Tag Archives: Manchester

The Funduklian Story Part Three

It is my pleasure to present part three of performance artist Sarah Coggrave’s research on the Funduklian family. It accompanies the exhibition Arto Funduklian: His Personal Choice, which you can see free of charge until Sunday 6th September. Over to you, Sarah:

This summer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery showcases the art collection of Arto Funduklian – an Armenian textile trader who resided in Buxton during his latter years. Arto was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), but grew up in Manchester, and spent much of his adult life doing business in New York. He had four siblings – three younger brothers and a sister, Astra.

On July 25th and August 15th, between 2pm and 4pm, the exhibition will receive a visit from Arto’s sister, Astra, re-imagined as an artistic performance.

My name is Sarah Coggrave, and I’m a performance artist and researcher currently based in Derbyshire. I’ll be responsible for bringing Astra to Buxton. My practice involves creating characters, costumes and gestures to bring hidden histories to life. I also possess the unique experience of having lived in the former Funduklian home – a large red brick Edwardian villa in Didsbury, a suburb in South Manchester.

In my first post, I talked about the Funduklian journey from Constantinople to Manchester, and beyond, and in the second I discussed Arto’s life in more detail. In this final post on the Funduklian family, I’d like to say a little bit more about Arto’s sister Astra, and her upcoming visit to the exhibition.

Above: My recreation of Astra (source)

First of all it is worth noting that Arto had three siblings. He was the oldest, and Astra was a year younger. Brother Vahe was several years younger and Nazareth (Nazar) was only a small boy when the family moved into the large Edwardian villa on Pine Road, in Didsbury.

Above: Nazar as a young boy (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Whereas Arto was the star student, academically speaking, Vahe distinguished himself in sports, notably playing rugby for his school (both he and Arto attended Manchester Grammar School) and later for local teams. In later life his sporting accolades included the presidency of the Lancashire RFU (1963-64) and membership of the Manchester Referees’ Society – he was president 1959-1960. Whilst Arto set off for the bright lights of New York, Vahe stayed in Manchester to preside over the Funduklian shipping business.

Vahe (1896-1982) …[was] an anglicised Armenian, he loved the English countryside, Lancashire humour and rugby football.

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, page 101.

Less is known of Nazar, beyond a few sporadic references and the above picture:

Nazareth, the youngest, was a modest dilettante with a fine library and art collection. Like his sister, he lived with his parents.

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, page 101.

Astra too was an enigma. Like her siblings, she never married or had children, instead living with her parents at Pine Road until their deaths in the 1930s. After that, sketchy records recall hotel stays in various places, including the famous former Buxton Hydro in 1947. Most intriguing of all is a 1926 report in the Manchester Guardian detailing an unfortunate case of silk smuggling, or so it was dubbed by the press:

Astra Funduklian (32), living with her mother at Pine Road, Didsbury, Manchester, pleaded guilty at Westminster Police Court yesterday to knowingly concealing silk goods at Victoria Station with intent to avoid the duty…On arriving from Calais on Thursday evening the defendant paid duty on a dress and size pairs of stockings, and said that was all she had to declare. She denied that she had purchased any other silk goods whilst abroad, but some were found in her baggage together with the invoices.

Manchester Guardian, March 20th, 1926

When she died in 1954, Astra was living at a hotel in Tunbridge Wells, many miles from her former home in Manchester. What had brought her here I wonder?

Above: The Funduklian family grave, at Southern Cemetery in Manchester (source)

One can’t help but wonder how she spent her time, as all records list her as being ‘of no fixed occupation’. With affluent parents and lacking a spouse or children, one might assume Astra experienced some degree of freedom and comfort (compared to many less financially advantaged women of the time). Or perhaps not – did she experience chronic ill health? Or assume a caregiver role within the family?

It is difficult to speculate as to the nature of her life, given the lack of evidence available.

Her mother Aznive was an active member of the Manchester Armenian Ladies’ Society, and is even pictured in its publication. Charity work was a huge part of the organisation, particularly during the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath, during which Armenian men and women campaigned tirelessly to help their beleaguered co-patriots.

