‘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.

The Brown Betty Teapot: re-imagined for the 21st century

The Brown Betty teapot was once in its produced in its millions but in recent decades has been overlooked. The ceramic artist Ian McIntyre is hoping to change this by re-imagining the design of the teapot for the 21st century. McIntyre, who studied 3D Design at Manchester School of Art, is currently undertaking a Collaborative Doctoral Award with the School of Art, York Art Gallery and the British Ceramics Biennial.

His research focuses on how to refine the design of the Brown Betty teapot and create a new version that reinstates the best elements of the original design.  He is also researching the history of red earthenware production in Stoke-on-Trent and is working with Cauldron Ceramics, producers of the Brown Betty.

McIntyre has made use of the Trade Catalogue Collection, held at All Saints Library, to source original images of the Brown Betty for his research. A selection of Trade Catalogues is on display in our Spotlight Gallery on the ground floor of All Saints Library until 20 October 2017. Read more about the collection here.

The teapot will be launched at the British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent, which runs from 23 September – 5 November 2017,  and currently graces the cover of the latest edition of the Crafts Council’s Crafts magazine.

Conserving our architectural heritage

Our current exhibition, ‘We built this city’, features a number of architectural designs and plans. Some of these works required many weeks of conservation before they could go on display. The team at Special Collections includes a Paper Conservator, Pauline Birtwell, who was responsible for preparing the works on paper for exhibition, including a drawing by Alfred Steinthal from the JH Sellers Archive.
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