Manchester students help preserve Marcus Rashford wall tributes

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Students at the University of Manchester have been involved in a project to catalog and preserve the tributes left on Marcus Rashford’s mural in Withington, after thousands covered offensive graffiti with positive messages.

Footballer Marcus Rashford – who is also an honorary professor at the University of Manchester – was sadly one of three players to miss a vital penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy. After the match offensive graffiti was smeared on the mural, which was painted by Manchester artist Akse last November as a tribute to Rashford’s tireless work on child poverty.

In response, thousands of people gathered over the following week to leave heartfelt messages of love and support on the wall for all to see – it made headlines around the world, and people took to traveled across the country to participate in this national moment of shared solidarity.

An extended period of hot, dry weather allowed the enormous amount of messages to be added and read by hundreds of people. However, before the inevitable rain, the University of Manchester – in collaboration with the Manchester Art Gallery, the Archives Department of the Central Library, the People’s History Museum, the National Football Museum and the Wall Commissioners of the Withington Walls Project – did collaborated to preserve the tributes to Marcus. The Rashford mural, to ensure that these messages of solidarity are not lost on future generations.

Masters students from the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester attended. They were on hand to help collect the messages and document the deletion process, as a team of professionals from Manchester Art Gallery and Central Library Archives + deleted each post.

After their removal, the messages and tributes were deposited in the archives service of the Central Library for safekeeping. Discussions are currently underway as to where the messages will be kept and how they will be made more widely available to the public in the future. The hope is that by preserving the messages, they will be permanently available as an important reminder of this important moment in the cultural history of the city and the country.

“The support and respect shown for Marcus and his teammates through the thousands of tributes left on his mural has been incredible and wonderful to see,” said Councilor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Head of Manchester City Council. “The actions of all who have come in solidarity to see his mural and leave their own messages of love and support for him, ‘Manchester’ stamped throughout it.

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