Anyway, so I spent a good section of yesterday tramping round sections of Manchester leaving a trail of bookmarks wherever I thought they would be well received - hence the sore feet (better now, thanks for asking). Plenty more to go, though. They're often printed on discarded screenprints, resulting in a random range of designs - there have been a couple (or so) each year that I have failed to part with; the collection is coming along quite well.
And I managed to include a couple of exhibitions en route. First was MMU Special Collection's The Language of Process: how new materials and technologies are changing product design ( Monday 23rd September - Friday 20th December; just ask on the ground floor of the library and they'll direct you). I had bookmarks in mind, but (not surprisingly, on a saturday) the people I wanted weren't there to talk to. The exhibition was there, however, so I had a good browse. I thought it would be good - when I put it on the book fair site, I thought I should look up the named designers at least, and liked what I found - and it is good. At first I wasn't quite sure just how good - the first few pieces are fine enough but not overly exciting - but then I reached the lit up section. Remember, I don't approach this as a designer or even an artist - what I want is the 'ooo' factor, and for me the area with lights was where I first felt it. I think my favourite piece of the show has to be the analog digital clock by Maarten Baas. It looks just like a digital clock at first, but you don't have to watch for long before realising that something isn't... quite... right. There are odd shadows. Time changes surprisingly slowly. What it turns out be instead is a film, 12 hours long, showing someone physically changing the time in front of your eyes by painting over and wiping off windows. You can see them, moving about! Isn't that great? With the added little twist that back in the days of analogue only, 12 hours straight off just couldn't have been filmed. Fantastic. I also thought My new flame by Moritz Waldmeyer for Ingo Maurer was rather brilliant - tall, slender, circuit board candles with digital flames at the top, but such wonderfully convincing flames. I didn't blow at them, inspite of the urge, because I didn't want the disappointment of them not bending as I blew (and besides, what if they had done? What if I 'blew' one out? What then??). There was, in fact, a shedload of excellent work there, and I'm not going to go through the lot because I think people should visit - so just a few more mentions. The ripple tank table (Daniel O'Riordan) is a very understated but lovely item, a table with ripples on the surface - and you don't have to feed any fish. I loved the idea of the chairfix by Ben Wilson - a simple design, made democratic by all being made from one sheet of many-ply wood, then made original again by the designs printed on it. And Etive (Drummond Masterton) was a small metal cup (non-functional, as they described it) containing the topography of part of Glen Etive. Most of the work, if not all of it, has computer design at the very heart of it - that is, after all, much of the point of the exhibition.
Later in the afternoon I made it to the John Rylands. I had remembered that the Polari exhibition, organised by Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson was on - Jez is a member of Hot Bed Press, so we were able to see some of the work being created. I didn't want to miss the show, but it turns out that it's on till February, which is good because it was reasonably scattered and I'm sure I only found some of it on this visit. I had forgotten, however, that the Boccaccio exhibition was showing too. Lots of old, old books with dense type or script and with illuminated letters, plus a couple of cabinets full of artists' books made especially for the exhibition. But I was really by now on the bookmark trail, so again a return visit is in order, and I have until December. Though I must not wait that long! I already have two exhibitions I'd like to see next week before they disappear. It's too easy to think 'I still have time' until I don't.
I was going to talk about the Manchester Contemporary (already a week gone) as well, but maybe later.