Spaceship Unbound

21 June 2013 — 28 July 2013

Co-curated with MadLab, Spaceship Unbound uses Margaret Atwood’s seminal post apocalyptic novel The Year of the Flood as a starting point exploring the issues of survival in a world turned back to year zero. The project includes contributions from the artists and collectives, Anne-Marie Culhane, Dark Mountain, GameJam Collective (GameJam, The Larks, Manchester SpecFic) Hackspace Manchester, Ellie Harrison, Rowena Hughes, Aliyah Hussain, Sam Meech and Volkov Commanders (Aliyah Hussain, Mariel Osborn and Anna Beam). Their works explore survivalist culture and creation mythology, through story telling, writing, gaming, performance and sculpture.

The project preview will host a performance drawing by Volkov Commanders (Aliyah Hussain, Mariel Osborn and Anna Beam) illustrating their journey to planet earth. Their work explores notions of space and time travel through ritual, ceremony, séance and offerings often creating Bauhaus inspired costume. Rowena Hughes screen-prints and installations explore the infinite possibilities of chance within sets of predefined parameters. Her geometric shapes are based on the Penrose tiling system explored by Roger Penrose in the 1970s, used to highlight the proportions of architectural imagery and the natural world.

Dark Mountain is a network of writers, artists and thinkers from all over the world engaging with the notions of ecocide in an age of global disruption and responding to the sense of disillusionment that they felt with what ‘environmentalism’ has become.  Anne-Marie Culhane’s Corn Dollies was performed outside the House of Parliament to coincide with a mass lobby of parliament around an early day motion on the coexistence of Genetically Modified and conventionally grown crops. The art of weaving corn and grain stalks takes place across the world and the associated objects associated with land fertility, continuation of seasonal cycles and the spirit of the land.

Ellie Harrison Austerity and Anarchy is a homage to Anthony McCall’s Line Describing a Cone from 1973 that visualises and explores the correlation between cuts in public spending and instances of social unrest (specifically rioting) in the post-war period. Hackspace Manchester is a community run art, science and technology club that will show a series of sun jars and Lazarus pointers made by visitors to the gallery and Cyclevision, a bicycle generator to show a film by Sam Meech. Visitors to the gallery will be encouraged to self generate power in order to watch the film. GameJam is a group of game designers, developers, students and hobbyists who make playable games from scratch. Their members plus The Larks and Manchester SpecFic will be running an all day GameJam during the exhibition.

Meech’s film Noah’s Ark is a poetic re-telling of the biblical tale, made entirely using footage from the North West Film Archive, with a score by Carl Brown (Wave Machines) and a layered spoken narrative from poet Nathan Jones (Mercy). Exploring the idea of preservation amidst an oncoming flood, the film uses the footage to explore the difficulties in maintaining personal memories and cultural heritage within a shifting digital landscape.

Castlefield Gallery is closed on Wednesday 17 July for a private function.

Preview: Thursday 20 June, 6-8pm – All welcome



Solar Jar Making, Sat 22 June, 2-5pm The greatest source of renewable energy we have around us is 149,6000,000 km away. Come along to this workshop to create sun jars and learn about harnessing this energy. (£5 per person/booking essential)

Lazarus Pointer Lazer pointer workshop, Sat 29 June, 2-5pm This simple soldering workshop makes the most out of your dead batteries. Create a small light animated from discarded batteries. Bring along all the ones you have cluttering your drawers. (£5 per person/booking essential)

GameJam, Sat 6 Jul, 10am-5pm Join experts from the Manchester GameJam, The Larks and the Manchester Speculative Fiction for a day of game making inspired by the Spaceship Unbound exhibition. Videogames, board games or anything else goes, the only rule is: you have to show your game off at the end! (£5 per person/booking essential)

Game PlayGame Playing Afternoon, 20 Jul, 2pm – 5pm Come along to Castlefield Gallery for an afternoon of playing games created at the GameJam two weeks before. (Free/booking essential)

Spaceship Unbound is the gallery’s annual Self-Made exhibition that explores the definition of contemporary art, looking at notions of ‘nascent practices’ and alternative frameworks of referencing and contextualising it within a wider dialogue around visual culture.

MadLab Based in a former weaver’s cottage in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab) is a community space for people who want to do and make interesting stuff – a place for geeks, artists, designers, illustrators, hackers, tinkerers, innovators and idle dreamers; an autonomous R&D laboratory and a release valve for Manchester’s creative communities. Founded in 2009, MadLab’s not-for-profit aims are to provide opportunities for informal peer-to-peer learning by offering free workshop space for over 60 community-led arts, science and technology clubs. We collaborate with cultural, civic and academic partners to deliver innovative and community facing workshops and events. Past partners include NESTA, Wellcome Trust, NASA Edge, FutureEverything, Manchester and Salford City Council, Manchester Metropolitan University and Lancaster University.

The preview of Spaceship Unbound is kindly supported by Barefoot Wine.

PRESS To request a full press release, images or to arrange interviews, please contact: Jennifer Dean, Communications and Audience Development Coordinator at or T: +44 (0) 161 832 8034.