Above: The Armenian Ladies’ Society – Astra and Arto’s mother Aznive is pictured just left of the central figure (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Whilst living in the Funduklian family home in Didsbury, I was particularly intrigued by Astra, and the lack of information about her life. During the period I spent residing at Pine Road, I imagined her as a curious and playful character, interpreting her brush with the law as perhaps a little mischievous, and intrigued by her suggested travels abroad. Her occupation of the Didsbury house occurred as a young woman, which is how I shall portray her in Buxton.

Above: Me as Astra, trapped in the mysterious history of the house at Pine Road (source)

One might imagine that Arto’s art collection was something she’d have seen, maybe many times. Or not? Like the rest of the family, she sailed out to New York on at least one occasion, presumably to visit her brother Arto, and, as mentioned, she stayed in Buxton for an unspecified duration, at the town’s famous former Hydro Hotel.

Back in the first half of the twentieth century, Arto’s collection of art included pieces that would have been considered shocking by many.

Was Astra shocked by the pictures? Or was she interested? Was she close to her brother? Might she have fostered an interest in the arts herself?

Above: Astra visiting her own exhibition at Didsbury Parsonage in March 2014 (source)

The answers to these questions cannot be found in the scant evidence the family left behind, and, as for much of Arto’s life story, speculation and guesswork is all that is left to fill in the gaps.

I would like to invite visitors to two performances, on July 25th and August 15th (2-4pm), and to engage in some imaginative guesswork. Astra’s visits are not conventional theatrical performances, nor are they constrained by established facts alone. Instead, her strange, ghostly presence in the gallery, and her explorative, ritualistic gestures present an opportunity to reconsider Arto’s art collection, and, ultimately the man himself.

Sources

Archives+ (2013) Various articles, accessed 2015 at http://manchesterarchiveplus.wordpress.com, online source.

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, Taderon Press.

Manchester Guardian (1900-1950) Various articles accessed 2013 at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/, online source.

The Funduklian Story Part Two

I am delighted to present part two of performance artist Sarah Coggrave’s research on the Funduklian family. It accompanies the exhibition Arto Funduklian: His Personal Choice, which you can see free of charge until Sunday 6th September. Over to you, Sarah:

This summer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery showcases the art collection of Arto Funduklian – an Armenian textile trader who resided in Buxton during his latter years. Arto was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), but grew up in Manchester, and spent much of his adult life doing business in New York. He had four siblings – three younger brothers and a sister, Astra.

On July 25th and August 15th, between 2pm and 4pm, the exhibition will receive a visit from Arto’s sister, Astra, re-imagined as an artistic performance.

My name is Sarah Coggrave, and I’m a performance artist and researcher currently based in Derbyshire. I’ll be responsible for bringing Astra to Buxton. My practice involves creating characters, costumes and gestures to bring hidden histories to life. I also possess the unique experience of having lived in the former Funduklian home – a large red brick Edwardian villa in Didsbury, a suburb in South Manchester.

In my previous post I talked about how I came across the Funduklian family, and their journey from Constantinople to Manchester during the late 1800s. Records of the family are sketchy at best, but evidence suggests that Arto and his siblings enjoyed a privileged upbringing in Britain’s industrial north.

Above: The large house in Didsbury where the Funduklians resided (source)

Arto attended the prestigious Manchester Grammar School – as a scholarship student, as did his younger brother Vahe. Their father Karnig was a keen advocate of education – he studied Philology at Manchester’s former Victoria University (now the University of Manchester) and dedicated much of his time to translating historical literature. He was also a benefactor of the university, chairing a group of Armenians who supported the development of the business department, and was known for his support of Manchester Literary Society and the John Rylands Library.

Above: Karnig Funduklian, Arto’s father (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Indeed, many of Manchester’s Armenians were avid students, as testified by the University of Manchester’s matriculation records. Arto was a particularly gifted scholar – he won a place at the University of Cambridge (King’s College), attending between 1911 and 1914. He studied for a BA in Medieval and Modern Languages.

Above: Back view of King’s College, Cambridge (source)

Again a recipient of various scholarships, he graduated with first class honours and two distinctions – an incredible achievement. Documents held at the university hint at Arto’s involvement with a variety of university societies, including the German Society and the lacrosse team. His tutor at King’s was Sir John Harold Clapham, a leading economist and future professor.

Shortly after Arto’s graduation in 1914, WWI began, and, for a short time, Arto returned to his old school in Manchester, as a stand-in tutor whilst regular masters were sent off to war.

