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February 9, 2010 Student Projects 1 Comment
Sarah and Liz exploring the collection with the students

Sarah and Liz exploring the collection with the students

All morning, between the hawking of the crows on the roof and the digital shutterclicks of half a dozen cameras, there have been repeated breathy outbursts of “Ooooh” and “Wow, look at this” and “That’s just beautiful”. The Mary Greg Collection continues to cast its magic on the unsuspecting.

Throughout today and Thursday, students from Manchester Metropolitan University 3D Design course are visiting the gallery stores to begin research for an open ended six week design brief. Along with Sharon, the course tutor, Liz and Alex have given a brief background to the objects before taking the students on a tour of the treasure trove. As each new cupboard is opened or drawer slid out there have been gasps and intakes of breath.

It’s not always easy to fully understand why there’s such genuine wonder expressed as the collection is unfolded but its context surely plays an important part. Housed in steely grey cabinets in a squeaky floored Victorian gallery and surrounded by a mute audience of portraits from the collection hanging on the walls, the objects seem almost magically shrouded from the present, as if locked in some frozen indeterminate past. This is not the modern clinical climate controlled storage facility you might expect, it’s shadowy, mysterious and not somewhere you’d like to find yourself alone at midnight.

Sarah Rainbow, a gallery conservator, guides the students through common sense object handling requirements, the donning of gloves and perching of precious objects on miniature pillows. This all adds to the reverential mystique that the objects seem to accrue.

For the first time in many cases, these objects are being given a level of rapt attention, are being drawn, photographed and written about, being un-shrouded. It will be fascinating to see how each student moves on with their research and what their eventual outcomes will be.

There’s more images from the morning on our flickr pages.

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  1. Heather Leach says:

    Visited the new display last week and after reading the blog was thrilled to see the first (or finest) threads among the spoons, shuttles, keys. Also loved the added richness of the contemporary work in response, hardly distinguishable from the collection’s objects, making them seem both hidden and revealed. I’ve loved reading back through the blog and looking at the photographs as well as the objects in the gallery – what a great project. Your discussions on truth/fiction/value in the blogs last year also full of resonance for me. For a writer the whole project feels like a secret book – no . . . . . a whole library of stories/poems/histories just longing to be told.

    I’d love to be involved.

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