Alan Boyson and the gradual destruction of modernism


Alan Boyson was responsible for building the most well known of the Skelmersdale monuments, the Pyramid.  It was demolished many years’ ago, as other works by this significant modernist sculptor.  But, some still survive in the Manchester area, and one day in March 2011 I decided to visit them all.  There are about eight works, and I described a few here.

The first image is that of the concrete screen around multi-storey car park. Boyson, along with many of his contemporaries in art and architecture, used concrete. It was cheap, could be assembled by relatively unskilled labour, and it soon became associated with a new age, new materials and a post-war vision that rejected the constructs of the past. These days we tend to think that concrete is a dull, functional material associated with cheap, mass produced building design, but then in the 1960s it offered an exciting, new method of working.

Alan Boyson’s work suffered from being associated with a later rejection of all things concrete, and much of it was demolished.  But, at last, it is being recognised as important. Most famously, the Tree of Life in Salford, Manchester, decorating the former Salford Girls school, was saved, at the last minute from the bulldozers.  The massive wall decorated with ceramic tiles, now sits on its own in an empty  demolition site, whilst the local council decide what to do.




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