Miniature World

18 November 2016 — 22 January 2017

Artists: Iain Andrews, Annie Carpenter, Paul Evans, Hondartza Fraga, Steven Gartside and Eleanor Mulhearn, Matthew Houlding, Manchester Astronomical Society, Monty, Simon O’Sullivan, and Claire Tindale.  

This winter Castlefield Gallery brings you Miniature World, an exhibition of film, sculpture, 2D work, astronomical artefacts, miniature models, and diagrams of the finite-infinite relation. Acknowledging our relentless pursuit for knowledge, the exhibition considers the potential of things in small-scale to help us understand, document and communicate the world in which we find ourselves, ultimately arriving at the joy we find in these modest-sized artefacts in their own right.

The Atopia Project (vol. 1) is part of a series of collaborations between Steven Gartside & Eleanor Mulhearn, which explore contained spaces. With reference to early 20th century Antarctic exploration, museological space, and Berthold Lubetkin’s Penguin Pool at London Zoo; (vol. 1) develops a narrative that reflects on our desire to go beyond the limits of knowledge, a desire that can lead to great success as well as failure. For Miniature World, Annie Carpenter is producing a video work filmed during a residency in Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited place on the planet; additionally, Carpenter is developing a 3D concept model, intended to demonstrate the form of a black hole accretion disk. The exhibition will include artefacts loaned from Manchester Astronomical Society (MAS); which, dating back to 1892, is one of the oldest astronomical societies in the country, meeting every Thursday at the Godlee Observatory in central Manchester. Artist Hondartza Fraga also explores our relationship with extreme and distant environments, from deep seas to deep space. Model ships, maps, planetary globes and other domestic objects that evoke an idea of exploration and remoteness appear in drawings, video and photography, which connect a sense of homeliness with the experience of an elsewhere.

Simon O’Sullivan is a theorist and artist working at the intersection of contemporary art practice, performance and continental philosophy. His book On the Production of Subjectivity: Five Diagrams of the Finite-Infinite Relation (2012), offers a series of critical commentaries and forced encounters between thinkers such as Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze as well as their philosophical precursors – Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche and, Baruch Spinoza – alongside other giants of philosophy such as Alain Badiou, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan. At stake in this philosophical and psychoanalytical enquiry is the drawing of a series of diagrams that help map out the contours for a speculative and pragmatic production of subjectivity. Iain Andrews has gained significant recognition for his seductive and sensuous paintings, which mix the colour palette of contemporary abstract painting with the dirty browns, cracking paint and varnished sheen associated with the Old Masters. More recent work has seen him appropriating hobbyist models, Citadel Miniatures and other objects to form surreal dioramas which stage a mixture of allegorical scenes and abstract narratives.

Paul Evans will be exhibiting hand assembled and painted models from his personal collection of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. These 28 – millimetre, 1.1 inch scale miniature figures produced by Games Workshop include army squadrons, sci-fi vehicles and fantastical creatures which are used to play a table-top strategy game, for two or more players, reminiscent of methods used to comprehend the field of battle for real life military campaigns. Acknowledging both the conceptual and physical nature of exhibition space, the artist Monty seeks to sympathetically disrupt existing structures and language. A new commission for Miniature World sees him inverting the expected visual function of familiar hobbyist – model railway products – with his characteristic humour.

Coming out of a practice that has employed diverse media, often responding to specific sites and situations, Claire Tindale has found modelling objects in miniature to have great emotive potential. Alongside new work commissioned for Miniature World, the exhibition will also include the display, for the first time in its entirety, of a series of models reflecting the range of jobs involved in the care of older patients in hospital, in particular those suffering from dementia. Matthew Houlding approaches modelling and sculpture with influences found in science fiction, modernist architecture, art and design. His manipulation of scale reveals seductive textures and exotic colours in the domestic and industrial materials that he uses. This uncanny architecture, like the ideal homes of an alternative past, embodies the implicit failure of its own utopianism. Like Lubetkin’s Penguin Pool they stand empty, monuments to a perhaps as-yet unrealised world, a utopian dream conceivable in these sculptures and models but unreachable in the world as we know it.

 *Castlefield Gallery is closed for the festive season from 24 Dec 2016 to 3 Jan 2017