Virtual Residency


Josiah Spode’s violin? by Stephen Dixon

On display in The Violin Shop, Victorian Street until 14/07/17.

During a research residency at the V&A in 2009/10 Stephen 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 was developed in the project ‘Excavate’ at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2013, which was awarded one of the BCB ‘Explore’ research residency awards. The project took the form of a performative archaeological dig on the site of the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent, which unfolded over the six weeks of the festival.

Working with a multi-disciplinary team of student volunteers from Manchester School of Art, ‘Excavate’ combined factual archaeology with fictional findings. As the project developed, an installation of bone china plates was gradually populated with illustrations of the excavated shards. The project culminated in the excavation, restoration and display of an imagined historical object, ‘Josiah Spode’s violin?’.


1900 Everyday Smock by Alison Welsh

On display in The Drapers Shop, Victorian Street until 14/07/17.

This project uses archive images of artists’ smocks as the catalyst for constructed textile narratives, which combine hand and digital stitching technologies to reference the history of Manchester School of Art.

Further research surveyed literature regarding smocks created for rural life in Britain. Nineteenth century ‘Surrey Everyday Smocks’, were particularly relevant, as these smocks were shirt-like in appearance and cut in a traditional English manner.

The pieces Alison produced a 1900 combined the constructional details from these rural smocks with those of contemporary menswear. They ‘up-cycled’ carefully sourced fabrics, including formal shirts and re-claimed bed linen from the old Manchester Polytechnic halls of residence.

Specific detailing in the garments, such as the ‘Manchester School of Art’ embroidery detail was taken from the entrance to the Municipal School of Art Building (Grosvenor Building) and embroidered using Ethos software on the Brother digital embroidery machine. Additional printed imagery was sourced from the Special Collections archive.