Manchester Museum has collaborated with Altrincham Market trader The Sculpts to bring a striking new design to life for Chinese New Year.
It’s the second collaboration between the museum and the Manchester-inspired homeware and lifestyle brand and draws upon historic and contemporary links between Manchester and China to celebrate the significance of the Chinese community in the UK.
2024 is the lunar year of the Wood Dragon - the most powerful creature in the Chinese zodiac.
Inspired by the beautifully embroidered textiles, carved jade artefacts and porcelain vases in the gallery, The Sculpts’ founder and illustrator Richard Bennett has created a stunning pen and ink drawing of a Wood Dragon dancing to chase away evil spirits and ushering in a year of good luck.
In Chinese culture, wood represents vitality and creativity, while the dragon is related to success, intelligence and honour. A symbol of wisdom, strength and power, dragons are believed to signify a time for new beginnings and opportunities.
Jade King, Director of The Sculpts, said: “We’re delighted to working with Manchester Museum again, and to be celebrating Chinese New Year.
"Our Chinese communities in Manchester have grown significantly in the last couple of years and it’s lovely to be able to say, ‘kung hei fat choy’, and to celebrate a new year with our beautiful new dragon design.”
The Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery, which was opened last year, is the first permanent gallery devoted to Chinese culture in the history of Manchester Museum. Its aim is to promote empathy and understanding between the people of the UK and China.
Emma Gittins, Head Buyer for Manchester Museum, added: “Collaboration with talented Mancunian makers and creators sits at the heart of our approach in the Manchester Museum Shop.
"It has been exciting to work with The Sculpts on this project, particularly in creating something that ties so closely into the Museum’s mission to build understanding between cultures.”
This is the second artistic collaboration between Manchester Museum and The Sculpts, who previously created a bespoke range of their iconic Northern Alphabet range of designs for the museum.
Brainchild of illustrator and architect Richard Bennett, The Sculpts was founded in 2020 with a range of handmade ‘Manchester’ tiles, one for each letter of the city’s name, with each 6 inch by 6 inch tile illustrated to depict a different stage in Manchester’s transformation – from post-industrial depression to a technological and cultural force to be reckoned with.
However, what began as a handful of illustrative tile designs has been grown by Richard and his partner Jade King, into a distinctive range of beautiful drawings brought to life in upmarket homewares, prints and textiles.
The limited edition dragon design is available as a decorative ceramic tile, a ceramic coaster or a print from The Sculpts.