Turing’s early research, purple coloured flowers represent the Suffragette movement and the LGBTQ+ community are also represented. The floral imagery is set against strong lines of printing presses, as a nod to the history of Printworks, and the many buildings of the city. Other nods to well known Manchester music icons and album covers can also be spotted within the piece.

The Installation

Printworks Big Art final image is now fully installed on the Nuffield Tower in the pump yard for all to admire. This incredible piece of public art is a whopping 210 metre square, the biggest our city has seen! The artwork is the first completed element of the overall, ongoing Printworks refurbishment which will be unveiled this spring. The more you view this stunning piece, the more details you’ll discover – it’s definitely worth a visit!

To fully explore the references within the piece in more detail, a series of five videos presented by Jahmal Williams Thomas, who is on the board of trustees for Manchester Histories, as well as being a TV presenter for Granada, will be available to view in Printworks when the refurbishment is complete later this spring.


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