Our Northern Quarter

One of the things that pulled me to Manchester was the Northern Quarter, it has such a great creative atmosphere. A year after I arrived here I managed to move my studio to Manchester Craft + Design Centre in the heart of the Northern Quarter, 5 years further on, I still love the Northern Quarter, and of course have my own studio / shop.

There are a few things going on here at the moment that make it worth a visit . . .

Bee in the City continues until 23 September, over a 100 bees decorated by various artists are situated all around the city. We have a large and a few baby bees at the Craft Centre and you can pick up a trail map here too.

Heritage Open Weekend continues this weekend, 13 to 16 September. An annual festival allowing people to visit places that are often hidden or to find out more about our history. MCDC will be joining in this Saturday 15 September with free tours and a ceramic workshop, and of course all of our studios will be open as usual.

Our next exhibition will also be open on Saturday, A Journey Home, it launches this Thursday and continues until 17 November. It is the first UK solo show by Eunmi Kim, her ceramics explore what it means to be Korean and traditional Korean art and is part of Asia Triennial Manchester. I have been following Eunmi’s preparations over on Instagram, her work is beautiful and I can’t wait for this!

You can really make a day of this area as there are so many nice shops and cafes to choose from, and restaurants and bars for a little later on. One of my favourite cafes is Fig + Sparrow on Oldham Road, I love the interior as much as the food.

Whenever I’m in need of a florist, there are two that I always support, Northern Flower on Tib Street (opposite MCDC and next door to Sugar Junction, a very popular cafe) as well as Flourish at the Market Street (shopping high street) end of Tib Street, they both always have such an great interesting choice.

Back on Oldham Street, near Fig & Sparrow, there are plenty of vintage clothes, record and book shops. Oldham Road leads north from Piccadilly Gardens, the city centre and the Northern Quarter leads on to Piccadilly train station, so it’s an easy walking distance.

Around the corner is a shop most makers at MCDC couldn’t live without, Fred Aldous as it supplies so much for our making lives

But while you’re wandering around the Northern Quarter remember, look up and look down, look around, there are so many works of street art everywhere, painted bees of course, things from last years Cities of Hope and changing pieces, just keep wandering!

And if you’re looking at this one then look left to find, another bee, and MCDC!

Hope to see you soon!

Cities of Hope

A very exciting thing happened in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, in the northern quarter in fact where my studio/shop is. It became our turn for the citiesofhope.global project to visit us. 9 renowned street artists came and made our streets even more intereting. The images discussed social issues which you can find more about on their website. 

I was even more excited to find two artists working just outside the craft centre so I was able to snap some work in progress shots of those. Others I found in progress too and I returned this evening with fingers crossed that none had been over painted (LOST HOPE has already!). 

March meet the maker

Last month I took part in the #marchmeetthemaker challenge over on Instagram. It was open to any creative business that wanted to take part, a subject was set for every day of the month. I thought I would share the project in full here . . .

Day 1 | Brand Image . . .

img_2143I created my own handwritten logo a couple of years ago to reflect my interest and use of old handwriting. Then when I moved to my own studio / shop last September it was given a fresh look by having it laser cut in wood. I originally wanted to paint it but it looked right left alone along with my shop branding. I have old wood furniture against a pale grey wall inside.

Day 2 | You . . .

 Something I never do is take photos of myself, this was definitely the biggest challenge of the project! Taken in my studio / shop.

Day 3 | Workspace . . .


This is the jewellery making side of my workspace at the back of my shop, which continues across the back wall and then behind into a long simple bench area I created for making cards and collages, (or doing admin). All of my work is made in the studio, and it’s the perfect space, have great light and fab windows either side of me, one with the best view of the craft centre.

Day 4 | Tools . . .

 A selection of basic everyday tools. I’ve managed to buy most of my tools through much appreciated awards I’ve received over my career. There are still many tools on the wish list!

Day 5 | Can’t live without . . .


My awesome mum and my amazing fella firstly and mostly . . . then work wise it would be coffee before I start making to make me human, paper and pens, or a mountain of notebooks, my diary and a selection of inky black pens and pencil to write, make notes, lists and record thoughts.

Day 6 | Raw materials . . .

img_2142-1

The first image is of a silver order I had just received. I make everything from scratch using silver sheet, wire and tube, and gold tube for the rivets. Postcards are next, Manchester is really good for vintage fairs which I go to as often as I can (I have the man in my life interested in vintage now and we are a good ephemera hunting team!). I also use old stamps and linen maps. I (we!) also hunt for old wooden rulers. I started buying rulers back in Edinburgh, they add a very warm and friendly feel to my work. Lastly here are a sample of the semi-precious beads I scatter through my collection. Always good quality and a great addition of colour and texture.

