Thursday, 17 December 2009

Seasons Greetings

2009 is almost behind us and it's been a busy year developing exciting new projects with some old friends and welcoming aboard some great new collaborators. We'd like to say a massive thank you to all our clients, friends and collaborators for a great year, we hope you will have a lovely Christmas and we're looking forward to seeing you in the new year!

The studio will be closed for our winter break from Thursday 17th December and we are opening again on Monday the 4th January 2010. We'll be checking our phones and emails regularly however so please feel free to get in touch!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Thinking Objects features Spring Shrouds

Excellent product design book '
Thinking Objects', written by our friend, designer and university lecturer Tim Parsons, features a short section on 'Design as political activism' which mentions UHC's Spring Shrouds, designed and made for comedian Mark Thomas two years ago. The shrouds were put up around Manchester during rush hour one morning, covering every pavement advertising hoarding in the city centre (80 in total), giving commuters a 'temporary respite from the daily barrage of commercial messages'. The book can be bought from AVA Academia.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Thank You

Since hand delivering the Leeds Plan B Manifesto to key decision making organisations around Leeds city centre back in November we are extremely pleased to have received several thank you letters which we have quoted below;

Councillor Andrew Carter - Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council

“Thank you for your recent letter; I will certainly look at the website to find out more about the project. I am a keen gardener so will definitely use this on my garden and look forward to seeing the results.”

John Thorpe - The City Workshop

“Thank you for delivering the art work, especially as it forms part of the final ten works from your limited edition of 200.I am part of a small group of colleagues who cultivate an urban allotment. My contribution is to turn the full volume of soil - which rests on demolition land- and to introduce to it organically produced compost and horse manure to it. The contents of the artwork ill be used accordingly and the container placed carefully to bio-digrade. With Thanks, best wishes and appreciation of a beautiful work.”

ExtInked book

This 240 page book was produced in-house for ExtInked, it documents all the illustrations included in the project and provides factual information for each species. The book was printed in black ink (with additional colour photographs of the event inserted), using a skin-like cover and was beautifully hand bound by artist Lucy May Schofield.

We are currently looking into producing additional copies of the book which will go on sale shortly at affordable prices.
For more pictures of the book, see the ExtInked project page on our website.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Picture of the day

Budge sign is a 6ft tall art piece that was created by the UHC collective and exhibited at the Manchester Contemporary floor at the Buy Art Fair at Urbis earlier this autumn. It's still up for sale and if you're interested please contact

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Hand Delivery

Since the successful public launch of the Leeds Plan B manifesto back in October, we have been hard at work ensuring the project has not gone unnoticed by the city’s decision makers. On a dull, rainy November day Jai and the team took to the streets of Leeds to personally hand deliver the Leeds Plan B Manifesto as a gift to key organisations around the city centre. We successfully delivered 10 biodegradable bags of compost each hand printed with the 13 point sustainability plan. We hope that these handmade works of art would encourage discussion and perhaps a new vision for the city of Leeds.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Omnicrom CT500

Currently in production for the extinked exhibition are the event fact files. 100 are to be produced, one for each species, using the appropriately obsolete transfer process of the Omnicrom system for the covers. Omnicrom is a simple transfer process based on the chemical interaction between Omnicolour colouring sheets and the thermoplastic resin used in photocopier toner. The pigment present in the Omnicolour sheet is transferred under conditions of heat and pressure directly to the surface of the photocopy, and once transferred, it can not be removed. The end result has a finish comparable with with litho printing and foil blocking.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Leeds Plan B manifesto launch

Leeds Plan B came to its conclusion on October 24th with the public launch of the sustainability manifesto. In spite of the autumnal weather our stall giving away the manifesto, hand printed on dozens of bags of compost attracted a great deal of interest.

By the end of the afternoon we were soaking wet but had given away a hundred bags of compost. The Leeds Plan B manifesto, written by Jai Redman (as artist in residence with the universtity's school of geography) with students, lecturers and local campaigners, calls for the 'composting' of the city's resources, returning the assets to local grass roots stewardship.

