30 years: Manchester’s Craft & Design Centre

1982 was a banner year. The first CD player was bought in Japan, the Mary Rose was raised and put on display in Portsmouth and the Manchester Craft and Design Centre (MCDC) first opened it’s doors to the public.

In its 30 years serving the crafty community up north, the award-winning MCDC has helped transform the Northern Quarter – the city’s own bohemian answer to Greenwich Village – from a bustling market district into a veritable hub of creativity. The very building the centre is housed in embodies this transformation. What was once a fish and poultry market is now the place to go for art and artistry in Manchester.

The MCDC has been celebrating its 30-year anniversary hard throughout 2012 so far, with a Collecting History exhibition encouraging people to share their own memories of the centre (both as a fish market and a creative space) and Crafting History, an exhibition launching at 14:00 tomorrow (July 14th) showcasing creative responses to the history of the MCDC.

A ceramic installation revealing the memories and tales of visitors to the centre is being set up by artist Carys Davies, while 26 of the centre’s resident makers will also be donating work to the display, with the pieces going up for auction in November. A number of craft workshops will also be put on, including a session on slang embroidery where you can do a bit of stitching while learning all about the special coded language used by the fish market traders of old.

Most interesting, however, is the evening entertainment. From 19:00, sampler culture-clash will be taking to the stage, a very intriguing project that explores the relationship between sound and embroidery. David Littler, one of the masterminds behind the group, explained that a special improvised work is being created that harks back to the times when the centre was a fish market and also uses sounds taken from the building at the moment, from sewing machines to jewellery making.

The 40-minute performance will include beat-boxing and a textile installation that plays sounds when manipulated, as well as lots of other handmade instruments. “It’s about celebrating the art of sampling,” David said. “Taking a sound and manipulating it and making these new compositions from it. It relates to the whole embroidery practice of taking a pattern and creating a sample, making a collection of stitches that you refer back to to create one new design. We’re celebrating craft-making in all its forms through sound rather than objects.”

There’s all sorts of shenanigans going on at the MCDC tomorrow from 14:00, so make sure you pop your head in to say hi. To find out more about the event and the centre in general, tune in to BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow morning at 08:45 to hear director Kate Day wax lyrical on the subject.

Follow the MCDC on Twitter

Follow David Littler on Twitter

Hope to see some of you at the event tomorrow. Come and say hi!

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