Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, M15 4GB – Visit Now
Things just aren’t what they used to be, what with all the cuts, a recession that won’t die, and worries for the future. Sound familiar? It will to Castlefield Gallery, Manchester’s contemporary art space which, thanks to the Arts Council pulling its financial plug, was forced to close back in 2011.
Yet the story of Castlefield Gallery’s closure is one post-economic-apocalyptic tale that actually comes with a happy ending. After a period of soul-searching, and some seriously impressive fundraising, it is once again open for business. Its gallery has had a re-fit, there’s (almost) a shiny new website (which now incorporates fine art listings guide, The Art Guide), partnerships with the likes of Manchester Art School, a stronger artists’ development programme in the pipeline (including ‘launch pads’ for emerging artists), and a series of pop-up studios and galleries on the horizon.
After a grand re-opening last Thursday, Castlefield Gallery is showing all the signs, and the single-minded focus, of a gallery that’s going places.
Its re-opening show, for example, a solo exhibition by Dave Griffiiths, clearly marks out the future direction of the place. Griffiths is a mid-career artist on the cusp of bigger things; just the kind of artist who would struggle to find a place to show his work in Manchester had Castlefield remained shut. The exhibition’s central work – Babel Fiche – is a film developed from a Film & Video Umbrella commission and produced with Castlefield Gallery. The show itself draws on the support and collaboration of everyone from the North West Film Archive and BALTIC to local independent gallery, Bureau, and Manchester School of Art.
There is a pooling of resources, skills and even equipment at play here that shows that Castlefield, and the partners it is now working with, hopefully have a far more sustainable modus operandi.
As for the show, well, we’ll review that in more detail soon. Suffice to say, it’s the kind of work we like to see – and which we sorely missed – in Manchester, and its curation shows just a touch of attitude. Griffiths is interested in microfiche, an information storage technology invented in the 1850s that had been superseded by digital archives. After Hurricane Katrina, however, where huge swathes of such archives were destroyed, there has been a return to this analogue technology. There is a reason it was beloved of governments during the Cold War era: it is durable, can survive most disasters, and needs only light and a lens to reveal its contents.
So, an artist who chooses to big up something that was written off, and is now proving its worth once more – hmmm, that’s something else that sounds familiar. Welcome back, Castlefield Gallery.
Services and FacilitiesExhibitions, events, consultancy, associate members scheme, limited edition prints, publications,
AccessibilityWheelchair access to all public areas
Commercial and hire servicesGallery space and meeting room available for hire