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!

Well four years on, things have changed somewhat. I have a BA (Hons) degree, it turned out that I met some amazing people on my course and made great friends, and Manchester Craft & Design Centre is a firm fixture in my new life as a jewellery maker. Behind the treasure filled studio windows I found a community of makers who are always welcoming and inspiring. Today I come to the craft centre sometimes just to shop, other times to look after the studio for Eve (which also now stocks some of my jewellery!), and to top up on the sense of belonging to a craft community. I am one of many over the years that Eve has nurtured from student to jewellery maker entrusting us along the way with time in her studio; always there for advice and without hesitation the person who will say give it a go, you can do it. I will always owe a great deal of what I achieve to Eve. There are more lovely makers at the craft centre who have helped and continue to do so today; so for me it is not just the beautiful building and the glorious array of work to be found here that have imprinted on me, but the makers at the heart of MCDC, they are a part of my jewellery history. Thank you all for inspiration, help and encouragement x
P.S I will be exhibiting as part of ‘Past, Present & Future Makers Celebrate 30 Years at Manchester Craft & Design Centre’ from 28 April – Divinity Studio and Jo Lavelle Studio.


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