First Breath

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Factory International commissions, produces and presents a year-round programme of original creative work and special events at Aviva Studios, its landmark new home in Manchester, online, and internationally through its network of co-commissioners and partners. It also stages the city-wide Manchester International Festival (MIF) every other year and we regularly provide staging and seating for indoor and outdoor performances across a huge range of different venues.

Factory International’s Technical Manager John Gilleese contacted us in late October to ask if we could provide bespoke curved stages to house lighting equipment for “First Breath”, a lighting installation by world-renowned visual artist Luke Jerram. The installation would be the first project to use the outdoor spaces of Factory International’s new home and was to take place amid a building site.

“We were looking for a custom design at quite short notice that would fit within our budget. Mike and his team were a great help, working with us from design right through to delivery.”

John Gilleese, Technical Manager, Factory International

At Steeldeck, we stock a huge range of different platforms, but we didn’t have anything that would exactly replicate the doughnut semi-circles with curved guardrail that Luke had designed. The platforms had to be built to very specific dimensions and heights to ensure that the public could easily move around the installation, and to hide the lighting fixtures so that only the beams of light would be visible.

Working closely with the Factory International team, we designed a solution using small Steeldeck platforms as the stage base, with bespoke cladding, guardrails and drapes. Our friends at EC Creative in Oldham made CNC-cut curved plywood top cladding and rolled steel scaffold tube to exact dimensions to fit the structures. The structures were then finished off with custom-made, black wool serge drapes made by Whaleys of Bradford.

This is exactly the kind of project that we enjoy designing solutions that use our hire stock as the base structure, with bespoke and seamless finishes.