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And counting…

October 11, 2012 Mary Greg, People and places Comments Off on And counting…

Heard yesterday from Bridget Yates, a researcher who has done a lot of work on inter-war village museums including Mary’s Westmill Museum. Am looking forward to reading her work. Her research suggests that there may be material given by Mary in the following museums and other institutions:

The V&A, British Museum, London Museum, Canterbury, Liverpool, Carisbrooke Castle, Brighton, Cambridge, Ipswich, Exeter, Brentford, Aylesbury, Manchester (obviously), Edinburgh, Dorchester, Norwich, Buxton, Winchester, Worcester, Letchworth, the West Highland Museum, Fort William and the Hertfordshire Institute of Agriculture.

Gosh. Some work to do.


Amy Lawrence/Interactive Arts

May 31, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Amy Lawrence/Interactive Arts


Exhibition in the Link Gallery of the Virtual Tour

Photographs of collection with material border.

A summarised proposal by Amy Lawrence

“My initial thoughts about the collection were of awe and interest in the textures the fragility of the dresses and the atmosphere of the off-access areas. I have separated my proposal into 3 separate parts, exhibitions, how to display the collection and events. I wanted to create a rounded and highly possible concept for the exhibition; therefore, I considered the event as a whole rather than creating a single work to be exhibited. Mary Gregg wanted to draw children and families into view the collection and enjoy an experience. I combined this idea with my desire to allow the public to enjoy the atmosphere and clothing/adornments in the off access areas. 

1.        Exhibitions/work to be shown.

a>      A walk in projected installation of an atmospheric virtual tour of the off-access areas, using  edited found sounds in the areas and 3 or 4 interlinked films that surround the viewers. The installation is intended to be made from fragile materials or walls in a room could be used. The audio can also be used for sound installations under the stairs/in cupboards etc.

b>      A photography exhibition: my photographs are sewn into material as an interpretation of the dresses.

c>       Combine all the works created for the proposal to create a multi-media experience.

d>    How the collection could be presented? I believe that the collection would benefit from thematic display or a narrative of some kind.

2.      How the collection could be presented? I believe that the collection would benefit from thematic display or a narrative of some kind. I suggest. I suggest using a dolls house theme to make the collection more understandable for children. Also using the collection to tell the stories in the letters.

3.        Events and workshops.

a>Performance of the dialogue in the letters

b>A visual representation of the mass of the collection displayed outside in the grounds, possibly using cardboard boxes.

c>A ‘Make you own collection ‘workshop for children, schools and families. The children are asked to bring along 5 found items to swap with other children

Overall, I believe that the Mary Greg collection offers the opportunity for so many different exhibitions’ and events that would not only broaden the arts scene in Manchester but also bring the collection alive and allow it to do what Mary Greg intended and provide a day of intrigue and the mysteries of the past for families, in particular young children.”

                                                                                                   Thank you

Tom Bevan/Interactive Arts

May 28, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Tom Bevan/Interactive Arts

Cardboard houses with large model of one of Mary Greg's keys

“For the Mary Greg Project, Philippa Watkin and I collaborated on a project that aimed to bring the Mary Greg collection alive. We aimed to do this by creating a doll house replica of Platt Hall, noting it’s striking resemblance to doll houses of the Victorian Period, and in this doll house replica placing pieces of the Mary Greg collection. The aim was to have visitors peer through the windows of the doll house, seeing into Platt Hall from all angles, and noticing the collection items. Then they would walk around the real Platt Hall where the would find super sized versions of the collection in the same place as they were featured in the doll house. This was with the hope that visitors would feel that they had been transported into the doll house and create a sense of magic and surrealism that would capture the imagination of adults and, more importantly children, as in Mary Greg’s letters to Mr Batho she spoke of her passion for reinvigorating children’s interest in museums. We would also like to incorporate Mary Greg into the project by having a small Mary Greg figure appear throughout the doll house, through lighting patterns, as we feel she is such a big part of the project she should have some kind of feature. To visualise our idea we have created doll house versions of our own houses, made from cardboard and various other materials just to show how we would like to go about the project. We also made a replica of a key from the collection to show how we wanted to play with scale”

Tom Bevan

Tineke Van Boven/Interactive Arts

May 27, 2011 Student Projects, The Letters Comments Off on Tineke Van Boven/Interactive Arts

Pin cushion by Tineke Van Boven, Quote by Mary Greg

“My display for the Mary Greg exhibition begins with looking at the pincushions found in the collection. I have decided to create my own collection, like that of Mary Greg’s, of hand crafted pin cushions to exhibit. For this work I will be creating a series of ‘pin cushions in objects’ like one I found in the collection which was a tiny pin cushion placed inside a shell. So from this I will be collecting found objects which I can make my own pin cushions fit into. All these objects will be found and I will be making the pin cushions myself as Mary Greg was very interested in found objects which were hand crafted and had a story behind them. Also the fabric used to create the pin cushions will also ideally be found material, to continue with this idea of the items having a history. Also I have taken quotes from some of the letters I have read through and have used the pins to write these quotes onto the pin cushions. I have decided to use the idea of writing into the pin cushions with pins, as another pin cushion I found in the collection (one of my favourites) had an elaborate designs created on it using the pins. A unique way of using a pin cushions as something decorative rather than for its initial use.  These quotes will be on all of the pin cushions, and depending on your size will be from a word to a sentence long. I will keep adding to this collection until it is to be exhibited. They will most likely be exhibited in a show case or perhaps on a shelf where they can be handled, should they be strong enough.

Another idea which I would like to propose would be to continue an idea that other participants in this project have. There have been ideas of playing with scale, creating a doll-house-like atmosphere. I would like to create a large scale (giant) pin cushion, also with the same idea of writing quite into it with the pins. This would ideally be placed under the main entrance stairs, or somewhere similar.”

