When I was a student in the seventies I studied printed textiles at “The Manchester School of Art” which was then part of Manchester Polytechnic and is now known as Manchester Metropolitan University. As a student I fell under the spell of the practitioners of The Arts and Crafts Movement, a fascination that has lasted a lifetime. Manchester School of Art had strong links with the Pre-Raphaelites and exponents of Art Nouveau; many treasures are now on display in an exhibition “Art Nouveau” at the Sir Kenneth Green Library. If you are a fan of Archibald Knox, Jessie M King and Aubrey Beardsley or the like you will find this exhibition most interesting.
I owe much to my time at Manchester, in particular to the excellent teaching we received. There was always a strong emphasis on drawing both from life and from plant forms. One of the more celebrated teachers was Adolphe Valette, a French painter who was at the school from 1907 to 1920 and taught L S Lowry. The great designer and illustrator Walter Crane was also director in the eighteen nineties and left a legacy of drawing directly from nature.
It is always strange visiting old haunts; my student days are so fresh in my mind it is hard to believe that over thirty-eight years have passed since I studied there. Much of the old buildings remain although many new ones have been added, the character of the place seems unchanged. I decided to take some photographs to share with you some of the decorative details of the old Art School building.
The modern glass buildings across the park now house the beautiful Sir Kenneth Green Library where you can find The Special Collections Library which includes artist books, decorated papers, a children's book collection: featuring 19th and 20th century children's book illustration and book collections exploring aspects of the book as an artifact. There is also a collection of Victorian ephemera featuring 19th century albums and scrapbooks.
I spent many happy and inspiring hours in the art school library and am delighted to say that some of my illustrated children’s books and artist books now have a home there.
I’ve been playing around with a few new ideas and have created a set of three printed ACEO’s for my shop and am in the process of offering some original artwork in that form too. I have always been drawn to miniatures and have always had a tendency to paint on a very tiny scale. My husband jokes that is because I have always been so poor and art materials so expensive. I think he may have had a point!
The lovely green Celtic binding decorates a volume of Irish literature, a book I bought whilst in the student area in Manchester at a roadside sale. I really don’t have room for any more books but that cover was talking to me, I am sure you know the feeling.
I am an illustrator and designer of textiles and surface pattern. This blog is a place to share inspiration and ideas. I have a special interest in book arts, including illustration, decoration and binding.