Images by Ligia the Ritherdon Marketing overlord.


Friday is usually a half day at Ritherdon, so Matt and I put our surprisingly refined ‘unorthodox’ approach to powder coating to the test last Friday on 5 large panels destined for exhibition in the summer.

Giving the ‘dead powder’ a second chance to make it to the oven, it was applied to the metal in lashings. Surfaces were thick, heavy, matte, gloss and everything in between. As the dead powder is a collection of every colour used at the factory over an extended period of time, the exact colour codes used for the beautiful and precises regular powder coating jobs at Ritherdon are a distant memory. Instead we get a deeply unsettling range of intense greys, fluctuating thanks to the odd bit of anti graffiti and leatherette finish powder. The heavy textures also cause a kind of surface subsidence, pulling down and drawing out each coloured particle in the peaks and troughs.

This phenomena gives me a real thrill (nerd alert???). The powder does melt to become a liquid surface covering, but each particle retains its individual tiny spec of colour.

The aftermath.

DISCLAIMER: we totally disrupted the usual pristine Ritherdon paint shop for the afternoon. This is not usual factory practice!






I am looking forward to discussing Return To Ritherdon and my experience of my residency at the factory so far to contribute to two round-table discussions at The national festival of Making this weekend.


The first will be on Fri, 14 June 2019

15:00 – 16:30 BST at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery


Ideas emerging from the intersection of the arts, making, manufacturing and technology.
Roundtable discussion in association with Creative Lancashire

The work happening at the intersection of the arts, making, manufacturing and new technologies has the ability to transform manufacturing and associated industries.

The Art in Manufacturing (AIM) programme, a National Festival of Making highlight co-commissioned by SuperSlowWay, features ground-breaking collaborative commissions created by makers and artists paired with global manufacturers based in Lancashire. The relationships formed between manufacturer, workers and artists are rich and deep, resulting in high quality works and mutual benefits. The results are equally staggering and unexpected.

This discussion will consider the exciting ideas emerging from the likes of AIM, similar artistic interventions and other Createch’ endeavors, where technology connects with creativity to produce new activities and products.

We bring together creatives, technologists, industrialists, academics and thought leaders to discuss the possibilities inherent in connecting making, creativity, technical and digital capabilities, for Lancashire and beyond. We highlight the individuals and their ideas that often begin with artistic investigation; to how they are frequently appropriated into manufacturing processes.
Contributors include:

  • Dave Kirkwood (HOST)
  • Adele Orcajada (MaterialDriven)
  • Amy Pennington (AIM Artist)
  • Anna Ray (AIM Artist)
  • Charles Hadcock (Artist)
  • Dan Edwards (AIM Artist)
  • Jon Wilson (Darwen Terracotta)
  • Nicola Ellis (AIM Artist)
  • Oli Clarke (The Senator Group)

Book here for free tickets to the event:




The second discussion will be the Art in Manufacturing – Artist Panel
Taking place on Sunday 16 June 2019

14:30 – 15:30 BST at Blackburn Cathedral

Hosted by Jamie Holman, in association with Creative Lancashire.
Art in Manufacturing (AIM) is a co-commissioned collaboration between the National Festival of Making and Super Slow Way. It pairs artists and makers with manufacturers and domestic artisans, giving the artists access to specialist machinery and heritage craft techniques, to create work that forms an integral part of the National Festival of Making.

Over the festival weekend we offer opportunities to hear more about the works created for the 2019 AIM showcase, through in-situ talks, panels and interviews with the artists, commissioners and host manufacturers involved with the current and previous exhibits.
Panel Participants include:

  • Amy Pennington (2019 Artist)
  • Anna Ray (2019 AIM Artist)
  • Anthony Green (Blackburn Yarn Dyers)
  • Daksha Patel (2019 AIM Artist)
  • Dawinder Bansal (2018 AIM Artist)
  • Jamie Holman (Artist & Non-Exec Director of NFM)
  • Jon Wilson (Darwen Terracotta)
  • Liz Wilson (2019 AIM Artist)
  • Martyn Ware (Musician, 2018 AIM Artist)
  • Nicola Ellis (2018 AIM Artist)

This event is FREE to attend. Spaces are limited on the day, so please book your place in advance.

Jamie Holman is the host for this event. He is an artist, writer and lecturer who achieved critical acclaim after exhibiting in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 1996 at Tate Gallery Liverpool and Camden Arts Centre London. Holman worked in moving image and performance before developing a broader multi-disciplinary practice that included photography and sculpture.

Book here for free tickets:




I am very pleased to have new work from the Return to Ritherdon project exhibited in MAJOR Conversations: the industrial narrative exhibition at Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough UK

Bobby Benjamin
Connor Sheilds
Craig Oldham
Faye Hadfield
Hannah Leighton Boyce
Helen Pailing
Kraig Wilson
Mary Griffiths
Nicola Ellis
Theodore Major

As heavy industry declines in the North of England, an understanding of areas with strong industrial heritage and identity have often been distorted by a ‘fog’ of political discourse and ideology; a rhetoric that has often obfuscated much of the personality and You atmosphere within its regions.

