Manchester poet Mike Garry is now Seddon’s official poet-in-residence, working on a commission to capture the history of the company that was founded in 1897 by bricklaying brothers George and John Seddon and now in fourth generation family ownership.
“We’re one of the construction industry’s biggest family-owned businesses and our history has made us what we are,” says Seddon Construction managing director Jonathan Seddon. “We wanted to celebrate our past as well as capture the stories of the people working for the business today and are excited to have Mike working with us.”
The poet used to work on construction sites as a labourer in the 1970s and ‘80s but has found things have changed. “I worked on building sites when I was a student and earlier with my dad and although it was good money the conditions could be pretty terrible. I’ve found Seddon to be quite a different kind of company – people on site are treated with respect and I’ve been welcomed with open arms. I’m particularly enjoying the banter and the chance to talk to the guys on site.”
He added: “I’m not there to pry, I’m emphasising the artistry in what they do – I firmly believe they are sculptors and painters, it’s just that their work is on show on a building site, rather than in a gallery.”
Mike Garry has also performed his work at the company’s head office and held workshops as well as creating his own library in the staff canteen with some of his own works plus poetry by writers such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Simon Armitage. “I want to change people’s perceptions of what poetry is and to get away from the notion of poetry as being separate from the world,” he said.
The commissioned poem had its first public performance at an event held by the company at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester this week.