Digital Channel > If these walls could indeed talk – Introducing Cornerhouse Scribbler

If these walls could indeed talk – Introducing Cornerhouse Scribbler

Dan Hett, Danny Blackman and Daniel Hall introduce our giant pencil machine…

As we all know Cornerhouse will be closing it’s doors in a months time, this would normally be seen as a sad thing, if it wasn’t for the fact it’s moving into a snazzy new £25m purpose built center down the road as HOME.  Still, in a time of transition, people have a tendency to getting a little sentimental, fondly reminiscing over past experiences, wouldn’t it be nice to harness this nostalgia and document and celebrate it in some way?

Meeting with Isabelle Croissant (Creative Industries Programme Manager), in the downstairs café of Cornerhouse late last year, the brief was clear. Inspire and engage the Cornerhouse community, giving them a chance to share stories inspired by their first hand experiences of the building, and give the Cornerhouse the sending off it deserves.

We finally came round to the idea of building a giant mechanized pencil that would spring into life every time a user digitally submitted a message. Physically writing them out on cards, which could then be displayed, in and around the venue.

When coming up with the final concept for the Cornerhouse Scribbler, we really wanted to put a human, personal element at the heart of it. The overall tone of the piece is akin to the wonderful ‘Heath Robinson’ style contraptions of engineer/illustrator Tim Hunkin. The exaggerated movement of the pencil combined with the DIY aesthetic of the cabinet lighting rig, add a real warmth and humility to the technology we’re using. This has been deliberately designed to be a bit rough around the edges (although if you ever see it combust into flames, please alert a member of staff!)

As the installation grows the walls will come alive with peoples memories and messages. Documenting the rich heritage of the venue, and giving visitors the opportunity to read first hand accounts of how Cornerhouse has inspired and touched the lives of the people of Manchester and beyond.

One of the great things about working on a really creative brief such as this, is that they always have a knack of attracting a lot of incredibly talented and creative people to the project. I’ll try my best to not make this read like an Oscars acceptance speech, but a special thanks goes out to Isabelle. This project wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for her initial seed of an idea, and drive to push this through. Also thanks to Tom Antell, who’s ability to build outstanding wooden cabinets from ‘technical diagrams’ consisting of a few lines scrawled on a napkin was invaluable. A big thank you to Danielle Spinks, whose model making mastery, perfectly replicated a pencil to 100X the original scale (note the metal casing at the top was created from a baked beans can). And a thank you to Rick Ogden who’s database coding wizardry has helped make sure none of the messages disappear, and Bob Clough for saving our bacon when we blew up all the electrics! It also wouldn’t have come to fruition if it weren’t for the confidence and trust of the Cornerhouse team in letting some creative people get on with it.

So now’s your chance, if you have a special moment, favourite memory, unforgettable experience, event, film or exhibition – or you simply want to say farewell. Visit and leave a message or simply tweet using the hash tag #CornerhouseScribbler.

And if you’re in the area feel free to drop by, and enjoy our handiwork first hand.

– Daniel, Danny and Dan (aka Studio Audience)