Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Bread Baking at Mill

Jai recently gave a bread making workshop at Islington Mill Salford as part of the event The Doers, The Drifters & The Dreamers. Working in the former cotton mill participants made Challah a traditional jewish bread made up off a series of knotts and dusted with poppy seeds - yum!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Design and Media Lab postgraduate shows

Last Thursday saw the opening of the Design and Media LAB postgraduate shows at Hotspur House. With the Fourth Floor cleared and cleaned, the once condemmed space was completely transformed into a unique exhibition venue. The students exhibited a range of work, from graphic prints to large scale film installation, showcasing the diversity of projects undertaken on the MA course. We hope that the exhibition marks the start of a contuining relationship with the Design Lab and is the first of many events to be held in the newly rennovated space.

* photos by Alex Bown

Thursday, 7 October 2010

UHC hosts the MA Design Show

We are very excited to be hosting the 2010 Design LAB and Media LAB postgraduate shows. Students from the MA Design, Filmmaking, Photography and Media Arts courses at Manchester Metropolitan University will be showing work at Hotspur House between 14-17 October. The private view is between 4-8pm on Thursday 14 October.

The show has been curated and produced with the support of UHC, Hotspur House and Jai Redman. It will be the first time the public has been allowed access to the top floors of the building in nearly 10 years and it marks a watershed in our project to create a permanent collaborative design studio in the space.

More info on the show can be found here:

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

EVA Lisbon

Jai, UHC's creative director, was recently invited to speak at a conference in Lisbon. The conference marked the culmination of a series of successful experimental socially engaged art projects in 7 different challenging neighbourhoods in the city. The series of projects took place under the title of EVA and marked an important change in direction for art in the city, where experimental collaborative practice is still seen as rare.

Jai spoke about projects UHC have undertaken in the UK introducing a range of socially engaged work to the conference audience. Eva Merz
from the New Social Art School also gave a talk about her work and in return her and Jai learnt about the issues facing artists working with poor communities in Lisbon.

The conference was hosted by the National Immigration Centre on 23rd Sept 2010. It was introduced by Pedro Calado, representing the City's cultural department who were partners in EVA and Paulo Gouveia from the Clube Português de Artes e Ideias who's amazing studio managed the residencies.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A-N for Lunch

UHC recently hosted a lunch for A-N members and staff during their visit to Manchester. Having been to Castlefield gallery and on route to Rogue Studios and Cornerhouse, the group stopped off at UHC for some freshly made lunch. With all of the studio helping out we laid on a feast of paella, homemade bread and vegan cup cakes.

Eating on the fourth floor marked the beginning of our plans to transform the space into a regular site for events, discussions and artist’s use. With the lunch going down smoothly chatting with members of A-N about our plans, we got excited about the development of hotspur house and UHC’s future projects.

As part of our development of the fourth floor we will be hosting a series of Reading Groups in the space discussing the themes explored in EXAM, continuing our development of the project and hopefully sparking some lively debates! The first Reading Group will be held on the 29th of September from 6pm-8pm - more information will be added to the project website soon -

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Futures North looks beyond the "Big Society"

Last week we took part in the Futures North Conference in Leeds, where we met with other Co-operatives to discuss and learn about setting new directions on education, economy, energy, technology and transition.
There was a choice of interactive workshops, insightful speakers, and practical learning whilst having the opportunity to speak to other exhibitors.

The Futures North Conference aimed to "Look beyond the Big Society”, bringing together some of the key people and the ideas that offer practical solutions enabling communities to tackle today’s problems, and create a greener, fairer and more sustainable future."

We took part in an inspirational workshop by Make It Happen Consultancy, who are leaders in social change and aim to challenge and change the traditional business model to one where social and ethical values are embedded in the way that business is conducted. They talked about how to create impact, growth and value using 4 key elements from their business model, including profit, ethics, people and impact.

