In 2016, I was approached by Manchester Arndale to create a unique, one-off artwork, but for a while couldn’t figure out what that should be. Our initial ideas stemmed from a student map of the city for freshers week to another that celebrated Manchester’s musical legacy.
This map included all the usual Manchester landmarks and a few surprises – the Manchester velodrome, the Aquatics centre – but as a nod to the athlete’s homegrown roots I decided to add the name and professions of all the medallists in the areas that they are from. But as the Arndale is ordinarily a hustle and bustle of shoppers and fast-paced diners the work had to be completed across several night shifts, a tiring experience but probably the most rewarding I’ve experienced in my working life.
The icing on the cake came when I was able to unveil it with Paralympic and Olympic medallists. It was probably the closest I’ll ever get to winning a medal myself and, in a very small way, made me feel a part of Great Britain’s record breaking success in the 2016 Rio Olympics.