I know little else about what Arto or his family did during WWI, although raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide was a high priority for Manchester Armenians, who also came together to fundraise for their community in troubled parts of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Above: Armenian community meeting at the Midland Hotel in Manchester (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Evidence suggests that Arto may have worked for US intelligence during WW1. Unsurprisingly, it has been difficult to verify this, although he did sail to New York in 1915. In 1918 he applied for a job within the above, but whether or not this was an extension of an existing role or a new career path, is unclear. So too is his success (or rejection) in said application. By the 1920s his priorities had seemingly switched to other areas, namely business and art.

At some point during the 1920s, Arto visited Paris, and it was here, during one of the city’s most bohemian and artistically progressive periods, that his art collecting allegedly began.

However, much of Arto’s adult life was to be spent in the US. Here he worked alongside members of his mother Aznive’s family – the Karagheusians, eventually becoming a distinguished and well respected carpet salesman, catering to the tastes of well-to-do Americans. Below his expertise in this field is quoted in the Schenectady Gazette (local city paper in the state of New York), in 1946:

Today’s consumer is primarily concerned with the total effect of a room and this involves co-ordinated colour…The American public is becoming color and decoration-conscious, and this means that the real appeal to the modern consumer must be in terms of the whole room.

Schenectady Gazette, 1946 (source)

Arto evidently fostered a lifelong fascination for America – he travelled there soon after graduating from Cambridge, and gave a talk about the country at his old school.

After coffee Mr A. A. Funduklian read a short but very descriptive paper on “America”. He gave a lucid description of the nation and of the genus American of both sexes. His hopes of the paper proving a preamble to discussion were realised, for he was called upon to answer queries on Business Morality, Relations of Capital and Labour, Automobile Statistics, the I.W.W., O. Henry and Prohibition. The evening was one of the most enjoyable the Section has had.

Manchester Grammar School Magazine, 1920 (source)

Indeed, Arto’s eloquence as a speaker is noted in various sources, and word has it that he wrote occasionally for the Manchester Guardian, although I’ve not been able to find any evidence of this. Yet. Furthermore, his career as a businessman, specialising in carpets, was characterised by high profile work for events such as the 1937 Paris Exposition and the legendary New York World’s Fair.

Funduklian

Above: Arto Funduklian (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery)

One can’t help but be intrigued by the story of a young man’s transformation from aspiring young linguist – a star student hoping for a career in military intelligence – to successful textile trader and businessman (with an avid appetite for modern art). Was this a path forged by choice? Or by necessity and duty? Why did he collect the art that he did? And what, during his later years, brought him back to the UK, to live in Buxton?

Perhaps some of the answers might lie in his diverse collection of art…

Sources

Archives+ (2013) Various articles, accessed 2015 at http://manchesterarchiveplus.wordpress.com, online source.

Binghamton Press (1939) archived article available here

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, Taderon Press.

Manchester Grammar School Magazine (1914 – 1920) Various archived issues, accessed here.

Manchester Guardian (1900-1950) Various articles accessed 2013 at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/, online source.

Schenectady Gazette (1945) archived article available here

University of Cambridge Archives Janus Catalogue (1912-1977) – see here

University of Manchester Archive, Matriculation Records, various years and dates, details here

The Funduklian Story Part One

New exhibition Arto Funduklian: His Personal Choice opens at Buxton Museum tomorrow. Not only does the exhibition reveal a rarely-seen collection of magnificent art but also something about the man and the family who acquired it. To accompany the exhibition, we are privileged to present the research of performance artist Sarah Coggrave, as well as two actual performances in the gallery. Sarah’s findings about the Funduklian family are extensive and shed more light on our own art collection. Parts two and three will follow in the next couple of weeks. You can see the exhibition until Sunday 6th September. Over to you, Sarah:

This summer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery showcases the art collection of Arto Funduklian – an Armenian textile trader who resided in Buxton during his latter years. Arto was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), but grew up in Manchester, and spent much of his adult life doing business in New York. He had four siblings – three younger brothers and a sister, Astra.

On July 25th and August 15th, between 2pm and 4pm, the exhibition will receive a visit from Arto’s sister, Astra, re-imagined as an artistic performance.

