Mitzi Cunliffe Centenary:  2018

In June 2018, working in partnership with the Twentieth Century Society NW Group, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe by dedicating a plaque on her former home in Didsbury, Manchester.

This was followed by a talk and conversation to commemorate the centenary of the ‘Sculptor for Architecture’ with Professor Ann Sumner and Antonia Cunliffe Davis

Ann Sumner will introduce the work of Mitzi Cunliffe, designer of the iconic BAFTA trophy mask, created while the artist was living in Manchester in the 1950s. She will trace her career from her early years in New York, through to her commissions for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and her art works for Liverpool and Leeds universities.

The city is fortunate to have a number of important works by her including Threshold at Manchester High School for Girls, the Heaton Park Pumping Station relief (Grade II listed), Man and Technics: Fire and the Wheel for Wythenshawe West Secondary Technical School (now Manchester Health Academy) and the dramatic fibreglass Cosmos I wall sculptures at Owens Park, University of Manchester.

The talk coincides with the installation of a commemorative plaque on the house in Didsbury which was her home and studio (located in the former garage). It was here that she made a remarkable series of sculptures and also designed textiles and ceramics. There has recently been an increased interest in Mitzi Cunliffe’s work, culminating in the inclusion of her work in exhibitions this year in Leeds and Newcastle and the inaugural exhibitor in BAFTA’s Female Firsts.

The lecture will be followed by an informal discussion between Ann Sumner and the artist’s daughter Antonia, who recalls life while in Manchester and offers a personal perspective on her mother’s achievements as a sculptor.

At the time of production, Professor Ann Sumner was researching Cunliffe’s life and work and curated the exhibition on her in Leeds in 2016. Antonia Cunliffe Davis studied architecture and has worked as curator, designer and consultant in the visual arts and design.

Organised by the Twentieth Century Society, Northwest in collaboration with the Modernist Society. Funded by generous support via Crowdfunder.

(images © Estate of the Artist)

Venue: The Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER