Design a Banknote

The next instalment of artist Pui Lee’s blog series about our summer Family Friendly workshops that link to our Show Me the Money exhibition

In week 4 of my Creative Currency Casino! project, families visited the Design a Banknote workshop at the Learning Studio in the People’s History Museum for my latest art workshop as part of the summer drop-in pARTicipate programme!

Design a Banknote! 19.08.15 @ People's History Museum (20)Today’s activity was inspired by an artwork in the coinciding Show Me the Money exhibition called The Robin Currency™ (2008-2014) where the artist Robin Bhattacharya created his own currency based on a prime number system meaning that each coin and banknote is entirely unique.  When the participants arrived, I sent them on a marvellous-money-mission to explore the exhibition to find and count as many banknotes as they could throughout the gallery space. This could be in object format or in terms of visual representation. There was certainly plenty to see and discover including a one hundred trillion dollar banknote! They were then asked to find The Robin Currency™ banknote and to create a sketch of this, along with any shapes and patterns they saw recurring throughout the show. The families also had an opportunity to take a photo or two at the face-in-the-hole board in the exhibition, where anyone can be the new face of a larger-than-life banknote!

Design a Banknote! 19.08.15 @ People's History Museum (15)After this, it was back to the Learning Studio and everyone set to work on designing their very own giant currency banknote, which celebrates who they are as individuals and what matters to them. First of all, we looked at the design elements of a typical banknote and I also showed an example of one that I made earlier. I then introduced and demonstrated monoprinting, which is such a fun and creative process, so everyone got a little messy and tried out various techniques to create some really cool prints! Hand-made drawings and collaged elements were then added to the prints to personalise and complete the designs. Participants were then able to exchange their new currency with a special 28PUI currency banknote of mine to take home with them as a special memento of the day. All the hand-made banknotes collected in will soon be put up on display at the museum for all to see! Great stuff! 🙂

20150812_151720Don’t forget to add to my All the Money in the World (2015) installation in the Show Me the Money gallery space if you haven’t already done so yet! You can do this any day of the week, not just on Wednesday! Your responses might consist of a single word, a few sentences or even a really, really, long list! You may even want to illustrate your responses too! It’s all acceptable and can be anonymous too!  …So, what would YOU do if you had all the money in the world? Submit your answers now and get involved! 😀

Tomorrow’s drop-in will be long-awaited The Creative Currency Casino finale event, where you can try your luck on exciting games of chance to win some fabulous prizes! (Note to previous workshop attendees: – don’t forget to bring your “Creative Credit Card Vouchers” to redeem your free turns too!) 😀

…See you all then on Wednesday 26 August 2015, 1.00pm-3.00pm! 😀

Crafty Credit Cards

Another instalment of artist Pui Lee’s blog series about our summer Family Friendly workshops that link to our Show Me the Money exhibition

Wow! I can’t believe it’s nearly the middle of August already! Well, I was back again at the People’s History Museum last week to deliver another summer drop-in workshop as part of their fantastic pARTicipate programme! 😀

Crafty Credit Cards 12.08.15 @ People's History Museum (25)Today, we explored and discussed the theme of credit and debt – what it means to have money, not have money and/or to owe money. One comment offered was, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” and indeed, it doesn’t. So, I asked everyone what they would do if they had all the money in the world – say, an unlimited credit card with no worries of ever having to pay back a penny? Well, this got everyone thinking hard! Everyone then wrote down their wish lists onto till receipts, which were later added into my All the Money in the World (2015) installation in the gallery space. There has been some really interesting and varied responses so far! Examples include: “whatever my friends want”, “a hundred horses”, “all the water that’s bottled”, “a mansion”, “a Taekwon-Do kit”, “to develop high speed space travel”, “becoming the supreme emperor of the universe”… and even “purple tape”!? Yes, really…

Crafty Credit Cards 12.08.15 @ People's History Museum (33)The families then got the opportunity to make their very own Crafty Credit Cards to take home with them and I also showed everyone how to make a special card-holder to put it in, by using origami techniques! Paper-folding is no easy feat but the children all did fantastic today and took to it really well! One family said, “That was really fun! We’ve never done paper-folding before!”