If you want to see one of the few remaining manifesto bags, visit Manchester's Cube Gallery, where the work is on display in the current Open Submission show until 18th of December.

Signs of Revolt exhibition

Some of UHC's artwork are being exhibited at the Signs of Revolt, Creative Resistance and Social Movements since Seattle exhibition in London next week, alongside artists such as Jonathan Barnbrook, Jody Boehnert and Noel Douglas. The exhibition highlights activist artwork produced since the demonstration in Seattle 10 years ago where direct action activists, environmentalists and trade unionists shut down the meeting of the World Trade Organisation. The exhibition is also looking towards the Copenhagen climate summit, weaving together stories from a movement working against capitalism, war and climate change.

If you're in London next week this should be well worth a visit. It takes place at Shop 14, The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane from Friday 13th November to Sunday 22nd November.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A third of all species threatened with extinction!

It's all about ExtInked at the moment. Shocking news this morning, "More than a third of species assessed in a major international biodiversity study are threatened with extinction, scientists have warned." That's according to the IUCN. Read the full article on BBC News here. Also, according to the RSPB the bird Hen Harrier (which is on our list of possible tattoos) has had a really bad year. Both the IUCN and the RSPB referred to climate change and loss of habitat due to human encroachment as major contributing factors.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

ExtInked launch invites

The ExtInked launch invitation flyers arrived from the printers today and we can't wait to send them out! The event takes places on Thursday night the 12th November, all of the 100 drawings will be exhibited to the public for the first time and it will also be the opportunity to sign up for the tattoo of your choice, so don't miss out!

ExtInked on Co-op blog

We're very excited to see our tattooing project ExtInked being featured on the Co-operatives UK In the Spotlight blog, check out the post here!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Leeds Plan B - Saturday 24th

Leeds Plan B - Manifesto Launch

Created as a collaboration between the people of Leeds, students from the School of Geography at Leeds University and artist Jai Redman from Ultimate Holding Company - the Leeds Plan B manifesto is about to launch.

The 13 point plan for 'composting the city' (and returning its resources to common ownership by the people) has been printed on hundreds of compost bags. The bags are painted bright yellow, printed with an elaborately illustrated Leeds Plan B logo and backed with the 13 point plan. Each contains a generous supply of locally produced sustainable compost mulch and the bags and liners are fully biodegradable.

The manifesto bags will be given away for free at Dortmund Square from 11.00am - 4.00pm on Saturday 24th October.

This is a one off, unique public event - come down and grab a beautiful bag of art.

The Leeds Plan B manifesto is also published online at and is a living document and your comments and additions are welcomed.

More details are also available from the Leeds Plan B project page or by emailing

Location & Date
Dortmund Square, St Johns Centre, The Headrow, Leeds, LS2 8RE from 11.00am - 4.00pm on Saturday 24th October. (map here)

Bag supplies are limited - arrive early to avoid disappointment. We recommend you bring a friend to help carry the compost - the bags weigh approximately 15kg. (The manifesto is also available as more traditional paper flyers!).

Ultimate Holding Company residency was developed by artist Jai Redman and was Supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

The manifesto launch is presented as part of Listen To Leeds' Day of Climate InterAction, and has been devised in conjunction with students from the School of Geography's Activism and Social Change MA.

Photo by Thomas Bing.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

extInked event details confirmed!

Opening Thursday, 12th November 2009
In the year in which the world celebrates Charles Darwin’s birthday bicentennial Ultimate Holding Company embarks on a once in a lifetime social experiment.

With the expert assistance of several prominent conservation charities and the artistry of tattooists from Ink Vs Steel, Ultimate Holding Company have created extInked.

A new exhibition of drawings, individually illustrating one hundred of the most endangered species in the British Isles opens next month and reaches its conclusion with the live tattooing of the drawings on one hundred willing volunteers.

