Owl Project


Images of the Owl Project’s Studio, and an example of their work.

Over the next few months we will be exploring how some of the Whitworth’s Creative Practitioners use their studios to be creative, as well as looking at the studio practices of artists in our collection to help us develop ideas for our own new Clore learning studio leading up to the Whitworth’s reopening.

Many of the artists who work with the Whitworth on our learning programmes have their own studios around the city. The Owl Project is a collaboration between artists Antony Hall, Simon Blackmore and Steve Symons who share a studio in central Manchester. Here they work on collaborative projects that blend sculpture, computer technology and woodwork to create interesting machines and instruments that comment upon artistic and commercial practice. The three have worked on large commissions for international institutions as well as working closer to home at the Whitworth and Manchester Museum.

Take a look at these links for their current projects, including a residency at Manchester Museum:



Their studio is at the heart of their work and is used by all three as a space for creative thinking and practice. The studio is divided into their workshop, stocked high with materials and equipment, and their studio, where the artists develop their ideas using computer technology and smaller pieces of machinery.

The group are experimental with their work and as a result their studio is the site of much of their research. They use whiteboards in the studio, rather than sketch books, so that ideas can be quickly developed and explored. Each of the artists has their own desk in the studio where they experiment with various technologies and mechanisms that interest them, but a major part of their work involves bringing these individual expertise together to work collaboratively. Their studio is organised in order to incorporate both their personal and collective practices and offers a great example of how studio spaces can support the work of art groups. By organising their studio into spaces for independent and collaborative work, and designating areas for either conceptual and practical work the artists are able to utilise their studio effectively throughout their creative processes.

The trio also run their own workshops that centre around their principles of producing art that explores the relationship between humans and consumer technology. Their ilog workshops allow participants to work collectively in order to produce idiosyncratic artworks that resemble modern day high street goods such as ipods. The process of making the pieces takes the form of a production line, and at the end participants have created their own individual product, as opposed to purchasing a mass-produced item. Through their workshops the team not only demonstrate their values of craftsmanship and materiality, they also reflect the organisation of their studio, where collaborative thinking and production are promoted by their creative space.


Studio spaces: New spaces

Learning Studio 2

Welcome to Studio thinking – development blog for the Whitworth’s new Clore Learning Studio.

The Whitworth’s Learning and Engagement team is eagerly awaiting the gallery’s reopening in autumn 2014, and the unveiling of our brand new dedicated Clore Learning Studio funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation . The studio will be one of the first things our visitors see as they approach the Whitworth’s new park-side entrance. It will extend out into Whitworth park and the view from inside will be of the gallery’s new Art Garden, designed by award-winning landscape designer Sarah Price.   Go to the Whitworth’s ‘Gallery in the Park’ blog to see some of Sarah’s ideas and beautiful designs for the gallery’s new outdoor spaces.  http://capitaldevelopmentwhitworth.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/using-a-painters-palette-to-create-a-beautiful-wilderness-with-sarah-price-2/ 

We want our new indoor and outdoor spaces to be really versatile and are interested in how the Clore Learning Studio will be a brilliant space for learning, creativity and expression.  We are imagining it will feel more like an artist’s studio than classroom. It will be used by schools, babies, families, adult learners and many more.  We are developing our ideas about what that could look like: a space where creative learning takes place and where those using the space are encouraged to take the lead. This blog will be a place to think about how we use our new studio space for learning, play and well-being.

Every week, we’ll be looking at one of the artists in the Whitworth’s collections and talking about how they use(d) spaces creatively, whether that’s  a studio space they occupied or an unusual approach to outdoor or urban spaces. We’d like to take inspiration from our artists and how they learned and were influenced by the spaces they worked in.  Our guest blogger, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies student, Elizabeth Driver will be researching and posting regularly about our artists and their approaches to their spaces.

We’ll also post ideas and updates from our ongoing learning and engagement work – from live research projects to education and community partnerships.   Denise Bowler, Secondary and Post 16 Coordinator is moving into her very own studio space in the city’s Art Atelier and will be inviting groups in to work with her.  She’ll share her work and insights over the coming months.

So, Studio Thinking  is where we will gather our thoughts about learning spaces, but also share more about the artists in our collection – hope you enjoy!

We’d love to know what you think too and look forward to your comments about how we use our brand new spaces for creative learning.