Charlotte Thompson: OK.29.8M.62

I have chosen this slide as it assisted me in writing my dissertation, leading me to find new interesting information which I wouldn’t have necessarily found from a book. From seeing this particular slide it led me to divulge more into Surrealism and the Magazine Minotaure. I had never heard of Minotaure until visually seeing Hans Bellmer’s ‘Poupee’ showcased across a double spread in the magazine, presented on this slide, which now lies in the Visual Resource Centre. I later learnt this magazine was an important stepping stone for artists to reveal their works and to be seen by the public and other influential artists. This slide was also alongside thousands of others which all had a strong connection to Surrealism, each creating new paths for the mind to explore. I could have spent hours in this visually engaging library, uncovering images that may have never and may never be seen.

Charlotte Thompson
Final Year Fine Art Student
Manchester School of Art



Sara Davies: PG.9S.67

I once lived in a wooden croft by a lake in the middle of a forest. The main house and barn were painted red, a traditional colour for many houses in rural Sweden. The barn lay on a bed of nettles and meadow flowers. The backdrop for all things was the tall, dark green and heavy conifer trees.

When I entered the slide library I knew what I was looking for. The place I lost when moving to a new culture, the house in the woods. Between Russian Art and German Paintings I found three sleeves of slides depicting Scandinavian paintings with very little wear. They included paintings by Carl Larsson, Anders Zorn, Edward Munch and Pekka Halonen, all paintings in the Scandinavian national romantic style.

I picked the slide PG.9S.67. The painting reframed, numbered and colour coded. Pinned down by factual information, the name of the person who painted it and the dates between his birth and death, the title of the work, the date when it was completed and its medium. Erik Werenskiold (1855-1938), Autumn, 1891, oil on canvas. I take the slide out of the sleeve and hold it between my fingers, moving it out of storage into my narrative. It still takes me there, to the old wooden chair by the lilac in the yard. To the red house and dark green forest.

Sara Davies
PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer
Manchester School of Art


Jane Webb: TL.9.46

I pick only one slide though there are so many to choose from. This is the front door of the Ormond Building that is opened up inviting those who are to partake in a ‘SIT-IN’. It is tentatively dated 1970, the year I was born.

There is something intriguing about a sit-in with its suggestion of passivity and even perhaps domesticity, but sitting-in is about power. When we sit, we claim our place. When the sovereign sits, it is the start of their reign. Yet a sit-in also indicates the poverty of a claim to power. You do not sit-in on a chair, you sit on the floor, the most lowly and primitive of all sitting places. This indicates the desperation of sitting-in, an action brought about by being previously shut out.

Today this door in Ormond is permanently shut leaving only a labyrinthine path to the Council Chamber, where no doubt, the sit-in was to take place. The shut door, symbolic of an increasing inability for staff and students to occupy the spaces of university policy making, is even more poignant when one notes what the sit-in was about – ‘Polytechnic Libraries and Class Materials’ according to the poster. I do not have to draw out the irony of such an image in the context of a project set up to protest the potential loss of our own Visual Resources Centre. Like then, we have been shut out of this decision-making, but is this protest enough – is it time for a sit-in again?

Dr. Jane Webb
Director of Studies, Design
Manchester School of Art


Jan Fyfe: 44,4

St Catherine finding the body of St Agnes

In the slide library I have a particular fascination with the boxes of lantern slides housed in a metal cupboard at the far end of the room, locked behind closed doors and nestling within custom-made cardboard and wooden boxes stacked one upon the other in neat order.

My interest lies in the scratches and damaged edges, the broken glass and missing text – evidence of human intervention, interference, involvement, intrusion and interest. So when I pulled the above slide out from its companions I was attracted to the state of the slide rather than its content, in particular the strange ‘craqueleur’ effect threatening to destroy the image held between two pieces of glass.

Usually ascribed to tempera or oil paintings, craqueleur is the fine pattern of dense ‘cracking’ formed on the surface of materials, either as part of the process of ageing or of their original formation or production. My thoughts then went to the wet collodion process where using albumen around the edge of the glass plate gives purchase to the collodion as it flows over the plate. Dried albumen can produce this crackled effect but, again, I know this cannot have been the cause here. I suspect that damage may have been made to the emulsion in its construction or through later mishandling, evidenced by the diagonal crack that splits the slide in two. Whatever the cause it provides an intriguing addition to the rather sombre, though finely detailed, tableau vivant enacted, slowly destroying the image from within – which strangely enough echoes the threat of losing our Slide Library.

Jan Fyfe
PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer
Manchester School of Art


Liz Mitchell: ZGC.23.6

This building is a house of learning. Look closely. Built in 1837 for the Manchester Athenaeum Club, it declares its mission almost from the rooftop: FOR THE ADVANCEMENT AND DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE.

I knew this was the slide for me as soon as I saw it. Before I came to the Art School, I worked in this building for nearly 20 years, as a curator for Manchester Art Gallery. In the picture, the Athenaeum is black with soot, the product of more than a century of industrial manufacture. It isn’t this colour any more. The same sooty residues coat the index cards once used to organise the art collection inside. But the database has replaced the card index.

Analogue technologies are central to my research – a PhD on the history of the collection housed here. Indexes, paper inventories, handwritten letters; all yield fragments of knowledge that digital equivalents can’t contain. The sequencing of categories; chronologies of annotation in different hands and inks; degrees of wear and tear in frayed and grubby edges – incidental and insignificant until they are noticed. The archaeology of primary sources.

Liz Mitchell
PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer
Manchester School of Art


Pick a slide, any slide…

The Visual Resources Centre at Manchester School of Art contains more than 300,000 slides, documenting a century of art education in Manchester. It is a unique historic artefact and much-loved source of creative inspiration. However, the collection is at risk. In a digital age, its identity has changed, as analogue slides are no longer core teaching materials. The value and purpose of the collection is being reassessed – substantial parts of it are earmarked for disposal. We believe this would be an irrevocable loss. Find out why here.

This is an invitation to adopt a slide. Choose just one – photograph it, write about it – and post it here. You are now the appointed guardian of this small artefact, protector of a tiny piece of art school history. In a few short weeks, we have already got more than 50 adoptive parents, each with their own tale to tell, inspired by the collection. But we want more. We need more. Collectively, your response can help document the unique history and potential of this collection, to demonstrate its complex and multi-layered value as a whole, before it’s too late.

Adopt a slide. Blog it, tweet it, share it on Facebook. Tell your friends. Here’s how.