Why you should visit the Manchester Craft and Design Centre
- Credit: Archant
A former Victorian fish market in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter is now a thriving artistic hub.
My art focuses on skyscapes, landscapes and the occasional cityscape. I never thought I'd be an artist. I grew up in the countryside, surrounded by animals and wanted to be a vet. I was always academic but when my dad passed away around the time of my A-Levels it really threw me in to the arts and I wanted to spend all my time doing something I loved. When something like that happens, it makes you appreciate life. So I got stuck into painting and I haven't looked back.
I have a real fascination with superstitions so my work is inspired by cabinets of curiosities, popular in the Victorian Era. They were pieces of furniture that showcased odd things - animal specimens, keys and charms; each one would have had a story or myth behind it. I love the stories behind pieces of art. My mum's from Yorkshire and she's very superstitious and it's rubbed off on me. If I see a magpie, I always do a sly salute.
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Crafting handmade gifts is actually my second career. I used to work in a children's television animation studio. I was Postman Pat's costume maker! When the studio closed down I had to do something new. I've always loved creating and I love colour, so spending my time combining both makes me so happy. When I was accepted for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, because the standard is so high, I truly felt it was an acknowledgment that I belonged in this field of creativity.
In my 20s I used to work in television and film in London. It was really intense and I got to the point where I craved a change of pace so I moved to a small mountain town in Mexico called San Cristobal de Las Casas where I lived for 18 months. That's where I started creating jewellery. I met a lot of artisans and learned how to polish stones and work silver. My jewellery is definitely inspired by my travels which I still do, just in a different way. I have a van so I'm currently spending my spare time exploring England and our own beautiful countryside.
Lee Page Hanson
I've been here for 20 years now. I make a variety of things including vases, bowls and tiles with different surface patterns; I've been using birds as my inspiration for a while now. I was working on a trade fair when I met a woman visiting from Brooklyn who wanted to sell my bird tiles at The New York Gift Fair. I was making around 1,000 tiles a year here in this small space. It was hard work at the time but knowing my work has been sold all around America, from New York to San Francisco, was amazing. It really blew my mind.
My grandma lived with us when I was 15 and I have memories of sitting with her, stitching. After I started doing wood work, I found out my great granddad was a master carpenter and built church pews. My dad worked in joinery and built us a tree-house at the bottom of our garden and we even had a wood workshop in our basement. So this kind of work definitely runs in the family. My work features wood veneer with contemporary embroidery. So I combined both skills to make my products.