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As part of their final year projects, two Interactive Arts students at the Manchester School of Art will be unveiling a rediscovered artefact, which is of particular significance to the Manchester arts community.
At the annual, final year students’ Degree Show at the Holden Gallery on Friday 15th June, Ryan Higgins and Adam Renshaw will be presenting The Holden Project, and unveiling the original frame that once contained the Adoration of the Magi Tapestry.
The tapestry was designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by William Morris in 1894. Burne-Jones and Morris were very influential in the Arts and Crafts movements of the late 19th Century and worked together on a number of projects, focussing on stained glass, ceramics, jewellery, tapestries and mosaics.
The Adoration of the Magi tapestry is one of ten produced by Morris & Co and depicts the biblical tale of the Three Kings being guided to the birthplace of Jesus by the star of Bethlehem. The Holden Gallery building was architecturally designed to house the tapestry, but the tapestry has since been moved to its current home in the Special Collections department at the Manchester Metropolitan University’s All Saints Campus.
The tapestry is a source of intrigue and fascination for the Manchester Arts Community and inspired Higgins and Renshaw to focus their final year project on its origins and the difficult aspects curatorial responsibility. During their investigative research into the tapestry and the gallery that once housed it, the two students rediscovered the original frame hidden behind the gallery walls.
Interested in curation and the relationship between the exhibition space and the tapestry, the final year students decided to explore how the colours from the tapestry could influence the space itself. As exhibition galleries are often decorated in a more muted colour range, Higgins and Renshaw decided to challenge this idea and blur the boundaries between art and curation.
Higgins and Renshaw approached HMG Paints Ltd, based in Manchester, to help match the colours from the threads taken from the reverse of the tapestry. HMG Paints are the largest independent industrial paints manufacturer in the UK, and have a colour library containing over 100,000 colours. By drawing upon this wealth of knowledge, HMG Paints were able to analyse the coloured threads and manufacture paints to match the original colours.
John Falder, Managing Director of HMG Paints, was thrilled to be involved with the project, saying: “HMG Paints have always been eager to work with university and community projects and we were very excited by the ideas put forward by Ryan and Adam. HMG Paints have been developing and manufacturing paint in Manchester for 82 years, and we truly appreciate the importance of understanding and communicating the city’s cultural heritage. This project provided us with the opportunity to combine our vast archive of paint colours with the historical art archive held at the Special Collections department at the Manchester Metropolitan University”.
This aspect of the project represents an important facet of the student project, which is communication. By collaborating with the Special Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University, and with HMG Paints, Higgins and Renshaw were able to create a discourse between academia, contemporary art, and commerciality.
Higgins believes that creating these avenues of communication is essential for the contemporary arts community, saying: “Our project focuses on the importance of heritage and the discussion of paint and space as historical concepts. We are using the context of the tapestry to create a contemporary slant on how art in an historical context is used and communicated”.
Engagement forms the basis for The Holden Project, and the unveiling of the rediscovered original tapestry frame will also be accompanied by test pots of the colour matched paint. These test pots of paint will also accompany the Adoration of the Magi tapestry to Japan, where it will be featured in an exhibition of Edward Burne-Jones’ major works. Between 23rd June and December 9th, the tapestry will be exhibited at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum in Tokyo, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe, and the Koriyami City Museum in Koriyami.
Renshaw hopes that attendees will use these test pots of paint to create their own art and feedback
their experiences. He says, “By feeding back their experiences with the paint, we hope attendees will help to continue the story of the tapestry and the exhibition space itself, and use the commercially inspired test pots purely for the sake of art.”
Higgins and Renshaw will present The Holden Project in association with HMG Paints at 5pm on Friday, 15th June at the Holden Gallery, Grosvenor Building, MMU All Saints Campus, Cavendish Street Manchester, M15 6BR.
The Manchester School of Art Degree Show 2012 is free to attend and open to the public.
For enquiries, please contact Sam Gaunt at email@example.com
HMG Paints at Riverside Works, Collyhurst Road, Manchester M40 7RU, telephone 0161 205 7631, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hmgpaint.com
Ryan Higgins and Adam Renshaw at email@example.com
The Degree Show celebrates the achievements and talents of final year students at Manchester School of Art. The show is open to the public and will take place between 16 and 20 June 2012.
Saturday 16 June
10am – 4pm
Sunday 17 June
10am – 4pm
Monday 18 June
10am – 6pm
Tuesday 19 June
10am – 6pm
Wednesday 20 June
10am – 4pm