Castlefield Gallery Associates Spotlight: Rachael Field

Posted on 17 January 2024

This month we have asked Rachael Field 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?

Fat Gay and Mad is an early self portrait (1988). The title reflects the 3 elements of my work. Firstly BODY secondly QUEER and thirdly MENTAL HEALTH. I’ve had a long arts practice and around the end of the eighties and early nineties I was commissioned by the then Rochdale Art Gallery for a solo show. I created Lesbian Icons. Turning my personal experience into political demonstration. 

Then I collaborated in a regularly funded performance company with my then partner Nenagh Watson. We were known as ‘Britain’s most inventive adult puppeteers’. I was responsible for all technology and consolidated my knowledge with an MSc in electronic imaging – awarded distinction. My digital and film work have toured extensively. Abandoning the mainstream art world I became an art activist by being the artist in residence for the Queer Club Night Bollox. Here I would paint portraits, create my own art and encourage club goers to make their own art. 

Then came a gap of 2 years due to a massive depressive episode. Thanks to a scheme by Castlefield – bOlder, an over 50s mentoring scheme, I crawled out of the bunker. Since then I have managed to carve an artistic career in and around Manchester. On Wednesday 17th I’m talking at the British Art Journal conference about my early work. This is thanks to a collaboration with the Lesbian Textile Artist Sarah-Joy Ford. Latterly I’ve been creating portraits of important queer historical and contemporary icons. Starting with Divine, Pete Burns and Leigh Bowery. Followed by Gertrude Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Gluck. Now on to contemporary icons such as David Hoyle and Violet Blonde. 

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

I found out about the scheme by an email passed on from Pool Arts administrator. Having revitalised my career thanks to bOlder further association with Castlefield keeps my knowledge current and provides entertainment.

What are you looking forward to most about your coming years membership?

I like the Associates activities, meeting more artists and seeing innovative work for inspiration and excitement.

Find out more about Castlefield Gallery Associates here