The Gallery’s latest exhibition is all about landscapes – post-apocalyptic, dystopian and unexplored.
Imagine a world where the human race has been obliterated by a flesh-rotting virus, gene-splicing has created pigs with human brains and a community of lone survivors must work to preserve an ailing ecosystem. This dystopian landscape is the setting of Margaret Atwood’s 2009 novel, The Year of the Flood and the starting point for Spaceship Unbound at Castlefield Gallery. Co-curated with Manchester creative community MadLab, the exhibition uses Atwood’s post-apocalyptic imaginings to explore survivalist culture and the future manifestations of environmentalism.
Beginning with such a broad vision has allowed Castlefield Gallery to collaborate with groups outside the art world. “We are interested in including people or groups who neither define themselves as artists nor have gone through mainstream art education, alongside artists who have,” says curator Clarissa Corfe. “Our collaboration with MadLab is a really exciting one because it enables us to work with networks who bring entirely different perspectives and skills to the exhibition.” Alongside MadLab, GameJam hosts a series of all-day gaming sessions while the community-run technology club, Hackspace Manchester exhibits a series of “solar jars” that capture the Sun’s rays in silicone.
We have included people who do not define themselves as artists
Despite an emphasis on interactive technology, Spaceship Unbound also aims to capture the tension between scientific development and the natural world. “The title of the project is a reference to a phrase ‘Spaceship Earth’ that was first coined by political economist Henry George to express concern about the limited natural resources available on the earth,” explains Corfe. Anne-Marie Culhane’s Corn Dollies responds to this by reflecting on the controversy linked to genetically modified crops and writers’ network, Dark Mountain explores the disillusionment that often surrounds environmentalism.
Of course, you can’t have a spaceship without aliens and a “performance drawing” by the suitably-named Volkov Commanders showing a journey from outer space to earth engulfs the gallery’s wall as a chart of “the unseen hemisphere.” With its depictions of global disorder, a natural world in turmoil and time travelling aliens, Spaceship Unbound shows that even worlds as fantastical as Atwood’s are closer than we’d like to imagine.
The very best exhibitions in Manchester and the North include a collaboration with a renowned dance company, the return of Manchester Science Festival (bigger and better than ever), a showcase of exquisite craft at the Old Granada Studios, and much more. All in all, it’s an exciting, boundary transcending time for art in the North.
There are literature festivals all over the region this next few weeks, with novelist and short story writer Ali Smith at the first-ever Liverpool Literary Festival, poet Ian McMillan speaking Volumes at the Rochdale Ideas & Literature Festival, and flash fictioneer David Gaffney at Live From Worktown and newcomers Scribble and Transition.
As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music venues burst from the seams with live music for you to enjoy. So whether it’s an acclaimed classical ensemble in a world-renowned concert hall or that up-and-coming young artist in a packed, sweaty venue, we’ve got your gig-going plans covered – with occasional musical highlights from around the region thrown in for good measure…