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

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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.

Students explore the Avant-garde

Undergraduates studying Art History and Art History and Curating at the Manchester School of Art have curated an exhibition currently on display on the ground floor of All Saints Library at Manchester Met’s city centre campus. They were asked to consider notions of the Avant-garde and curate an exhibition using artefacts from Special Collections, with the support of our Curator, Stephanie Boydell.


All of the works in the three displays have a relationship with the Avant-garde, whether that be responding to the origins of the phrase – the vanguard of an army; associated artist manifestos and printed materials promoting radical social reform; or in reflecting the principles of innovation and experimentation through advances in technology.

The exhibition continues until 10 March 2017.

Take part in ‘A History of Lancashire in 70 Objects’

Next year marks 70 years since the publication of the first Lancashire Life magazine. To celebrate this anniversary, museums, galleries and heritage venues across Lancashire have been invited to participate in a special project called A History of Lancashire in 70 Objects.  We want you to help us to select one object from our collections that tells something of Lancashire’s long and fascinating story. You can read more about our shortlisted objects below. From all the stories and objects submitted, the final list of 70 objects will be revealed in Lancashire Life next year.
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