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Platt Hall Project

October 10, 2010 Student Projects Comments Off on Platt Hall Project

I went to Platt Hall on Thursday with Liz to meet Adam and Rosie and make some plans for a project with the Interactive Arts students. The students will be asked to develop ideas that we hope to use in September 2012, a celebration of Mary Greg and her bygone collection. The gallery is a wonderful building and has many unusual and  interesting spaces to use and explore. more photos soon…We also found a few dresses donated by Mary Greg,  two of which look like they could have been worn by her. I am introducing the project tomorrow.

Photo of an Unknown Lady

September 23, 2010 Artist Responses 2 Comments

I have spent most of the summer away and have rather neglected the Mary Greg project. But to my credit I have always  had it  at the back of my mind. I found this photo on a market stall in Rozelles, Sydney Australia. It was actually taken by P.L.Reid Photographic Artist, London Portrait Gallery, St John Street, Launceston. I imagine it was posted to the lady’s relatives overseas. The reason I chose it is the chain she is wearing which has an object hanging from it..I have since found a number of similar photographs with ladies wearing chains with attachments…I am hoping they are a mini chatelaines..a little useful tool close by and ready to use. I can see some are decorative, but this one looks more solid.

I am still working on the chatelaine of useless (or nearly useless) tools.


Horn-Books (A Student Response) – Nousheen Leila Saboonpaz

July 21, 2010 Student Projects 1 Comment

At the Mary Greg handling session I was completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of objects the collection held, I didn’t know where to start with picking out something to set my project on, I could have happily spent the whole day just opening up the cabinets. But a few objects had really intrigued me, these where the Horn books, which I found out where used as learning aids for children. One of the books had a sticker on the back, onto which someone had written “Probably never been used”, who’d written it..I don’t know…Mary Greg herself? Its a possibility. I took as many photographs as I could and headed to the All Saints Library, where I found a book called “History of the Horn-Book”, which to my surprise had never been taken out from the library. In the book I found images of the horn-books I had seen in the collection (pages 117 and 357), along with some beautiful drawings of Horn-Books being used, worn and enjoyed. 

 From what I had discovered in my research I have created jewellery which can be worn and interacted with, just as the Horn-Books where. I wanted my pieces to be large and a burden to wear. The books hold personal chores, sort of a to do list of things I am always putting to the back of my mind, and daft things that I can never remember, the 7 times table for example, and little rhymes from school, I have made my own Horn-Book effectively, something I enjoy wearing and will always remind me of what I have taken from the Mary Greg collection.

  Nousheen Leila Saboonpaz

One of the horn-books in the Mary Greg Collection

books almost identical to those in Mary’s collection in “History of the Horn-book” from the MMU library

Page from the book showing horn-books being worn

One of my responses in metal and paper

a wearable one with pages open

Moths In The Lumber Room

July 19, 2010 Artist Responses, The Letters Comments Off on Moths In The Lumber Room

Collage by Michael LeighAnother  collage by Michael Leigh inspired by one of Mary Greg’s letter to Manchester Art Gallery…see Snippet Number 5.

Table Runner

I have an idea to somehow put Mary’s spoons, hidden away for years in a drawer at Queens Park, back on the table. Inspired by the table runner that Mary sent out to the collection at Timaru in New Zealand I have been collaborating with weaver Ismini Samanidou on a table runner which uses a combination of  images of the spoons in the archive and clay spoons I have made in response.  We are still playing and sample making, exploring very subtle weaves and more dramatic combinations, trying to reference the worn surfaces and edges of the spoons, perhaps incorporating some text from the letters, maybe the spoon inventory.  Through all of this we are discovering the similarities and differences between cloth and clay and learning ways in which the two can be brought together.  It is proving to be a really stimulating project.

thumbnail sketches of early ideas

Spoons from the collection woven into cloth

Subtle weave with ceramic spoons nestling

shadow of spoon woven into cloth

Ceramic spoons over woven text

At this early stage we are playing with varying combinations of cloth and clay – clay spoons sitting on cloth surfaces, cloth spoons rolled into clay dishes, images of clay spoons and surfaces woven back into the cloth.  I like the notion of a seamless transition between the old and the new, the cloth and the clay, the analogue and the digital, the hand and the machine, and would like this to be reflected as the work develops.  Sharon

Modeling the idea on the table in cloth and clay

Silhouette 3

I thought I’d show you some colour samples fresh from the kiln that I’m testing out for the silhouette dish.  I’m trying various combinations of black and white with reference to the original, paper cut silhouette.

Dark grey slip with white over

I need to take more care when applying the resist to mask out the head as the resulting edge isn’t crisp enough.  I need that edge to make the same visual impact as the paper cut edge of the original.

