I spent a few days in Middlesbrough last week at a conference about Victorian Cities. The town has a really interesting history and some wonderful Victorian architecture. In 1800 there were four houses and about 25 people living there. By 1890, mainly as a result of the iron industry boom, the population was around 90, 000. It was the perfect location for a few days of thinking about industrial history and heritage.
On the second day of the conference, I got a few hours to explore. I went along to the Dorman Museum to see the Christopher Dresser (aka. 'the father of modern design') collection. The collection contains a range of Dresser's own designs as well as pieces from his time in Japan. It was such a treat to see Dresser's inspirations alongside his own work, and objects which were created by some of the many companies he worked with. One of my favourite pieces was a ceramic teapot made to look like paper (pictured below).
I ended my afternoon stomp around Middlesbrough with a visit to the jewellery gallery at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). It took my breath away. The purpose-built permanent gallery, which opened earlier this month, contains a diverse and downright amazing collection of contemporary jewellery. Mima describe the collection as 'one of the finest publicly-owned jewellery collections in the UK ... featuring beautiful, provocative and fascinating pieces.' There are over 200 pieces on display from designers including Wendy Ramshaw, Felieke van der Leest and Gijs Bakker.
The gallery is an absolute must-see for any budding jewellery designer. In fact, I think it will become a place of pilgrimage and an important learning resource for designers and makers of all sorts of things. It's basically a little slice of design heaven on earth.
Here is some of what I saw in Middlesbrough:
Christopher Dresser Collection...
The jewellery gallery at mima.
Thank you, Middlesbrough, for an inspirational, design-filled few days.