Brickwork progresses to a higher level

3 03 2014

Brickwork progresses to a higher level

Having climbed up onto the scaffolding today and being close to the ascending brickwork on our Landscape Gallery, I’ve decided that in my next life, (should I choose to be part of the construction industry) – I’d be a ‘brickie’ – especially if I was able to work on such delightful designs as those conceived by our architects, MUMA. If you go back to one of my previous blog posts from last September,, you will see the sample panels being developed and the special faience pieces that will give the designs facing onto Denmark Road their distinctive ‘slash and stitch’ effect, based on textiles from the Whitworth’s collection.

Work on laying the bricks to the external Gallery walls is now well under way, albeit somewhat hidden from general view by the scaffolding, but its safe to say, the connection between the red brick and terracotta facade of our original building is apparent. The new bricks, commissioned as the ‘Whitworth blend’, have been supplied by Northcot brick, a Gloucestershire based master brickmakers, who have many years experience of producing machine-made bricks of high quality and consistency. There are also special traditional hand-made bricks, with a subtle shape and character of their own, such as those surrounding the plantroom ventilation at the far end of the Landscape Gallery (see photograph below).


Of course, when I’m a brickie, I will only want to be working when the sun is shining! Maybe that’s too much to ask, given our recent Manchester weather, but certainly seeing work progressing on the ‘pleated’ pattern on the curved, south facing wall of the Learning Studio, was a pleasure to witness – not just because it was a glorious sunny day, but as a demonstration of the beautiful detailing and finish of our emerging new building.

nicola - IMG_0006


Big, Beautiful and Bright – comments from Whitworth staff

27 02 2014

Big, Beautiful and Bright - comments from Whitworth staff

After so much recent rain, it was lovely to be able to go on site this afternoon with a group of Whitworth staff and witness at first hand the late afternoon, winter sunshine streaming across the Art Garden and into the Promenade.

Views of the park were high on the list of staff comments, with a real pleasure expressed by the intimacy between views out to the Art Garden and into the Collections Access Area and Study Centre – ‘we can’t wait to see it when all the windows are revealed’ and the glazing protection taken down. Members of the Learning team were excited too by the connections between the inside and external spaces – the Bi-fold doors that have just been installed in the Learning studio will come into their own as families drop in for the exciting programme of activities in store.


The Cafe remains a firm favourite – so lovely to imagine sitting within the canopy of the trees sipping coffee – and don’t forget too the Cafe Terrace, which will surely become a great place for lunch on a summer’s day.

Staff were bowled over by the spaces, expressing surprise over the sheer scale of the Landscape Gallery (reminiscent to one of White Cube at Mason’s Yard, London), and generally how so much of the new build felt bigger than when just seen on the plans.

Some staff are currently ensconced in rather old and dingy temporary office accommodation, and so the visit was a good reminder of what we are all working towards, seeing ‘our new, amazing Gallery makes you realise it will be worth it in the end’ – the word ‘Magnificent’ summed it all up!

Excitement grows in the Learning Team!

1 11 2013

Excitement grows in the Learning Team!

Last week the Whitworth’s Learning & Engagement Team were treated to their second sneaky peek of the new development. Lucy Turner, Early Years Coordinator describes their visit:

‘Our first visit was way back in the Spring when spaces were only just being marked out on the ground. This time was a whole different experience! Now you get a real sense of the scale of what’s being done…this is going to be one hell of a gallery!

The first thing you see as you walk through the ISG offices and onto the site is the Art Garden, it’s at least twice the size I’d imagined it would be. It’s going to be a fantastic space for all our visitors, particularly for the under 5s that I work with on my programme. I can just picture them running around, exploring secret paths and discovering gaps in the hedgerows, all the while having their senses stimulated by the vibrant colours and smells of Sarah Price’s gorgeous designs, (see:

Learning studio

The space that the Learning & Engagement Team are most excited about is the new Learning Studio. Never before have we had a designated space to use with our groups – whether they be adult learners, families or school groups. Previously we have used the gallery spaces for all our engagement work, which we will still continue to do in the new gallery, but it will be great to have our own purpose built space to enable us to do more messy, loud and focussed workshops. The Learning Studio is on the ground floor and opens out, via huge glass doors, onto the Art Garden.

learning-studio_doors open

Whilst a bit predictable, I have to say that my favourite space of all might well be the new cafe space. This glass box, set up in the trees, overlooks Whitworth Park on one side and the new Art Garden on the other, the views are incredible – what an amazing place it’s going to be to have a well earned cuppa…the best in Manchester!

We are all delighted to see the building developing so quickly and we can’t wait for our next tour!