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Fishink in Manchester

June 8, 2015

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It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to spend a day in town. The weather was glorious, so I took the tram into Manchester, to do a little exploring. First stop was to drop some work off at ‘Wall of Art’ at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre in the Northern Quarter. If you visit (or live in) Manchester, I’d really recommend a trip here, as there are plenty of fab design studios and you’re always guaranteed to discover a unique present for someone, or fancy some great home-made food. I spotted these beautiful 3D bird hangings by Kate Kelly who owns ‘Kaper’ in Studio 9. A great sunny buzz of activity.

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It’s over a year since I have visited my favourite bar and eatery Common, which has undergone a total refurbishment. They have done a great job, but sadly, in my opinion, it has lost it’s warmth and cosy atmosphere as it now feels more like an urban sushi restaurant. Also to my dismay, the cutlery was filthy and the food wasn’t as tasty as I’d remembered. I’m hoping it was just a bad day and that the place will change over time and become a little less industrial. I will return however and not write it off just yet.

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Some interesting graffiti (above) in the streets around the northern quarter.

I then popped into the Manchester Art Gallery and discovered a great collection and display of interior items from throughout the 1900’s.

I have one of these Tangerine, Meadow Green and Ruby Vases, designed in 1966 by Geoffrey Baxter and mould blown by Whitefriar’s glass in three sizes between 1967 and 1980. They are part of Baxter’s textured range, which used surfaces inspired by the natural world. The surface used here was known as Bark. Recruited in the mid 1950’s, Baxter reinvigorated the firm with his contemporary organic style and his use of colour, which matched the new look interiors of the time.

Parallels have been drawn between Baxter’s work and Scandinavian designers’ interest in texture and the natural world. However what makes these stand out is his bold use of bright colours. He also experimented with different textures from the man-made world using moulds made from impressions of plywood, copper wire and tin tacks.

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Spot the Lucienne Day brown fabric above and the plate, below, (like my parents owned) from the Homemaker range, designed by Enid Seeney for Ridgway Potteries Ltd.

Seeney was chosen because of her skills in line drawing. She based her design for Homemaker (previously known as Furniture) on items of contemporary interior products she had seen in London shops. Her objects are sometimes invented ones, but there’s also recognisable items such as the sideboard designed by David Booth, the reclining chair by Robin Day and a settee by Sigvand Bernadotte.

The Homemaker range was an affordable piece of design, retailed by Woolworths, (and later Paul Smith) and remained in production until 1970.

Sue Timney and Grahame Fowler’s work was a huge 1980’s influence on textiles and wallpapers and it largely influenced my own printed textile degree show, which was also predominantly black and white. the parallels between their designs and those of of the Italian designer, Piero Fornasetti, led to a revival of interest in his work in this country.

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During the 1930’s Edward Bawden (who’s Greenhouse sits above) lived at Brick House in Gread Bardfield, Essex. It enabled him to be close to the things he wanted to paint, many of those being countryside scenes around the village.  He was fond of greenhouses as was his friend and neighbour Eric Ravilious. Eric’s collection (below) is part of the Garden Implements Lemonade Set, designed for Wedgwood around 1938.

He was possibly influenced (or asked to bear in mind) an earlier design from 1787 on a jug depicting a random array of scattered farming implements. Ravilious’s illustrative response was much more organised, beautiful and decorative !

I didn’t realise that the artist John Piper’s paintings had been turned into textile designs in the early 1960’s by Sanderson & Sons Ltd. Piper created a series of 5 designs as part of the companies centenary celebrations. The one below ‘Stones of Bath’ was a best seller and screen printed in much larger repeats than had previously been seen, allowing long lengths from floor to ceiling.

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Moving along I decided to visit Home, a rebirth and joint venture between the much loved Cornerhouse and Library Theatre establishments. There’s such a changing face of Manchester and it’s certainly, industrial, decorative and skyward.

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Through the arch way from where the old Hacienda used to be, I love how the old and new are viewed together.

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As is a strong theme for the spaces I’ve viewed today, Home is warm but heavily industrial. Imposing and yet welcoming with bars, cafes, theatres and cinemas to spare. I picked a great day to view it for the first time, with all that lovely light pouring in.

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My one complaint would be that the book shop needs to be about three times the size. I’m hopeful that with all the huge offices springing up around Home, (at an amazing speed), that the need for a decent card and gift shop, will prove that it needs to be seriously expanded.

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The new architecture looks great in the sunshine and I really like the fact that the outsides aren’t just grey concrete.

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More old meeting new as Manchester changes it’s face once again. It’s a great place to live.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2015 10:22 am

    Ahhhhhh Manchester, our wonderful hometown!! I was looking out for our old yellow and orange wallpaper in the Manchester Gallery pics – will have to pop in to see how much I recognise!!! And you’ve captured some really beautiful shots of the city Craig – I can’t wait to explore the new Home complex when I’m home next!

    • June 8, 2015 10:43 am

      Thanks Lizzie, we had orange and yellow curtains but wallpaper ? I’m intrigued now. Looking forward to catching up when you’re “home” too : )

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