The thousands of heartfelt messages left on the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington following its defacing are to be carefully removed this Friday.
After the Akse-created mural dedicated to the Manchester United and England star was abhorrently defaced following England’s loss to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 on Sunday 11 July, encouraging messages of support soon began to appear in at attempt to cover up the graffiti and take a stand against racist abuse.
The mural was subsequently restored by the original artist the following day – but the messages kept on coming.
While the glorious sunshine over the last week or so has meant that the messages have remained mostly unharmed since the original incident, Manchester City Council has now confirmed that it will begin the process of carefully removing them this Friday ahead of a forecasted change in the weather at the weekend.
There are fears that the messages will disintegrate and be lost forever if they aren’t removed in advance of the prolonged spells of rain expected in the area from Saturday.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, every message and tribute that has been left at the mural will be collected before the rain comes by a team of professional staff from Manchester Art Gallery and Central Library Archives+.
MA students from the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester are also standing by, ready to help with collecting the messages and documenting the process.
Wherever possible, messages will be removed individually, but due to the amount of adhesive tape that has been used to fix tributes to the mural, it is more likely that whole sections will have to be lifted and packed on site, and then carefully separated later.
After their removal, all the messages will transported to Central Library’s archives department for safe-keeping.
All partners involved will then decide how best to make them more widely available.
Manchester Art Gallery, Central Library’s Archives department, the People’s History Museum, the National Football Museum, the University of Manchester, and the Withington Walls project- who first commissioned the mural – have all been involved in discussions on how best to preserve the tributes.
Once at the library, a team of professionals will set about the delicate process of separating each of the messages, recording, and photographing them – and while no decisions have yet been made on where the messages will eventually be kept, the current priority is preserving and protecting them from the weather.
It is hoped that by preserving the messages, they can be made available for education and public display in the future as an important and permanent reminder of just what a significant moment in the city and country’s cultural history this has been.
Marcus Rashford himself is also to be asked what he would like to happen to the messages, and how he would like them to be used.
“The support and respect shown for Marcus and his teammates over the last week through the thousands of tributes left at his mural has been amazing and wonderful to see,” said Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE – Deputy Leader at Manchester City Council.
“The actions of all those who have turned up in solidarity to see his mural and leave their own messages of love and support for him has ‘Manchester’ stamped all the way through it.”
He continued: “We think it’s important this shared moment of solidarity – that started with the placing of just one small message of love on the mural after it was defaced – an action that spoke to the whole country and not just Manchester, is remembered and preserved for future generations.
“We’re reaching out to Marcus with some thoughts on how this could be achieved and to ask what he would like to happen to the tributes to help create a lasting legacy of tolerance, love, and solidarity for future generations to learn from.”
Featured Image – Twitter (@MarcusRashford)