Saturday 13 June 2009

Trip to Gallery Oldham

I had a nice visit to Gallery Oldham today. The Fairies exhibit by Samantha Bryan is what tempted me out there. (Yes, it’s only 15 mins on the train, but still I had to be tempted out.) Her work isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I find it interesting to see what she’s doing. She uses paper clay to sculpt the heads, and all sorts of bits go into the sculptures. I did like the buttons used as wheels. Possibly the problem I have with Samantha Bryan’s work is that she makes sculptures rather than toys. “Do not touch” tags bug me.

The next gallery along was a pleasant surprise, as I’m not familiar with either artist but really liked the sculptures. An Englishman, a Scotsman and a Tree: Paul Aston and James Castle, is only at Gallery Oldham until 27 June 09, but I do recommend it. The work and the gallery space was just refreshing. Photography was permitted in that room, so here’s a favourite of mine:

sculptures by Paul Aston

It makes me want to put dots on all my furniture.

Also, the exhibit called A Lost Landscape: Roger Hampson was very interesting 9on until 25 July). Hampson was a Northern, post-WW2 artist, who seems to have known that the common lifestyle in his native land was dying out. Fascinating from a socio-historical perspective: the clogs, the Walking Days, workers in mills and mines. It would have been nice to have more description with the images, but a whole book would have been more appropriate.

Last note: I did get slightly lost and ended up in the education area inside the library, where one of the craft displayes featured painted plastic bottle tops, and another had a quilt of apliqued hands with embroidered decoration. Neat!

Monday 8 June 2009

Very bad day

I'm sickened by the fact that I live with 132,094 racists who voted for the BNP, and that means their leader is now one of my MEPs.

I'm not a British or EU citizen yet, but I've booked my Life In The UK test, and I'll be saving up the £750. Next election, at least I'll be able to vote.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Manchester Fab Lab

Tuesday, I went to a very interesting talk by Dr Eddie Kirkby, head of charitable operations for the Manufacturing Institute. He's in charge of setting up a Fab Lab in Manchester, and hopes it will be up and running by the end of this year. I made notes, but can't say I took everything down correctly or completely, but the project does sound really cool.

The Fab Lab idea started at MIT. Very open source ethos influenced. I think the set up is generally enough to go from idea to prototype, but it also seems to be a place to make stuff. Not a factory, but definitely somewhere you could build a one-off piece of, well, whatever you can think of.

The current plan for fitting out a local lab includes:

  • CAD/CAM software

  • lazer cutter

  • lathe

  • moulding and casting facility for stuff made of plastics, silicon, chocolates, etc., but not metal

  • 3D printer and scanner

  • vinyl cutter

  • maybe something for printing curcuits (can't see this in my notes, but I think it was mentioned)

It won't have anything to work hard substances (iron, granite), so if your idea called for something like that, either that component would have to be made elsewhere, or you could do a prototype in available materials, but you wouldn't be able to stress test it.

As I understand it, the fab lab would be free to use with agreement to the fab lab charter. Users need to know how to use the equipment (or learn by sharing knowledge), and document the design and process for other fab lab users (this is a world-wide network- not just Mancunian). If you want to work in secret, you will be able to rent the space (cheap, if Dr Kirkby's estimate proves correct) and work all on your own. Staff time can also be purchased (at the moment 'staff' means a manager and an assistant manager, but volunteers are being sought as well), and they plan to do workshops and team-building events to generate income, and participate in open innovation challenges (no- I didn't understand what that means, but one involved new crisp flavours [what's wrong with salt and vinegar? I say]). I think Dr Kirkby said funding was already in place for 2 years.

The proposed site is currently somewhere on Oldham Road, but this isn't confirmed yet. And the Manchester Fab Lab website isn't up yet either, but the nice eddiek said he'll email a load of us with updates.

I'm excited about it. Even though it is a 'manufacturing initiative' the ethos is weloming to arts/crafts endeavours.

The talk was organized by the Manchester Inventors Group.