Tomorrow’s workshop will be Design a Banknote where you can design and make your own giant currency banknote!”  …See you all then for more creative fun on Wednesday 19 August 2015, 1.00pm – 3.00pm! 🙂

MCR International Women’s Day Quilt has a new home

A guest blog by Lisa Watson, who has just donated a very special quilt to the museum

MIWD Quilt at PHM, image copyright Lisa Watson (3)It’s exciting news, as The Manchester International Women’s Day Quilt, (I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful) has a new home at, (drum roll please) the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

MIWD Quilt at PHM, image copyright Lisa Watson (1)Back in 2011, The MIWD Quilt was on show at the PHM for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The inspiration to this exhibition actually started back in March 2010 when over 300 amazing people came together at The Monastery in Gorton to celebrate International Women’s Day. The key themes of that day were that small actions can make bigger things happen and everyone has their own story.

MIWD Quilt at PHM, image copyright Lisa Watson (2)The MIWD Quilt does share a bit of history with the PHM, while the inspiration, context and fabric stitched into the Quilt really do bind and bond it well to the PHM and Manchester. A bit more background detail on the MIWD Quilt can be found on my blog of an exhibition in 2012 at The Quilt Museum in York.

MIWD Quilt at PHM, image copyright Lisa Watson (4)Noticed the bra bunting in the pics? It raised a few eyebrows and elicited a few comments during the exhibition, which is all positive, as it got people interested and talking, and not just about the exhibition. The bra bunting was there to importantly highlight some useful bra recycling: find out more and get involved.

MIWD Quilt at PHM, image copyright Lisa Watson (5)Who knows, by the next International Women’s Day in March 2016 I may be posting a quilt pic of the MIWD Quilt on display at The PHM…

Recycled Sculptures Worth Every Penny

Another guest blog by artist Pui Lee, who is running a series of Family Friendly workshops over the summer to link to our Show Me the Money exhibition

So, I am back again at the People’s History Museum… Hooray!! 🙂 This week, the theme of the workshop was objects associated with money or finance. By using junk modelling techniques, families who came to my drop-in session got the opportunity to create their very own Recycled Sculptures Worth Every Penny! to take home with them.

I was initially inspired by Wolfgang Weileder’s, Cashpoint (2008), in the Show Me the Money exhibition. It provided a great reference point because of his use of simplified shapes, scale and abstraction. I also liked how the piece explores the relationship between form and function by randomly dispensing a five-pound note every 24 hours! So even though it appears inanimate on first glance, it is very much fully operational!

recycled sculptures 05.08.15@ People's History Museum (4)
I absolutely love working in 3D and I knew the children would too, so I was SOOOO looking forward to this week in particular! I pre-made some example recycled sculptures to provide some inspiration for the participants, which included a cash-till register, an ATM and a couple of calculators! I noticed the children were excited to get hands-on straight away and to raid the big collection of cardboard boxes, plastic packaging, bottle tops and other items available! The trusty calculator proved to be a popular option this afternoon and there was even a (very) giant cash-till register made by one family! Also, there was one little boy who was absolutely keen to make a sculpture of a rocket-ship today so I said, “Yes! -Well, they are indeed very expensive objects, so go for it!” This was a somewhat more different interpretation of the theme but that’s okay, I am always happy to encourage freedom of artistic expression by my workshop participants! 😀


recycled sculptures 05.08.15@ People's History Museum (31)
The feedback today was very positive once again! One of the parents commented, “That was so, so good! Really fun!” 🙂 Meanwhile, one child wrote down in their evaluation form: “I had a good day and I enjoyed meeting Pui.” They also commented that they had learnt more than they originally knew about finance. Likewise, they also reflected how it had made them realise how much we use and rely on money every day and how without it, “you won’t be able to get the things you need”. So I am really pleased that it has been a thought-provoking learning experience too!

