Salford Mooch

As part of the Not Quite Light festival a few weeks ago our resident Moocher Steve Marland led a photo walk along Salford’s Crescent. One of the attendees, Rob Mandel, has kindly shared some of his photos from the day with us.


the modernist gallery and shop is now open

the modernist gallery and shop is now open


The Modernist Society have opened our very own gallery and shop at 58 Port Street Manchester

Why? Because we were frustrated by the lack of non commercial gallery space in Manchester where we could put on our own exhibitions - so we decided to open our own.

On the ground floor we shall also host some of our smaller scale indoor events such as launches, talks and film showings. As well as that it will also act as a shop, where you will not only be able to pick up something from our own range of publications and products but also we will carry a specially selected range of other cool products and publications that we like and that hopefully you will like too.


From Our Archives is the first exhibition in The Modernist Society’s new dedicated exhibition space at 58, Port Street. As 2019 is the 10th anniversery of the formation of the society, this exhibition features some of the team’s favourite items from the organisation’s project archive.

A residency at Manchester’s ‘Toastrack’ unearthed original blueprints as well as photographs of staff and students dating back to its early days as the ‘Domestic and Trades College’ with fashion shoots on the roof and butchering courses in the kitchens.

A long standing love affair with the UMIST Campus led the Society to unilaterally declare it as a Conservation Area in 2012. The Society became ‘uninvited artists in residence’ at the Campus and after awarding ‘degrees’ from their own Modernist University they designed and planted plaques and created a map to honour the very best cluster of 1960s architecture in the city.

In 2011 the team came up with a daft idea of publishing a magazine. Thirty issues, five designers and hudreds of contributors later, all the issues of the modernist magazine will be on display but please don’t ask to buy issue number one. 

These and a many other artefacts will be on display alongside a limited number of very special items for sale from the modernist shop.  

Open Wednesday to Saturday. 11am-5pm


58, Port Street, Manchester, M1 2EQ 


2019 sees the 10th anniversary of the founding of The Modernist Society.

Originally established as the Manchester Modernist Society we have expanded into other cities - Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds and we have established a publishing arm - producing our long running quarterly magazine The Modernist and a variety of other publications.

We have come a long way in the last 10 years but not all of our ambitions have been fulfilled. We are now, however, very excited to announce the next chapter in our Modernist odyssey.

In our quest to spread the good word of Modernism we have always had to reach out to public but now the public will be able to come to us. We have secured a property in Manchester city centre which will serve not only as Modernist HQ but also as a public space where we can hold events, show exhibitions and sell a finely curated selection of our own and other peoples products.

A NEW MODERNIST HQ (in one of Manchester’s oldest buildings)


We have always had to beg and borrow spaces to hold our events and exhibitions but now can present them in our own space. The property has a ground floor, fully accessible shop space which will serve as our gallery and shop. You will be able to come in, look at our latest exhibition, browse our library, chat Modernism and maybe buy a badge or two.

This is a very exciting time for us and something we have been working towards for many years. We hope to be open before the end of April and we will be opening with an exhibition celebrating all the great things we have done over the last 10 years. We very much hope you will come and visit us once we are open.

As a not for profit organisation we do not have a large amount of financial capital and have always relied on volunteers and plenty of goodwill. We hope this new venture will help us to be more financially sustainable in the long term but initially we would really appreciate the help of our dedicated followers. As is the modern way we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next couple of weeks to help us get our project up and running. We have come up with a very unique and worthwhile set of reward packages for the crowdfunder so look out for news about that soon and we really hope you can contribute.

We are very excited about this and are really looking forward to welcoming you all to our new home.

All the best from

Jack, Eddy, Ashiya and Matt at Modernist HQ.




Our friends at Faber & Faber have kindly given us a copy of the new Walter Gropius biography by Fiona MacCarthy to give away. It is also signed by the author. We could have asked an oblique question as a competition but we wanted you to be a bit more creative than that.

We want you to send us an illustration of what Bauhaus means to you. You can use whatever medium you want but we do ask for it to be in 2D and able to fit through our letter box - we dont want any interpretive dance performances or Virtual Reality computer models please.

So get your felt tips and glitter out and send us a nice picture on a postcard or stuck down envelope. Entries will then be judged by an international group of art critics and the best will win the signed book.

