Manor Oaks Residency 2011

Frances spent her first week in residence between 14th and 18th February.

"On my first visit to Sheffield Manor Lodge in early January I was immediately drawn to the Tudor Turret House and in particular the banqueting room with its ornately decorated plaster work ceiling. A guided tour by Tudor expert Peter Machin provided me with stories full of descriptions of glorious sweet banquets and the intriguing tale of Bess of Hardwick and Mary Queen of Scots working together to design the plaster work ceiling.

My second visit in mid February allowed for further explorations of the site, revealing a rich history of craft, making and hand skills, from John Fox’s pottery and its successful production of Manor-Ware, to census records that show Scissor Smiths, Pen Blade Forgers, Cutlers and Cutlery Handle Makers all having worked and lived across the site. I also found time to look further afield, visiting Museums Sheffield's store to look through drawers of beautiful cutlery and meeting with staff at Freeman College to look around their metal workshops.

An approach to my residency has begun to emerge with a focus on creating a link between the banqueting room of the Turret House and what I perceive to be its current and significantly more democratic equivalent: the Manor Lodge Farm-Shop and Café.

For my residency I would like to work with local Manor residents to explore the decorative features of the Turret House, from it 16th Century plaster work to Victorian stained glass windows, developing motifs and surface pattern designs that reflect the layered history of the site. These designs will be used to make a contemporary table setting for the banqueting room incorporating ceramic handled cutlery.

My next visit is planned for the end of March with a round of workshops to get the pattern designs under way and to make another visit to Freeman College to meet with students who may be able to work on making the cutlery. I am excited about returning to Sheffield and continuing a process which I hope will make connections between Sheffield Manor Lodge's history and its blossoming future".

Frances Priest, February 2011