This exhibition contributes to the discussion through creative endeavour and viewpoints that may augment, or even subvert, a widely accepted narrative. Being an artist born in, or practicing, within these areas will inevitably prompt a reference to industrial heritage, albeit very often subconsciously.

The artists selected for ‘Major Conversations’ are connected to the North East and North West regions. They uncover a social reality and a lived experience within their work that runs alongside many other creative, intellectual, political or philosophical concerns.
Art and Industry have historically suffered an uneasy relationship since the Industrial Revolution due to the anxiety of certain eminent writers on art. John Ruskin famously feared that the ‘drawing styles encountered by workers were all industry and no art, dreamt up and imposed from without by enemies of creativity’. His opinion that art should draw upon the beauty of nature rather than the ugliness of industry is subtly countered here in ‘Major Conversations’.

Some artists in this exhibition may well explore the notion of amalgamating both artistic and industrial environments, but essentially it is a sense of place, emotionally ingrained into the artists’ sensibilities, that emerges naturally within their creations: a cultural legacy that has inexorably embedded itself into their consciousness and subconsciously informed many artworks.

These contemporary artists are explored within the context of a 19th Century artist, Theodore Major; a Wigan painter whose practice concerned the social & visual impact of heavy industry at that time. By juxtaposing Major’s violent industrial dystopias with contemporary work, the exhibition aims to explore reciprocal narratives and inter-generational connections that increase our understanding of the relationship between industrial heritage and art practice.

The exhibition is the first stage of a touring project that will expand the number of artists involved when it travels from the North East to the North West of the U.K. to test and broaden the narrative. Conversations and experiences surrounding both the exhibition and the arranged seminar will enrich the next part of the project; an exhibition that will take place at the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh in Feb-March 2020.

This exhibition is a collaboration between curator Mark Parham and Platform A Gallery.



In an effort to begin understanding the internal workings and overlapping operations of each department, I will be spending a bit of time shadowing staff throughout the Ritherdon factory. First on the agenda is the ‘Paint shop’, which predominantly produces powder coated components to be assembled into the final Ritherdon products, along with a very small amount of wet spray paint process.

During my previous time spent at Ritherdon, I have been totally and utterly seduced by the paint shop. The matte powder melting in the oven to become something hot, glossy and perfect is particularly visceral and sexy. In part this is thanks to the surface quality of the metal. Another reason is never being able to witness the melt happen in the ovens first hand. The visual of the process can only exist in the imagination. The liquifying gets done in the pitch black at 180 degrees. That’s hot.


This reflection helps me get my head around the first few works made in the ‘Dead powder series’ (Images above by Jules Lister). The ongoing series is tied to the output of Ritherdon products during the period of time I will be in residence there. The steel support for the work is surplus ‘negative shapes’ left over from completed jobs.  The dead powder coating the support is lifted from the IBC waste tub which collects all the powder cleaned out of the booth in between colour changes throughout the day. The steel and powder are combined to make the work on the same day they both become waste, forming a kind petrified evidence that a process occurred, while the product itself is shipped off somewhere to complete its functional destiny. The powder is applied to the steel by hand in order to retain the chunks of colour present in the layers removed from the tub. The close up photo above shows places on the works surface which became overloaded, and therefore sag in the ovens during liquification. These are the points of interest in which the whole process regains a bit of autonomy. Nobody has any agency over the works when they go in the ovens, so I get what I’m given when they come out the other side. If I’m lucky, its a thick drooping skin made of a million pieces of multi coloured powder. Living the powder coating artists dream?

Another thing I was very pleased to have working experience of was the stopping and starting of the line (the system which transports the components through the whole process). I was expecting the line to be moving at a much more consist speed than it actually was. This wasn’t because of inefficiency- the Ritherdon team get the job done in good time!- but because the larger items require more load, spray and unload time than smaller ones individually. Due to the factory working to the ‘Just in time’ approach (a customer makes an order and the factory produces the item in a short turnaround, as apposed to mass producing in anticipation of a customer order later on), an order of large cabinets might be followed by a large order of tiny products that can be loaded quickly but take up more space on the line. Managing the loading, spraying and unloading of these objects with completely different demands on the same line was super interesting to be a part of (industry nerd alert!). It was like juggling, if juggling involved the chemical treatments and heating of metal objects, the order of which was decided by an external force.  A super example of a system within a system within a system recurring being managed by well practiced intuition, patience and muscle.

Many thanks to Pete and Matt for letting me shadow them in the paint shop, for answering my barrage of questions and for showing me some of the ropes.


During my Art in Manufacturing residency at Ritherdon, Lauren Velvick kindly visited the factory and wrote about the project (you should read it here on Soanyway: https://www.soanywaymagazine.org/issue-one ). In the writing Lauren mentions a conversation we had about seeing functional things existing in industry – for example the luxuriously clotted paint coated multi coloured fibre backing of the wet spray booth- and agreed that we have seen this sort of object appearing in contemporary art a fair bit. I think the next post will be dedicated to unraveling my thoughts about these experiences.


I also recommend following lauren on Twitter for some art world insights: https://twitter.com/LaurenVelvick


And my Twitter/Instagram for real-time Return to Ritherdon updates