In 1984, Castlefield Gallery was established by a small group of artists, becoming the first public contemporary visual art gallery in Manchester. Jump forward to 2019 and it remains one of the city’s most important and exciting spaces for critically engaged art. To celebrate its 35-year history, this September the gallery prepares to present No Particular Place to Go? – an exhibition informed by extensive research into Castlefield Gallery’s archives and exhibition past, exploring this legacy through the lens of sculpture. The group show will feature work by 15 artists who Castlefield Gallery has presented over the years, ranging from art historical giants, such as Henry Moore and Sir Anthony Caro (Castlefield Gallery’s ‘Artist Patron’ until he passed in 2013), through to important international sculptors practicing today, like Veronica Ryan, and some Manchester-based early and mid-career names, including Nicola Ellis and James Ackerley.
The title of the exhibition plays upon sculpture’s more complex relationship with the studio, gallery and archive (due to issues of scale and dimensionality), and draws directly from the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s notion of ‘homelessness’ in relation to the medium. During a lecture published in 1910, Rilke described in response to a visit to the studio of Auguste Rodin: “His works could not wait; they had to be made. He long foresaw their homelessness.” Divorced from the gallery wall, sculptures are both artworks and spatial objects – they exist isolated, self-contained and cut off from the rest of the world. One of the highlights of the show will be Caro’s Table Piece XCVIII (part of his Table Pieces series, exhibited at Castlefield Gallery in 1984 as part of its inaugural programme), the more intimate, domestic size of the modest offering contrasting with the large welded floor sculptures for which he is most widely known. Providing a temporary ‘home’ for the work, No Particular Place to Go? will be housed in a site-specific structure, designed by Charles Hewlings and Ackerley, spanning the entire gallery space and integrating its unique internal architecture.
With the exception of Caro and Moore, each artist in the exhibition will present a sculpture from when they were first shown at Castlefield Gallery and a more recent work, providing an insight into how their practice has evolved since. The overall effect of No Particular Place to Go? will presumably be similar, causing both the gallery and visitors to pause and consider the journey that Castlefield Gallery has taken over the past 35 years, and how its programme might evolve going forwards.
Into sculpture? Also check out Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 – the UK’s largest dedicated sculpture festival.
Full list of artists: James Ackerley, Sir Anthony Caro, Nicola Ellis, Ana Genovés, Lee Grandjean, Charles Hewlings, Hilary Jack, Stephanie James, Stephen Lewis, Jeff Lowe, Michael Lyons, Henry Moore, Jill Randall, Veronica Ryan, Laura White.