Send your entries before April 5th to The Modernist, Unit 24/25, Second Floor, 8 lower Ormond Street, Manchester, M1 5QF

Stockport Mooch

On the second of February 2019 we attended the Manchester Print Fair at the Hatworks in Stockport. We also asked photographer and Modern Moocher, Steve Marland to lead us on a wander around Modernist Stockport. This is what it looked like. 


The Life of Buildings

The Life of Buildings aims to digitally preserve the physical fabric and social history of our urban environments.

Cities change. So how can digital media technology store the memory of what has been lost?

Working with Manchester Reform Synagogue to begin to examine this question, this collaborative research project has captured a three dimensional virtual reality record of the building, accessed archive collections and found new historic material related to the building and its life.

A building that becomes more than the sum of its parts and has more to impart than it ever did when it was alive.

Bringing the planning and heritage sectors together:

Before some buildings are demolished, they are surveyed. These surveys often use 3D laser scans that are rarely accessed. Here we want to take that data and make it part of the experience of the building with other historic digital content embedded in its virtual walls.

Specialists working together to give virtual buildings new life:

Architects, social historians, archaeologists, computer scientists and archivists combined their experience and expertise to consider how virtual 3D space can act as a host for other types of data – sound files, old photographs, video footage or digital drawings that can all be encountered in the virtual space of the building they refer to.

Project partners

  • Manchester School of Architecture

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council

  • Manchester Metropolitan University

  • University of Manchester

  • Archives +

  • The Modernist Society

We are recruiting

An opportunity to be part of a small team delivering a unique project celebrating modernist architecture and design.

Based in Manchester, The Modernist Society CIC is a creative project dedicated to celebrating and engaging with twentieth century architecture, through publishing, events, exhibitions and creative collaborations. The Society has expanded over the past five years and now has chapters in Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Croydon and further city chapters in planning.

The Modernist Society has remained a voluntary organisation but has evolved organically over time, adapting its remit, activities and legal framework. In 2009 it became a community interest company (CIC). In 2011 the organisation established its publishing arm 'The Modernist' to publish printed magazines alongside an increasingly regular programme of talks, tours, exhibitions and special events.  

This is an exciting opportunity to join a small, resourceful and dynamic team at The Modernist Society, funded for a fixed term by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Production Assistant and Team Assistant will play a central role in the team.

Production Assistant - Collaborations and Volunteering (Part time/fixed term)

Team Assistant (Part time/fixed term)

Alan Boyson - a tribute

Here at the Modernist Society we have always been big fans of Alan Boyson, ceramicist, muralist and sculptor. Alan died last week, aged 88 and here we pay a small tribute to him and his many projects.

Alan worked accross the UK including numerous significant pieces in Greater Manchester. These include the Tree of Knowledge at Cromwell Road School, Salford (listed grade II); the concrete screen of the Merseyway Car Park, Stockport and the Stations of the Cross at St.Raphael the Archangel, Stalybridge. (more info)

Many of the above photos are courtesy of Christopher Marsden who recorded and tirelessly championed Alans work.

There is currently a campaign to list what is probably Alan's largest work, the Three Ships mosaic in Hull. The Hull Heritage Action Group has a petition signed by more than 5000 people in its bid to list the mosaics. Why not sign the petition as your own little tribute to this prolific and significant artist.

Alan Boyson 1930-2018


From the Archives : Hulme

The Modernist Society have published - From the Archives: Hulme, a collaboration with the MMU Special Collections presenting images from their Visual Resources Library slide collection.

Together with Dr Richard Brook we have curated a series of 6 photobooks each focussing on post war new towns and social housing. The majority of these images are rarely seen and have never been in print before. The images are historical, from the 1960s and 70s, and were scanned from the original slides.

Other titles available in this collection are:





Hyde Park Sheffield

From The Archives available here

Full Colour Litho Print on Munken Smooth supplied by G F Smith

Curated by Dr Richard Brook and The Modernist Society

Designed by Birthday

Printed by Evolution Print


148 x 210 mmm A5

images © MMU Special Collections

Manchester Modern Churches

07.07.18. Tour with Art+Christianity 

Manchester Cathedral

St Michael & All Angels, Northern Moor

William Temple Church, Wythenshawe

All Saints & Martyrs, Langley

Manchester Modernist Churches - A Coach Trip

Manchester Cathedral

The large modern stained glass windows are part of the post-war refurbishment work. These are the work of Antony Holloway  8 March 1928 - 9 August 2000. He was born and grew up in Dorset and educated there at Poole Grammar School and Bournemouth College of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art in London.