Day 7 | How & Why . . .


How & Why was a tricky one to answer in an image, and simply, so I opted to show the days work in process instead!

Why? I need some new simple every day wear earrings to suit some recently made necklaces.

How? I’ve prepared the hooks and stems, crazy how long such little things take. I lay out the ideas next to me at the bench on clean white paper, to stop me being distracted, which kind of works! I want to use semi-precious beads in them to link with the necklaces but give colour and interest on their own.

Day 8 | Where . . .

My walk from Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester to the Craft Centre, is about 7 minutes across Thomas Street and up Oak Street in the Northern Quarter, then upstairs to my studio / shop.

Day 9 | Goals . . .


To get my cabinets stocked up! Now that I have more space with the new shop, and also to try and keep up with what is being designed in my head, its hard to keep up! It is a constant shifting to accommodate the unexpected order or deadline, then back to my schedule, adding in some random ideas as the inspiration takes me, if I leave it until I have time, sometimes I loose the inspiration for it. I also would like to open an online shop at some point this year.

Day 10 | Favourite small business . .


There are so many great makers, and too many jewellers I love, so for this I chose 3 differenet disciplines . . .

Lizzie Stewart illustration

Ness Donnelly stitched drawings

Cathy Cullis embroidery

Day 11 | Post run . . .

Day 12 | First ever sale . . .

A bangle from my Degree Show which I sold at New Designers to a very lovely French lady, I will never forget it!

Day 13 | Feedback . . .


One reason I wanted a shop at the Craft Centre was so I can meet the people who like my work and buy from me, it’s the best way to progress. I have a lot of conversations about my work, the display and, I didn’t expect so many conversations with guys about these old pegs I use for hanging pendants. Random, but I do love these little old things!

Day 14 | Creative friends . . .


Plenty here at my making home, Manchester Craft & Design Centre.

Day 15 | Inspiration . . .


My inspirations board above my workbench . . .

Day 16 | Time to relax . . .


If I’m at home, I’m learning to cook, because it’s just time I did! I’m not a natural, I end up adding creativity to things, which I think are genius at the time, but end up in disaster quite often!

If I’m out, and not at vintage fairs, I’m a bit of a wanderer and love exploring the city and adding to my collection of photos of derelict, urban textures, ghost walls, road markings and graffiti.

Day 17 | Photography . . .

Day 18 | Shelfie . . .


My shelves at home are a combination of handmade, vintage collections, and books.

Day 19 | Helper . . .

On Mondays I am extremely blessed with the help of the ultra lovely, friendly and happy Tamara. X

Day 20 | Sketchbook . . .


I generally design by playing with previously made but unused metalwork elements, sometimes along with card models. I fill a sketchbook in about a year or so with ideas and doodles of repeated shapes to warm up, and the occasional drawing of objects around me. If I’m lucky enough to have time!

Day 21 | Work clothes . . .


My second apron, made by my lovely mum, in denim with patterned fabrics around the edges and a hug pocket on the front (big enough for a hot water bottle in the deepest winter months!).

Day 22 | Best seller . . .


As most of my work is either one-off or limited edition, I cant really have a best seller, but, these studs are the first items I made using stamps and I always have them in stock in a nice selection of coloured stamps, maps and postcards. They are a good, or best friend!

Day 23 | Studio playlist . . .


On this day I was working on a brooch commission while listening to the radio. I get bored easily so I move between radio, silence, watching documentaries, or listening to my own music, though I have to be selective in a studio with visitors!

Day 24 | Milestone . . .


I moved to Manchester 4 years ago now with the hope that it was firstly a good idea, which it was. And also that I would get my own shop at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, which I have! I now need to make the most of having the shop and focus on some new goals.

This is an image taken from the current exhibition at the Craft Centre, Ceramics by Verity Howard.

Day 25 | Packaging . . .


Day 26 | Colour and Texture . . .


A sample of the stamps an their colours. Stamps, maps and beads give my work colour, and they are sitting here on white cartridge paper which I use to texture my silver by passing layers through the rolling mill. The paper comes out with lovely prints from the silver, and they are a perfect addition to my collages and cards.

Day 27 | Routine . . .

We open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5.30 pm, though as I have a helper I am at the studio Tuesday to Saturday. We can work outside of those hours too.

It takes me around an hour to get to work by bus and I love my route. I pass the Museum of Costume, the Whitworth, Manchester Museum and travel through Curry Mile and the universities to the centre of town.

Day 28 |  Organised . . .


Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Gustave Flaubert.

Day 29 | In action . . .


Day 30 | Books or Blogs . . .


Books! Though I do have a few favourite blogs I regularly visit, I love books. Beautifully illustrated books, or books by illustrators. I love old map books, and I am a big  Nigel Peake fan.

