Paul Peter Piech at the People’s History Museum

Paul Peter Piech

A couple of weeks ago, I had a little staycation in Manchester, and went to an amazing retrospective exhibition of the work of Paul Peter Piech at the People’s History Museum. It was incredibly inspiring, included in the display were politically charged lino prints, book covers and posters.

I love the urgency and sheer volume of his work. The prints he made were innovative, bold and powerful. He never stopped making and making, frenetically producing his prints. It made me want to put some Sun Ra on and carve lino blocks.

The exhibition runs til the 12th of February, and I urge you to go and see it.

Manchester Histories Festival

Manchester Histories Festival launches tonight at Manchester Craft and Design Centre. All the studios were invited to get involved in the Heritage Windows project, and the members of Studio 25 were keen to think of something groovy to do in our window. As I have been drawing some Medieval monstrosities lately, I thought it might be a nice idea to collaborate on a medley of mash-up creatures, inspired by all the animals that have called the Craft and Design Centre home over the years. The centre was originally a fish and poultry market, part of the larger Smithfield Market, so alongside the stallholders wares, there naturally would have been mice, and cats to chase them away! We often have little birdy visitors that get tempted in by cake crumbs, and last year one of the tenants, Jon, found a snake outside! A veritable menagerie! Tib Street used to be full of pet shops back in the day, and if you look up in the Northern Quarter, you may spy a few avian tributes to this heritage, perched in stone on the buildings.


My initial idea was to play a game of visual consequences/Exquisite Corpse, with each member of the studio drawing a part of the creature in turn, head, torso, arms, feet etc, but in reality, we ran out of time and I ended up starting the drawings on my own on the day of the launch. The window will evolve over the course of the festival, with creatures being added, edited and adorned. Look out for Lobster-men, Chicken-mice, Cat-eels and much more!  

Working on the window for @mcrhistfest Greetings from the Lobsterman! #illustration #mhf2016

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on

You can read more about the history of the Craft Centre and the Northern Quarter here, on the Collecting History blog.



The New Whitney Museum of American Art


I was super fortunate to go to New York this Christmas. The festive season was spent in the Hamptons, where I got geeky about American birds – red cardinals, bluejays and chickadees, it was incredible! I had a day in Manhattan before I came home, and went to the new Whitney Museum of American Art. The temporary exhibition was a Frank Stella retrospective. Themes of discipline, systems and repetition are all obviously of great interest to me in my work, alongside abstract geometry, so I was really happy to catch this show. I love setting myself projects and challenges, the idea of a painting for all 135 chapters of Moby Dick was really interesting.

The permanent collection was pretty amazing, and the building itself is really cool too, set between the Hudson and the High Line.