40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? at Castlefield Gallery

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
A collage of black and white photos depicting protests
Theo Simpson, Remainder III (2023). Image courtesy of the artist

40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield Until 6 October 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

Castlefield Gallery’s 40 year anniversary celebrations continue with 40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now?, a display of work by Hope Strickland, Theo Simpson and Jeffrey Knopf. 

Their different practices are joined by the exhibition’s common theme – history is not the same for everyone. The anniversary programme encourages both the artists involved and the visitors to pause and reflect on the previous decades and take into consideration that the past is experienced differently by different groups of people and individuals. How can this affect how we shape the future? What needs to be considered going forward? These are the questions that the three artists are tackling via work in the show.

Theo Simpson’s oeuvre comes from photography but has now evolved to include sculpture, incorporating experimental printmaking and techniques such as laser-cutting, welding and fabrication. HIs final pieces are clean and considered in terms of composition and finish but weave together ‘messy’ themes such as the changing pace and scale of global events, technological advancements and the economy. For 40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? he presents the third in a series of works Toward the Metal (2024). Previous works included Map of Horizons (2021) and Dark Interlude (2020) and focused on mining, agriculture and the connections between that which is organically natural and human. 

A photo of a hand holding a bee by the wings
Hope Strickland, I’ll Be Back! (2022), film still. Image courtesy of the artist

Hope Strickland’s video work I’ll Be Back!* (2022) was created using digital, 16mm and archival formats and was originally commissioned by FACT and records archives and museum collections housing objects of colonial violence. The work looks at the collecting practices of national institutions and asks questions about power. It includes the now well known diagram containing a slave ship, a key document in the abolitionist movement, as well as insects gathered in Sierra Leone by a colonial topographer. There is a narrative element to the work too, with the mention of Francois Mackandal, a Haitian Maroon rebel who was captured and burned at the stake in 1758.

Jeffrey Knopf, Now You See Me (2024), film still. Image courtesy of the artist
A digitally manipulated abstract image featuring symmetrical, mirrored shapes in soft pastel colors.

Lastly, Jeffrey Knopf’s work is informed by his personal history, interspersed with wider social and political issues. Knopf’s grandfather Jeff Joseph carried with him a number of plaques depicting Moses as he travelled from Iran through Egypt to be the first Persian Jew to settle in Manchester in 1913. In relation to this, Knopf’s drawing on Moses and Monotheism (1939), a book by Sigmunt Freud which retells the story of Moses. Informed by these themes, the artist’s resulting work includes 3D printed sculpture, ceramic and digital video. 

40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? gathers new commissions alongside existing work, developed in partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection.

40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield Until 6 October 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

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