Submitted by Helen Dickinson to the blog

As a child I loved butterflies, and still do. On my first visit to the centre a year or so ago I visited artist Lily Greenwood’s studio (Liz). A “special” birthday was approaching and I was taken with a print of one of her originals featuring butterflies. Hearing that Lily (Liz) undertook comissions I took the plunge and asked her to re-create her lovely painting incorporating my interpretation of what I saw in her wonderful original. We went on a journey to get to the finished piece and I now have the delightful painting hanging on my lounge wall at home to enjoy along with friends and family too. It always catches people’s attention and is a real talking point, particularly with what I and everyone else sees in it. The butterflies represented a turning point in my life and funnily enough what I saw in the painting is coming true……

Collecting History Launch – Saturday 28th April 2012

We launch Collecting History in the exhibition space at MCDC Saturday 28th April with drop in workshops, live music from Thomas Thorp (saxophone) and English Electric (electro DJ/composer), and 1982-tastic food and drinks from Oak St. Cafe. Launch runs from 2-5pm – all welcome!

The exhibition will be added to, tweaked and reworked over the course of the project, until the 30th June. Comments left here will be transferred to the exhibition and I will be in residence at MCDC collecting your thoughts on Manchester Craft & Design Centre (dates to follow). I look forward to hearing from you!

More information: MCDC and Facebook

In the Nineties

Submitted by Mark Prest to the blog

I had a studio there Mark Prest Glass from 1991 -1995, many a happy time hanging over the balcony gossiping with Mandy and Ross from Odlin and Webb, who were fashion designers. Poping into Robert Johnstones studio who made contemporary Jewellery out of gold leaf and resin or on the scrounge downstairs in Donna and Lisa’s then studio. How things and life have changed since then. One thing I don’t miss though is how cold the place is in winter!

Warp & Weft

A little snap shot here of the local area before Smithfield Fish Market itself, brought to life on Tib Street by Liz Scrine, a previous tenant of MCDC in 1997..

Interesting to know the origins of both Oak and Tib Street are both fairly literal, but also to hear of the industrial production and skilled makers operating in the area over 200 years ago, plus the pet shop’s still there! You can also still spot Liz’s illuminated staircase in the exterior wall of MCDC.

submitted by Adrienne Tighe to the blog

My main connection to MCDC are regularly visiting Liz Scrine in her ceramic studio opposite the cafe. Liz was always a great inspiration to me as a ceramicist, trying in the early 90′s to get a business going in ceramics. I was able to start this by using the Enterprise Allowance set up by the Tories. The only offering by that government that did some good.
I then, over time, started to sell my work from Liz’s studio. Helen , next door , also aided my mini career too. MCCD was the only place in Manchester to offer such a chance. So thank you to all involved and good luck for the future, to the hidden gem of Manchester.

In the Eighties

submitted by Charlotte Sargeant to the blog

I started visiting the Craft Centre as it was then known in about 1987 when i was 14 years old, as I had met someone called Rob Fulton who worked for Eva Barker who owned the Silverlode, a small silversmiths. From then on I learned to make silver jewellrey and began to work there in 1990 which i carried on doing until 1997.
There used to be some great Christmas parties there and it was always laid back and a good place to work. They used to hold meetings down stairs when Liam was at Majolica Works and they even coined the phrase ‘The Northern Quarter’ which we really laughed at and still amazes me now that buildings and streets around there are trendy as there was never much there before.
The Silverlode is not in the Craft and Design Centre anymore but it does seem like a very vibrant place now and I have many happy memories of working there.

submitted to the blog by Folly Bloom

I have great memories of the MCDC. Need to confirm the date but Gavin & I met over a lovely bowl of home-made carrot and coriander soup and a cheeky bag of hoola hoops and we have never looked back! I was sharing a studio and started out on my handmade work.

Several happy years later, about 14!, we are the proud owners of 4 arty, musical children owed all to our love for MCDC!!

Hope this helps.
Ps Had many a good evening @Night & Day too in them ‘old’ days!!

First Impressions

I started bimbling around MCDC on Wednesday and have some wonderful audio recordings from some of the tenants for the exhibition that will probably make an appearance on the blog too. In talking about the history of the centre it’s becoming quite apparent that the first visit here made a lasting impression on people who later came to work here..

submitted by Dena Bagi, Exhibitions & Events Officer at MCDC

My Dad took me to Manchester Craft and Design Centre on a day out when i was 17. I had just decided to study Ceramics at University, so he thought it would be fitting. I remember being overwhelmed by the Centre and adamantly deciding that i would have a studio at the Centre when i became a successful ceramicist!

