A Little (online) Festival of Mantelpieces

To coincide with our current exhibitions, we've a range of online film screenings, talks and workshops.

A Little Festival of Mantelpieces

Monday 2nd to Friday 6th November 2020

As the nights draw in and the days get colder, join us for a little festival of mantelpieces! 

The festival presents a series of free events bringing artists, filmmakers, writers and academics together online to celebrate the mantelpiece and its enduring place at the heart of the home.  The festival has been created in collaboration with the Mass Observation Archive and the Museum of the Home and has been inspired by an exhibition of new work by the celebrated ceramic artist Richard Slee at Bolton Museum, Mantelpiece Observations

The main festival events are listed below.  We will add content including links to films as the festival progresses.  All the films will be available to watch back at any time you choose.

Richard Slee Gallery Image 3

Monday 2nd November: 2.00pm

Richard Slee in conversation with Sonia Solicari, Director, Museum of the Home

In this specially recorded conversation, Richard Slee talks about the inspirations behind the ceramics he has created for his exhibition at Bolton Museum, Mantelpiece Observations.

Tuesday 3rd November: All Day

Share Your Mantelpiece Objects

During the festival we will be inviting you to share images of the objects on your mantelpiece (or windowsill or bookshelf), so keep an eye on our social media platforms. We’ll also be sharing images from our collections.

Wednesday 4th November: 11.00am

Film screenings: Mantelpiece Stories by Madeleine Waller and Shelf Life by Mina Salimi

Screening of two specially commissioned films in which households in Bolton and the London borough of Hackney talk about their treasured objects. Deeply moving in parts, these beautifully shot films provide a fascinating insight into the meanings behind the objects people collect on mantelpieces and other display areas in the home.

Thursday 5th November: 2.00pm

On Mantelpieces

In this online conversation, Rachel Hurdley (presenter of Radio 4’s The Hidden History of the Mantelpiece), and Claire Langhamer, Professor of Modern British History, University of Sussex, explore the background to Mass Observation’s 1937 survey of mantelpieces. What did the pioneering social research organisation hope to discover by asking people to write about the objects on their mantelpieces?  

Friday 6th November

Kids Collect Things (All Day)

More themed posts and image shares. What did you collect when you were young? Key rings, stickers, pencil toppers or badges. Send in your photographs and memories and we’ll share them via our social media platforms. 

Mantelpiece Crafts: 11.00am - 12.30pm

Richard Slee Staffordshire dog

Make your own Staffordshire dog soft toy inspired by the mantelpiece report of a Mass Observation volunteer who describes an “earthenware dog” that was “given to a fractious child to cuddle”.

Free online workshop led by Bolton textile artist, Jennifer Gilmour. Book your place via Eventbrite.  We are limited to15 places and participants will be sent a craft kit to their home address.

Logos for Exhibition


Published: 13th October 2020