Castlefield Gallery Presents 'Thumbs Up'

In the deepest months of winter, 4 artists have joined together to consider how art can help us survive the seasonal shift towards cold, dark days.

By Manchester's Finest | 13 January 2020

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Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts present Thumbs Up, a group exhibition that will share work by artists Michael Beard, Frances Disley, Harry Meadley, and Leslie Thompson.

The four artists have brought their unique perspectives to consider how different modes of display in a contemporary art gallery condition the way audiences encounter and interact with the work.

By engaging directly with the physicality of the space the artists have been stimulated to develop the experimental ambition of their practice by challenging the scale, materiality, and methods of creative production in their work.

The gallery is reimagined as a place of research and learning, conversation and exchange, the audience will activate the space and encounter works in new and unexpected ways.

Discussions between the four artists, who have been working alongside each other with the advice and support of Venture Arts professionals since May, have helped to draw out corresponding themes in their work such as connections in popular culture, travel, movement, and use of colour.

This extended period of development in shared studio space has given the artists the time and space to engage in a responsive research residency for new production processes. They have shared the spectrum of their experience as artists to inform the process of collectively compiling the exhibition.

These meeting points will pivot the interaction of the work in the gallery context to create a welcoming and enveloping intervention for visitors in the depths of winter.

The artists’ responses have also been shaped by an ongoing dialogue with the creative team at Castlefield Gallery to give curatorial advice and support them to interrogate the gallery as host of the artists and their audience.

Following the exhibition, a selection of work developed by each of the artists will enter into the permanent collection of the University of Salford Art Collection. Working closely with the University of Salford has also expanded the project to incorporate expert advice across many disciplines including botany, energy efficiency, psychology, and horticulture, to inform the exhibition.

Thumbs Up marks the latest development in a long-standing partnership between Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts originating with the OutsiderXchanges project in 2015 that was exhibited at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

The initial project has developed into the Conversations Series including residency and touring exhibition partner projects. The latest iteration, taking place in early 2020, will include exhibitions at the Whitworth in Manchester and Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool.

The work of Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts, as part of an ongoing partnership with the Whitworth, was recently recognised at the Manchester Culture Awards winning the award for Inspiring Innovation.

Both organisations are deeply invested in offering sustainable residency and professional development opportunities for early-career and learning-disabled artists in the North and committed to improving inclusion and accessibility in the arts.

Thumbs Up will also include a complimentary public programme including an artist-led tour, talks and practical workshops to explore some of the themes that have inspired the exhibition.


Thumbs Up @ Castlefield Gallery
2 Hewitt St, Manchester M15 4GB
24th January – 8th March 
Preview: Thursday 23rd January, 18:00 – 20:00
Free Entry

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