The event was a great way to meet with other co-ops, discuss our role as a design studio and show how our services can benefit the needs of clients from all backgrounds. Sourcing 'ethical' design can be difficult and although not perfect, we are committed to providing a service that challenges the norms of the design industry and aims to achieve more for society as a whole.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Changes afoot

Our Studio at UHC is going through some major re-developments; a general move around provoked us into totally rethinking the way we work and the atmosphere we work in.

In the recent weeks we have decided to refurbish our kitchen - moving it to a more suitable and practical space, and to create a new working environment for the Design Studio. This development of the working space is well beyond necessary, and it comes at a time when a little encouragement and change is needed to stimulate the atmosphere of the studio for all those who work here.

Simon has proposed a new location for the kitchen and we will be documenting the stages of the re-development, showing in all its glory the hidden treasures of the Hotspur House, the mess we create and the relief when we finally have running water from a tap!

Like everything that UHC do - we are trying to make our work space more sustainable, longer lasting and efficient; by recycling different materials for the re-build we are contributing to the future of what UHC can provide for artists, designers and the people who work here.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

It's GCSE results day!

Today sees teenagers across the country eagerly awaiting the delivery of their GCSE exam results. However, this year is a little different - there are also 89 excited individuals from all over the North West waiting for the postman to arrive. These 89 individuals made history back in May by sitting the first ever prototype exam paper on GCSE Level LGBT Studies and are now part of a small revolution within the current UK teaching curriculum.

An overview of all EXAM results is available online at a new website called EXAM PROJECT dedicated to EXAM and it's future manifestations. Take a look at the site to see how everyone did. We hope to add new documentation as the project expands over the coming months.

Everyone at
Ultimate Holding Company feels that EXAM was a huge success and only made possible through the participation of the candidates, thank you and congratulations to you all.

We are also excited to announce that we are going to be hosting a series of reading groups over the autumn months open to all EXAM candidates and their friends. The meetings will continue the themes and topics explored in the EXAM paper and will be a chance to discuss the different areas covered in the exam, as well as hear from guest speakers about LGBT history and culture. The first Reading Group will meet on Wednesday 29th Sept with a focus on Polari. Further details can be found below;

Date: Wednesday 29th Sept 2010
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Location: Hotspur House, 2 Gloucester Street, M1 5QR

For more information visit 
or call 0161 238 8523.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Class Portrait

Via the Creative Review Blog - The D&AD Best New Blood Winners 2010 were announced and although there were some particularly thought provoking and stimulating design pieces, what caught our attention was the somewhat controversial topic of child photography.

The project we liked most,
by Anna Brooks and Samantha Harvey entitled Class Portrait, looks at 'the ethical issues and paranoia surrounding the laws of photographing children' in a visually arresting series of images.

Student Details:

What BP could have bought with all the money they lost!

An interesting thought !
Lets see some things that they could have bought :

// 10 years of water for each of the 884 million people in the world without access to it.
// A year's sponsorship for 1 million needy kids at Children International.
// A Pogo stick for every elementary Kid in the US.
// An ice cream sandwich for everyone on the earth.

An incredible loss and one that will effect us all - with a huge environmental impact it has and continues to destroy everything within its reach.

See more at:

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

EXAM - UHC host the first ever GCSE level examination in LGBT studies!

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in late May at the University of Salford's Maxwell Hall, one hundred members of the public made history by sitting the first ever GCSE level examination in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History, Culture and Politics.

'I took part in Exam, it was a unique experience for me. As a gay man, I came out at school aged 14. School became impossible and I hardly attended barr the last five exams. ~ Sitting that exam yesterday was an emotional and deeply personal experience that worked on many levels, thank you for the chance for me to participate in this.' Exam Candidate, 24/05/2010.

Commissioned by Queer Up North as part of their 2010 festival, Exam is a result of a four-month community engagement project with LGBT groups and individuals of all ages throughout the North West.

The artist, Joe Richardson hopes that Exam will feed a campaign to see perspectives and histories from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people recognised within all subjects of the National Curriculum.

