A new artwork commissioned by Manchester’s newest venue Factory International featuring powerful beams of light will celebrate both the new year and new life across Greater Manchester. Known as First Breath, the extraordinary installation at Factory International, curated and designed by world-renowned visual artist Luke Jerram, will shoot up beams of light high above the city skyline and slowly pulse to represent the moment that a baby takes its first gasp of air.
The light display, which uses low current LED lighting, will take place each evening from January 1-29, 2023 between 4pm – 10pm and it’ll sit on the construction grounds of the new Factory International building with beams of light visible from far and wide. But you don’t just have to admire First Breath from afar as audiences will be able to get up close to the artwork, walking in and around the lighting, as well as witnessing it from vantage points across the city.
Commenting on the First Breath installation at Factory International, Luke Jerram, best known for art installations Museum of the Moon and Gaia (or ‘Floating Earth’) which appeared at Salford Quays last year, said: “I want to reveal, celebrate and connect the hidden community of people giving birth each day in Greater Manchester.
“Disconnected and yet going through the life-changing experience at the same time, there are on average over 70 babies born each day in the city. This new artwork is designed to celebrate the moment a child is born – the extraordinary moment when they take their first breath and a new life arrives in the world.”
First Breath takes place at Factory International, located in the new St John’s neighbourhood on the site of the former Granada Studios next to the River Irwell is the largest investment in a national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. Set to open the new arts, music and cultural centre in June 2023 will be Free Your Mind, a large-scale immersive performance based on The Matrix films presented across the building’s ultra-flexible spaces.
Programmed and operated by the team behind the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF), Factory International will be a global destination for arts, music and culture, commissioning and presenting a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world. Hundreds of babies born in January 2023 will also receive lifetime membership to Factory International – providing priority booking, discounted tickets and exclusive invitations to everything from major exhibitions and epic concerts, to family performances and workshops.
John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International and Manchester International Festival said: “At the turn of 2023 we’ll celebrating new beginnings with a beautiful public artwork projected from the site of our future home into the night sky. As we welcome hundreds of new-borns into the world through Luke’s light sculpture, we will also be breathing life into our new building and, we hope, setting in motion a fruitful life-long relationship with a new generation.”
The artwork is free to attend and will run throughout January 2023, from 4-10pm. The artwork will be accessed on Water Street at the bottom of Liverpool Road. Expectant parents due in January 2023 from all backgrounds and pregnancy journeys can sign-up to First Breath here.