St. Denys Window 1976

St Mary Window 1980

Creation Window 1991

Revelation Window 1995

The Fire Window 1966 is by Margaret Traherne 23 November 1919 - 30 June 2006, which is at the end of the chapel dedicated to the Manchester Regiment. She was born Hazel Wilkes in Westcliff-on-Sea, in 1936 she went to Croydon School of Art, where her talent was nurtured by Ruskin Spear. 

The most recent addition is – The Hope Window by Alan Davis – installed in October last year and dedicated in December.

Church of St Michael and All Angels Northern Moor

This is an Anglican church of 1935-7 by N.F.Cachemaille-Day. Pevsner describes the church as "sensational for its country and its time”.

The church was designated a Grade II* listed building on 16 January 1981. The Corporation of Manchester acquired the Wythenshawe Estate in 1926 and began laying out the garden suburb in 1930. Covering 5,000 acres, it was eventually to have 25,000 houses and a population of 100,000. The garden suburb was designated part of the parish of Church of St Wilfrid, Northenden - but that small parish church proved insufficient to accommodate the rising congregation. A mission church was therefore opened in 1934, and in 1935 the diocese approved plans for the construction of a new parish church at Orton Road, the budget was £10,000. 

Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day 1896–1976 was appointed as architect for both the church and the adjoining parsonage. The foundation stone for the church was laid on 8 May 1937, by the Bishop of Manchester. The builder was J. Clayton and Sons of Denton. The plan of the church is a star, comprising two inter-locked squares. It is built of red brick in English bond with some stone dressings. The roof is flat with a cross in the centre.
It has an ingenious plan with lofty columns supporting a flat ribbed roof.

The stained glass is by Geoffrey Webb 1879 1954, he lived and worked in the centre of East Grinstead at the height of his career and is noted among enthusiasts of fine glass for his use of brilliant blues. In his early career he worked with Charles Eamer Kempe, the most prolific and best-known stained glass artist of his generation. Webb’s work can also be found in many other places around the UK including Tewkesbury Abbey, and in Daresbury parish church in Cheshire where he designed a memorial window in honour of Lewis Carroll.

See Modern Mooch 

William Temple Church Wythenshawe

The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre. The mission was already well-established, having begun many years previously in Shadow Moss School Room, latterly operating in a dual-purpose building on Simonsway. The architect, George Pace, agreed with the proviso that he should not design a 'pseudo' building, but that it should be modern in concept. This he did and particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a view to music and drama being performed there. There is a lettered stone is on the back wall of the church and it has on it the date of the consecration and a symbol, which is Pace's original sign for William Temple Church.

The internal supports of the church are black-painted steel girders, not romantically symbolising the industry of the area, as it is sometimes said, but because when it was discovered that the church had been built on swampy ground an extra £2,000 was needed for foundations; the wooden beams of the original design had to be changed for cheaper steel ones. There is symbolism, however, in the placing of the font between and beneath the three main weight-bearing supports of the church.

The pews have an interesting history, having been brought from derelict churches in and around Manchester. The present lady churchwarden said:
“whenever we heard of a church being demolished we borrowed Mr. Owen's coal cart and went off to see if we could buy any of the pews. Many times I've sat on the back of the wagon, in the pouring rain, with the pews, bringing them back to Wythenshawe to be stored until our church building was completed!”

Some time after the building was opened a fire damaged some of the pews. With the insurance money all the pews were stripped and bleached, giving an element of uniformity and a bright welcoming atmosphere in the church generally. An interesting thought was voiced that as many people living in Wythenshawe now had their origins near to the centre of Manchester they may be sitting in the same pews in which their ancestors once sat.

Historic England

Modern Mooch

All Saints and Martyrs - Langley Middleton

Consecrated in 1964, All Saints and Martyrs is home to the Langley Cross. This unique structure, which adorns our east wall, is the work of Geoffrey Clarke RA 28 November 1924 – 30 October 2014. Clarke was a student of Ronald Grimshaw and attended the Royal College of Art in 1948 after serving in the RAF. He received the silver medal at the Milan Triennale for a collaboration with the designer, Robin Day. He was part of a group of artists including Lynn Chadwick, Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage who in 1952 was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. They were described by art critic Herbert Read as the geometry of fear sculptors. He was commissioned to create the cross of nails for Coventry Cathedral and also worked on three of the nave windows between 1957 and 1962. 
Clarke’s cross portrays the brutality of the ancient Roman practice of crucifixion yet at the same time seems to interpret this in a more modern context, as the shape of a rifle can clearly be seen within the design in the top section of the transverse shafts - symbolic of one of the modern instruments of execution. The harshness and the brutality seen in the rugged structure of the Langley Cross, which is made in rough cast aluminium, serves to remind us of the harshness and brutality of the Cross on Golgotha. 

