First Breath

1 - 29 Jan 2023

A Manchester cityscape at nighttime with bright columns of light visible next to the Factory International building.
1 - 29 Jan 2023
Factory International - main entrance to the First Breath site on Water Street (at the bottom of Liverpool Road), Manchester M3 4JN
Free to attend - no booking is required.

Running time: 30 mins approx.

Accessibility features available for this event: Wheelchair Access

This installation has now closed.

First Breath was a celebration of new life across Greater Manchester. From 1 to 29 January 2023, powerful beams of light shot up high above the city skyline and slowly pulsed to represent the moment that a baby took its first gasp of air.

This extraordinary installation was curated and designed by world-renowned visual artist Luke Jerram, to connect the ground to the sky in a visual representation of new life.

It sat on the construction grounds of the new Factory International building with beams of light visible from far and wide, welcoming our new venue to the city.

Sustainability was considered throughout this project and the lights were specifically selected for their low energy value.
They were 80% more efficient than direct equivalents and were only turned on during installation times to minimise energy consumption.

The artist Luke Jerram sits in his studio with boxes, natural light and plants visible behind him.

In the studio: Luke Jerram

Over 70 babies are born each day in Greater Manchester. Disconnected and yet going through this life-changing experience at the same time, I wanted to reveal, celebrate and connect this hidden community of people giving birth. This new artwork is designed to celebrate the extraordinary moment when a baby takes their First Breath and a new life arrives in the world.

Luke Jerram

Access information

Factory International, Water Street, at the bottom of Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4JN, what3words Please note the only access to the site is via Water Street and Liverpool Road.

Factory International is currently a construction site. The area being used for First Breath has been cleared so that you can experience the installation up close.

You’ll find the main entrance to the First Breath site at Water Street at the bottom of Liverpool Road. The entrance is under a bridge with metal fencing to enter the site. There are signs located on Liverpool Road so look out for the arrows. There’s an accessible entrance with step-free access that will be staffed. There’ll also be someone from the Factory International team at the bottom of Liverpool Road to help you find the entrance.

Click here to view on Google Maps.

There is step-free access across all areas of the site – so you can move freely through the space on foot or using a wheelchair or pram. There’s no lift access on site but none is needed. The light installation is on at nighttime, so there will be no natural light but the site will be lit with underfoot lighting and the installation itself will provide lighting. You’ll be able to move around and inside of the installation – which is made up of three rings of lights. There’ll be wide gaps either side of the lights to allow for access. You can also travel over the footbridge near the Factory International building to see the installation set against the backdrop of the building. The bridge will only be accessible until the halfway point, where a fence will cordon it off. Throughout the site, the underfoot ground will be a combination of concrete slabs and stage decking, all of which is public-friendly. Exit is via the same route as entrance. There are also chairs available on site.

The installation runs from 1 to 29 Jan 2023 with the exception of Mondays 9, 16 and 23 January when the installation is closed. We recommend coming down after 5pm to get the full effect of the lights under the darkness of the sky. Last entrance to the site is 9:30pm, and the lights are turned off at 10pm.

The earliest entrance to the site is 5pm and the last entrance is 9:30pm, the lights are turned off at 10pm.

It's free to attend, and there’s no need to book – you can just drop by. There’s a maximum capacity of 80 people on-site at any one time so if it’s particularly busy, you may be asked to wait a short while. Best to wrap up warm!

We expect it’ll take around 30 minutes to take in the installation and wander through the lights. You can move around the site to see the installation from different viewpoints. There’ll be seats onsite for anyone who wants to rest or view the lights from a seated position.

Please dress appropriately for the cold and any wet weather and wear sensible shoes.

The lights are very bright and will gently pulse. There are no sudden flickers or flashing. There is no sound.

There are toilet facilities on site.

Travel information

You can find the main entrance to the First Breath site on Water Street at the bottom of Liverpool Road, click here to view on google maps or what3words and read further information on travel below. You can also view and follow this video for further directions.

Our closest stations are:

Salford Central station: 0.4 miles / eight-minute walk

Deansgate station and Deansgate-Castlefield tram: 0.6 miles / 12-minute walk

St Peter’s Square tram: 0.6 miles / 12-minute walk

Manchester Victoria station is approximately one mile from Factory International / 20-minute walk

Manchester Piccadilly station is approximately 1.3 miles from Factory International / 26-minute walk

All platforms at the Metrolink and railway stations have step-free access to the platforms. There is lift access from the street to the stations (accessible at the end of Deansgate on the corner with Whitworth St West). There is no tactile paving at Deansgate railway station, and level access to the Manchester platform is across the overbridge from the Metrolink station (this is to your right as you come out of the lift from the street).

Free bus services stop at all city-centre stations, and near to Castlefield Bowl along Deansgate, Bridge St and Quay St. Buses on these free routes are wheelchair accessible. For full details of the free bus routes, please visit the TfGM website.

Please note that Sunday 1 Jan 2023 is a bank holiday and so there may be a limited service.

There is a car park approximately 0.6 miles (12-minute walk) from the event entrance at Water Street Car Park, New Elm Rd, Manchester, M3 4JH.

There are also a small number of Blue Badge spaces along Water St and Quay St. Otherwise head towards Liverpool Road, Great John St and Lower Byrom St – close to our neighbours, the Science and Industry Museum.

For a list of other parking bays available in the area, visit Manchester City Council website.

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