Artist Talk: Fran Disley

25 February 2020 / 18:30-20:30

The future belongs to those who imagine it. What future then do we want – creatively, politically, socially?

The 2020 Castlefield Gallery Associates programme takes the theme of world-building – the process of constructing imaginary worlds, sometimes whole fictional universes. As we make our way into the 2020s, in a world characterised by instability and flux, what worlds are artists creating for themselves and others? Events this year range from an exploration of the multidisciplinary practice of Frances Disley to the use of language to shape reality and the activist practice of Ellie Harrison.

For our February session Frances Disley merges reality and fiction, incorporating her fascination with sci fi into a description of the development of her practice from art school to the studio. Disley’s wide-ranging practice encompasses paint, movement, dance, food, smell, sculpture, textiles and ceramics, and her work for our current exhibition Thumbs Up draws on research into the potential psychological effects of colour on mood, happiness and wellbeing. Disley’s work for the show includes a site-specific painting, a pair of hand-painted SAD lamps and a mass of plant-filled pinch pots, transforming the gallery into a place of comfort and relaxation.

Frances Disley is based in The Royal Standard, Liverpool and was a Liverpool Biennial Associate Artist (2016); her work has recently become part of the Arts Council Collection. Recent works include Tripleflex at Bluecoat, as part of LEAP Dance Festival 2019 merging visual art and dance, for which she presented an immersive installation activated by contemporary dance artists, accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack from techno producer MT Hall.

Also in 2019 Disley presented Cucumber Fell in the Sand, an exhibition at Humber Street Gallery Hull alongside collaborators. Through her ongoing interest in the subject of trends around self-care, she investigated Hull’s rich heritage around food with an exhibition that featured sculpture, painting, textiles and plant life. Cucumber Fell in the Sand was supported by an extensive programme of activities, events and take home objects that celebrated the goodness of people and nature. Disley designed a habitat based around comfort and consumption, where every aspect is interlinked. Soft furnishings were dyed with natural pigments such as turmeric, nettle and avocado pits and filled with scented soft furnishings as an invitation to spend time and relax with the artwork. In the space viewers were encouraged to pay attention to what makes them feel good and why, with artwork that stimulated all the senses beyond just the visual.

Other recent exhibitions, projects and performances include : Solo Show, OUTPUT Gallery, Liverpool, (2019); Inner Landscapes, Hilbert Raum, Berlin, (2019); Residency – Activation #1, Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, (2019); We Are Where We Are, Baltic 39, Newcastle, (2018); RRR & R&R as part of At the Libraries, Sefton Libraries, (2018); Mustard Blanket, Grampian Hospital Arts Trust, Aberdeen, (2018); Abacus, Bluecoat, Liverpool, (2017).

This event is part of Castlefield Gallery’s Associates programme, a membership scheme for artists, writers and independent curators working in contemporary art. Membership costs £60 per year; find out more at https://www.castlefieldgallery.co.uk/associates/. We are making a limited number of tickets for this talk available to non-members for £7; you can register for the session at https://cgafebruary2020_frances_disley.eventbrite.co.uk .

Image: intallation view,  The Cucumber Fell in the Sand, Humber Street Gallery, July 2019.
Photograph: Jules Lister.