The sculpture itself is 37 feet high and about 20 feet wide at the extremities of the transverse shaft and made of cast aluminium metal.

The cross is interpreted as a road, railway and also a ladder, which may climbed by the five steps; and a narrow path leads on upwards beyond the centre on the Cross itself. Some people see in the central void a picture of the empty tomb, which, with the simple white cross inside it, symbolises the two keystones of our faith - the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others see "the stone rolled away" as the consecrated bread being placed into an outstretched palm, representing our Lord's offering of himself for us on the cross and to us in the Holy Sacrament - "This is my Body which is given for you..."

All Saints & Martyrs

Many thanks to all the churches for welcoming us so generously, also to Steve Marland for coordination and notes and to Arts+Christianity for co-hosting.

Leaving the Toastrack

During our residency at Manchester Metropolitan University Hollings Campus, in the final days, as the staff were packing up to leave for the last time, these photos were taken on a tiny camera phone. 


The Life of Buildings - photo what?

As preparatory work continues on The Life of Buildings, an experimental collaborative project with Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester Central Reference Library's Archives+ to digitally capture Manchester's Jacksons Row Synagogue, this zippy little film has emerged and its all to do with photogrammetry.

Photo what? I hear you yell at your telephone. Photogrammetry... its the use of photography in surveying and mapping to ascertain measurements between objects. The team have been snapping, measuring and even filming from a drone.

These images weren't really intended to be viewed as part of the project but as they give us an extraordinary view inside the synagogue, we thought you might enjoy having a look, so set aside 51 seconds of your day, sit back and press play.

From The Archives : Limited Edition Box Set

The full collection of our From The Archives series in a special limited edition presentation box.

From The Archives is a collaboration with the MMU Special Collections presenting images from their Visual Resources Library slide collection.

Modernist Society From the Archives 1.jpg

Together with Dr Richard Brook we have curated a series of 6 photobooks each focussing on post war new towns and social housing. The majority of these images are rarely seen and have never been in print before. The images are historical, from the 1960s and 70s, and were scanned from the original slides.

The individual books are beautifully litho printed in full colour and are themselves limited edition.

Modernist Society From the Archives 5.jpg

We will be releasing one book a month for the next 6 months but you have the chance to get all six before everyone else by buying this lovely box set - hand numbered and limited to 100.  The indivdual releases will be £7 each so the box set also offers a substantial saving on the combined price.

The individual titles are:



Hyde Park Sheffield




Cost of Limited Edition Box Set : £35 plus p&p

From The Archives avaiilable here

Full Colour Litho Print on Munken Smooth supplied by G F Smith

Curated by Dr Richard Brook and The Modernist Society

Designed by Birthday

Printed by Evolution Print


148 x 210 mmm A5

Supplied in strong cardboard presentation box - stickered and hand numbered

Modernist Society From the Archives 8.jpg

Celebrating Mitzi Cunliffe: Sculptor


2018 is the centenary of the birth of the architectural sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe.  Her most famous creation is the iconic mask trophy for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, a constant feature of the British media landscape for over sixty years. The Twentieth Century Society (C20) and the Manchester Modernist Society are launching a fundraising campaign to commemorate her achievements by:

mitzi cunliff in studio 2.JPG

The Twentieth Century Society (C20) and the Manchester Modernist Society are launching a fundraising campaign to commemorate her achievements by:

  • Installing a civic plaque on her former house and studio in Manchester.
  • Hosting a talk/lecture about this neglected artist, designer and teacher.
  • Many of her works are still in situ today so we will create an online sculpture trail of her work in the Manchester area.


Mitzi Cunliffe (1918 – 2006)

Mitzi Cunliffe was born Mitzi Solomon in New York, where she trained as a teacher and artist before subsequently studying in Paris.  After seeing the medieval sculpture at Chartres Cathedral she later wrote ‘I knew then that was the kind of work in which I wanted to be involved’.  In 1949 in New York she met and later married Marcus Cunliffe, an historian of American history and literature, later moving with him back to Manchester. 


