Friedrich Engels’ beard inspires climbing sculpture in Salford
The “magnificent” beard of socialist thinker Friedrich Engels has inspired a climbing wall sculpture in Salford.
The 16ft (5m) beard statue – a “symbol of wisdom and learning” – will stand on the University of Salford’s campus.
Arts company Engine, who are behind the piece, said the idea came from a 1980s plan to relocate an Eastern Bloc statue of the thinker to Manchester.
Engels, who wrote The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, lived in the area from the 1840s onwards.
The sculpture will depict the nose and whiskers of the father of Marxist theory and be situated on the university’s Peel Park campus in 2016,
It features a climbing wall at the front, stairs to the rear and a viewing platform at the top, from which climbers can admire the view across Salford.
Engine’s Jai Redman said the work used Engels’ “signature magnificent beard as a symbol of wisdom and learning”, while the climbing aspect came from a desire to make it an “interactive piece”.
“We’re aren’t interested in making ‘a hero on horseback’, [which is] something Engels would have been horrified by.
“Engels’ Beard is a metaphor for how it is an effort and a struggle to pull ourselves out of ignorance [and] a direct representation of how all philosophers ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’.”
Marx and Engels in Manchester
- Born in Prussia in 1820, Friedrich Engels arrived in England in 1842 to take up a role at the business his family co-owned in Salford, the Ermen & Engels cotton mill
- He lived with an Irish woman, Mary Burns, who showed him the state of working class life in the area, leading him to write The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844
- He stayed in Manchester on and off for the next 30 years, where he was a neighbour of author Elizabeth Gaskell
- Karl Marx came to Manchester several times to visit Engels. The pair often met in Chetham’s Library, where Marx also wrote part of his work Das Kapital