Virtual Residency


Josiah Spode’s violin? 

Stephen Dixon, 2013. Slip-cast bone china, with original Spode transfer prints. On display in The Violin Shop, Victorian Street. 

During a research residency at the V&A in 2009/10 I was drawn repeatedly to the museum’s extensive collection of ceramic shards, attracted by their incompleteness, and the way that a viewer might re-invent and re-imagine them into a vessel or a sculpture. This idea developed in the project Excavate at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2013, as a performative archaeological dig on the site of the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent. Working with a team of student volunteers from Manchester School of Art, Excavate combined factual archaeology with fictional ‘findings’. The project culminated in the excavation, restoration and display of an imagined historical object, Josiah Spode’s violin?, inspired by Spode’s early career as a street musician.


1900 Everyday Smock

Alison Welsh, 2012. Combined recycled garments and bed sheets, machine embroidered and hand stitched. On display in The Drapers Shop, Victorian Street.

This smock garment was made in response to photographs of staff and students’ garments from the Special Collections Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University. The collection contains a number of formal and informal photographs of staff and students taken since the formation of the Manchester School of Art in 1838.  Some of these depict the newly constructed craft workshops within the School of Art, taken by unknown photographers in the 1920’s and 1930’s; notably a formal shot of Adolphe Valette and one of his students Charles Witham wearing a smock.

The piece combines constructional details from artists’ smocks and traditional English rural smocks with contemporary menswear, using recycled fabrics including formal shirts and re-claimed bed linen from the old Manchester Polytechnic (1970 to 1992) halls of residence.


Floral Wheelbarrow

Stephen Dixon, 2013. Combined recycled wheelbarrow and ceramic flowers. On display in the Vine House, Walled Kitchen Garden.

The floral wheelbarrow is one of a series of sculptures featuring hand-made bone china flowers as ‘interventions’ into everyday objects. Thousands of these flowers were salvaged from a derelict factory site in Stoke-on-Trent in 2009, and since then they have appeared in various forms, from bicycles to battleships. This piece was made for the Manchester School of Art Allotment exhibit at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in 2013.


Over There

Alison Welsh and Sass Brown, 2016. Combined recycled vintage garments. On display in the Undertakers, Victorian Street.

In commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War, Alison Welsh collaborated with US based textile artist Sass Brown on a womenswear garment, which used antique shirting, lace, lingerie and battledress to examine the distant and often tragic relationships between the young soldiers ‘over there’ and their girls back home. Starting with a men’s collar, the garment was posted back and forth between the UK and the USA, with each artist adding one new element at a time until the garment was completed.