Archives at Play at Castlefield Gallery

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Gregory Herbert

Archives at Play at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 6 March–24 April 2022, free entry - Visit now

There is no doubt that the past informs our future, or, at the very least, that’s perhaps how we should operate – whether it’s to learn from past mistakes or challenge outdated ideas. This is particularly relevant when it comes to ecology, equality, and identity and Castlefield Gallery’s upcoming show Archives at Play uses archival structures to examine the way we can explore our relationship with the past and those exact ideas.

The four artists exhibiting in the show are Gregory Herbert, Kelly Jayne Jones, Dr. Yan Wang Preston, and Chester Tenneson who have all been invited to use the concept of the archive as a starting point for a new series of works specifically for Archives at Play.

Chester Tenneson, A Sandwich (2020) Acrylic on board, rainbow coloured square painting with white letters that say: An M&S sandwich celebrating lettuce guacamole bacon tomato
Chester Tenneson, A Sandwich (2020) Acrylic on board


All of the pieces question the ways that history is structured and how that subsequently affects the present, whether it’s through traditions, myths or deeply embedded, unquestioned beliefs.

Some artists, like Jones and Tenneson have used the opportunity to work directly with objects from Castlefield Gallery’s archive, resulting in absurd sculpture, text painting and even ritual sound environments. On the other hand, Yan Preston’s photo series English Gardens examines the idea of ‘invasive’ or ‘alien’ species of plants in beautiful black and silver gelatin prints. Working directly with the gallery environment is Greg Herbert, whose piece interrupts the gallery’s plumbing to create new ecosystems.

Dujuan Rhododendron by Yan Wang Preston, black and white photograph of a flower
Dujuan Rhododendron by Yan Wang Preston, 2021


The exhibition also provides an opportunity for visitors to access the gallery archive and take a peak behind the scenes. It’s also worth noting that Archives at Play is part of a wider research project led by PhD candidate and curator Thomas Dukes. The research is taking place in the lead up to 2024 when the gallery will mark its 40th year, and focuses on using the gallery archive to question how it can become a living and complex entity engaged in current dialogue, rather than a simple record. Dukes’ research will culminate in a series of exhibitions.

From photographs to plumbing interventions, Archives at Play is not an archive you expect, nor one you’ve experienced before.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, there are two previews:

– Thursday 3 March / 6pm-8pm. Book a free ticket
– Slow-Saturday Preview, Saturday 5 March, 12noon-5:30pm. Book a free ticket

Archives at Play at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield

6 March–24 April 2022
Free entry

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 30 September 2022, from £25.00

Canoeing and Kayaking on the Mersey

Gecko: Kin at HOME
Theatre Until 1 October 2022, from £10.00

Gecko: Kin at HOME

Families Until 1 October 2022, from £13.00

Mrs Doubtfire at Manchester Opera House

MFDF 2022
Festivals Until 2 October 2022,

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

Cinema Until 3 October 2022, from £9.95

Not Just Bollywood at HOME

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School