Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Adrift in Manchester

Adrift by John Cassidy is a bronze sculpture of a family clinging to a raft in a stormy sea. The central figure is a half-naked man, holding a sheet aloft in his raised right hand, calling for help. Arranged around him are the figures of his wife and three children. His wife is shown leaning over and kissing their infant son. To the left, is the daughter, her raised arm held in her father's left hand. At the rear is the prone figure of a youth, the elder son, holding his breast. Parts of the raft are visible in the waves which make up the base.

"Adrift" was Manchester's first modern figurative outdoor sculpture. It was the work of the Irish-born sculptor, John Cassidy, who developed a successful studio in Manchester. The work was modelled at Cassidy's studio in Plymouth Grove, Manchester and completed in 1907. It was displayed at the New Gallery, London and purchased by James Gresham who decided to present it as a gift to the City Council with the intention that it would be displayed in the new municipal art gallery that was to be built on the site of the demolished Royal Infirmary in Piccadilly. The plan to build a new gallery was not realised. However, it was eventually moved to Piccadilly to become the centrepiece of the new sunken gardens. The sculpture, surmounting a low rectangular stone base, remained in the centre of the gardens until around 1953 when the construction of the Coronation fountain led to its removal to the southern side of the gardens.

When Piccadilly Gardens was "redesigned" in 2002, the statue was put into storage. In 2009 it re-appeared in St Peter's Square between Library Walk and the tram stop. Two years later it was put into storage during the refurbishment of St Peter's Square. In 2014 it reappeared and is now on the corner of Mount Street and Peter Street outside the refurbished Manchester Central Library and opposite the Midland Hotel.

More information can be found on the John Cassidy website which has photos of it in Piccadilly Gardens with additional information about its latest move on their news page. Other photos by myself, Thomas Nugent and David Dixon can be found on the Geograph website.

A contribution to
Our World Tuesday;
Outdoor Wednesday;
ABC Wednesday.


  1. What a moving sculpture. I thought it was aptly named.


  2. Wonderful photography of a very 'contemplative' sculpture ~ beautiful!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  3. Great job on the photos of this very intriguing sculpture! Incredible artistry.

  4. Aptly named indeed. Always interesting to know the story behind these sculptures. :3

  5. It's a beautiful, dramatic sculpture. Thank you so much for sharing it. I wonder how many people passing by stop and look at the skill and beauty.

  6. Very beautiful sculptures !
    ABC Wednesday

  7. What an amazing statement the sculpture makes. I'm impressed that the city allows it to be outside rather than than indoors.

  8. I must take another trip to Manchester. It seems I have missed a lot.