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Xmas 2012, visit to Platt Hall

January 9, 2013 The Collection Comments Off on Xmas 2012, visit to Platt Hall

Just before Xmas Liz, Sharon and I met up to spend a lovely morning looking at the OPUA (Objects of Personal Use and Adornment) Collection. We ,as always, were focused on the Mary Greg objects. But these wonderful “Veil adjusters” caught my eye. The joy of being allowed to “rummage” in the collection has allowed us to find things we could never plan or expect, and this packet links in well with a Mail Art project I am launching this year on “How to Market Bent Wire”.



Instructions on how to use Veil adjuster.

Veil Adjusters from Platt Hall OPUA Collection.


Quizzing Glasses 2012

October 30, 2012 Artist Responses 2 Comments

I should have put this on the blog before, I made these Quizzing Glasses over the summer for the Mouseion Exhibition organised by Alex Woodall at Leicester University, in the Museum Studies building. See link for more details.

http://www.mouseionexhibition.wordpress.com      ” Mouseion Artists’ reflections on museums.”

All these “quizzing glasses” have normal glass in them, cut using the new skill I aquired at Mid Cheshire College. They are a way of encouraging you to look at the world in a quizzical manner…

Inspired by the two beautiful quizzing glasses we found in Platt Hall, which are part of Mary Greg’s collection. Which are  on show in the object memories showcase at Manchester Art Gallery at the moment. Hazel

Quizzing Glasses 2012 by Hazel Jones

Thimbles…who’d have thought?

October 24, 2012 The Collection Comments Off on Thimbles…who’d have thought?

Box of various thimbles, mostly donated by Mary Greg.

After a long time away from the blog, but no time at all away from being inspired by objects from the Mary Greg collection, I am back on the blog. Liz kindly invited me to join her on her research day in the store rooms of Platt Hall yesterday. I had a lovely day re -aquainting myself with some of the wonderful objects in this collection. It was a very calm and reflective few hours that passed far too quickly. We started off opening a few random drawers with the help of Katie who was on a weeks work experience. The one drawer had this box of thimbles, which I had seen a few times before, but we started to explore the box one thimble at a time and discovered we had missed so much at previous viewings.

There were thimbles with simple adaptations, such as thread cutters and needle threaders attached, as well as “sewing kits” which used the thimble as the lid and one thimble which contained a tiny spool of thread, as well as the commerative thimbles and tiny childrens thimbles, and home made thimbles and tough utilitarian thimbles, ring thimbles, glass thimbles, one with a glass file in it that we were baffled by, …how did I miss all that before? It also made me realise how much more there must be to explore in that collection.

I also re-discovered a large set of skirt “grapplers” or grips for holding up ladies long dresses out of the mud, or out of the way whilst playing sports or dancing…these, Liz discovered, were donated by another lady called Mrs H. Carr, MORE on her later…I really wanted them to be donated by Mary, but I am intrigued to know more about Mrs H. Carr too.


Thimble with built in thread cutter

Thimble with bobbin inside

Fragments and snippets

October 18, 2012 Developments, Have a rummage, The Collection, The Letters, Uncategorized Comments Off on Fragments and snippets

From now on, I intend to spend every Tuesday at Platt Hall, exploring different aspects of the collection. This is what I looked at this week.

Patterned cloth bag

Patterned cloth bag with patchwork pieces

Patchwork piece with handwritten paper template


Patchwork piece with transcribed text from template


Patchwork piece with transcribed text from paper template

I am fascinated by these patchwork pieces, by the snippets of letters and notes that are tucked away under the fabric. Am currently thinking about the relationship between the Mary Greg Collection of objects and, what is really the Mary Greg Collection of letters that sits alongside. Is it too sweeping to say that in museums and galleries, the objects are what counts and the archive material that documents their acquisition is secondary, often ignored?

But Mary’s letters give the collection a whole new dimension, lifting it from being bits of stuff in the museum, to something that is only here because someone once thought about it, discussed it, shaped and imagined it and valued it sufficiently to want to share it. And recorded her thinking through the letters. Mary’s voice, her motivation, reasoning, opinion and emotion, come through so strongly, because of the extraordinary correspondence she maintained with curators. It’s a hugely evocative reminder that stuff is only here because individual people once put it here.

