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.

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