Printing The Manhole Cover 14/09/17


Printing The Manhole Cover 14/09/17

By Mandie Buchanan

The newly formed Liverpool Arts Lab was in need of a first project. After getting a little inspiration from a video circulating on social media, myself, Simon and Larry decided we were going to attempt a screen print of the famous Mathew Street manhole cover (or grid if you’re a local).

For those who do not know, there is an interesting manhole cover outside Flannigan’s Apple on Mathew Street. The location is connected to Karl Jung and his “Liverpool is the Pool of Life” dream. Also, Bill Drummond claims that the manhole cover is the fulcrum of an interstellar ley line and once spent 17 hours standing on top of it but that’s another story.

Simon, Larry and I decided we needed to just go for it, turn up and experiment. The whole attempt could be a disaster but if we didn’t try we would never know. So a bright Thursday morning saw the three of us arrive armed with art supplies and lots of kitchen roll. It had been raining, so the cover needed a dry and, we discovered was covered in chewing gum. We attracted some very odd looks from passers-by as we chipped away at the chewing gum.

Once all was clean and dry, we began to cover the surface in black paint. We then laid a large piece of paper over the top and went over it with a roller to make sure we got the pattern. Then came the moment of truth, peeling back the paper. The results were better than we ever could have hoped. We revealed a pretty perfect reverse image of the manhole cover – success!

The day was quite windy and we quickly realised we had nowhere to dry our creations. Not to worry, Flannigan’s Apple kindly stepped in and allowed us to leave our works of art on one of their tables to dry.

The next hour was spent creating more and more prints. Once we got bored of the black we began experimenting with different colours to create a psychedelic effect. The multi-colour versions were even better and all in all we created 17 prints. The interest from everyone was amazing. Everyone wanted to know what we were doing and why. A particular highlight was explaining the manhole cover’s back story to a group of puzzled Dutch tourists and one very concerned gentleman was even worried we would be arrested.

After a while, we wanted to go bigger and better. This led to Larry going off on a mission to purchase some t-shirts. On his return we used the colourful paints to print the manhole cover design onto the t-shirts and this worked fabulously as well. I am now the proud owner of a manhole cover print t-shirt. Does anybody else want to buy one?


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