Photograph by Roshana Rubin-Mayhew.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Horse Walks Into A Bar at Castlefield Gallery

Ultimate Holding Company will be part of Castlefield's A Horse Walks Into A Bar show, which opens at 6pm tomorrow evening (17th June, 2010). We've submitted a couple of the gorgeous Anatomy Projects portraits of Ambassadors from extInked, the original drawings of the 100 endangered species, the almanac of all our research and the applications to become an ambassador. The exhibition follows our Ambassadors' Reunion, which we held at the gallery last Saturday (the 12th of June), and our work will be shown alongside artists like Dan Staincliffe, Maddi Nicholson, Richard Billingham and Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger.

Monday, 7 June 2010

All Day I Dream About suffering.

Ultimate holding company have responded to last weekend's Manchester Adidas street party (at Granada's Coronation Street studio) with the special release of this commemorative Stove Pipe Top Hat.

Released to mark the return of clothes factory worker's exploitation to the city which gave birth to it, the hat is this season's must have fashion accessory - here as a timely reminder that modern manufacturing process has not eradicated the poor-house, merely exported it abroad.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Keith Taylor MEP website live

We've just built a website for the new Green Party MEP Keith Taylor in record time. The design and build was all done in a week and we're quite proud and excited about the work, check the new site out here.

Keith is very passionate about the issues close to his heart, which includes social justice, peace and human rights, and economic development. Read more about him and follow the process of his latest work on his website. We look forward to continuing our work with Keith as he settles into his new role.

Lastly, congratulations to Caroline Lucas for winning the first Green MP seat in Brighton. We wish her all the best in this new position!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Music Plus Evaluation

We've just had a very productive meeting with Naomi Kashiwagi and thought we would share our notes. We'll be working with Naomi and some of Manchester's cultural venues over the next six months to help them evaluate the success of the new Music Plus event. We are all a bit excited about the project's potential so we will keep you updated on the progress we make.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Just The Ticket

Just The Ticket was a series of courses run by the Workers' Education Authority. WEA aims to engage people from isolated communities and enable them to realise their full potential through learning. The Just the Ticket courses ranged from 2 to 120 hours, covering a wide variety of topics, from history to needle-craft and took place in both Liverpool and Manchester.

Friday 26th of March saw an awards ceremony and workshop sessions held at The Whitworth Art Gallery, to celebrate the achievements of the participants. We were there to host commemorative plate making workshops, for the learners and the staff involved with Just the Ticket and to commend the success of the project.

We are now currently working on a book for the dedicated learners as a memory of the project.

For more information on the courses and venues, see the Just the Ticket website or for more about the WEA visit

Photography by Gill Moore,

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Appeal - Western Capercaillie

Although the tattooing element of extInked is now finished, the project is far from over with many of the ambassadors launching fundamental follow-up awareness raising projects. The ambassador for the Wetsren Capercaillie, Nick Dixon, is starting a grassroots group to support the RSPB affiliated 'Friends of the Western Capercaillie'.

As the minimum joining fee for the group is a £25o, which is too expensive for the average individual, Nick is looking for 125 people to donate £2 per year each to start. Members will receive a periodic newsletter from 'Friends of the Western Capercaillie', giving information about the conservation progress made to keep this Scottish species alive.

For further information, or to join the group, please contact us at

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

'EXAM' marks 10 years since the repeal of homophobic Section 28.

On Sunday 23rd May 2010 artists from Ultimate Holding Company premiere their new large-scale project 'EXAM' - with 100's of volunteers and months of research into queer political and cultural history.

The piece, blending visual art, education and immersive performance is the brainchild of 27 year old Manchester artist
Joseph Richardson. It will premiere for one day only and commemorates 10 years since the repeal of laws banning the teaching of same sex relationships in schools.

Exam has been commissioned as part of this year's
Queer Up North Festival, Manchester's international queer festival of live performance and art.

We are staying tight-lipped about the finer details of this intriguing immersive project. To find out more you need to book a free place, come along and take part. The event is open to everyone and will be free to attend, but advance booking is essential for participating candidates as places are limited to 100.

To book email or visit the Queer Up North Website.