Day 31 | Customers . . .


My fab view  from my workbench of my visitors.

Customers, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. Without you I couldn’t continue my work, without my work, I would be nothing. Thank you X

 

 

Last few days

Starts with some sparkly trees on Canal Street!

Then a trip to the Whitworth Gallery to see the We Face Forward exhibition, some of which spilled out into the park.

Keep seeing these two poems from the bus on the way to the studio so at last I got a chance to see them close up . . .

Couple of great walls found in the Northern Quarter . . .

Two more pendants on cottons with oval postcards and dots of stamps I made at the start of the week; a couple of things I made later in the week are coming up soon . . .

Day out in Stockport

This was actually the Sunday before last but its been so busy this week, I’ve had to leave it until now. I ventured out on my own to Stockport, not such a big deal if you know that its not that far and very easy to get to. I’ve been lucky to have new friends taking me places so far, but this one I knew I wanted to spend time wandering and wandering, so off I went! The Vintage Village was on again, amazing! And I also went to the Staircase Museum, supposed to be really haunted, but I didn’t see anyone, shame!

Some lovely adverts, always my favourite thing to find
The old market place where the fair takes place
Beautiful ornate buildings with cinema and more vintage
Advert for a tailors by my new favourite furniture shop
Wandering around the market place
Curious date inscribbed into the floor
Went to the Staircase House Museum
Beautiful orange walls
Inside every floor was from a different period
Layers of walls from its stages of life
The rooms were based on who actually had lived there
My favorite, the 20’s room, and the least spooky
more old faded signage …
Lots of tudor style buildings dotted around the town
People getting married at the Plaza, their names in lights

New place to work …

I’ve been spending a bit of time at the Manchester Craft & Design Centre in the Northern Quarter since moving here, and I worked a couple of days last week in Selina Campbell‘s studio, and will be again later this week. It’s a great place to work, really lively with 2 floors of studios that are also open as shops. The makers there have been very friendly and made me feel welcome, its made my new life here very easy.

Its only about 10 months since I first visited Manchester and decided to move here, so it was strange to be actually working in one of the studios in such a short time and to be feeling so very at home in Manchester. I love the Northern Quarter too, everywhere you look there is street art, graffiti, derelict buildings (which I find beautiful!), old ornate buildings, lovely little streets, old signage, busy cafes, bars and independent shops … just love it all!

spooky baths …

FutureEverything continued over the weekend and I went along to an event on Saturday at Victoria Baths which I had been intending to visit at some point, so perfect. There were craft and fanzines stalls and installations throughout the beautiful old baths. One of which I have just discovered was by my AWOL studio neighbour Laura Jane Blake . Really lovely piece and situated in one of the old pools. Its a gorgeous old building left to decay when it closed in the 90s but has now been saved and under renovation, while this happens its being used for events, looking forward to a couple of vintage fairs there later in the year. And I found more little clay men! … some of the rooms, were very spooky …

Little clay men

I got a handy tip from a fellow maker recently about a shop called Empire Exchange in town selling all kinds of ephemera and the like, so yesterday morning I took a trip there and found myself more paper nonsence for my ever expanding collection. I found 2 science notebooks from 1938 belonging to a Jean Fielden, full of lovely diagrams, her pencil notes and drawings.

 

Which brings me onto the amazing Vintage Village in Stockport I was introduced to on Sunday. I was impressed at myself not having to be dragged home kicking and crying, I am hooked and happy to say its on once every month! I did take my camera, but completely forgot, I was so absorbed! (next time!) So I took photos of my finds back at home. The drawers were from a car boot sale we went to first and the clothing labels may get stitched to a sofa cushion at some point…

Then this morning I went back passed Empire Exchange again as on my way up to the studio yesterday I came across a lovely bird painted on the side of the building, note the silhouette of the man crossing the road for later …

But, on my way up to the painted bird, I wandered through the centre of town as I recently found out about FutureEverything and heard about a ceramic artist who was depositing little clay men (#littleclaymen) around the city today for people to find and pick up as part of the event. I found loads on benches and statues, and a lot of intrigued people.

Later on my walk up to the studio I found more little clay men walking around a beautiful derelict building I stopped to photograph. I love the Northern Quarter, I feel so at home here, there is always something unexpected to find.

And now I have some little helpers in the studio … 

This morning

Sightings from my walk this morning up to the studio through Ancoats, some pics came out too sunny to use! Lots of textures, Ancoats is … the canal (no ducks or fishermen this morning tho), new apartments, against the characterful derelict, and the renovated textile mills, our studios being in one of them …

Bye Edinburgh!

