Nicola Ellis & Aura Satz

6 September 2013 — 20 October 2013

Castlefield Gallery is pleased to present its annual Head to Head exhibition featuring new work by Nicola Ellis and Aura Satz, two artists who aspire to make overt the materiality of the media they use. Both aim for explicit and visceral relationships between natural and man-made aesthetics. Programmed under the gallery’s 2013/14 overarching theme of ‘Altered Realities’, the exhibition presents a tangential view of the world through the lens of technologies and materials that are modern but no longer considered as cutting edge. The works propose alternative yet fundamental links between the antiquated and the contemporary, the wild and the domestic, the experience and representation, illuminating our persistent yet perhaps misplaced belief in a pure nature, which exists somewhere outside of the post-industrial world.

Shot at the post-production facilities of Pinewood studios, London, Satz’s In and Out of Synch transfers abstract patterns, made by sound encoded as light, onto 16mm film, a medium on the verge of extinction. Based on its initial incarnation as a film performance at the Tanks, Tate Modern in 2012, it will be shown here in as a ‘black box’ installation for the first time, creating a space fit as much for solitary viewing as for gathering together by the light of its apparatus. Also on display are selected samples of 35mm film taken from Vocal Flame (2012), shown on bespoke light boxes they feature footage of a Ruben’s tube, a device that responds to sound with spectacular waves of flames.

Manchester based artist Nicola Ellis’ practice is underpinned by her interest in the synchronisation of the natural with the unnatural. Recent works involve layering the surface of one material with another, combining and exchanging the properties of incongruous elements such as stone, glass, polyurethane foam and silicone sealant. For this Head to Head exhibition Castlefield Gallery has commissioned Ellis to create a brand new work that will inhabit the gallery’s 6-metre high double height space.

This exhibition brings together work on radically different scales by both artists. The drawings and small pieces exhibited here have played important roles in the development of larger works, offering the artists opportunities to both experiment and reflect. They are nevertheless works in their own right and offer the viewer a variety of ways to begin thinking about the artists’ practices. Satz’s ‘Auricles’ series of ink drawings on paper of hearing trumpets present an interest in the way technology sometimes mimics the human body. Internal spaces turned inside out, organs and body parts may also be found in Ellis’ works on paper, which combine chance with a controlled sensitivity to the materials she uses, including acrylic ink, embossing enamel, watercolour and gold leaf. Like her sculptures, they depict forms constantly in a state of becoming themselves, neither recognisable objects nor completely abstract, neither alive nor inanimate.

With this exhibition Castlefield Gallery has intended to present the dialogic nature of how these artists work, that is to say they create new work in relation to previous works, with works old and new continuing to inform the understanding of each other. Shown together this dialogue between their works is extended between the two artists’ practices, forming a suggested grand narrative that naturally refuses to be conclusive.

Preview: Thurs 5 Sept 2013, 6-8pm – All welcome

ARTIST TALK: Join artist Nicola Ellis for a talk and Q&A about her practice on Thursday 3 October 6:30-8pm.

Castlefield Gallery is part of Vogue’s Fashion Night Out: Manchester on Thurs 10 October when we will be staying open till 9pm.

Nicola Ellis and Aura Satz exhibition at Castlefield Gallery is part of Manchester Weekender 2013. Returning to the city for its fourth year from 10-13 October the Manchester Weekender is a weekend long snapshot of the best arts and culture the city has to offer.  #weekender


Nicola Ellis (b 1987, St Helens. Lives and works in Manchester) received a BA hons in Fine Art from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and in 2011 graduated from the MA in Fine Art at the Manchester School of Art.  Ellis’ work compromises of painting and sculpture and is underpinned by an interest in the synchronisation of the natural with the unnatural. Since graduating she has shown in several group exhibitions including; FOUR, Cornerhouse, Manchester; Meanwhile See This, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Cabedal.  Plataforma Revolver, Lisbon, Portugal; neo: artsprize, Bolton; We are all in this together. Bureau, Manchester; Part of the Programme, FAFA Gallery, Helsinki, Finland; Paper 3, Paper Gallery, Manchester. Upcoming exhibitions include Number 1: Osseous (2013) at The Open Centre, MediaCityUK, Salford. Ellis is supported by Mark Devereux Projects.  /

Aura Satz (b. 1974, Barcelona, Spain. Lives and works in London) gained her practice / theory PhD in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2002.  Her practice encompasses film, sound, performance and sculpture and she has performed, exhibited and screened nationally and internationally, including FACT, Liverpool; Site Gallery, Sheffield; Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea di Trento, Italy; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea; the Zentrum Paul Klee, Switzerland; Färgfabriken, Stockholm; Tatton Park Biennial, Cheshire; AV festival, Newcastle; Arnolfini, Bristol; Ikon, Birmingham; BFI Southbank, Whitechapel Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Barbican Art Gallery, ICA, Jerwood Space, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Beaconsfield Gallery, Artprojx Space, and the Wellcome Collection, London. She is currently included in the exhibition Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, as part of Hayward Touring exhibition in association with Cabinet Magazine, curated by Brian Dillon.

During 2002/05 she was a recipient of the Henry Moore Post-Doctoral Sculpture Fellowship, hosted at the Slade School of Fine Art and in 2012 she was shortlisted for the Samsung Art+ award, and the Jarman award. Satz currently teaches at the London Consortium, where she is a Fellow (2004-2013). She has works in collections including Deutsche Bank NY collection, Zabludowicz collection, Science Museum, and other private collections. Satz is represented by Paradise Row.    /

Head to Head is an annual exhibition exploring relationships between two artists’ practices, developing an intergenerational dialogue between an artist from the North West and an artist of national and international recognition.