The result of this unique exhibition will be an army of ambassadors for threatened and rare birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, plants and fungi.

Preview and Launch
Exhibition opens 7:30pm, Thursday 12th November, 2009 Continues daily (10:00am - 6:00pm) until the 1st of December.

Tattooing commences 7:30pm, Thursday 26th November and continues until Sunday 29th November.

Unit 108, Chapel St. Walks Development, Chapel St., Salford, M3 5DW

Become an Ambassador If you're interested in becoming one of our life-long ambassadors, and being tattooed with an endangered species simply come along to the exhibition from the 12th November.

You must be 18 or over to be considered. Tattoos are free, however a deposit will be required.

A full list of species is available from our extInked project page.

Partner Organisations
extInked is presented In proud association with the Marine Conservation Society, Buglife - the Invertebrate Conservation Trust and the People's Trust for Endangered Species.

You can still donate to help extInked happen. Any profits will go towards our conservation partners.

Join our 700 supporters on Facebook.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The UHC Water Table and Jarvis Cocker!

Artist group Metal opened their new residency building Chalkwell Hall this weekend, here's Jarvis Cocker being interviewed sat at their table hand-crafted in-house by Ultimate Holding Company. The table was built using sustainably sourced American oak and the video clip is showing some great detail of the illustration, which was beautifully drawn onto the table using indian ink. (please ignore the silly advert at the beginning of the clip!)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Graphic Design intern wanted

We are currently looking for a new graphic design intern to get on board, if you are interested please see our website for more info!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

UHC at the Buy Art Fair 2009

This year's Buy Art Fair opens on Thursday at Urbis in Manchester. We'll be showing new work as part of The Manchester Contemporary floor and are proud to be representing the hosts, Urbis Creative Programmes. The show should be well worth a visit, with many other local arts organisations exhibiting including Castlefield Gallery and International 3, and includes a specially curated project by Liverpool's Ceri Hand.

We'll be offering very affordable multiples, whilst also showcasing some beautiful and unique bigger pieces. Take home prices start at £70.

The show opens at 5:00 pm this Thursday and runs until Sunday the 27th of September.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Under construction

UHC are producing a new CMS (Content Management System) website for the Ecological Land Co-operative, who's aim is to create a diverse and abundant countryside capable of feeding the nation, with affordable entry level opportunities for farming, forestry and other rural land based businesses. If you want to get involved you can apply to become a member or even buy shares in the co-operative, all via the new site. The site will go live in October so keep your eyes open!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

EXT INKED hit the radio waves

106.1 Rock Radio Manchester invited Jai Redman and Timo Ten Feld to join Steve Berry on the breakfast show to talk about EXT INKED the forth coming UHC project celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.

To download and listen again to this interview please see the EXT INKED profile page.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Carbon Map at Arnolfini

The Carbon Map created by UHC in 2007 was commissioned by Platform for the Transport Planning Society. The large artwork (1680mm x 1187mm) will once again go on show, this time at Arnolfini contemporary arts centre in Bristol.

Artist-activist group PLATFORM and their collaborators propose ‘C Words’, a two-month investigation into carbon, climate, capital and culture. Based on PLATFORM’s 25 years of research, art and action, C Words cross-examines the present and looks to the next two decades. How did we get here? Where are we going? Who’s deciding? Who’s made invisible? Whose future matters? PLATFORM members will be in residence at Arnolfini throughout the project.

Over 25 events, installations, performances, actions, walks, courses, discussions and skills-sharing will build towards the moment of public departure to the protests at the contested COP 15 in Copenhagen. This isn’t art which merely describes the problems of climate justice. C Words investigates how everything from carbon offsets and transport, to racism and bank accounts play their part in the carbon web. How will culture be produced in a low energy future? Can we imagine our way from here to there?