I currently work at MCDC, but i’m not a ceramicist. I manage the exhibitions programme and learning instead. I still love it and it’s a very nice place to work.

submitted by Eve Redmond, MCDC tenant, to the blog

The first time I went into the Craft Village as it was known then was around 1988/89. I was a student at South Manchester College doing a BTEC in Jewellery and had come all the way from Ireland to do the course as there was no jewellery courses in Eire at the time. Two graduates Rob & Gary who were friends of a friend had joined Silverlode. I was amazed to see them setting up business after finishing the course I had just completed. However I wanted to learn more and went on to London to study at St Martins. When I returned in 1993, I went into RA Design and Anne started selling my work there. It was my first outlet after graduating. I will always be grateful to Anne for taking my work and giving me confidence to apply to other outlets and build up my business. In 2002, Deborah Zeldin O’Neill an existing tenant in MCDC needed someone to share and asked me to join forces. We set up Divinity in 2002 and it has grown from strength to strength over the last ten years. Its a special year for MCDC being 30 years old, but it’s also a special year for me as it’s my 10 year anniversary being here and I’m now Artistic Director on the board. I love it and hope to stay as long as possible.

submitted by Jane Blease, tenant at MCDC, to the blog

I moved to Manchester from my home town Southport in 2002 for university and soon discovered the Craft Centre. I used to do all my christmas and birthday shopping at the centre but never dreamt that I would end up being a tenant. I did the setting up scheme with the Design Initiative 2006-2008 and got some funding to do the Design Show Liverpool. During the show I met quite a few MCDC tenants who convinced me to apply for a vacant studio and before I knew it I was part of the team. I now share studio 24 with my lovely friend Nell. It’s been a wonderful three years with my new extended family. Happy 30th Birthday MCDC!

submitted by Deborah Forrest to the blog

Its autumn 2008, a rather warm day, and I’m wandering around Manchester following some guy rattling on about buildings and key dates in Manchester’s history. I’m preoccupied with thoughts that being a mature student might not be for me; after all I signed up for a degree in Jewellery & Applied Art, not charging round city centres with a rather random bunch of today’s youth, and one thankfully older than me lecturer. Added to my plight was rather unsuitable footwear and an inherent ineptitude when it comes to finding the same place twice; so Mike as he turned out to be called, was wasting his time with the ‘orientation trip’, all I would remember were sore feet in the morning. Then as we piled to a stop in the street I vaguely here the words ‘craft centre’…okay that sounds a bit more like it, if nothing else it’s indoors. So here I am at Manchester Craft and Design Centre on a sunny September day, and this is my oasis, not least because Mike is leaving us here and we can ‘explore’ at our leisure. I remember thinking how odd it was to find this beautiful building ‘tucked away behind a car park’. Stepping inside the sun was flooding through the glass roof, and it felt then, as it still does to me today, like you are stepping out of the city into another world. It also turned out to be where my soon to be jewellery tutor, Eve Redmond, had her studio, Divinity. So things were looking up, there were loads of fab things to see here and my lecturer actually had her own jewellery studio…perhaps giving this student lark a chance might be worth a go!

Continue reading


submitted by Kate Day, Director of Manchester Craft & Design Centre

The pic is of me (aged 22), my Mum, brother and family friend Judith visiting MCDC the day after my degree show in June 1992 (History of Design @ MMU). That’s me with the Tintin haircut (cringe!). I also have a silver ring, which I think my Mum bought me as a ‘congratulations on your degree’ gift, which came from Silverlode and is date-stamped June 1992.

A Craft Centre for Manchester

On the 6th August 1978 the conversion of Smithfield Fish Market into a Craft Village was given the go ahead. According to an article from the Manchester Evening News the following day it would provide a visitor attraction and help preserve many traditional crafts. Visitors would be able to wander through building watching the craftspeople at work and buy goods directly from them.

By August interest had been received from 30 or so craftspeople including furniture makers, potters, glass blowers, silversmiths. goldsmiths, and other skilled crafts people in jewellery, weaving and dressmaking. Jack Hadwen, Director of the Industrial Development Unit, added that it would have “Tremendous public appeal and would be the biggest of its kind in the country”.

Manchester City Council renovated the market and the ‘Manchester Craft Village’ was opened in 1982.

The Fish Market

Here’s a little bit of history for you from the Centre’s archive… Manchester Craft & Design Centre is housed in the former Smithfield Retail Fish Market, and behind it stood the larger Wholesale Fish Market, which has now been converted to flats and bars. The building was founded in 1875 and functioned as the City’s retail fish market until the 1970’s when it struggled to compete with the high street and Manchester’s newly opened Arndale Centre. The market relocated to Openshaw where it still operates as The New Smithfield Market.

submitted by Jan Jones to the blog

When I was a little girl in the 1950′s my parents had a greengrocer’s shop in Middleton which also sold “wet fish”! During the school holidays my father used to take me with him sometimes when he went to the market at the start of the day. I remember having to get up very early and drive in our old van and trailer into Manchester to buy the fruit, veg and fish. I remember the fish market the most because of the smell but also because also because I would occasionally be given sweets or a threepenny bit by the nice stallholders. A big treat for me was to be allowed to stand in the trailer as my Dad drove round the block from the veg market to the fish market to collect his purchases!
Now I am still a regular visitor to the MCDC and the Northern Quarter generally – I love the fact that some bits of old Manchester are being put to such good use and not demolished.

Although the loud hustle and bustle of the old market may be a thing of the past (exhibition launches an exception!) the themes of abundance and exchange are still alive and well inside the Centre. There is a vast range of materials, processes and inspiration on offer and a invaluable chance to engage with both objects and maker. It is a platform to show and sell work, talk about creativity, develop and trade ideas. So whilst the old fish market moved on due to high street competition, what came next would be the complete antithesis of it – and long may it continue.