NAME : The Casuals  DATE : 2011  CLIENT : The Lowry  LOCATION : Salford Quays  PARTNERS : PP Plasma, Cooney Civil Engineering Contractors

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This artwork was designed to reveal, conceptually, the twice-daily gathering of dockers, and the separation of those who were rejected for work. The dockers are represented by the simple sculptural form of a union card, which they needed to gain casual employment.

Each of the sculptural cards is personalised through the addition of a glass disc set within a circular hole punched into the steel. While this echoes the stamping of their card, it also allows the glass to be screen-printed with the portrait and name of an actual Salford dock worker. The digitally printed images are held between laminated glass and secured by stainless steel discs.

Self-weathered steel seemed the obvious choice for the sculpture, reflecting the former industrial age. It also provides a stark contrast with the new ‘shiny’ landscape of the Quays. 

“Casuals”  forms part of ‘Unlocking Salford Quay’ - a Heritage Lottery Funded project, organised by the Lowry, and was unveiled along with the other artworks as a sculpture trail in 2011.

I find this sculpture a conceptually and aesthetically beautiful interpretation of the past embedded into the modern fabric of the city. The sculpture tells a story of a marginalised group of the society – the workers daily struggle for a regular income so they could provide for their families.
It was a very moving process and real privilege to work with a wonderful group of ex dock workers and their families, and hear their remarkable stories. I believe the reality of the artwork and its simplicity touched the group, and it’s encouraging now to hear the work being called a memorial to the Salford Docker.
— Stephen Broadbent