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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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 The array of found objects and hand-made pieces on display held a historical reference and resembled the fragile and significant collections of Mary Greg.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

Kirsty Round/Interactive Arts

May 17, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Kirsty Round/Interactive Arts

Detail of Kirsty's Mary Greg Quilt

When I introduced the students to the Mary Greg project, I left 3 file boxes full of copies the the letters between Mr Batho and Mary Greg in the Interactive Arts studio. I was amazed how many of the students ended up knowing more about Mary than I did through reading the letters. Kirsty also recorded her mom reading the letters, an idea which could work beautifully if played in the rooms at Platt Hall. Hazel
‘After hearing about the Mary Greg project and reading the letters between Mary and Mr Batho, I wanted to bring those letters and their friendship to life again. After an inspiring find of Mary’s own Patchworks, I decided to turn her letters into patchworks, creating a wall hanging and picking out words that I felt highlighted certain people, her kindness and character. As an added extra, and for a little fun, I also made some Mary Greg cushions, holding her ‘logo’ that I stumbled upon creating during experimentations. Alongside this I also created some recordings of the letters using my mums voice for Mary and my Aunties partner for Mr Batho.’
Kirsty Round

Grace Harvey /Interactive Arts

Details of the interior of the bird house.

Bird house/Dolls house

Grace Harvey created a wonderful Bird House  for the Platt Hall project ,which contains a number of  bird puns and references such as “Tweetabix” (click on the photo to enlarge and find them yourself) , also note the attic full of boxes reminiscent of  Platt Hall’s  wonderful attic store room. Hazel

“The sense of discovery I had when exploring the collection at Platt Hall was extremely inspiring. The bird house is a response to both this and the two items that completely fascinated me from Mary’s collection – her beautiful dolls house and the whimsical frog diorama that sits alongside it at Manchester Art Gallery. I have designed and brought life to a miniature house that I already owned, where by opening up the doors uncovers a family of birds inside, just going about normal day-to-day life.”

Grace Harvey

Margaux Illescas/Interactive Arts

May 8, 2011 Student Projects Comments Off on Margaux Illescas/Interactive Arts

Twenty Interactive Arts students from MMU visited Platt Hall before Easter and came up with ideas for a proposed event at Platt Hall in Autumn 2012. Margaux worked on ideas for creating a keep sake/promotional object based on the keys in Mary Greg’s collection. I will be blogging the results during the next few weeks. Hazel

“The Mary Greg Project

For this project I have chosen to focus my work on “the way to promote the Event”.

Seeing the Mary Greg key collection at Manchester Art Gallery I decided to use it in order to find an original, creative and effective way to promote this future event. Rather than making simple paper flyers I drew the same shapes as the original collection onto Illustrator in order to go to the laser cutter and make my own keys. The keys are between 10 and 15cms long but the size can be reduced. There are different prototypes in plastic and in wood. I engraved the Mary Greg website onto the keys so once people get the flyer they can directly go on the website and see what this is about. I added a catch phrase on some keys as well to attract people: “Would you like to know where this key gives you access to?”

I believe this could be a nice way to promote the event and that people would keep the flyer rather than throw it away.”

Margaux Illescas

Repairs and the Well Worn

April 16, 2011 The Collection 2 Comments

Very delicate repair of a fine cotton dress.

another part of the dress which was delicately darned.

One thing we often seem to be saying to each other as we  look through the Mary Greg collection is how she saved objects  that you can see have been well used and sometimes have evidence of repair. This wear and tear makes the objects seem far more alive and exciting than seeing a brand new item still in its box. We can feel the item has been well loved and used  ,and hopefully without sounding too fanciful, it feels like you can almost sense the person who used it. Mary comes from a time when mending was part of the everyday. A stitch in time saves nine. Bodkin cases hung from the chatelaine, ready to repair.


Button Missing Tags

April 16, 2011 Artist Responses Comments Off on Button Missing Tags

The start of a new set of work inspired by Mary Greg.  Ways to indicate damage or missing buttons on garments..instead of trying to disguise the damage I want to  make it the focus of attention. Maybe to remind the wearer to mend it, or maybe to “celebrate” the fact it needs mending. I am planning on making a batch of these in various shapes and forms..The dresses in the Platt Hall collection have some wonderful delicate repairs. (see next post.)


Time to Think

Ready to use ,threaded needles from Woolworths

Needle cases from Platt Hall

I feel very sad that I have neglected this blog for so long. The students did a wonderful show for the Platt Hall project before Xmas and due to circumstances beyond our control the project has lain dormant since. I have been thinking a lot about ways to try and keep this project going, and I finally have a little time in my workshop to look at my own response to Mary’s collection One thing I have been doing as often as I can are watercolour paintings of my collection (will add photos later), It feels right to sit and quietly paint in watercolours, I was very inspired by Mary Greg’s Nature Diaries. I am also looking a “mending kits” and  needle cases..or damage repair kits. Will add some tests to the blog at the end of the week.

Behind the scenes at Platt Hall

January 26, 2011 Student Projects 1 Comment

Behind the scenes at Platt Hall

Just before Xmas 21 students from the Interactive Arts course at MMU pitched their ideas to Liz for the Platt Hall exhibition planned for Autumn 2012. (Photos of the work, which was exhibited in the Link Gallery can be seen by clicking on the link in the previous posting.).  I have been thinking about the students responses, and a number of things stand out. Firstly how excited the students were to get access to areas usually out of bounds, some have tried to find ways to recreate this feeling for others. Being allowed to hold delicate objects, and open boxes which have been closed for years. I was also amazed how many of the students read the copies of the letters between Mr Batho and Mary which I left  out for them in the studio, some know as much, or maybe even more about Mary than I do now, and we talk about her like an old friend. This project just gets richer and proves to me that keeping  Mary Greg’s collection together is so important.


December 15, 2010 People and places 1 Comment

Pigu Chippy Take Away menu

Yet again I’ve been struck by how, in our working lives, we share space with people about whom we know very little beyond the job they do. Each one of us has a hinterland about which others know so little, nowhere more so perhaps than here at the gallery where almost everybody is involved in some kind of creative practice beyond their day job.

A recent conversation with Mark Page, who works in the Visitor Services team at Manchester Art Gallery, in which we discussed a shared interest in photographing the hidden urban landscapes of the city, revealed Mark as a long-time photographer of the urban environment in all it’s hues and manifestations. His inclusive and non-judgemental vision takes in the less polished, less marketed, often hidden, often scoured, marked or damaged faces of this city full of inequalities.

Of particular relevance here though, is Mark’s ongoing project to document the relentless flow of take away menus that ‘build up behind the door like a techno-coloured snowdrift.’ As an unofficial archive of the unremarked everyday ephemera that we daily ignore, it’s a real treat.



Student work at the Link Gallery

Manchester Metropolitan University Interactive Arts students were asked to take part in a project to come up with ideas to show off the Mary Greg Collection at Platt Hall in Manchester in 2012. Students pitched their ideas to staff from Manchester Art Gallery on Tuesday 14 December. Read more about the project at the Link Gallery Blog.

Want to get involved?

Mary's Hospital Ark

If you are a maker - in whatever discipline - and are interested in contributing to the project through your creative practice, then we'd love to hear from you. Please contact Liz Mitchell: Email:


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