The Poetics of Water

25 June 2023 — 24 September 2023

An urgent update!

Can you help support people affected by the Morocco earthquake? 

On Friday 8 September, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco and was followed by a significant aftershock. The epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, south of Marrakesh. Some of the worst affected areas are remote and mountainous, making them hard to reach.

Thousands have died, many more are critically injured. Hundreds of thousands are displaced from their homes, without access to water, food, or shelter. 

We are calling for action in support of the people of Morocco. 

Over 2022-23, The Poetics of Water artist Jessica El Mal worked over extended periods to develop new works in the exhibition with many collaborators in Morocco. The title of El Mal’s work in the show, An Ocean in Every Drop (2023), references the many hands that helped make the work. For El Mal it is important to recognise all her work is made within an interdependent community. Works in The Poetics of Water have been made in Marrakech, Mhamid, Casablanca and Manchester with her community, with some of her  prints being made in the Toubkal range of the High Atlas Mountains.  

Those on the ground need your support to continue with urgent work in the areas of search and rescue, provision of water, food, shelter, evacuation, medical and health care. These are severe and immediate needs. 

Please donate today!

However small your support can make a big difference.

Jessica kindly asks that you consider donating to Moroccan lead organisations on the ground, for example Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihood’s Association (MBLA), Banque Alimentaire Morocco, or Amal Women’s Training Center, or a non-profit on the ground who have launched a relief fund to support the victims of earthquake in the affected areas in El Haouz region, where the epicentre is. 

You can donate to Amal’s fund here or Banque alimentaire here

The Poetics of Water features new work by Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar that is motivated by the effects of capitalism, corruption and colonialism on the natural environment. 

Alongside ongoing research into the history of climate injustice artist El Mal in developing new work for The Poetics of Water has worked with field and voice recordings, and developed imagery with cyanotype prints made with rainfall in Morocco. The resulting works are poetic rather than prescriptive, aiming for a more emotional and expansive experience of their subject matter. 

A shared point of reference for El Mal and her fellow exhibiting artist Ghalamdar is contrasting attitudes towards rainfall; particularly between Manchester where regular rainfall is a common source of complaint and Morocco and Iran where droughts and water shortages are an increasingly serious problem. Together their works invite visitors to look across landscapes, borders and centuries and to think deeply about these fundamental elements of soil and water.

Ghalamdar, through a series of new ceramics and colour saturated oil paintings of dystopian landscapes, reflects on a recurring theme in Persian mythology: a struggle to prevent the separation of soil and water and the repression of growth and knowledge that would cause. Ghalamdar feels this struggle is taking on an absurd tone as it gets repeated in contemporary politics without success. 

The Poetics of Water forms part of a wider programme, Hybrid Futures, a pilot project that we and our partners believe has the potential to influence change in the way that museums and galleries might operate in the future.  

The Hybrid Futures partners are Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, Touchstones Rochdale,University of Salford Art Collection and Shezad Dawood Studio

Together, the Hybrid Futures partners are exploring collective and more sustainable ways of working by pooling their expertise to influence how the partnership commissions, exhibits and collects new work by visual artists. This change they consider will benefit and be more relevant to their audiences, now and in the future. This pilot will be used to provide a framework that can be shared with other public galleries and collections in the UK.

A series of exhibitions across the North West of England will feature new work and co- commissions by artists Shezad Dawood, Jessica El Mal, Parham Ghalamdar and RA Walden that will address the urgent thematic focus of climate change and climate justice.

WATCH NOW: The Poetics of Water at Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery Curator & Deputy Director Matthew Pendergast and artists Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar introduce The Poetics of Water in this video filmed and edited by Jules Lister.

Hybrid Futures, a multi-part collaboration focusing on climate, sustainability, collaborative learning and co-production between Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, Touchstones Rochdale, University of Salford Art Collection and Shezad Dawood Studio, and generously supported by Arts Council England and Art Fund.

Learn more about Hybrid Futures at