Worse than an actual, working public toilet, the former restrooms in Manchester’s Northern Quarter had been abandoned as horrible concrete eyesores for decades before two artists turned the forgotten bathrooms into the vibrant street art gallery known as Out House.
Manchester’s Stevenson Square was once a bustling shopping block which was serviced by a set of brutalist bathrooms. However when the area lost favor and the businesses and shoppers began disappearing, there was the attendant drop in public waste needs, and the restrooms were closed, leaving behind nothing but garish concrete and brick structures.
Fast forward to 2010 when two local artists, Tasha Whittle and Ben Harrison, were tapped to turn the aging water closets into a lively art space. Thus the blank urban canvases were turned into the Out House project which allows local artists the chance to come and put pieces up on the old toilets. Every three months, a new group of artisans decorates the site with large-scale artworks that are changed every three months. In 2013 the gallery even extended to include a nearby substation at the intersection of Thomas Street and Tib Street. Coincidentally, the substation is also the location of Manchester’s only work by street artist Banksy, a hybrid poodle with a bulldog’s head painted around 2001. The work was protected by perspex but by 2014 it was barely visible below stickers, scratches, and condensation.
Local business donate art supplies, and food and drink to the artists while they work, successfully turning a depressing piece of urban blight with a literally crappy history into a community centerpiece.
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