A mobile arts centre on wheels is touring Greater Manchester this summer

Led by local people, Cap & Dove will bring art, design and storytelling to the heart of local communities across Greater Manchester
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This summer, Cap & Dove, an ‘arts centre on wheels’ will hit the streets of Greater Manchester, taking art, design and storytelling to the heart of local communities.

The mobile arts centre is the work of artist Joshua Sofaer, who was commissioned to create the innovative, moving venue to mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo.

Featuring a door handle that’s a nose, cast from the face of a radical author, a rainbow doorway that’s also a gutter to disperse Manchester showers, and an onboard theatre, it will tour all ten districts of the region.

Cap & Dove is led by local people and organisations in each of Greater Manchester’s districts, with exhibitions, performances and activities hopping aboard and taking place at each location.

The mobile arts centre has been lovingly designed to incorporate physical references to the region’s industrial past and social history and highlights themes of freedom of speech, democracy and protest.

The one-of-a-kind structure even incorporates a shop and will provide moments of excitement, learning and reflection to visitors throughout the summer. 

Celebrating Greater Manchester’s rich and radical history

© Simon Webb

Cap and Dove is based on the platform of an election cart, used widely on campaign trails in the early 19th century.

Everything from the paintwork, based on Regency-period textile samples and the river system that powered the region’s industrial boom, to bespoke wallpaper celebrating the first NHS patient, refers to Greater Manchester’s rich and radical history.

The striking, solid brass nose door handle is cast from the Middleton Cemetery memorial to the author, Samuel Bamford who, being an advocate of public defiance, led Rochdale’s people to protest at Peterloo.

A decorative, tiled floor, using natural dyes including red cabbage and onion skins, is inspired by techniques of traditional Salford tile-makers of the Victorian era.  

Cap & Dove refers to both the ‘cap of liberty’ and the ‘dove of peace’, two symbols of protest. 

Joshua also chose the title with reference to the hat industry of Stockport as well as the ‘cap’ finials that topped the banner poles carried by Peterloo protesters as they gathered on 16th August 1819.

The protest ended in the deaths of 18 people as cavalry charged the peaceful gathering calling for improved voting rights.

Twelve artists and creators have and will be involved in bringing events in and around Cap & Dove to life, including artists commissioned by local organisers, but also the talented Manchester-based designer, Tim Denton, who realised the artist’s vision by hand-building the diminutive arts centre from wood.

©Tim Denton

Interior design features also include custom-printed curtains, produced design by student, Zaynah Arif, chosen from 25 ideas submitted by students from the Textiles & Surface Design degree course at the University of Bolton. 

“It’s fantastic to see Cap & Dove on the streets of Greater Manchester,” said Joshua.

“It’s been a truly collaborative process with artists, designers, programmers, historians, archivists and performers from across the region.

“I have really enjoyed spending time with people in each of the districts.

“We’ve all had a tough time of it over the last 18 months and I hope that Cap & Dove can bring some joy and curiosity wherever it travels.”

Dates and locations

The list of current tour dates, with more to be added are as follows:

Wigan – Sat 7th August

Rochdale- Sat 14th August

Trafford – Sat 21st August 

Bury – Sat 4th September

Bolton – Sun 5th September

Oldham – Sat 11th September

Stockport – Sun 19th September

Tameside – Sat 25th September

Manchester – Sat 2nd October

A further date in Salford is yet to be announced.

For up-to-date local listings and locations click here to find out more.

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