Since its founding in 1984, Castlefield Gallery (CG) has been one of Northern England’s most active and successful organisations/agencies for developing emerging contemporary artists and practice. Its ambitious curated exhibitions programme responds to national and international trends, promoting artists at key stages of their careers, including subsequent Turner Prize nominees/winners and exhibitors at international festivals. Central to CG’s activities is an artist development programme that has launched major commission-winning artists.
Castlefield Gallery’s vision is for the North to be a place where artists can live and produce work, while presenting their work in national and international contexts. Its mission is to nurture talent, explore cultural trends and deepen the audience’s relationship to contemporary art.
CG runs its curated programme of exhibitions from its city centre public gallery space, as well as hosting regular artist talks, events, and exhibition previews. CG’s curated projects present new art by emerging and established artists, often working with external or independent curators and partners. CG is free to attend and open to all.
In 2012 CG launched New Art Spaces, an initiative to create dynamic project spaces for artists, artist collectives and artist development agencies. CG works in partnership with landlords to make available temporarily empty properties to emerging creatives in Greater Manchester and the North West to incubate their practices, produce new work and showcase new art to local communities. To date, empty retail units, warehouses and office spaces in Manchester, Leigh, Salford and Widnes have been transformed into time limited workspaces, project spaces and pop-up exhibition spaces, by hundreds of artists, attracting thousands of visitors.
CG Associates is a membership scheme for artists, writers and independent curators working in contemporary art. It has actively supported members in developing their artistic practice and careers by providing information, skills, opportunities, resources, promotion and critical dialogue. CG Associates acts as a hub, bringing together active players in the contemporary art scene, facilitating critical exchange and engagement with members’ work and strengthening the artistic eco system of the North West. The scheme includes user-generated activities, developed in response to members’ needs and requests.
CG has strong partnerships with universities, such as Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Salford, and national organisations such as a-n The Artist Information Company. CG is jointly hosting a research PhD with Manchester Metropolitan University that focuses on the qualitative study of artist development and using CG as the case study. CG’s Director co-chairs Contemporary Visual Arts Manchester, a network that represents the visual art eco-system in Greater Manchester, and CG is an active member of the North Partnership Forum which encourages strategic partnerships between cultural organisations and universities.
CG is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio and is a cultural partner of Manchester City Council 2015-18. CG is a limited company (Reg. No. 1838334) and registered charity (No. 515571) that owns its city centre venue thanks to Arts Council England’s capital lottery funding in 2000. The gallery regularly uses its expertise to form and deliver artist development programmes for other organisations including Trafford Artists Network (Greater Manchester) and Brewery Arts Centre (Kendal, Cumbria).