The Mantelpiece Project

Bolton Museum launched ‘The Mantelpiece Project’ on 12th September 2020 and it will run until 3rd January 2021.

The project features two exhibitions focused on the subject of the mantelpiece. ‘Mantelpiece Observations’ is a solo exhibition of never-before-seen works by celebrated ceramic artist Richard Slee whose work is inspired by an archive established in 1937 by the pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation (MO). One of the aspects of MO was the Mantelpiece Reports, which asked hundreds of volunteers to write down what was on their mantelpieces, revealing a personal insight into the people living through a period of intense social and economic upheaval. Slee, who has long been interested in the unusual significance of certain domestic objects, has drawn directly from the mantelpiece reports when creating his new ceramic pieces by turning words and phrases from the reports into his own ceramic sculptures – around 30 brand new works in total.

The second show is a photography exhibition, ‘Mantelpiece Stories’, by acclaimed photographer Madeleine Waller and displays portraits of Bolton residents together with still life images of their chosen mantelpiece objects. It also features a series of six short films using photographs, video and audio recordings to tell each person’s very moving and personal stories ranging from loss, hope and personal achievements.