The Peeps. Ancoats: the presence of absence

This book documents the artist-in residency of Dan Dubowitz within the former industrial suburb of Ancoats, Manchester – the birthplace of the industrial revolution.

A miscellany of contemporary installation and archive imagery, a treasury of fact and invention, The Peeps publication has been 2 years in the making – a process of collaboration, research and refinement.

Available through Manchester University Press or Amazon ISBN 978 0 7190 8552 9


In 2002, when the Ancoats area of Manchester was better known as a formidable wasteland, I was commissioned to contribute to its regeneration. Over the next eight years a series of Peeps, viewed from the streets, were walled up in the buildings of Ancoats and the area’s first public square, The Cutting Room, was made.

In immuring charged spaces the Peeps project reveals how what is latent in Ancoats can actively shape its emerging identity as it is remade. These ‘redevelopment’ projects started out with photography and lead to the concrete and permanent Peeps and Cutting Room artworks as the new Ancoats began to emerge.

This book presents these two projects in the context of the place, its people and the Ancoats stories that formed the inspiration and basis of these works.It makes no attempt to describe or explain these artworks, as there is no definitive explanation to be had. The artwork has emerged out of a wealth of influences from personal and written histories, experiences, ideas and images. They are the confluence of many fragments and the connections and reconnections they make. This book sets out to reflect this working process. It explores how a place might achieve a continuity of culture as it passes through a period of abandonment, dereliction and regeneration, and dwells on how an artist might constructively be involved in shaping a city.

Dan Dubowitz, Ancoats, 2011