My name is Sarah Coggrave, and I’m a performance artist and researcher currently based in Derbyshire. I’ll be responsible for bringing Astra to Buxton. My practice involves creating characters, costumes and gestures to bring hidden histories to life. I also possess the unique experience of having lived in the former Funduklian home – a large red brick Edwardian villa in Didsbury, a suburb in South Manchester.

Above: The former Funduklian home, at 20 Pine Road in Didsbury (source)

Whilst in residence there I produced a solo exhibition and live performances, inspired by the Funduklian family. This was shown at Didsbury Parsonage in 2014, and was accompanied by research for Archives+, in conjunction with the Greater Manchester County Record Office. The project was also included in the recent BBC Radio 4 documentary Out Of Armenia.

Above: ‘Astra’ at Didsbury Parsonage in March 2014 (source)

Before his successful forays into business and art collecting, Arto and his siblings grew up Didsbury – an affluent area of Manchester, under the watchful gaze of parents Karnig and Aznive, and several servants. The house has since been converted into flats, and for one year I resided in number 1 – the room in the basement, with a view of the leafy garden.

Above: The garden at 20 Pine Road (source)

The name on the gatepost of this grand house quickly became a source of fascination for me, even before knew anything about the Funduklian family. On a street filled with very English names, the word Massis, engraved on either side of the gate, in elegant capitals, stood out.

Above: The name on the gatepost (source)

Further research revealed it to be an Armenian word, an alternative name for Mount Ararat. It is here, deep in the Middle East (now part of modern-day Turkey) that Noah’s Ark supposedly came to rest (following a biblical flood), and the landmark holds immense significance for Armenian communities across the world.

Why, I wondered, would my home have been given such an exotic name?

A painstaking search of census records eventually revealed the answer. The 1911 England and Wales Census revealed the first record of a family living at 20 Pine Road – the Funduklians. With four children and several servants, this was evidently a family that had thrived in Manchester’s industrial heyday. Didsbury was (and still is) a haven for the well-to-do. But who were these people? And what had brought them to Manchester?

Above: The Funduklian Family – Arto is the young boy on the left (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Karnig, the head of the family, was the first to arrive in the city from Constantinople, where many Armenians then resided. Shortly before his arrival I also came across that of a Tigrane Haroutune Funduklian. Whilst I’m unsure of the exact relationship between the two, it seems likely that, they arrived in Manchester to research business prospects.

Indeed, the mid to late 1800s, Britain saw a surge in the arrival of Armenian migrants. Many went on to run successful businesses in Manchester – certainly prospects were better here than in the then Ottoman Empire.

In Constantinople and elsewhere, Armenian families such as the Funduklians would have faced increasing persecution, not only affecting their prospects of prosperity and success, but ultimately their lives also. The Hamidian Massacres and the Armenian Genocide provide chilling examples of fates the Funduklians might otherwise have faced, had they stayed in Turkey.

Above: The Funduklian family business agreement, Manchester, 1911 (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

From a fledgling family shipping and textile business, Karnig successfully created a livelihood in Manchester sufficient to bring over his young family.

In Didsbury, Karnig and his wife Aznive were able to offer their four children a life of safety and affluence, far from the horrors of persecution in the Ottoman Empire, and from the dust and smog of industrial central Manchester.

Arto and his siblings were to thrive in their new home.

Sources

Archives+ (2013) Various articles, accessed 2015 at http://manchesterarchiveplus.wordpress.com, online source.

England and Wales Census (1911) Record for 20 Pine Road, Didsbury, accessed 2013 at http://ancestry.co.uk, citing National Archives, Kew, UK.

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, Taderon Press.

Manchester Guardian (1900-1950) Various articles accessed 2013 at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/, online source.

Charcoal and Chalk

A new exhibition at Buxton Museum by artist Clare Allan is getting a lot of attention. Although her prints explore the grey rain-drenched streets of northern cities like Manchester, Stockport, Blackpool and her home town, New Mills, there is a vibrancy and movement to the places and characters therein. Her choice of perspective invites you in to the hilly, winding roads and creates a sense that there is something going on; a hint of a story. They are undeniably seductive. You have until Saturday 18 October to see Charcoal and Chalk for yourself. If you can’t make it to Buxton, then Clare has a really good website

Clare Allan and her exhibition

Clare Allan and her exhibition