She established a studio in the garage of the family home which was to be her base until 1964, an extremely productive period. She made two significant contributions to the 1951 Festival of Britain: a pair of intertwined figures symbolically stepping from a tree, prominently located at the entrance and a pair of bronze door handles in the form of expressive hands for the Regatta Restaurant.  For the School of Civic Design at Liverpool University she made another set of door handles, a relief and the Dove sculpture, all of which still survive. Other large-scale architectural reliefs can be seen at Manchester and Leeds University, the latter celebrating the university’s strong links with the textile industry. 

She was commissioned in 1955 by the Guild of Television Producers & Directors (now BAFTA) to make the famous trophy.  We know its serene gaze but the reverse side, featuring symbols carved into the metal, hints at something mysterious about the enduring power of drama and its place in the new technology.  Her original intention was make both ‘faces’ equally important by placing it on a rotating support.

mitzi cunliffe in studio.jpg

Mitzi Cunliffe specialised in the particular challenges of relating sculpture and relief to architecture.  One of her most important works is at the Heaton Park pumping station, the only post-1945 building to be listed for its sculpture.  Taking account of the viewpoint from below, it graphically depicts the course of the water from Haweswater, with a group of workmen as a central feature of the composition.

Throughout her career she experimented with techniques and materials, as well as designing jewellery, textiles and ceramics.  For the Red Rose Restaurant at Lewis's store in Liverpool, she used a cast bronze technique to create a richly figurative pierced screen themed on the Wars of the Roses. Later, she developed ‘sculpture by the yard’, large panels cast in concrete or fibreglass, their subtle variation of bold repetitive patterning catching  the light to give a sense of movement.  

In 1971 Mitzi Cunliffe embarked on a new stage of her career, teaching at Thames Polytechnic (now South Bank University) and later in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal.  It is our hope that these commemorations will set the scene for further research on this significant twentieth century woman artist.


You can pledge your support here.

(images © Estate of the Artist)

The Life of Buildings - Jackson’s Row Synagogue

The Modernist Society, Manchester Metropolitan University and Archives+ at Manchester Central Reference Library have teamed up to work on an experimental project in which Manchester’s landmark architecture could be preserved in virtual reality to allow people to revisit former buildings where they once stood.


Computer and architecture experts aim to create 3D virtual buildings that could one day exist on their former sites – letting people to ‘enter’, walk through rooms and even hear stories hidden in the walls through wearable devices.

Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University, working with The Modernist Society and Archives+ at Manchester Central Reference Library, are looking to bring former buildings back to life using the latest technology as part of the new ‘Next Generation of Immersive Experiences’ project.

The team will investigate the range of digital reproduction methods currently available – including CAD software and laser scanning – to work out which might be most appropriate to produce virtual models of buildings that can also host oral testimony and other memories.

The initial project will be a pilot of the virtual reproduction via conventional augmented reality on a mobile device of the Jackson’s Row synagogue in Manchester, who are in support of the project.

Its cultural significance, and the fact that it was the first new building in the city after 1945, made it an obvious choice for the team.

Richard Brook, Principal Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University and lead researcher, said: “This idea centres on the digital preservation of our cities. Cities change, and without development cities are petrified, stultified and can become thematised versions of themselves.

“Yet development is not without its sensitivities and often involves passionate protest about preservation of buildings and heritage. Last minute attempts to save buildings under threat of demolition through the statutory listing process often falter and a usual outcome is a clause in the planning approval that an archaeological record is made.

This record may include a measured and photographic survey and cursory written reports of the cultural history of the site. Such records are hard to access and, in technological terms, are a limited means of representing lost artefacts.“They also fail to represent the cultural value and personal memories to the people and communities  that experienced the buildings.

“This project imagines the creation of a model that can recreate a rich and layered version of a building and bring it to life through the collation of social, cultural, technical and visual archival sources.”

Sometimes buildings are demolished and elements that have touched the lives of its inhabitants are lost – the furniture, the pictures, the decor and the memories of the people who worked, celebrated or worshipped there. With this project we hope not to carry out just a building survey, but to capture and incorporate part of the spirit and the life of some of the people who have passed through its rooms.

University architects, historians, and computer scientists will work on ‘The Life of Buildings’, which has won funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Research and Partnership Development call for the ‘Next Generation of Immersive Experiences’.