A Second History of Torture

By , Oct 8 18

A Second History of Torture

Blooms of rust pock the bolts joining the two immense white angels at their fingertips. The uppermost, in head-first kamikaze descent from heaven is greeted by its earthbound kin, whose arms stretch skyward in gentle reception. The still dance of tubular steel, from page one of the council’s catalogue of civic art is the gatekeeper of the long dual carriageway at Warrington Interchange.

It is at this portal connecting junction 11 of the M62 to Birchwood Science Park and precise centre of the known universe, where Flannery now performs his morning ritual. Placing both palms to freezing metal he savours the transference of traffic rumble through the sculpture’s own form to his own.



Flannery breathes deeply of this weak kundalini. It is the life force of the place, the vibratory distillation of the surrounding flow of people, goods, data and capital.

The earthbound angel, with no feet to speak of, is anchored by a disc of bolts that weep rust onto its cracked cement base, surrounded by chip papers, empty supermarket salad containers, Miller Light cans long flattened and faded. Flannery wonders how deep the steel tubing must penetrate the earth to sustain the sculpture’s immense and storm-tempting height above the central verge.

Here he is an exile. Condemned to walk the arterial fibre of the park’s endless bypasses and dual carriageways by dint of a year-long driving ban issued by Birchwood Magistrates Court for the transgression of driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.


The roadways were clearly designed for commuters, without a thought for bipedal locomotion and he is often given mud showers by speeding lorries bearing cargoes of decommissioned IT peripherals or screaming livestock. Shunted into ditches by white vans whose wing mirrors threaten to de-lid his skull. Or else forced into overlong eye contact with warmer car-based lifeforms where traffic coagulates at the entrances of low commercial pre-fabs with names plucked from the 101 of generic nomenclature: Cavendish House. Bridgewater Place. The Hub. Each proffers vague promises of arcane function. Data solutions, logistics provision and striving for quality in everything we do.

The latter puts Flannery in mind of the toiling at vast stones lashed with rope, dragged for miles across rolling logs over the Sarsen Way. Neolithic Man striving for quality shamanic solutions.


The sun rises pink over a copse of Birch that cleaves the carriageway from those adjacent, the endless bunkers of commerce and the retail park beyond.

Flannery picks up the pace, so as not to be late for court.