Artist Responses

Artwork by Sharon Blakey and Hazel Jones

I was hooked the minute the first drawer was opened. Spoon upon spoon upon spoon, a seemingly random assortment of shapes and sizes of no particular style or era. No prized or polished silver here, but the tarnished, worn and broken. A spoon box containing the wrong spoon, handles showing family initials but with no sense of belonging, a tablespoon used so many times that one side of the bowl is almost worn flat.

Artist Sharon Blakey’s description of her first contact with the Mary Greg collection reveals much about what an endlessly creative resource this unusual archive is proving to be. Sharon, Hazel Jones and a group of 3Dimensional Design students from Manchester Metropolitan University are amongst the first wave of what we hope will be a growing number of creative individuals to draw inspiration from the collection. Here you’ll find documentation of their creative journeys and see drawings and photographs of work in progress.

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Still being influenced by the Mary Greg Chatelaine.

I feel a little odd adding to this as it feels like the site has been moth balled.. But I continue to create new attachments for my Chatelaine. I feel the Mary Greg project is still waiting for something to happen…we can’t have done all this for no “ending”

new 1


emergency joke capsule

The new “Emergency Joke Capsule” is fourth along, I have included two other test ideas either side. The first two objects are from my own collection and have influenced the final design.

The second new set of work I have made are a little more complicated. Again influenced by objects from my own collection. These are for collecting the card discs from party poppers…mementos of celebrations.

new 3


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Mary on Tour

Those of you who have followed the development of my collaborative, creative response to the bygones spoon collection with weaver Ismini Samanidou, may be interested to know that the resulting piece has been exhibited at venues nationally and internationally.

Table Runner was exhibited in Utensil at the National Craft Gallery of Ireland, New Directions in Contemporary Craft at Mottisfont Abbey, National Trust and Pairings at Contemporary Applied Arts, London.

The collaboration was also featured in Samanidou’s solo show, Topography: recording place, mapping surface, touring from the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham to the Centre for Craft, Creativity and Design in North Carolina and the Weber Center, Utah, USA.

Table Runner (overview) – hand built ceramic and digitally woven cloth, 1500mm x 350mm

detail, three spoons, three voices

acknowledging value in the damage and wear of everyday use


the contemporary emerging from the historic

paying homage to the past, ceramic spoon placed within the woven shadow of it’s predecessor

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Inspired by Mary Greg’s Watch key

Small stylus for texting


A page from my sketchbook, January 2013.

A quick update, I am not getting much time in my workshop at the moment, so I have started a mini project inspired by Mary Greg’s watch key collection. Trying to make some objects using the minimal amount of processes. One bend and one solder and some word stamping. The first one I have made I use to text on my new phone as I keep hitting the wrong keys with my fingers…I might make more texting “keys”. Old technolgy meets new.


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Sort of connected..Fletcher Moss Art Gallery and 2 keys

A second year Interactive Arts Student, John Lynch, has organised an exhibition at Didsbury Parsonage (Fletcher Moss Art Gallery) for this weekend. I was kindly invited to be part of it and after a whistle stop visit a month ago , where I took a number of photos of keyholes, I decided to make a special  Escutcheon to cover one of the bare key holes and commemorate some  part of the history of the Fletcher Moss Art Gallery.

Research for Escutcheon for Didsbury Parsonage.

The connection is, that Liz found this entry in the MAG archives just last week and sent me these photos.

Two keys exist in the collection, alongside Mary Greg’s keys, but donated by Alderman Fletcher Moss.

MAG records

MAG record book

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List Spools 2012

I also made another new set of list spools over the summer, the idea initially came from the roll of paper in a metal tube in the Mary Greg Collection, but I also was inspired by a roll of tape on a simple stamped tin holder which is now part of the A1 Scrap Metal collection. The lists have become archives of very special days in my life this summer, my wedding and my son going off to college. Lists had to be written for both events and thus two archive spools of “to do” lists. The numbers were printed using Letterpress at MMU. Hazel

Ready to Use List Spool 2012

"Diary" List Spools Summer 2012Ready to Use List Spool 2012

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Quizzing Glasses 2012

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.      ” 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

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Des Hughes at MAG May 2012

Quick sketch of selection of objects made and chosen by the artist Des Hughes.

I went to see a lovely exhibition in MAG of work selected from the collection by Des Hughes. There is no text in the gallery referring to the chosen objects,but I could easily pick out the ones which Mary Greg had contributed. It was refreshing to see them amongst other objects, both old and hand made, they looked at home and even more intrigueing and beautiful.





Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.68





Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.728


Latch lifter



Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.754





Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.763


Crusie Lamp



Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.799




Spoon 1800s



Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.841


Comb 5th or 6th century



Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.1074


Whip before 1900


Iron and leather

Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.1198


Thumbscrew c.1720



Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.1234





Gift of Mrs Mary Greg  1922.1283


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Student response – Sharmin Nessa

Sketchbook drawings of worn wallpaper in dolls house

After being inspired by the 1850s doll house form the Mary Greg collection at Manchester Gallery, I was eager to develop a body of drawing which I could translate into the specialism of weave.  I was particularly fascinated by the 19th century wallpapers in the miniature houses, which was the starting point to my drawing development. The gestural marks and textures expressed in my drawings were the characteristics I intended to capture in my weave samples. I feel I have represented the marks in my drawings by using textured yarns and creating weft base samples. I envisage the woven samples being developed for domestic interiors.

Sketchbook drawing

Woven textile sample responding to drawings

Weave sample

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A new start..and the sun is out.

Rising sun by Hazel

At last..a couple of weeks off for Easter to start thinking about Mary Greg again. This started off really well by meeting Sharon, Liz and Martin in the MAG cafe and catching up with each other yesterday. This year has been a hard year to keep the momentum going on the Mary Greg project for us all, but it was wonderful to know we still have a project which we all still want to build on..even if it is slowly. All I have done  recently (apart from teach full time) is attend an evening class at Mid Cheshire college and learnt to cut glass and use foil and lead work, having always been in awe of stained glass it was something I always wanted to try. As I learnt to cut the glass I realised I was now going to be able to make my own shaped “quizzing glasses”.  So here I go, plasters at the ready (I managed to cut myself nearly every week at the class).


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Virtually there

You may need the flash player to see these images, you can get it here:

The collection enters virtual space

As part of their final project work in the summer term, students from Trafford College’s BTEC Diploma in Creative Media Production visited Manchester Art Gallery to scan a selection of objects from the Mary Greg collection. The scanning took place as a public activity in the gallery atrium and as part of the visit students were given a talk by exhibition curator Fiona Corridan about object display and lighting. The brief for the project was necessarily open as this was something of an unknown area for both the gallery and the college:

3D Visualisation

By combining 3D scanning and modelling with contemporary game engine technology South Trafford College is able to generate 3D web content that may offer museum and gallery audiences a new and engaging way to explore collections like the Mary Greg archive.

The brief is open to interpretation and negotiation with the client. There are, however, a couple objectives that you must achieve:

1.Research, design, model, texture and light a contemporary art space.

2.Scan, model, re-scale and texture an artefact from the Mary Greg collection.

3.Import your environment and object into Unity.

4.Employ triggers within Unity to enable viewer interactivity with both environment and artefact

5.Build an executable from Unity that will embed within a web page

Students worked in groups of five to take the 3D digital scans and use them as the basis for re-staging or exhibiting the collection in a virtual environment. Each group worked on several ideas before settling on one which would form the basis of their presentation. Once the project ideas were agreed, students worked to their own strengths – whether this was working up the original 3D scans, providing illustrations to support their final presentation, investigating and testing display options or building a 3D environment in which to stage the collection.

Towards the end of May, the student groups came together and presented their ideas and work to gallery staff. The outcomes revealed that the original objects themselves were capable of informing an extraordinary range of responses. One group considered the notion that a hitherto hidden doorway in one of the current gallery spaces would lead to a subterranean world where visitors would need to make a slightly perilous journey to view objects displayed in an eerily lit treasure trove environment. Another group took the curious surface decoration of one side of a gaming disc – whose meaning is long since lost – and used this as a motif to build a mysterious almost quasi-religious space where the hugely re-scaled disc became almost an object of veneration. Others produced beautifully modelled and rendered exhibition spaces that were both light and open and often structurally confusing, and that would in some ways unsettle visitors and their expectations of both space and object display.

One group pushed at the boundaries of what could be done with the 3D scans and, using an Augmented Reality plugin and a webcam, demonstrated how the virtual models could be realistically superimposed into realtime video of any space.

As a pilot project the results for the students, the course directors and ourselves were fantastically rewarding and insightful. We have also hopefully established a partnership that can build from this work and further develop how the collection can form the basis for genuinely new types of educational engagement and student project development in electronic creative media.

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