I am considering using a touch of glaze, perhaps just on the head, perhaps just as an incidental splash, to draw out some further contrasts and animate the surface with reflected light.  However, on this test the glaze has drawn out the black pigment in the grey slip too heavily and shifted the focus from the head to the glaze splash, so I can see I need to be careful how I handle this.

Red clay, grey slip with white over and a splash of glaze

I normally work with a white clay base as it shows colour well but I have also recently been working more with red terracotta.  I like the bold colour contrast of the red clay with the black slip and this particular combination gives a cleaner edge around the profile when the black is rubbed away.

Red clay with black slip

However, I have found that the red clay warps much more than the white through the drying and firing process (no matter how careful I am!) so I have tried using a red slip on the white clay.  Whilst this solves the warping problem the colour combination isn’t quite as dramatic.  So blending red clay with white, or buying a grogged red clay might be the next step if I choose this palette.  I also turned Mary round so she’s looking back at us, or with an idea that there could be two, one facing the other!

White clay, red slip, black slip over

The tests have also shown me that I’ve lost the detail of the netting around the brim of her hat and I need to think about whether this is important and if it is how I can bring it back.  Either some other form of mark making in the clay or other forms of finishing post firing such as glaze, enamel or transfer.  I was already planning some transfer lettering for the inscription, so this may be an option if I think it’s necessary.

Decisions about the work are made through the sample making process and all the samples are made with a question in mind, testing out the theories (as theory is often very different in practice!), considering the options, feeling confident that the right choices are being made.  As I move towards resolution, I need to feel sure that the final piece is the best it can be.

Perhaps if you are reading this you might care to comment on some of these deliberations.  As the idea is still in progress you have an opportunity to affect the outcome.  All tutorial advice will be carefully considered!  Sharon

Silhouette 2

June 17, 2010 Artist Responses 1 Comment

The creative process can be a funny business! I had all sorts of plans for things to make, none of them based on the silhouette of Mary, but I just couldn’t seem to get it out of my head!  When that happens it’s best just to go with it, so I’ve been developing this idea for a commemorative dish for her. I really wanted to keep the simplicity of the silhouette and use it as a focal feature, the border of the dish acting as a frame for the image.  I think it’s promising.  I now need to develop the palette as I have a few options in mind, mostly building on the black and white contrast of the original cut out.


cloth silhouette of Mary Greg

Removing the cloth template

Impression in clay

Finished dish awaiting colour

Hoof Rack

June 17, 2010 Artist Responses Comments Off on Hoof Rack

Hoof Rack by Michael Leigh

This latest collage is inspired by seeing the Noah’s Ark and especially the missing limbs a lot of the animals had in the Mary Greg collection.  Finding the right kind of shop front was a problem but soon settled on this image from a local newspaper of a shop in Northwich. I wanted to find several different shop fronts so I could have Hoof Rack , Tails R Us and Mary’s Head Swap Shop but hopefully can contrive to find some suitable in future. I have made Tails R Us but it needs some work but hopefully can add this soon.

Michael Leigh

“An Infinity of Things” by Frances Larson

June 13, 2010 Artist Responses Comments Off on “An Infinity of Things” by Frances Larson

Simple tablet dispenser from the A1 Scrap Metal collection

As I said in an earlier posting, this project has taken us down new lanes I didn’t expect to go down. One being an interest in the people who collected objects in the past who have created our museums. We are gradually finding out more about how many places Mary Greg donated her collections and that is one area I would really like to know more about. Amanda Ravetz suggested a wonderful book to me called “An Infinity of Things” (How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World) by Frances Larson, which is about another prolific collector (some of Sir Henry’s collections were catalogued by weight because there was so much of it). I spent many happy hours in the Wellcome Collection ,which was above the Science Museum in London, when I was a student. Much of my early work was influenced by the strange medical equipment in there.

One chapter is called “HEREWITH PLEASE FIND THREE ROLLS OF CHOCOLATE FOIL” the foil was from sweet wrappers which he used them to demonstrate possible tablet shapes. His collecting often informed the designs he used in his pharmaceutical business. I use collections in the same way except on a much much smaller scale.

Learning at the interface case study

June 10, 2010 Artist Responses, Developments Comments Off on Learning at the interface case study

Learning at the Interface is a conference being jointly held by the University of Brighton and the V&A on 1-2 July this year. It is all about collaborative projects between universities, museums and galleries and seeks to address the question of how institutions can work together to enhance the learning of higher education students. I put forward a case study about the Mary Greg project which is available online.  It has been selected to form a publication and will be discussed as part of the networking event which Sharon and Hazel will hopefully be attending at the V&A in July.  We will feedback after the event!  Alex