Let’s get a comparison out of the way. Art is like an infinite game of chess. An artwork will reorient all the pieces round it, and inevitably change the game.
But chess fans visiting Beswick in East Manchester may be frustrated by the inscrutable configuration of pieces in Ryan Gander’s third major artwork for the public.
It’s a checkmate, apparently. But with no board, no black or white, the three silver sculptures just gaze back at you and the scenes of local regeneration. An aerial view could help.
You might say art in the public realm should always be like this: a baffling win move played by a giant talent (or sometimes a giant ego), and something to bring a shine to its location.
The sawn off verticality of each figurine also draws your attention to the skies above and they seem to channel the elements. A glowering horizon rendered them ominous this week.
But it’s clear that when the sun shines, Dad’s Halo Effect (as the piece is called) will be dazzling. Gander has said he nicked the idea from his father, which is only partly true.
It was Gander Sr, who worked for General Motors, told his son about the aesthetic appeal of the steering mechanism in a Bedford Truck, which the artwork now echoes.
Beswick is a former industrial zone. You could say this piece reaches into the past, grabs some of the mechanical entrails, and repurposes them with a bit of spit and polish, plus a tall tale.
Unlike the pieces in a real chess game you are encouraged to get hands on with this community focal point. There’s a VI Form college nearby, so there could be no touchmove rule.
Though perhaps this post should have begun with the French phrase, J’adoube, as if a chess player was about to warn an opponent that s/he’s about to make contact with a piece.
This makes no pretence to tidy up the board. The work is conceptually neat. But writing about a piece or three of art is usually the only way you can pick it up and handle it, whatever the size.
Dad’s Halo Effect can be seen at Beswick Community Hub, a joint regeneration development between Manchester City Council and Manchester City Football Club. See below for more football art.