‘Anatomy of an Institution’ Archive

Manchester Met colleagues Gavin Parry and Dave Penny (both Senior Lecturers in Photography) have kindly donated archival material relating to the production and publication of their 2011 book Anatomy of an Institution: a photographic portrait of MMU. Using a Victorian studio camera, Gavin and Dave photographed a range of Manchester Met staff including technicians, cleaners, management and academic staff to create a visual portrait of the institution.

Plate from ‘Anatomy of an institution: a photographic portrait of MMU’ by Gavin Parry and David Penny, Manchester: Manchester School of Art, 2011

The archive includes prints, negatives and administrative material created during the production of the book and records the history of this creative process whilst also helping to facilitate further publication and research activity within Gavin and Dave’s ongoing series of ‘Anatomy Projects’.

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Sarah van Niekerk Archive

The family of the renowned artist and wood engraver Sarah van Niekerk, who sadly died last year, have recently donated her archive to Special Collections. Sarah studied under Gertrude Hermes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. She  subsequently took on the role of teaching wood engraving at the Royal Academy Schools and later at West Dean College, Chichester, and the City and Guilds of London Art School.

Wood engravings tools and an engraved wood block from the Sarah van Niekerk archive

As an artist, Sarah provided illustrations for many books and publications, as well as completing editioned engravings, and she also exhibited nationally and internationally. She was very actively involved in the Society of Wood Engravers, serving as Chairman, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and a Royal West of England Academician.

The donation includes many of Sarah’s engraved blocks, proof prints and editioned prints, sketch books and examples of her published work, as well as a set of her engraving tools. This extensive archive will make a very valuable addition to our collection of archives relating to the art and practice of wood engraving. We are very grateful to the van Niekerk family for this important and generous donation.

Manchester School of Art – Recent Acquisitions

We are very grateful to have received a number of donations over the last few months including:

  • The Manchester Moleskine (2016), donated by Pecha Kucha Night Manchester. The Manchester Moleskine was a two year project
    co-founded by designers Jon Massey and Adam Stanway. An A5 Moleskine sketchbook was hand delivered by Jon and Adam to 52 diverse, Manchester-based creatives inviting them to contribute a unique piece over a double-page spread.  Money raised from the sale of the sketchbook went to Forever Manchester, a charity that supports community activity across Greater Manchester.
  • A number of marbled papers from the 1980s by Ann Muir, donated by Dr Lindsay Newman.
  • A number of Curwen Papers from the 1930s, donated by Colin Cohen.
  • Three ceramic dishes designed by Mitzi Cunliffe, probably in the 1950s, for Pilkingtons Royal Lancastrian Pottery, donated by Judith and Robert Sandling.
  • Archive of the exhibition The Falklands factor: representations of a conflict, Manchester City Art Gallery and the History of Art and Design Department of Manchester Polytechnic, 1989. Donated by Jim Aulich.

We have also acquired a number of works by Manchester School of Art alumni including:

  • Re-engineered Brown Betty teapot by Ian McIntyre for Cauldron Ceramics, Staffordshire, 2018.
  • The Boethius suite of etchings by David Chandler, 1999, given by the artist.
  • Two lithographic prints by Janet Kirk, a student from 1908-1909.
  • Two prints by Sydney Lee (1866 – 1949), a British wood engraver and a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers. Lee studied at the School of Art from 1919-20. We are grateful to Leighton House Museum, London, for transferring these prints to us.

Woodcut by Sydney Lee, 1904-5

Virago Modern Classics

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Cover illustrations by Yehrin Tong on display in our Reading Room. 

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Virago Modern Classics, earlier this summer Virago Press published a baker’s dozen of deluxe paperbacks, designed by Hannah Wood and featuring artwork by the illustrator, Yehrin Tong. We are delighted that they have donated a complete set of the books to our Book Design Collection, available for all to see in our Reading Room.

The books in this series are by some of Virago’s most-loved writers: Antonia White, Elizabeth Taylor, Zora Neale Hurston, Angela Carter, Patricia Highsmith, Nora Ephron, Grace Paley, Janet Frame, Rosamond Lehmann, Mary Renault, Rebecca West, Muriel Spark and Elaine Dundy. And they are introduced by some of the very best contemporary writers, including Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel, George Saunders, Tessa Hadley, Zadie Smith, Gillian Flynn, Tom Holland, A. L. Kennedy, Elizabeth Day and Rachel Cooke.

Virago also issued a hardback, Writers as Readers: an anthology of forty introductions from the last four decades.  This anthology celebrates the women and men who, from the list’s inception, have shared their knowledge and enthusiasm by writing wonderful introductions, championing the Virago Modern Classics as books that deserve once again to be read and loved.

John Angus posters

Poster for The Damned at Lancaster University Student’s Union, 1977 designed by John Angus. ©John Angus

We are very pleased to have be given 139 posters by the Lancaster based artist John Angus. He is best known as a designer of posters for cultural events all around the UK from 1974 to 2006. The posters are mainly screen-printed, many by hand.

Angus’s commissions have included poster designs for the Arts Council of England; The Young Vic Theatre;  the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra;  the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; BBC Television;  the Royal College of Midwives and Lancaster University.

His work can be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Wellcome Collection in London. His work is featured in the book When Rock went To College: Legends Live at Lancaster University 1969–1985 by Barry Lucas and Paul Tomlinson, published by Palatine Books (2017).

Mitzi Cunliffe Commemorated

‘A Flutter of Birds’ in the Holden Gallery, 1968. ©Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections

In June, the Twentieth Century Society Northwest and the Modernist Society commemorated the life and work of renowned sculptor Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe (1918-2006) with the unveiling of a civic plaque at her former home and studio in Didsbury, where she lived from 1951 to 1964. The unveiling was followed by a talk given by Professor Ann Sumner, who is currently researching Cunliffe’s life and work, and Mitzi Cunliffe’s daughter, Antonia Cunliffe Davis.

Special Collections is pleased to have contributed to this event by bringing to light a sculpture that was known only to researchers through photographs. The hanging sculpture A Flutter of Birds (1961-1962) has been in the Manchester School of Art Collection since the late 1960s, but its existence was not widely known. It is hoped that the sculpture will be on display later in the year.

Mitzi Cunliffe is best known for her work for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and her design for the BAFTA trophy mask. However, some of her most arresting work can be found in Manchester, such as the Heaton Park pumping station (the only post 1945 building to be listed for its sculpture) and the panels set into the external wall of the Manchester University halls of residence in Owens Park, Fallowfield.