The Carbon Map will form part of the exhibition entitled - C Words: Carbon, Climate, Capital, Culture, How did you get here and where are we going? The show will open on Saturday 3rd October 2009 through to Sunday 29th November.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New stationery fresh from the printers

The UHC team is back from the summer holidays and we are celebrating this by launching our re-vamped identity and new stationery! Printed on 100% recycled paper using vegetable oil based inks, of course.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Food Factory First Success

Here it is! Our very first lettuce.

Successful early planting is now rewarding us with our first crops of peas, chard, potatoes and lettuces. Boxes of the veg have been taken home by Ryan Delvin and others been passed to the Headmaster at St Paul’s and the food tech staff. Everyone has been amazed with the results so far.

City Editions

So following their continued studies into local power relationships and conflicts in urban regeneration, students working with me on the Leeds Plan B residency have written a series of articles and photoessays. They were encouraged to come up with work which was outside of the normal student essay and the results were as varied as they were intriguing! As an artist/desginer my brief to myself with this part of the project was to take ordinary student research papers and create unique and beautiful art objects. The essays became a hand-bound paperback book, with the work laid out inside by our UHC designers. The books are called the Plan B 'City Edition', reflecting the way they were written - in direct response to the streets.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Enclosure Identity Part 2

The new graphic identity work for Enclosure continues.

Urban Safari Shorts!

The Leeds Plan B residency is getting out and about and engaging with the local environment. In two groups the students have been out on self-developed safaris, following their own instinct and mapping the changing urban landscape along the way. We wanted to focus on spotting evidence of local power relationships and conflicts in urban regeneration. And what do you know, one of the first encounters was with young free runners using a piece of old public art as a spring board.

Allotment Work Day

This has been our most successful work day so far! Over 20 pupils came from year 7 and helped to dig and plant new beds, weed the existing crops and mulch the paths with woodchip. Ryan and Ryan built two new benches from reclaimed wood to create a central seating area. This work day is a continuation of events organized by Ecochallenge. We'd like to thank Emma for helping to make this happen.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Leeds Plan B is born

There are a couple of major new pieces being developed as part of the Leverhulme Trust residency and I've decided to tie them all together as one concept. Leeds Plan B is to be a living manifesto for a sustainable Leeds, instead of our original idea to make a city room (Leeds already has one of those!) I'm planning on making a temporary space out in the city centre, with some new sculptural work, and a new website and manifesto statement. The whole thing should sit together as a body of work with lasting legacies. The logo, which is an essential part of the plan, has been developed by myself with the help of Tom Bing (our resident photographer!). The yellow colour theme will run throughout the project from now on and the canaries will be a recurring theme too.


Things are in full-swing at the Food Factory Allotment. A new addition to the site - one amazing looking pond complete with water-lilies,
yellowflag and marsh mallow (not the sweet kind). Let's hope it attracts plenty of frogs.

Sowing seeds in Leeds

Not knowing whether the Leeds artist residency would result in some kind of guerilla gardening or permaculture exercise, I've been planting seeds of vegetables and sunflowers with the geography students, just in case we needed them... As it turns out so far we haven't, which is OK, as Paul Chatterton, who is the School's host applicant for the residency, has been taking them to his allotment. It has to be said that although the class threw themselves into the sowing with some enthusiasm, it was surprising how few had ever planted seeds before. A sad footnote - pretty much all of the plants died over the Easter holidays - next time I'm enforcing a strict watering rota!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Congratulations to Owl Project on winning the Best of Manchester Awards 2009!

Owl Project is an art collective producing stunning musical instruments that mimic popular hand-held gadgets such as the iPod and are crafted from simple, untreated pieces of wood that ‘critique human interaction with computer interfaces and our increasing appetite for new and often disposable technologies’.

Organised by Urbis and judged by a panel of industry experts, the The Best of Manchester Awards celebrate innovation in art, music and fashion. It was announced last week that Owl Project are selected as this year's winners for the art category. We think they are worthy winners and are happy to see them being awarded the prize.

