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Until It Looks Like This: view from artist Sally Hirst

25 August 2022

Image of Visitors in Until It Looks Like This exhibition at People's History Museum. Image credit Rachel Bywater Photography

This summer we’ve been treated to a show of work by twelve studio artists from one of Manchester’s leading visual art organisations, Venture Arts.  And we’re very pleased to share the news that the Until It Looks Like This exhibition, which includes photography, installation, ceramicstextilesillustration, and print, has been extended until Monday 17 October 2022.

This has not only been an exhibition to look at; there have been tours, talks and Family Friendly workshops taking place.  We wanted to find out more and chatted with of one of the artists, Sally Hirst.  We ask about Sally’s art, inspiration, her workshop and what visitors can expect from the Until It Looks Like This exhibition.

Until It Looks Like This exhibition: view from artist Sally Hirst

Sensory Quit hand and machine embroidery by Sally Hirst, 2022. Image credit Rachel Bywater Photography


Tell us about your art and the piece you currently have exhibited in Until It Looks Like This exhibition.

I am a textile artist, illustrator, and ceramicist at Venture Arts.  I currently have my sensory quilt on display at People’s History Museum, in the Until It Looks Like This exhibition (on show until Monday 17 October 2022).

My mum and dad are foster carers, so we look after lots of children including a baby girl who was blind.  I was fascinated with how she saw the world mainly through touch and sounds.  I was also interested in helping to her to use what tiny bit of vision she had.  She could see sparkly shiny things and light but that was it.  The reason why I liked this was because the thought of her world reminds me of a magical fairy village of sparkles and glitter.

I made a sensory quilt inspired by all the things she enjoyed.  Which included electronic textiles, where I sewed in a light up circuit.  I experimented with different textures including fairy hair made of embroidery thread as she liked to stroke hair, particularly my dad’s beard.  I also included shiny mirrors and beads with sparkly sequins and glittery ribbons.

Sally Hirst presenting to workshop at People's History Museum

How else have you been involved in Until It looks Like This exhibition?

I wrote a sonnet poem for the exhibition.  I spoke a little bit about all 12 artists’ work in my poem.  You can either read the poem on the wall or listen to it by scanning the QR code next to it.

I also ran a sold out workshop back in August where everyone was invited to make their own mini sensory quilt.  I started by letting everyone touch and play with my sensory quilt, then we put our hands in a mystery box so everyone could choose a fabric that they liked the feel of, not the fabric they liked the look of.  Most of the fabric was a muted grey or a white colour anyway.  Once they had chosen a fabric they liked, participants cut the fabric into some shapes and then stuck it on their quilt using sticky back felt.  Then when they were happy with it, they could take their own mini quilt home.  They could secure the fabric shapes by sewing at home or gluing with fabric glue, or just leave it as it was.  I really enjoyed my workshop and seeing and feeling what people created.

Justin Lees’ illustration in The Behold Room installation. Image credit Rachel Bywater Photography

What are the highlights of the Until It looks Like This exhibition for you?

I feel so proud to have my sensory quilt and poem up on display at People’s History Museum with so many other talented artists from Venture Arts.

Some of my favourite pieces that I think you should definitely check out are, Justin Lees’ The Behold Room.  I don’t think you will be able to miss it since it’s so big and colourful.  The reason why I like his room is because it inspired me to make something similar, and I want to make a massive multi-sensory installation one day.  It was great to see one myself as I know what’s possible now, and it gave me different things to think about when it comes to building an installation.

I also really enjoyed Joe Mills’ Awesome Rainbow Sunshine Grooving Moving People piece, which he collaborated on with artist Daisy McClay.  It just really made me smile and I adored the fringing at the ends.  I don’t know how he did that, but I would love to learn.

I also liked James Desser’s photography pieces because they felt very magical and enchanting.  The photos really transport you to a beautiful world.

I loved so many other artworks too but didn’t want to spoil the surprise as you must go and see them for yourself.

Visitor in Until It Looks Like This exhibition at People's History Museum. Image credit Rachel Bywater Photography

Until It Looks Like This exhibition is on display until Monday 17 October 2022.

Part of PHM’s co-curated programme of activity exploring the history of disabled people’s rights and activism.

Interested in finding out more?

Visit both the Until it Looks Like This exhibition (until Monday 17 October 2022) and The Manchester Argonaut  – a new sculpture with an important message about the activism and rights of disabled people from artist Jason Wilsher-Mills at People’s History Museum until 28 January 2024.

Venture Arts artist talks, tours and workshops are taking place as part of Until It Looks Like This.  All are free to take part in and suitable for any age.  To find out more about what is happening check out what’s on.

Read a blog from Programme Officer Michael Powell, sharing information about the museum’s major programme, Nothing About Us Without Us – Disabled People’s Activism: Past, Present and Future and introducing PHM’s four Community Curators who reveal why they chose to get involved.

Join PHM and researchers from the University of Liverpool on Sunday 16 October 2022 at the What’s your story? discussion; an event for disabled people to tell stories of their everyday experiences.

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