I will shortly be saying goodbye to Edinburgh! I came here for college (Edinburgh College of Art) and remained here for 14 years-ish. Its a beautiful city but its time to find a new home. I’ve been inspired by Edinburgh massively, its given me a love of cities, and the colour grey! I have a couple of weeks left so have found myself looking over photos from the last few years that have been an inspiration. The textures, walls with disappearing old ads painted on them many years ago and the architecture . . .

This building is on my walk to the studio, and is beautiful, but I loved it when the walkway towards it was adorned briefly with yellow scaffolding. Scaffolding is like jewellery being worn by the building, and reminds me of constructing jewellery, work in progress!

 

On a lovely lane towards Stockbridge

 

Love the work that has gone into this perfectly gold sign in St Stephen Street

 

Another advert on both sides of a doorway at the end of Chambers Street, Straw and Felt Hatters

 

Love this building, off Nicholson Street

 

Nice wall! Could easily be a painting or tapestry

 

An Antony Gormley at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art. There are a series of these but have only managed to see about half of them

 

Foxy get off the roof! Its a 2D metal cut out on the top of a building off Broughton Street

 

Up in Leith, I love old tatty shop fronts, really honest looking and a proper fishmongers I reckon

 

On Leith Walk, lovely disappearing tailors sign

 

Stencil grafitti ... this was in Bruntsfield and there's another to come soon ...

 

Stick No Bills ... always thought of this as being on posters and more of a modern thing

 

Have no idea what kind of brances, the shop itself no longer exists

 

Beautiful wall ... looks like a tapestry

 

Another sign on the Royal Mile with a lovely hand, there's another hand sign somewhere here that I've been searching for...

 

Would love to see what these sections where advertising, just for a minute, then let them to go back to this

 

This entrance on the Royal Mile is very collage-y and stitch-ery dont you think!

 

I dont think this is there anymore, it was on Victoria Street

 

Gorgeous layers of blue and gold writing either side of a door on the Bridges

 

 

 

A few days in Manchester

Spent three lovely sunny days in Manchester last week (reasons why to come another time!) Lots of wandering was done, from staying on Canal Street to visiting the Royal Exchange where Dazzle will be held at Christmas this year, to the People’s Museum and Spinningfields, lots of wandering around the Northern Quarter and an essential visit to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, really worth a trip.

Some recent wanderings

I’ve been sidetracked from my blog by exhibition submissions and updating the website and catalogue recently but have managed to wander inbetween. So an update of snaps of things that have clicked with me over the last few weeks…

Antony Gormley at the Dean Gallery

 

Antony Gormley in Stockbridge

 

shadows, thinking for upcoming lace project

 

an old and deteriorating bakers sign in the new town

 

and a detail

 

peeling poster, nice layers

 

More graffiti by REMOTE

 

I love old shop fronts

 

another chopped tree, nice organic oval shape exposed

 

No bills allowed, nice n old

 

and a lovely day at Dawyck Botanic Gardens last Saturday

Next exhibition …

This week has been a re-thinking week as I have an upcoming group exhibition to prepare one piece for. It’s Unit 12’s First Anniversary: Paper exhibition with some really exciting makers involved. So Tuesday I took off to the Dean Gallery – I rarely get chance to spend a whole day exploring and getting inspired, so this was a treat. They have a brilliant exhibition of August Sanders photography on at the moment, I love late 1800’s to mid 1900’s photography, especially of people, their work, their lives. This first image wasn’t actually in the exhibition but I came home and looked up more, extended the exhibition a little.

Wandering from the Modern Art Gallery alongside the lovely water of Leith I managed to spot two of the Antony Gormley sculptures – still intend to find them all and blog them together (as long as no more are nicked!). I loved this perfect oval cut into the tree, and the striped railings and pavement…

Then the last couple of days I have been working through some ideas, selecting postcards to be used, getting them all scanned (I alway record them before I use them).  Then time in the studio playing with ideas, give me a drill, some scraps of paper and new pencils, and I’m very happy… The deadline is the middle of next week so I will add details of the piece I made (will make!) and the details of the exhibition soon. Now off to book my train ticket, it’s a rare occasion of being able to attend the private view

Shadows walking

I took these pictures a few years ago but wanted to re-visit them, I like the shapes you can pull out, the movement, layers of transparency, and messy areas beside plain areas. I always see yellow lines as lines of roughly applied gold leaf on oxidised silver. Should do more of these photos I think, just need some good sunshine…..

 

Cathedral grey details

I took these a few days ago at St Giles’ Cathedral round the corner-ish from me. Really lovely details in perfect grey tones. You can read about the history of the cathedral here. The interior is really beautiful with gorgeous old, some disintergrating flags, but didnt have time, or enough camera energy left so will return another day for that.