Turner Prize-winning Artist Jeremy Deller Designs Memorial to Peterloo Massacre Victims
Plans for the GBP£1 million monument have been revealed in Manchester
Plans for a vast circular monument, to be built in tribute to the victims of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, have been unveiled in Manchester. The GBP£1 million memorial has been designed by the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Caruso St John architects.
On 16 August 1819, cavalrymen wielding sabres charged a peaceful rally of 60,000 people calling for parliamentary reform. The protesters were gathered in St Peter’s Field, Manchester, listening to pro-democracy speeches. 18 people were killed and more than 650 were injured. The incident became known as the Peterloo Massacre – a darkly ironic nod to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Designed as a ‘hill’ of concentric steps, meant to evoke a burial mound – constructed out of stone from across the UK and former British empire – Deller’s design features the names of the people killed in the massacre, and the towns and villages they came from. An additional set of compass points marked onto the memorial will reference other historic uprisings, including China’s Tiananmen protests. A series of holes in the steps will function as banner holders for future gatherings.
The memorial is scheduled to open next August – on the massacre’s 200th anniversary – near the site of the original incident. ‘It is a monument that’s for the public to inhabit – to be one to hang around on and assemble at,’ Deller told the BBC. ‘It is not something to be looked at and not touched – it is something to be on.’
News of the memorial comes at a time of renewed interest in Peterloo. A film about the massacre, directed by Mike Leigh, starring Maxine Peake and distributed by Amazon Studios, opens in UK cinemas this week. Meanwhile charity Manchester Histories is campaigning for Peterloo to be taught in history classes in all UK schools.