Working with the Malcolm Garrett Collection

Today’s post has been written by Rachel Wilding, who recently completed a placement with us as part of her studies on the MA Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. Rachel shares some thoughts about her experience of working with the Malcolm Garrett Collection.


Over the course of my placement at the Special Collections Museum, I have been working with the Malcolm Garrett Collection (MGC) and helping to catalogue the books, magazines, and zines that have been collected over the years. The name Malcolm Garrett may seem familiar, as he is a renowned graphic designer from the UK and has been building this collection since he was a child. And there is no end in sight for this collection, which has been expanding whilst I have been working on it. Most of the items I have worked with have been part of three sub-categories in this collection, All Tomorrow’s Parties, New Future/No Future, and Clothes for Heroes. Personally, the Clothes for Heroes section has been the most interesting part of the collection. Garrett clearly shows the importance of fashion documentation through the magazines, zines, and fashion books in his collection, as well as the garments themselves.

The reason for the importance of these documents is simple, fashion has a major role to play in society and for every individual. As said by Professor Frances Corner, fashion is ‘a serious tool we can all use to make our lives better’, therefore, preserving these items is surely just as important. The books, magazines, and zines in the MGC show the story and impacts of these items through interviews and articles. There are a small number of inscriptions within certain items, completely and utterly unique just like everyone’s relationship with fashion itself. The collection also provides evidence for how fashion transcends language, much like other forms of art. Books from the Clothes for Heroes section that have been published in Germany, Italy, and Japan, show the impact of punk fashion like Vivienne Westwood across the globe. These important books show the different attitude across cultures and help to preserve different aspects of societies in relation to fashion. There is no doubt in my mind that the MGC helps to explore the story and the impact behind the over 100 garments in his collection.

Through my time working with the MGC, my appreciation for the impact of magazine culture has grown. Whilst in today’s society much of fashion and magazine culture is seen as having a negative impact due to the environment and the mental health of consumers, there is clearly a rich history and story behind this whole culture that comes from all aspects of society. The MGC has done an amazing job at preserving this history and gathering items from around the world and in varying conditions. Though I will not be working with the collection after my placement I am excited to see how it will expand and what other stories it will incorporate when I make a return trip to the Special Collections Museum in the future.


Find out more about the Malcolm Garrett Collection by visiting our website.

New Acquisition: Flowform bracelet by Math Whittaker

We recently acquired Flowform bracelet by computational designer Math Whittaker for our Process and Materials Innovation Collection. In today’s post, Math explains the complex processes involved in the creation of this unique piece.

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Harry Butterworth Tea Towel Collection

Today’s post has been written by Rae Hesketh, who graduated with a degree in Fine Art and Art History at Manchester Met in 2020. Rae undertook an internship at the Special Collections Museum from September-November 2021, during which time she worked on a recently acquired collection of tea towels designed by Harry Butterworth.

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A Victorian Commonplace Book, part 4

Today’s blog post is the final post in a series written by Alex Battersby, a postgraduate student studying History at Manchester Met. As part of her studies, Alex is completing a placement with Special Collections. She has chosen to focus her research on a single album from our collection of scrap albums and commonplace books and today she explores hobbies and pastimes in the Victorian era.

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A Victorian Commonplace Book part 3

Today’s blog post is the third in a series of posts written by Alex Battersby, a postgraduate student studying History at Manchester Met. As part of her studies, Alex is completing a placement with Special Collections. She has chosen to focus her research on a single album from our collection of scrap albums and commonplace books and today she explores a new age of leisure in the Victorian era.

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A Victorian Commonplace Book, part 2

Today’s blog post is the second in a series of posts written by Alex Battersby, a postgraduate student studying History at Manchester Met. As part of her studies, Alex is completing a placement with Special Collections. She has chosen to focus her research on a single album from our collection of scrap albums and commonplace books and today she explores life and love in the Victorian era.

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A Victorian Commonplace Book, part 1

Today’s blog post has been written by Alex Battersby, a postgraduate student studying History at Manchester Met. As part of her studies, Alex is completing a placement with Special Collections. She has chosen to focus her research on a single item from our collection of scrap albums and commonplace books. This is the first in a series of four blog posts in which Alex will explore a Victorian commonplace book in depth, revealing its insights into popular culture of the Victorian era and how it relates to contemporary popular culture.

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Update: Society of Wood Engravers Archive

We’re pleased to announce that the work undertaken by Clare Connolly to catalogue the archive of the Society of Wood Engravers (SWE) has now been completed and the catalogue can be searched online. In her last blog post for us, Clare shares what she has learnt about the SWE through its archive.

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#CuriousThings Part I

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our Mail Art call out and sent in your Curious Things lettercard. We’ll be adding images of the lettercards to the blog between now and 3 April, when the exhibition closes, so there’s still plenty of time to get creative and post your lettercards to us. You can pick up a blank lettercard from the making area at the entrance to the Curious Things exhibition.

From blog to book – discovering Alfred Cotgreave

Today’s guest blogpost is written by author Peter Cotgreave. Peter came across our blog three years ago whilst researching Alfred Cotgreave, a Victorian librarian, for a book he was writing. Here, Peter shares the insights he was able to gain about Alfred Cotgreave by looking at an album of library related ephemera held in our collections.

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