Exploring Macclesfield’s contemporary identity through the lens of history

FAULT LINES artist Matthew Rosier brought Macclesfield’s historic 108 Steps to life with a playful, projection-mapped installation.

Located behind St Michael’s Church, the Steps are a winding stairway between Macclesfield station and the town centre. Early in 2018, Matt visited Macclesfield to capture the daily life of the town’s iconic steps. Filmed footage of local runners, commuters, dog walkers – and everyone in between – was composed into a loop of memories, which was then projected onto the face of the steps (and people using them). The work created a wistful and atmospheric interplay between past and present, bringing to life the Steps’ historic connection to people and place.

Here’s what Matt had to say about the piece: “I wanted to create a work that offered a glimpse into the contemporary identity of Macclesfield residents through the lens of a historic piece of infrastructure, the 108 Steps. The creation of the work relied on meeting people locally, both through the process of filming the steps and the research trips beforehand. It’s exciting that many of these people will now feature in the performance of the work!”

108 Steps provided a re-visioning of a well known location and a chance to reflect and witness the ghostly traces of people passing through. Matt’s work offereda quiet intervention into the public realm revealing the everyday comings and goings on the iconic 108 steps. The siting of the work purposefully juxtaposed the digital composition against the historical setting of Macclesfield’s old town, reconnecting the steps to a contemporary audience.

Believed to date from 1696 when the local newspaper nicknamed the cobbled climb ‘The Steps’, no one knows exactly when they were created. People have travelled remarkable distances to walk up these steps, passing old brick houses full of character. The Steps remained open throughout the projection events, allowing members of the public to climb the steps and interact with the projected figures.

The installation ran over three evenings in October 2018.

108 Steps is an artwork by the artist Matthew Rosier, commissioned by SHIFT, Cheshire East Council with support from Barnaby Festival, Macclesfield Town Council and Arts Council England, and produced by FutureEverything.

With thanks to Macclesfield Museum, Virgin Trains and the Nags Head Pub.