MADE in Grimsby

This work was my main project, for my MA_Design and was designed to find a project that included all the areas that I had an interest in, as I wanted to define my practice. The main areas I looked at were place, history of making, storytelling and using the making techniques from the area to influence my work. I also wanted to make objects that, related to the actual story or place I was investigating, in that they would be quite literal. I didn’t want to make abstract work which could be interpreted in many ways, as it wouldn’t be achieving the aim of telling the stories of a place.


When I visited the museum storage depot for North East Lincolnshire council, the majority of the objects seemed to be donated machines often relating to fishing. There were minimal objects from Ticklers Jam, Dixons Papermill, Ice Factory, COSALT and the Haile Sand and Bull Sand Forts. I feel that I have made contemporary objects that tell the story of some of these places, as so much of the original objects have disappeared since the closure of the businesses. 


The work I produce is about the stories of a place or community and its connection to making. I am more interested in finding out about the social history of a place, and the lives and stories of the people that lived there, than famous stories and well known history.  In the project MADE in Grimsby, the work is made to make more people aware of the stories behind local places, history and landmarks. My work isn’t made to be viewed in a gallery, or based on purely my own thoughts and reflections.


I also wanted to create a project that looks for positivity, about Grimsby due to recent negativity through the television programme (Skint, 2014) and the film The Brothers Grimsby (Leterrier 2016). By creating these objects I hope that I can help people to see that Grimsby has a rich history of making and has the potential to be more than Grimsby is often depicted.

I called this project MADE in Grimsby, as the work was based on the making and manufacturing within the area, essentially nets and paper. As part of the certificate stage of the MA, I researched the importance of making, for the RSA project and wanted to look at making in a more historic context as in the making in factories, both small and large, that played a large part in the local economy. Also this title is a reference to myself, as I was born and brought up within Grimsby. The history of these industries have led to the Grimsby of today.

Fruit Grenades (Ticklers Artillery)

These were a way to illustrate the story of Ticklers Jam. Ticklers Jam produced jam in Grimsby from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. Ticklers Jam won the contract to supply jam to the frontline in World War I. After eating the jam the soldiers used the empty containers to make grenades. I chose to make the Fruit Grenades, as they sum up the story of ‘Ticklers Artillery’ through an object really well. It was also the contrast between something as harmless as fruit and jam, being used for a destructive purpose to injure and kill someone that I found an interesting concept to try and explain through an object. The object itself looks like a grenade, but it is only on closer inspection that the sense that it is also based on a piece of fruit becomes apparent.

The 'Fruit Grenades' consisted of two designs, one made from paper clay and one using mesh or net. 

Bull Sand Fort and Haile Sand Fort Brooch

The Bull Sand and Haile Sand Fort were created at the end part of World War I, they were created to defend the Humber and its industries from attacks from German troops. It wasn’t built in time for World War I, but during World War II the forts were manned and a boom net was attached from one side of the Humber to the other with the forts forming part of the barricade. The brooch would consist of two brooches at either side of a coat, due to their weight, with a net connecting the two.


I wanted to make this as, I liked the design of this brooch as it illustrated perfectly how there were two forts with a net stretched across, between them. I had heard stories growing up in Grimsby that the forts were used in the war to stop submarines coming up the Humber and just accepted the story. I imagined a fishing net, but didn’t realise the difference between a fishing net and a boom net until I researched this project. Obviously thinking about it, if a fishing net was used, a submarine would easily be able to get through it. The forts are both visible from Cleethorpes beach, and look out of place against the backdrop of sandcastles and deckchairs. They are intriguing to visitors, who often wonder what they are there for, as there is no information provided as to why these strange structures are there. I imagine that if this brooch was worn, and people asked about the brooch, it would be the perfect opportunity to start a conversation about the history of Grimsby and about these amazing forts. This I think, is what one of the main advantages of jewellery has as an object. It allows the object to move around and to come into contact with lots of people from different backgrounds, and helps start conversations.