These humble little patchwork pieces are somehow both object and text, hinting at other aspects of life (I do hope Humphrey made a quick recovery).  Random bits of writing that preserve moments of life otherwise lost (oh dear, in danger of getting a bit purple). It also hints at a time before email when people wrote and received letters, presumably accruing vast amounts of paper, not all of which needed to be kept, and was therefore put to other useful purposes. Many more thoughts on this, but have to go to a lecture now, so will think on.

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

Tom Ferguson/Interactive Arts

May 26, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Tom Ferguson/Interactive Arts

Nana in her wedding dress

“A few weeks after the Platt Hall visit, where I got my first chance to witness some of Mary Greg’s collection, I was helping my Nana sort out a spare bedroom where lots of her old things had be stored, sort of like her own personal Mary Greg like collection. In her collection I found her old wedding dress and I knew that I wanted to use it as a costume as well as the basis of a narrative plot in a short film.

My plan was to make the film include different ideas behind the Mary Greg Collection, such as: Letter writing, collection, interaction between different generations, Then and Now, Etc.

As Mary’s collection is filled with lots of little things, I wanted to use Doll’s house furniture in shots but never revealing it is dolls house furniture. My plan was to start my own collection of doll’s house furniture but it was quickly suggested that I use Mary’s own collection. I think this will be good in bringing my project back to Mary and will be a good way of showing off one small part of her collection.

Here is a quick storyboard edit of the film, for the final film I will reshoot all of the footage to a higher quality and use the doll’s house furniture for the shots where I have used my drawings.”

:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S53aoKzRejw

Tom Ferguson

Ellie Livermore/Interactive Arts

May 25, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Ellie Livermore/Interactive Arts

Alphabet Fan Book from the collection

“In the letters that Mary sent to Manchester Art Gallery she said the reason she wanted the museum to have her collection was because she wanted children to enjoy museums more. What I want to do is run an event that aims to just this. Taking it back to its original aim, I want to invite school children into Platt Hall and allow them to explore the collection. Following this, workshops on creative writing would allow the children to choose objects and create narratives around them, who owned them, where they came from, how Mary Greg came to own it. As well as this, craft workshops dedicated to some of the delicate objects in the collection: patchwork, quilting, embroidery etc.

All of the work produced by the groups would be displayed along side the collection to demonstrate the explosive nature of creativity, and to show how life can come from this quietly hidden collection. I think it would also be great to produce little publications of the stories written in relation to the objects to make fun catalogues for sale and for souvenir purposes so the children involved can take away as much as possible from the experience.”

Ellie Livermore

Jayy Swift/Interactive Arts

May 25, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Jayy Swift/Interactive Arts

The west wing store room Platt Hall

Dress and photo by Jayy Swift

“Summarising my first project, we we’re asked to consider an idea on Mary Greg’s collection could be exhibited through the gallery, considering the way that children could interact and be engaged in the museum. The curators had suggested consideration of the space to the project, which wasn’t visible nor accessible to the public.

Platt Hall being a costume & dress museum, my work would relate so much to this concept, being that Fashion alongside Photography inspire me greatly.   The Concept of ‘Hide & Seek” was an straight forward game which they would be able to engage on. This idea worked well alongside the idea of this negative space Mary Greg has toward the collection and the space, which it’s stored in.  This idea of the objects always being hidden waiting to be found.

 Through the use of pockets covered in detail and embellishment, I wanted to hide Mary’s collection in them, or photographs of the objects in a lot safe aspect where the children can pick up and touch. Inspired modern designers, I wanted my ideas to be over the top, walking around Platt hall you’ll notice how many stairs they are in the building. With stairs theres just this negative space constantly there, the idea of the dress being created through negativity of Mary Greg and how it could infect the room’s space, taking up all the negativity, like it was feeding the dress. Alongside hundreds of thousands of pockets hidden amongst endless meters of fabric, containing my imagery of the collection.

 The interaction to me, is personal. Containing this constant struggle of inspiration. With couture the constant battle of energy and passion to every single hand stitch, The amount of control you have as the designer with the fabric and how to manipulate it to perfection.”

Jayy Swift