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Snippets from 1922 letters

August 11, 2010 Hidden Stories, The Letters Comments Off on Snippets from 1922 letters

Brief notes from 1922 letters

I have spent some of my summer re reading the letters..plenty of little stories happening. One which really shows Mary Greg’s caring attitude is illustrated by this quote from a letter to Mr Batho from Mary , June 30th 1922.

“I also want to ask you for the name of the good attendant at the umbrella place – the one who had been so ill – slightly deaf – I want to send her a little thing to keep her warm.”

Mr Batho informs her that the lady at the Umbrella stand is called Miss Ellen Lucas. I wonder what Mary Greg sent her? I also think we should bring back staffed umbrella stands.


Snippet from letters (No.3)

June 6, 2010 Correspondence, The Letters Comments Off on Snippet from letters (No.3)

Wills cigarette card 1934

Letter from Mr Batho to Mrs Greg. Dated 3rd September 1935.

Mr Batho and his wife went to visit Mary at Westmill, and it seems the driver got rather confused and they spent a while lost, Mr Batho shows how kind and easy going he was by his response to this event:-

…Believe me we did not feel it a waste of time through the driver making the mistakes he did. My experience is that mistakes of this kind take you into lanes which you would never of seen. It was most interesting on both outward and inward journey…

I have felt a bit like that with this project..we have gone down lanes we might never of seen..and the journey is most enjoyable.


Missing Objects

April 15, 2010 Artist Responses, Hidden Stories, The Letters Comments Off on Missing Objects

Whilst reading the letters I came across an interesting discourse between Mary and Batho about some objects that she sent to Manchester that went astray (17th August 1925)

“Dear Mrs Greg….There are a few objects missing, as follows:- Two ivory figures: Cat and Dog, Two wooden figures: Dog and Donkey, Two ivory Ducks, Two Valentines…..I have gone carefully through the packing and fail to find them….I will have another search made of the packing material.”

There is no further mention of them ever being found.  I feel compelled to return these objects to their rightful place in the collection and have been working on a few ideas.  I thought I might take the trays of Noah’s Ark animals as a starting point and have used these as the basis for interpretation through drawing and clay.

Noah's Ark tray. Loved the spotty dog the blue boar and the zebra with the missing head!

Spotty dog

Sketchbook pages

Early clay test - Cat and Dog

Two ducks

A cat and a dog?

Two Valentines

Not sure yet whether the idea will develop into a dish or tray to reference the box, or something else entirely.  I’m still playing!  Sharon

Is this Mr Batho?

November 29, 2009 The Letters 3 Comments
Mr Batho?

Mr Batho?

Whilst we have been looking through Mary Greg’s Bygones collection in the museum store this painting has been looking down on us. There is, in the records, a note about a painting of William Batho in the same store.

We had a look around the walls and this painting seemed a possibility. It was a little too high up on the wall to see the signature but the date looked like 1926.

We have been reading Mr Batho’s letters to Mrs Greg and feel we know him a little, the thought that he may have been watching over us sent a shiver down my neck. I do hope this is him, he has a faint smile of approval, but also a look of take care of my collection or else..or am I reading too much into it?


Mr Batho.

August 14, 2009 The Letters 1 Comment

In the archives I found a whole article on him. It seems he was a much loved character around the gallery.

It please me to write about Mr. William Batho – because Mr. William Batho pleases me. It is always a relief and a pleasure to go to Mosley Street and talk to him; he is ‘one of the best’ to a Pressman, I think, for he is usually both sympathetic and helpful.

The Watchman, ‘Looking after the Art gallery’ City News, 29.8.1931

Here is the man himself…

Mr. William Batho

Mr. William Batho

I think he seems camera shy! Here he is in action around the gallery…

Mr. Batho supervising paintings being unpacked for an upcoming exhibition

Mr. Batho supervising paintings being unpacked for an upcoming exhibition

Mr. Batho admiring the new exhibition

Mr. Batho admiring the new exhibition


William’s Obituary

I spent today in the archives looking through newspapers and reports and I came across several obituaries for William Batho…

He entered the department in 1897 as a junior, being one of a staff of eight; in 1914 he was made assistant curator, and in 1928 deputy curator over a staff of 58. Mr Batho never professed a deep knowledge of art…  “He was gifted with tact and common sense… It would be difficult to meet a more kindly, courteous and painstaking man. He would always listen patiently to grievances.”

The Guardian, ‘Death of Mr. W. Batho’, 3.9.1937


Perhaps his greatest work for the Manchester Art Galleries was the making of arrangements for the safe transportation of very valuable loan collections which came to the city from time to time.

Manchester Evening News, ‘He Guarded Art for 40 Years’ 2.9.1937

Poor William, he was in his 64th year. He was certainly patient with Mary’s grievances.

Although William was highly praised by the gallery it seems Mary was less celebrated when she died in 1949. Other than the small obituary in the Times we already know of, I found no cuttings in the archive for her whatsoever, I was quite annoyed as I flicked through the pages and other benefactors were mentioned, poor Mary. Its a sure sign I’ve become too involved with the project!