At the end of their visit, all the participants (both adults and children) were invited to contribute towards my ongoing All the Money in the World (2015) installation as part of the overall Creative Currency Casino! project. I popped in to see the piece to monitor its progress and it’s certainly growing very nicely! Go and visit it in the family learning space inside the exhibition, see what others have written and make sure you take part too! 🙂

…Well, on that note, I will see you all on Wednesday 12 August, 1.00pm – 3.00pm for the Crafty Credit Cards workshop 😀

Pui Lee’s Creative Currency Casino

A guest blog by artist Pui Lee, who is running a series of Family Friendly workshops over the summer to link to our Show Me the Money exhibition

Hi everyone! My name is Pui Lee and I work as a freelance artist and arts educator throughout the North of England. I am so, so excited to be working for the People’s History Museum as a freelancer and I sense lots of exciting things ahead! Look out for my upcoming Creative Currency Casino project as part of the museum’s pARTicipate summer drop-in programme and do get involved! 🙂

Personalised Piggy Banks – Wed 29 July 2015

29.07.15 Piggy Bank Making @ People's History Museum (33)Well, today was the first of the workshops as part of the pARTicipate summer drop-in programme PHM – gosh, what a brilliant turnout indeed! Thanks to everyone who came along! It was lovely to meet you all! This is the first time that the museum has had a set of family-friendly drop-in workshops all functioning together as an overall project. This was indeed my intention because drop-in workshops often operate as isolated one-off sessions at most museums and galleries today… and so, I decided to change that notion with this very project!   So, when the first flurry of families arrived, I introduced myself and outlined the details of my Creative Currency Casino project… and so it all begins today!

29.07.15 Piggy Bank Making @ People's History Museum (65)Personalised Piggy-Banks Fit for a King or Queen were on the agenda this afternoon, but not before a guided tour around the Show Me the Money changing exhibition first! It was great to see the families engaging with the contents of the show and discussing what they saw!   The theme of this week is the idea of “saving” – how we save money and the reasons why we do so. This led me nicely to inviting the participants to contribute towards my ongoing All the Money in the World (2015) installation in the family learning space inside the exhibition itself, which was inspired by Simon Roberts’s Credit Crunch Lexicon (2012) wall-based text piece.   We then returned back to the Learning Studio to work on the personalised piggy-banks! The children had some wonderful ideas and they enjoyed inventing unique characters for their hand-made creations. We also saw some less traditional piggy banks being made including an eight-legged Spider-Pig… a one-eyed half Cyclops/half pig piggy-bank… as well as a giant one litre piggy-bank for all those extra pennies! …Well done to everyone who took part! 🙂

See you all on Wednesday 5 August 2015, for the Recycled Sculptures Worth Every Penny workshop; 1.00pm – 3.00pm!

Redisplaying equality

Over the past few months during our Play Your Part project we have been working on growing our collection of material relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and other gender and sexuality minority groups and refreshing the objects we have on display. Previously labelled ‘Gay rights’, our new ‘LGBT+ rights’ section in Main Gallery Two is now more representative and up to date.

Original equality case

Original equality case

One of the key findings from our initial consultation was that the ‘Gay Rights’ panel in contained incorrect detail. Whilst it was installed in 2010, the 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act had rendered it out of date. We therefore wanted to update the information and use the opportunity to refresh the objects in our Equality Case with new material collected during PYP Year One.

It's OK to be GAY! leaflet

It’s OK to be GAY! leaflet

We began with visitor consultation during our Work in Progress exhibition. We displayed objects from our collection and asked visitors to vote for objects they would like us to include and to suggest objects we were missing. The most popular objects were our badges, followed by the It’s OK to be Gay! leaflet, which is now included in the updated display.

