A big act of co-operation that aimed to bring the people of Manchester together took over the city last week.
On Wednesday, 8,000 clay figures were placed around the city in the Human Resources project by artist Lawrence Epps, which was sponsored by the Co-operative Group and part of the FutureEverything arts festival.
People were encouraged to pick up the men on 16 May and were used as an aid to connect people across the city — the artwork was so successful that it trended on Twitter for seven hours under the #LittleClayMen hashtag.
Mark Robinson-Field, National Co-operative & Membership Manager for the Co-operative Group, said they were a great representation of the values behind co-operation. At a session on co-operatives during FutureEverything he said: "It was an opportunity to get people to look at their city in a different way and the people they were sharing space with. Ultimately for me. These little clay people are things you could ignore and step over, but took over a city for seven hours.”
The little clay men ended up all across Manchester and people have been uploading their pictures over the internet.
Artist Lawrence Epps explained: “We try to put them in obvious places and not so obvious places. We are really interested in people engaging with them during their daily lives on their way to work. They can often be a little bit thrown by it. It’s quite an interesting thing to watch and witness.”
Lawrence, a former lawyer for a film distribution company, said he left his former life behind when he began to feel like he was being encouraged to substitute his own values for the corporation.
When asked what the outcome of the project had been, he replied: “I’m not sure yet, it’s been incredibly rewarding to see the response and hear people’s response and see what they do. The outcome so far is it works, there’s a place for real 3d objects and interesting artworks in the public space.”