Mary and the Guild of St George

Mary’s connection with the Guild of St George was revealed on our visit to Sheffield to see her nature diaries which are held in the Ruskin Collection.  Apparently Mary introduced herself to the Guild in the early 1930’s (the first letter from her to the Guild held in the Sheffield archive is dated 1935) keen […]

The Herkomer Drawing

Just as Melanie told me she had unearthed a Herkomer drawing of Mary in the archive I came across a reference to it in the letters.  On Sept 11th, 1941 Mary writes about more things she is sending to the Art Gallery including …”a portrait in pencil – or chalk – of myself by H. […]

Alphabet Counters

Whilst researching horn books I came across an article by W.S. Churchill, ‘Nuremburg Alphabetical Tokens’ in Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, (vol.20, 1902). Churchill talks about traders who worked at the mint in Nuremburg around the mid 16th century. They would make metal counters, usually out of copper or brass with each letter of the […]


I’ve been thinking a lot about value. It’s a common thread of discussion every time we meet. The value of the collection to Mary and the lack of value (or perceived lack of value) the collection has within the Art Gallery currently. I wondered if this was always the case. The letters certainly reveal that […]

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Student response – Sharmin Nessa

April 19, 2012 Student Projects 1 Comment

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

A new start..and the sun is out.

March 24, 2012 Artist Responses 1 Comment

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).


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.

Get the flash player here:

A Little Success…

June 12, 2011 Artist Responses Comments Off on A Little Success…

Results of my second enamelling tests

Summer is nearly here, and I have decided to use my long awaited research time to try and master the enamelling kiln I bought last year. I was a little nervous to use if after my  disasterous first attempt, but I had a go last week and the results were slightly improved, I decided it was a little  like baking, you have to get the temperature and timing just so, which I can only learn by practice. I am making tags to hang off your clothes, which indicate damage or lost buttons. Hazel

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.”


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

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Mary's Hospital Ark

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