Castlefield Gallery Associates Spotlight: Matthew Bamber

Posted on 14 November 2023

This month we have asked Matthew Bamber to contribute to our Castlefield Gallery Associates Spotlight series, in which current Castlefield Gallery Associates share their thoughts on what the programme offers and how it has been useful for them.

Can you tell us a little bit about your practice?

My work explores themes of memory and trauma, greed and power, queerness and identity, working with media which is inherently unstable and fragmented in nature. Incorporating photography, collage, drawing, video, textile and installation, my artworks are overloaded with layers of imagery, physically and digitally broken down and built back up, in an attempt to create a new whole from what has been destroyed. I’m influenced by the composition and arrangement of Baroque art and its relevance as a contemporary lens to look at a world in a constant state of turmoil, seemingly content on forgetting the horrors of the past.

Recent group exhibitions that i’ve been part of include “(Un)Defining Queer” at The Whitworth, Manchester; “HIDDEN DOORS” at P7 Gallery, Berlin and “I don’t know what I want, but I want it NOW!” at A.P.T Gallery, London (forthcoming).

How did you hear about Castlefield Gallery Associates and why did you want to join?

Well, I always knew about the Associates programme, but I was offered Associate status as part of my inclusion in the two person show (alongside Ivy Kalungi) staged at Castlefield Gallery back in late 2022. So, in a way, I didn’t really know what to expect from being an Associate, but can reflect on my experience so far. The exhibition opportunity was open to the past ten years of MA and MFA Fine Art and Painting graduates from the Manchester School of Art. The work was selected by guest selector and artist, Hardeep Pandhal, Castlefield Gallery Curator & Deputy Director, Matthew Pendergast, and Programme Leader of MA/MFA Fine Art at Manchester School of Art, Ian Rawlinson. It was an amazing experience for many reasons, including the opportunity to realise a significant body of work, including a key large-scale piece. The show profoundly impacted my art career, particularly concerning professionalising and projecting my practice outwards at a key stage in my art career, having just recently emerged from my MFA in Fine Art. Furthermore, the experience facilitated meaningful connections with Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery, and Matthew Pendergast, enabling the establishment of fruitful professional relationships. Since the show, Castlefield Gallery has commissioned me to produce a limited edition print (which was included in the Castlefield Gallery booth, which they shared with Bluecoat, Liverpool at the Manchester Contemporary 2022) that is on semi-permanent display in the gallery and also available for purchase through their online shop.

What are you looking forward to most about your coming year’s membership?

The first year of my Associate status was a bit of a ‘hit the ground running’ experience, especially staging such a significant exhibition with Castlefield Gallery during my MFA studies. I think now that the dust has settled and I have less on my plate in terms of fulfilling my post-graduate studies, I’d really just like to meet some other artists who are also on the Associates programme. I feel like I’ve worked so hard in the past couple of years that I’ve become a bit of a hermit and need to turn this around. I’m also looking forward to catching up with Helen again at some point; the advice she provided me with during the past year has been invaluable in helping me navigate potential galleries to show my work. Additionally, I’m looking forward to seeing Omid Asadi’s show. Omid and I did our MA together, his work is so powerful. I can’t wait to see what he does with his solo show at Castlefield gallery.

Find out more about Castlefield Gallery Associates here