Cap & Dove

An ‘arts centre on wheels’ hits the streets of Greater Manchester, taking art, design and storytelling to the heart of communities.

Award-winning artist, Joshua Sofaer’s bespoke Cap & Dove mobile gallery, theatre and shop takes culture to the people as a Peterloo legacy project.

Cap & Dove
Greater Manchester’s Mobile Arts Centre
Touring from Sat 7 August 2021

Cap & Dove, a unique mobile arts centre, hits the streets of Greater Manchester this summer, featuring a door handle that’s a nose, cast from the face of a radical author, a rainbow doorway that’s also a gutter to disperse Manchester showers and an onboard theatre. Taking in all ten districts of the region, the arts centre on wheels is the work of artist, Joshua Sofaer, who was commissioned to create the innovative, moving venue to mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo.


Made possible by the support of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as part of the Great Place programme, Cap & Dove is led by local people and organisations in each of Greater Manchester’s ten districts with exhibitions, performances and activities hopping aboard and taking place around Cap & Dove at each location. The mobile arts centre has been lovingly designed to incorporate physical references to the region’s industrial past and social history and highlights themes of freedom of speech, democracy and protest. The one-of-a-kind structure even incorporates a shop and will provide moments of excitement, learning and reflection to visitors throughout the summer.

Cap and Dove is based on the platform of an election cart, used widely on campaign trails in the early 19th Century. Everything from the paintwork, based on Regency-period textile samples and the river system that powered the region’s industrial boom, to bespoke wallpaper celebrating the first NHS patient, refers to Greater Manchester’s rich and radical history. The striking, solid brass nose door handle is cast from the Middleton Cemetery memorial to the author, Samuel Bamford who, being an advocate of public defiance, led Rochdale’s people to protest at Peterloo. A decorative, tiled floor, using natural dyes including red cabbage and onion skins, is inspired by techniques of traditional Salford tile-makers of the Victorian era.

Cap & Dove refers to both the ‘cap of liberty’ and the ‘dove of peace’, two symbols of protest. Sofaer also chose the title with reference to the hat industry of Stockport as well as the ‘cap’ finials that topped the banner poles carried by Peterloo protesters as they gathered on Mon 16 August 1819. The protest ended in the deaths of 18 people as cavalry charged the peaceful gathering calling for improved voting rights.

Twelve artists and creators have and will be involved in bringing events in and around Cap & Dove to life, including artists commissioned by local organisers, but also the talented Manchester-based designer, Tim Denton, who realised the artist’s vision by hand-building the diminutive arts centre from wood. Interior design features also include custom-printed curtains, produced design by student, Zaynah Arif, chosen from 25 ideas submitted by students from the Textiles & Surface Design degree course at the University of Bolton.

By making creative storytelling mobile, Cap & Dove, commissioned by Greater Manchester Arts with the support of Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA), is expected to reach thousands of people in the heart of their own communities. Cap & Dove’s first tour was postponed in spring 2020, but can now hit the road to inspire, inform and entertain. The list of current tour dates, with more to be added are as follows:

Wigan – Sat 7th August
Rochdale– Sat 14th August
Trafford – Sat 21st August
Bury – Sat 4th September
Bolton – Sun 5th September
Oldham – Sat 11th September
Stockport – Sun 19th September
Tameside – Sat 25 September
Manchester – Sat 2nd October
Salford – TBC

A further date in Salford is yet to be announced. For up-to-date, local listings and locations visit

Speaking on behalf of Greater Manchester Arts, Marie Holland (Acting Chair) said: “Joshua’s idea for taking the shared and distinct histories of Greater Manchester and it’s ten districts direct to people living across the region can finally be realised in full this summer. The intricacies in the design of Cap & Dove provide an ever-unfurling journey of discovery into some of the most inspiring and sometimes bizarre aspects of local history, incorporating the radicals, the dreamers and the iconoclasts that wrote the region into the history books. With each stop on the tour offering something new to experience it’s a small arts centre with a huge story to tell.”

On seeing the Cap & Dove make its maiden voyage, Joshua Sofaer, said: “It’s fantastic to see Cap & Dove on the streets of Greater Manchester. It’s been a truly collaborative process with artists, designers, programmers, historians, archivists and performers from across the region. I have really enjoyed spending time with people in each of the districts. We’ve all had a tough time of it over the last 18 months and I hope that Cap & Dove can bring some joy and curiosity wherever it travels.”

Cap and Dove by Joshua Sofaer, 2020. Designed and built with Tim Denton. Additional design by Maisy Summer, Caroline Dowsett, Standard Practice, Zaynah Arif (Textiles and Surface Design, University of Bolton) and workshop participants across Greater Manchester. Commission research and development was by Rule of Threes.

The project is commissioned by Greater Manchester Arts. The commission is part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Great Place programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England.