Michelle Wren + Graham & Brown

What’s Your Role? 2017

A celebration of the ‘Black Art’ at play behind-the-scenes at the factory, Michelle Wren’s multimedia installation was a humorous and evocative reflection on the hidden customs of the workforce.

Debbie knows the alarm is shorter for a label misfeed and longer for a flapfind. Gavin tricks his workmates into singing songs by typing their titles into a comments box. Jimmy started at the factory the day he finished school and the manager made him a clock- in card – he is still there 30 years later.  Graham & Brown is teeming with stories and quirks, and Michelle Wren’s six-foot, animated, multimedia installation, with music by Phullopium Dude, intertwines them.

Her installation at Blackburn’s RIBA Award-nominated Bus Station, is complemented by a wry worker’s manual, ‘The Art of Doing Things Well’, which details those dark arts of employment not usually included in the employees’ handbook. Both have been produced in close collaboration with workers of the 12-hour ‘pink shift’ and offer a true celebration of the humanity at the heart of the factory, from the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders to the satisfaction of a perfectly timed cigarette break.

Everyone Has a Role was made by the the artist and the following collaborators

Phullopium Dude – Sound artist
Rizwan Riyazuddin – Sketches of people
Gavan Hobkirk – Street signs and inspiration
Mick – Building of printer frame
Mark – Building of factory facade
Martyn Whiteside – Printer frame design
James – Wallpapering support
Pete and Gareth – Digital printing
Howard and Pete – Colour mixing
Carl – Acetate Prints for screens
Howard – Screenprinted handbook
Phil – Screen sourcing
Ann Bowers – Material sourcing
Mark and Ivan – drivers
Julian Kellet – saying yes
Donna Riley and Victoria Lee – Wallpaper sourcing
Claire Sheridan – Archive photos

“There is the story of a guy who was sent out to buy his mum a pint of milk and got dragged in to help on a shift and didn’t leave. These stories are just amazing and need to be told.”

Michelle Wren


Michelle Wren is a visual artist and set designer who works in participatory contexts with communities, creating work that responds to a place and its people. Michelle works with people to solve problems, working, laughing, smiling and getting annoyed together until all the collaborators are happy and have made an idea happen.


Started by two friends, Harold Graham and Henry Brown, after the Second World War, Graham & Brown have built up an international reputation from their base in Blackburn, Lancashire. Selling to over seventy-five countries and with divisions across the world, they continue to innovate in design and product development and work with high profile designers and emerging design talent.

“Michelle has got under the skin of our business – the characters, the history and the passion we have for what we do – to create a fascinating and unique piece, reflecting so much of what makes us Graham & Brown.”



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