Updated: Sunday, 29th March 2020 @ 7:27am

A rich tapestry: Manchester Craft Centre collects 'January Tales' of past, from fish market to Tony Wilson

A rich tapestry: Manchester Craft Centre collects 'January Tales' of past, from fish market to Tony Wilson

By Tim Hyde

From humble beginnings as a bustling fish market, Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre has evolved into a creative powerhouse at the heart of the city.

To celebrate the New Year the centre is running a ‘January Tales’ series where artists and customers have the opportunity to tell some of the unique stories that make the complex so special.

The centre’s artists past and present have kicked off the series with tales of work and play.

Business owner Nell Smith is one of those who have contributed a tale so far.

“There have been ups and downs over the years, but the help and support of the wonderful tenants and office staff mean there is nowhere else I’d rather be,” she said.

“I feel truly blessed to work in such a creative environment, doing what I love, surrounded by friends.

“My business would certainly not have evolved so successfully working in isolation. Roll on the next six years!”


COLLECTING MEMORIES: Manchester Craft and Design Centre (Image courtesy of Ned Trifle, with thanks)

Helen Rushworth , who once occupied a studio in the centre, remembers all too well the agonising days listening to Manchester City lose on the radio and the collective spirit that epitomises the creative hub.

She said: “I have loads of great memories – bizarre fancy dress parties, visits from our one time patron Tony Wilson, an unknown Doves playing a gig on the stage outside my door, Nigel’s delicious ciabattas and soups, lots of bickering over being ‘co-operative.”

“But mainly I remember it as being a fantastic place to work and share creative ideas with a bunch of like-minded folk. Long may it live.”

Readers can expect an eclectic range of stories from the centre’s varied and rich heritage.

Victoria Johnson, a manager at MCDC, said: “January tales is part of an on-going strategy to inform customers more about the artists and the products that they buy.

“January Tales was inspired by our vision and values as story tellers, which gives us the opportunity to engage with customers.

“A new tale will be uploaded every Monday and Friday which will include stories from artists as well as customers.”

Some of the tales have also been written by interns who worked at the MCDC for a short while, but still have stories about how the centre has inspired them to go on in the future.

The centre will also be uploading stories written by winners of their ‘Spotted’ competition who receive a year’s online sales platform via www.craftanddesign.com.

After spending a year at the centre the winners have often have accumulated interesting stories about the working environment and in some cases go on to tell tales of what they have planned for the future. 

Main image courtesy of PhilEdmonds, with thanks

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