Panel Discussion: Creative Businesses In Lockdown

Running a creative business is a rewarding but challenging career choice at the best of times but the past year has brought many challenges.

On Wednesday 24 March we heard from our panel of talented creative practitioners on their experiences running a business during this unprecedented lockdown. We heard about how they overcame challenges, and their successes.

Tickets for this free event sold out fast, but luckily we recorded it. Enjoy!

Our panel was chaired by Kate Day, Director of Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Kate has been Director at Manchester Craft and Design Centre since 2007. She is co-Chair of the North West Craft Network and a member of the Craft UK network. Prior to that she was a Curator at Manchester Art Gallery specialising in contemporary craft and design. Earlier in her career Kate worked in retail, taught English as a foreign language, and was involved in voluntary community arts in Hulme. She also tested out business ventures selling hand-made cards, van removals and firework displays.

Our panel members were:

Claire Norcross, Lighting Designer

Over the past twenty years Claire Norcross had developed her practice across the boundaries of Craft and Design. Centred around the material experimentation with light, she has produced a wide range of work, from handmade objects to commercial product design, mostly notably with brands such as Habitat and John Lewis.

Throughout her career Claire has maintained strong links with education. In her current role as Academic Lead for Placements at Manchester School of Art she delivers a programme of support for Design Students and reaches out to a wide range of creative industries to develop work-based learning opportunities through placements and mentorships.


Murron Fraser, Textiles by Murron

Murron Fraser is a UK based textiles and surface designer, creating original artwork and designs for textiles, stationery and interiors. Her work is contemporary with a vibrant and naturally illustrative style. Murron takes inspiration from a wide range of places such as nature, which she translates into her design work.

Within her practice she also develops her own collections and products which she sells wholesale, as well as working freelance on design briefs and specialising in working on collaborative heritage projects with museums and heritage sites.

Murron is a qualified teacher and loves to share her expertise through delivering online workshops, talks and lectures as well as working within education supporting people within their creative journey.


Sophie Sellu, Grain and Knot

Sophie Sellu is a wood carver living and working in London. She is a graduate of the Manchester School of Art. In the Spring of 2014 Sophie left her position in trend forecasting and took the opportunity to take her business, Grain and Knot to the next level.

After completing the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Scheme, Sophie is now working as a full-time woodworker and is fully supported by the Prince’s Trust.

Grain and Knot was born from a love of nature, exploration and the need for purpose in creation. It is beautifully tactile, fully functional wooden kitchenware, with each item made from reclaimed timber.

Grace Sharp, Hot Glass Practitioner

Grace Sharp is a craft practitioner specialising in hot glass. With an innate interest in exploring colour and form, she uses glass and its fluidity to convey and express different emotional states and experiences.

Most recently she was an intern at The Glass Hub in Wiltshire. Grace was the 2019 winner of the Manchester Craft and Design Solo Exhibition Award which can be viewed online and will open at the centre when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Take a look at Grace’s online exhibition Unease.