Artists: Michael Beard, Frances Disley, Harry Meadley, and Leslie Thompson
Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts present Thumbs Up. The gallery will be reimagined by the artists
as a place of research and learning, conversation and exchange. The exhibition considers how
different modes of display in a contemporary art gallery condition the way audiences interact with
the work. Responding to the physical spaces of the gallery the artists have developed the scale,
materials, and methods of their work. The artists’ responses have been shaped by an ongoing
dialogue with the creative teams at Castlefield Gallery and Venture Arts to interrogate the gallery as
their host. Working closely with the University of Salford has also expanded the project to
incorporate expert advice on topics including; botany, energy efficiency, psychology, and
The audience will activate the space and encounter works in new and unexpected ways. The artists
have been working alongside each other to draw out corresponding themes in their work such as
connections in popular culture, travel, movement, and use of colour. These meeting points will
shape way the work interacts in the gallery, creating a welcoming and enveloping intervention in the
depths of winter.
Thumbs Up marks the latest development in a partnership between Castlefield Gallery and Venture
Arts. One strand of the collaboration, alongside the Whitworth, was recognised by the 2019
Manchester Culture Awards winning the award for Inspiring Innovation. Both organisations are
deeply invested in offering sustainable residency and professional development opportunities for
early-career and learning-disabled artists in the North, and committed to improving inclusion and
accessibility in the arts. Following the exhibition a selection of work developed by each of the artists
will enter into the permanent collection of the University of Salford Art Collection.
Thumbs Up will include an artist-led tour and a panel discussion on 01 February 2020.
There will also be two lunchtime Vinyasa yoga sessions led in the gallery spaces during the exhibition programme
on Wednesday 5 and Saturday 22 February 2020.
Venture Arts is a progressive visual arts organisation based in Hulme, Manchester which strives for
learning disabled people to engage with and be recognised in art and culture. The organisation work
alongside artists to create and show new visual artwork. They would like to see a cultural landscape
where people with learning disabilities reach their potential as artists, curators, critics, audiences,
participants and advocates. Venture Arts showcase the work of its artists locally, nationally and
internationally. Venture Arts is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio and is a Cultural Partner of
Manchester City Council 2018-22. venturearts.org
University of Salford Art Collection contains almost 700 works of modern and contemporary art,
and exists for the benefit of students, staff and the public. It is accessible in key buildings across the
University of Salford campus, and is loaned to other arts organisations and museums. The collection
is distinctive in that it has an active acquisitions policy focused on three collecting strands: ‘About
the Digital’, ‘From the North’, and ‘Chinese Contemporary Art’. Most acquisitions are developed through strategic partnerships with external exhibition and commissioning collaborators such as Open Eye Gallery, Castlefield Gallery, Salford Museum and Art Gallery and AND Festival.
with special thanks to Castlefield Gallery Commissioning Patrons
Curated and produced by
Castlefield Gallery Exhibition Supporters