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Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit
Nearly 20 years have passed since Mark Kennedy produced his first Manchester City mosaic.

Standing hopefully outside Maine Road, he waited for someone who looked official enough for him to hand over his depiction of Ali Benarbia.

The lifelong City fan never did find out whether the creative lynchpin of Kevin Keegan’s side received his work, but it was enough to ensure that in the years since, his career has been intertwined with the Club he loves.

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Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Joe Mercer, Yaya Toure; Kennedy has made mosaics of them all, which you can find across the Etihad Campus as a lasting tribute to their legendary service.

Now, his work has provided the inspiration for our 2020/21 home kit, with the pattern of the shirt influenced by his instantly recognisable mosaics.

“It is mind-blowing,” he says, when asked for his thoughts on the kit.

“It is the pinnacle of my career. Even if nothing else ever happens, it is indescribable.

“What PUMA are doing is really forward thinking. It is not your typical football shirt. The whole game has been raised by the Club.”


                        Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

Kennedy is the mosaic man of Manchester and one of the city’s most renowned artists.

His creations decorate the Northern Quarter, where his work famously adorns the walls of Afflecks Palace.

Working with broken tiles, these colourful pieces feature Colin Bell Francis Lee, Alan Turing, Emmeline Pankhurst and many other Manchester heroes.

He does private commissions, too.

Another Bell mosaic sits proudly in Noel Gallagher’s recording studio, gifted to him by Mani of the Stone Roses, whilst another piece raised £26, 000 for Kompany’s Tackle4MCR campaign.

It has been quite the journey for the Ardwick-born artist, who was inspired to make mosaics after watching another creative at work when he lived in Madrid.

But it was football which inadvertently convinced Kennedy he could make a living selling his art.

“When I started going to football, I started painting badges,” he explains.

“I’d buy blank badges from the Arndale Centre and we’d do City badges when they were at home and United badges when they were at home.

“We’d sell the badges we’d painted on the Friday night, go to the game and then wake up in the morning and our pockets would be full of money because we’d sold them all.

“That stuck out in my mind that you could make something and sell it.”


                        Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

Kennedy also studied Visual Arts and Culture at Salford University, where he first began making Mancunian icons.

This led to the creation of the Benarbia piece and two years after he handed that over to the Club, he was invited to dismantle the famous Maine Road mosaic, which was placed in the memorial garden at the Etihad Stadium.

“I was absolutely terrified,” Kennedy recalls of a period in which he was following City home and away.

“I wasn’t making anything. I had never dismantled anything. I was going through a learning process.

“I said I’d do my best. I got there, there was scaffolding up and I had a hammer and a chisel. That was the first blow of the dismantling of Maine Road, so talk about pressure.

“There was 100 years of culture and these things that were made by Italian mosaic artists and you’ve got this daft kid from Ardwick with a hammer and a chisel!”

Despite his apprehension, it was a job well done and in the years since the Club have commissioned several other pieces.


                        Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

The Mercer mosaic sits near the Etihad Stadium, whilst the Hart, Kompany and Toure works can be found at the City Football Academy.

They were special creations for Kennedy, but he admits he felt the pressure of delivering for the Club he supports.

“They are permanent so there is no escaping your failings or successes,” he says.

“These things are seen all over the world. The pressure was raised in a sense.

“I do enjoy it, but I am always aware that I’m working for one of the most successful clubs in the world.”


                        Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

Now, the Club will wear a kit inspired by the art of Mark Kennedy.

For a boyhood Blue it is the stuff dreams are made of, though he admits he struggles to comprehend that his work has influenced a City shirt.

He has, however, allowed his mind to wonder as to the magical moments which could lie ahead.

“I think if you dared to dream something then I wouldn’t have dared to dream that it could be true and possibly happen," he concludes.

"Because the chances of it happening are so slim.

“It came as a complete surprise.

“I don’t know the outcome. Let’s just see what happens and what we’ll do wearing this kit…”


                        Manchester's mosaic man: Meet the artist who inspired City's 2020/21 home kit

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