©2015 - Cathy Read - Corporation Street Bridge - Watercolour and Acrylic - 39 x 29 cm

Corporation Street Bridge – Meditation

The Corporation Street painting feels ethereal. The bridge and buildings, either side are solid enough, but a feeling of transience pervades the scene. People, only slightly outlined, walk the streets as mere dark colour blocks. Present in spirit, but ill-defined. Those across the road are even less defined.

Corporation Street Devastation

The street is a fascinating area to me. I spent many an hour as a teenager wandering it’s pavements with school friends but the street is very different to the one I knew. One of the most devastating events in Manchester’s turbulent history happened right here on June 15th 1996. The IRA detonated a 1,500-kilogram lorry bomb. It was the biggest bomb detonated in Great Britain since the Second World War. Miraculously, no lives were lost although many were injured.  One witness is the small red postbox, appearing in many photos of that catastrophic event.

Almost continuously, the news and papers broadcast destruction and disaster. How often do they show regrowth and rebirth?  Not nearly enough in my opinion. We are sometimes cowed by awful events. We fail to take heart in the good done by those coping in the disaster’s aftermath.

Yes, awful things happen. People must grieve. But thankfully good also exists and life goes on. Manchester folk rebuilt their city.

Restoration Scene

Corporation Street Bridge is a scene of restoration. A city recovering from tragedy, building something new and better, so that life goes on. Personally, I feel the new bridge is a vast improvement from its predecessor, although I wish it had never been necessary. It is a fascinating and amazing construction.


Sometimes a painting develops its own character – whether consciously or not. The place’s backstory surreptitiously creeps in. One is reminded subconsciously of its history and it influences decisions in the painting process. The more I look at this painting, the more I connect it with this history.

Why did I paint the ethereal figures? 

I cannot say.  Why pick the photo with the post box? Only as I look at it now do I make the connection with those events and I do not know why I included it. The tree trunk could have obscured it, yet it didn’t.

I love this little red symbol of hope, refusing to be hidden away. Marked with a little brass plaque, a badge of honour. It symbolises communication, everyday life, shared experiences, and seems to shout, “I’m a survivor!”

©2015 - Cathy Read - Corporation Street Bridge - Watercolour and Acrylic - 39 x 29 cm

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