Ultimate Holding Company worked with Owl Project in 2008 to create the printed 'scrolls' (resembling a small log when rolled up), promoting their noise generator the 'iLog' and providing instructions for making your very own iLog. We are currently printing a second run of the scrolls which will be beautifully hand screen printed by local artist Nick Rhodes from Switchopen. Look out for these 'deluxe' versions of the scrolls from September onwards!

Thursday, 23 July 2009


After repeated requests for somewhere to shelter from showers, Ryan Loose and Ryan Delvin have struggled with Joe and Chris to build a shed. (Who writes the instructions that come with these things?!). Well it's finally up and we think it's the best looking shed on the allotment. What do you think?

Jai on Leeds Leverhulme Residency

Since January 2009 I've been working in Leeds at the University on a 9 month residency, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

It's been quite a radically different learning experience for everyone at the School of Geography, where I've been working with geographers from the research cluster 'Urban Cultures and Consumption' as well as campaigners from the 'Leeds, Love It, Share It' network.

To give a bit of background - I wanted to use the residency to look at how we artist/designers can produce visual materials and events that present (what can be) hard to penetrate academic work to a wider audience. This is of course a bit of propagandizing - but wholly in keeping with the geographers' activist research style.

Photography by Tom Bing.

Up until the Easter holidays, I've been attending the module lectures, which have been happening outside the School in a variety of interesting venues, including: The Leeds Library, the Design Innovation Centre, Bauman Lyons architect's offices, Tower Works in Holbeck and the Commonplace social centre. During the sessions we heard presentations from John Thorpe (Leeds' City Architect) and Andy Goldring from the Permaculture Society.

The sessions have also been attended by Tom Bing, student photographer at the university, who has now become something of a regular at UHC events - documenting the allotment project, Barrow-in-Furness events and soon to join us in Liverpool on the Scouse Soul Stew project. Please credit the photos to Tom if you want to reproduce them!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Garlic (Bread?)

Another lesson plan for the Ryans - This time a master class in garlic planting. Ok, so it's a little late in the year, but we wanted to have a go at companion planting garlic with strawberries (apparently, slugs are scared of garlic). So there will be plenty of strawberries for anyone who's not a fan of garlic bread!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Check this new minimalist bike design by Danish designer Michael Ubbesen Jakobsen, its even cooler than our Art administrator - Timo's, blinging white, fixed gear sex cycle.

Runner Beans

To help the Ryans learn new practical skills on the allotment we've been drawing some simple lesson plans - and then making them do all of the hard work. Here's some pictures of the runner bean plan.

We look forward to eating the results!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Raised beds

We have built a system of raised beds for our crop rotation. The two most enthusiastic pupils, Ryan and Ryan (yes they are both called Ryan) now have their own crop rotation and are growing potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, rainbow chard, onions and chives.

Plotting for success

After being away for a year we are back on the allotment working hard with some new kids from St Paul's Catholic High School. We've decided to call the project Food Factory and you can read all about it on our website. This project has been supported by both the School and Food Futures and is run by volunteers from UHC


More coverage for EXT INKED with a peice in Bizarre magazine, so bizarre they like to call us UCH just to keep things edgy.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Enclosure Identity

The development of the graphic identity for Enclosure has begun. The new space located within the Hotspur House will be opening this summer and we are very exited by its potential. The new identity work we are currently undertaking is also equally exciting and we thought it would be good to give you a little sneak preview.

The concept for the new graphic identity is derived from the huge amount of the peculiar lost and forgotten paraphernalia that had to be cleared from the space. Dusty boxes, papers and industrial tit and tat dating from the 60's presented us with all sorts of old and dated color schemes and graphic styles to explore. The final outcome will be something that is very fitting for this peculiar new artist space in Manchester...

Scouse Soul Stew

Scouse Soul Stew is a series of artists led events in Kensington, Liverpool looking at the ingredients in life important to us all.