Tineke Van Boven

Stephanie Bennett/Interactive Arts

May 19, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Stephanie Bennett/Interactive Arts

Stephanie's display in the Link Gallery at MMU

Detail of paper dress

“Mary Greg was a lady who enjoyed collecting everyday household objects. Her collections extended through the period of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

After being inspired by one of Mary Greg’s collections, present with in Platt Hall, Manchester, I have begun a project that aims to highlight a glimpse of her unique and vast collections. An installation that I created has been documented within these photographs that you can see. This installation highlights an introduction to this project.

My project began by documenting some of Mary Greg’s collections through the use of photography. Within the installation I displayed these photographs within antique frames, arranged upon the walls and shelves. The array of found objects and hand-made pieces on display held a historical reference and resembled the fragile and significant collections of Mary Greg. Numerous fascinating objects were encapsulated within the intricate hand-made display cabinets and hand-painted boxes.

The delicate, decorative dress, hung on display, was created after I became particularly intrigued by the work of textile artist, Jennifer Collier.

My ambition when creating this installation was for viewers to enjoy having a look at what was on display. As I continue within this project I aim to create objects that are suitable for viewers to pick up and hold, therefore allowing viewers to experience how precious and exquisite they feel, as well as highlighting the nature of Mary Greg’s collections.”

Stephanie Bennett

Fascinating Hobbies

July 26, 2010 Have a rummage 3 Comments

Fascinating Hobbies, Razor Blade Packets

Fascinating Hobbies

This collecting lark is hard to shake off once you have the bug. We tried to clear out the coal hole and get rid of some of our collection the other day…it wasn’t easy and we just packed it all back in neatly. Then Michael bought a huge carrier bag of these old cigarrette cards from the boot sale on Sunday and this card was amongst them.

“Collectors try to get as many different makes as possible and as many different variations of prices per blade printed in the design.”

I don’t think I come into that catergory, I never get obscessed with getting all the set of anything, but I can see why people do. I do have a large selection of different razor blade packets though, as the designs are beautiful.


Keeping a good record

May 12, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment
Painting of Singer sewing machine needle threader

A1 Scrap Metal Record sheet

Hazel's alternative workbench

During term time, getting into the workshop to do any metalwork is quite hard, so I decided to carry on with the side project which can be achieved in a spare hour here or there. Inspired ,of course ,by working alongside curators and seeing first hand their use of recording the collections, but also after seeing Mary Greg’s Nature Diaries in Sheffield..I can’t pretend for a minute I have the same delicate touch Mary had with her paint brush. She had painted some tiny bugs and daddy long legs with real skill. I am steadily working through my collection, trying to remember where some of these things came from and looking at them more closely. Doing this has also inspired me to try adding colour to my metal work and I ordered a kiln last week to do some enamelling. Very excited about that.


Caught in the Act of Collecting

September 18, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Caught in the Act of Collecting

These are the books I showed you when you came to visit my workshop and ones that I know Mary would have loved.  Splendid day by the way! The dice are drying nicely and awaiting the next stage of development.  I am also awaiting results of Ebay bidding on some vintage bakelite dice blanks for laser cutting (I hate the waiting on tenterhooks business!).  I have missed out on similar before, wish me luck!  It would be very interesting to see if we could get Marilynn Gelfman Karp interested in the Mary blog.  Another woman after Mary’s heart I’m sure.  Sharon

Caught in the act of Collecting

Collectors and their passions

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

The Quilt-maker's of Gee's Bend, Alabama, USA

Things Sent to Other Collections

I’m now up to 1935 in the letters and have found a few more things to add to the list of objects that Mary contributed to other collections.

She gave a patchwork to Salford and the Mesmer discs (anyone know what these were?) to Liverpool, Jan 23rd 1930.

In a letter dated 7th July, 1930, there is mention of a tobacco box being sent to Fletcher Moss Museum. Probably long since defunct or is it?  Apparently she “turned Mr Sabin (curator, Bethnal Green) away with a taxi nearly full of things…”, in Feb 1930.

Amazingly she also sent some things out to New Zealand (letter, 14th Oct 1931).  She writes

“- just lately we have been sending out pictures and many objects of the past to New Zealand for a museum at Timaru”.

No mention of who or how she is connected to that particular museum, but I wonder what we could find out. Batho’s response is lovely

“How splendid of you after doing all you have for galleries in the old world that you should now tackle galleries in the new world.”

In 1932 (July, 3rd) Mary mentions a small box of things for a Mr Gilbert Williams, curator at Stockport (museum or Art Gallery?).  He is mentioned again in 1933 along with Mr Maltby, curator at Salford. So more things sent then. And in a letter dated 8th July, 1934 there is a list of more things for Stockport including an “Egg boiler with ivory or bone uprights, The Pedlar Lady, small number of kitchen toys, 1 doll (1900 cent) and a travelling ink well” (ooh Hazel an ink well that travelled – where did it go?!).

She also gave more things to the Manchester Museum, two earthenware jars (Cypriot) and a dish (Egyptian) and an Ushabti (whatever that is) in July 8th, 1932.

We already know that Mary gave lots of things to “her Westmill Museum”.  The letters show that there was a catalogue for the Westmill collection ‘The History of Westmill’ by Guy Ewing.  Mary sent a number of these catalogues to Manchester and at least 24 were placed in Manchester branch libraries (including Stretford, Eccles, Walkden and Davyhulme). One was even sent to Cyril Fox, Director of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff!  It would be fascinating to track one of these down, if they still exist, to see what was included.  We might come across some old friends!  Sharon