You may learn and be challenged; be engaged or be changed. One thing is certain - you will be tested…

For more information about
EXAM or how you can get involved please visit the website or call Kate Houlton on 0161 238 8523.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Spring is Sprung

With spring in the air, we've been down to our allotment in Wythenshawe to see how the new season is going to look down there. We're restructuring the plan for the allotment a little bit to try and make the whole thing a tiny bit more productive, and we're putting a new path in, it's all pretty exciting!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Eco Certifications

Here at Ultimate Holding Company we're always challenging ourselves to explore every angle of ethical print production. Schemes, certifications and processes change rapidly so its important to keep on top. So having put the work in we thought we'd share a selection of some of the commonly used certifications we have come across recently. We'll also be following up this post with with an introductory glossary of some environmental sound print processes too.

EMAS – This stands for the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, an initiative designed to improve companies’ environmental performance. EMAS sets the highest environmental standards of all the environmental management schemes (EMS).

IS0 14001 – This is an internationally recognised scheme. It provides a framework for environmental awareness, monitoring and continual improvement.

Green Dragon – This scheme is for Welsh companies that wish to improve their environmental performance but don’t have the resources for ISO14001. There are five levels, each one contributing towards the achievement of international and European environmental standards

Greenmark – This was developed by the London Environment Centre (LEC), part of London Metropolitan University and is more appropriate for smaller companies who lack the resources for IS0 14001

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Chain of Custody – If a printer holds the FSC Chain of Custody and the paper being used in a project is FSC certified, the end product can be labelled as FSC certified. This certificate is about the fibre tracking process only and ensures that there is no contamination between FSC and non-FSC material. It is not about environmental standards maintained within the factory.

'Carbon neutral' schemes – Please be aware that so-called ‘carbon neutral’ status is not a good indication of environmental performance. There is currently no regulation in this area and so it can simply be bought through offsetting schemes.

If you found this post of interest you may also be interested in our design newsletter, you can view it here or if your confident you'll like it sign up here! Dont worry, it's not shameless self promotion, its more of a place for us to share our knowledge of the things we find important. Socially engaged and environmentally friendly design to be precise ;)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

NESTA Creative Credits round 2

NESTA is doing another round of their brilliant Creative Credits scheme, the deadline is 1st March so if you haven't got your application in yet make sure you do! More info on:

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Leeds Plan B & Scouse Soul Stew books online now!

We are pleased to announce that the beautiful hand bound books documenting the Ultimate Holding Company's Leeds Plan B and Scouse Soul Stew projects have been completed and uploaded to the project pages on to our website. The books were designed in-house by UHC and bound by Lucy May Schofield.

To download a pdf of the Leeds Plan B book please click here.
To download a pdf of the Scouse Soul Stew book please click here.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Reclaim Power posters

A couple of poster design proposals we supplied to Climate Justice Action recently!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

RSA Arts and Ecology - The highlights of 2009.

We are extremely happy to announce that Ext Inked has been selected by the RSA as one of the arts and ecology highlights of 2009!

To see the full list of highlights please visit the RSA Arts and Ecology website.

Picture of the day

Our image of the day shows Ink V's Steel hard at work tattooing Ext Inked ambassadors with their chosen species. Ext Inked, the latest art project from Ultimate Holding Company, in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, Buglife (The Invertebrate Conservation Trust) and the People's Trust for Endangered Species.

To find out more about this project please visit the Ext Inked project page and to see more images of the exhibition and the tattoos please visit the Ext Inked facebook page.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Principle Six

Co-operatives UK have produced a worker co-operative Code of Governance with seven principles providing a guide for running a successful co-operative business . One of these principles, number six, advocates co-operation, networking and trading between co-operatives to strengthen the co-operative economy and broaden the movement.

UHC attended a business referral event today, which was based on Principle 6 and organised by Co-operatives North West, giving co-operatives in the north west an opportunity to think about how we can bring more business to each other, or in other ways help with the development of each others activities.

It was a great event in terms of getting to know other regional business better and get ideas for how we can help promote each other or contribute to the growth of the sector. More Principle 6 events are planned for the north west over the spring and we are looking forward to attending the next one!