We also ran five consultation workshops with LGBT+ groups to help us with the project and trial the LGBT History Tour we were also developing. We particularly wanted to work with trans* groups as we had identified this as an area that was not represented at all in our collections, display or tour. The feedback from the workshops was invaluable in developing the tour and ensuring that our display and collections represents a range of LGBT+ voices.

We asked each group their opinions on the current display, what they would like to see, what objects from our collection we should include, what gaps are there in our collection, what we need to acquire to fill these gaps and if they are willing to help by donating objects.

The key responses were:

  • Current display case is not representative and needs improvement
  • Make clear the difference between sexual orientation and gender diversity
  • Include more examples of L, B & T
  • Include examples of non-binary gender
  • Include references to contemporary campaigns
  • Include legislation such as the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and 2010 Equalities Act
  • Liked structure of tour and how it contextualised history
  • Define language used
  • All groups wanted the case to be bigger (sadly impossible!)
  • Use flags to explain definitions of different groups
  • During the tours the groups contributed specific examples of LGBT History they thought we should include, which have now been incorporated into the tour.

The main challenge was to acquire objects representing bisexual and trans* experiences as these were absent from both our collections and displays. I made a short film about our LGBT collections to encourage donations, however the main source of objects was via the consultation workshops. One woman very generously donated her Gender Recognition Certificate and Action for Trans* Health suggested a list of objects that we could purchase cheaply via Etsy. I also attended a meeting of bisexual support group BiPhoria who also donated material.

In January 2015 I visited the April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool and The Gang: Photographs by Catherine Opie at the Walker Art Gallery to investigate how other museums have displayed trans* experiences. Both were excellent examples of best practice, and I found the timeline of trans* history in the April Ashley exhibition particularly useful.

New LGBT+ rights section in Main Gallery Two

New LGBT+ rights section in Main Gallery Two

The final objects selected for display include badges representing the pride flags of bisexual, pansexual, asexual, intersex and trans* people, a non-binary gender patch and pronoun badges alongside leaflets, photographs and other objects from our collection displaying a broad range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and other gender and sexuality issues. We hope that people will continue to donate their material, and that we continue to build on our LGBT+ collections.

New equality case

New equality case

A note on terminology

One of the most challenging decisions was our use of terminology, specifically the language we would use on the permanent text panel. From consultation and research we found that some people didn’t think that ‘LGBT’ was inclusive and we had alternative suggestions including ‘LGBTQ+ rights’ and ‘Gender and Sexuality rights’. We wanted to use a term that is simple for visitors to understand (including visitors who do not have English as a first language) and a term that will have longevity (because it’s unlikely we can replace the panel easily). I contacted representatives from the groups we had consulted with and organisations and individuals we had worked with on this part of the project. As expected, they offered a range of conflicting opinions, however it generated a very interesting debate. After considering all the responses, we decided on ‘LGBT+ Rights’ for the following reasons:

  • Throughout the development of the project we’ve referred to ‘LGBT’. This has mainly been because it’s the term that’s in common usage (eg LGBT History Month).
  • We want to be consistent with the terminology we’ve previously used, but also take into account that this term does not reflect all Gender and Sexual Minorities
  • We don’t want to exclude anyone, yet we didn’t want to confuse visitors with a long acronym
  • We’ve used the objects on display to explain different terms, and include a broad range of issues (in a very limited amount of space!).  It’s easier for us to change an object (or object label) than the permanent text panel, so it’s the term on there that needs to be the most ‘futureproof’.
  • Therefore ‘LGBT+’ seems to be the best compromise of inclusivity and understandability.

Whilst we understand that not everyone will be happy with this decision, we have clear reasons for it and have been honest and open about the process.

We’d like to thank University of Manchester LGBTQ Society, Action for Trans* Health, LGBT Youth North West, Transforum and Lancashire LGBT for their invaluable feedback, object suggestions and support.