Castlefield Gallery was delighted to welcome Councillor Luthfur Rahman and Jeff Smith MP to New Art Spaces Chorlton – one of the gallery’s temporary project spaces, established to develop artistic creativity and talent in Manchester – and to introduce them to one of the space’s current projects, Manchester-based arts charity Venture Arts on Wednesday 27 July.
Cllr Luthfur Rahman is a Labour councillor for the Longsight ward and is the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure and a Member of the Executive and serves on the Art Galleries Committee at Manchester City Council. Jeff Smith MP is a Labour Party politician for Manchester Withington. They visited New Arts Spaces Chorlton on the afternoon of Wednesday 27 July to see how artists have transformed these previously empty office units into creative incubation spaces for artistic creativity and talent.
Castlefield Gallery is a small registered arts charity and a leading organisation for developing emerging contemporary artists and art practice in the North of England. Alongside its permanent gallery space in city centre Manchester and its professional development membership scheme, it launched New Art Spaces in 2012 to make available temporarily empty properties to artists in which to create and present new work to audiences. From empty retail units, warehouses and office spaces, artists, artist groups and artist development agencies have been transforming these properties into project and pop-up exhibition spaces.
New Art Spaces Chorlton is home to 12 artist projects working across two units, supporting over 30 artists, including Manchester-based charity Venture Arts.
Since 1985, Venture Arts has been enabling learning-disabled people to make great art and play a valued role in the region’s vibrant and diverse culture.
In March 2016, Venture Arts began work on Outsider Xchanges at New Art Spaces Chorlton. A year-long collaborative visual arts project with Castlefield Gallery, and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Outsider Xchanges is bringing together learning disabled and ‘other’ artists to develop shared ideas and new contemporary art under the guidance of acclaimed award winning lead artist Tanya Raabe-Webber. Cllr Luthfur Rahman and Jeff Smith MP attended at an important milestone in the project, celebrated with a party organised by the artists. Outsider Xchanges will culminate in an exhibition at The Manchester Contemporary 2016 from 22-25 September, a conference and exhibition at BALTIC, Liverpool’s DaDaFest, and an event at the Whitworth Art Gallery as part of the Thursday Lates programme in November.
During the visit Councillor Luthfur Rahman and Jeff Smith MP met artists: Juliet Davis, Barry Anthony Finan, Matt Girling, David James, Horace Lindezey, Sarah Lee, Sophie Lee, Tanya Raabe-Webber, Rosanne Robertson, and Leslie Thompson.
Marla Cunningham, Chair of Castlefield Gallery’s Board of Directors said: “Supporting Artists with a variety of needs is at the core of what we do at Castlefield. The Trustees and I are so grateful that this is valued by local and national government”.
Cllr Luthfur Rahman said: “This innovative art project has provided a great opportunity for local artists to showcase their fantastic work to a wider audience. We know that the diversity of Manchester keeps the city endlessly lively and exciting – and that participating in culture can provide a platform for future training and education opportunities, improve confidence and skills and, just as importantly, enhance our sense of well-being.”
Jeff Smith MP said: “It was great to join the Castlefield Gallery team at the New Arts Spaces Chorlton to see the fantastic work of locally-based artists.
“Castlefield Gallery have consistently championed local contemporary artists in Manchester by giving them space to develop their ideas and test them out to new audiences.”
Castlefield Gallery’s Director, Kwong Lee said: “We were very pleased to introduce this high quality and inspirational collaborative project to Councillor Luthfur Rahman and MP Jeff Smith. They met and spoke with artists of the Outsider Xchanges project who used a party format to think about creative processes. We are really looking forward to curating their work in the multiude of showcases later this year.”
Amanda Sutton, Manager at Venture Arts said: “We were delighted to show the work of the artists involved in the Outsider Xchanges project to Cllr Rahman and Jeff Smith at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces Chorlton.
“Thanks to Castlefield Gallery, ten artists with and without disability have been given the time and space to truly collaborate in this pioneering project to make new and challenging work which we will be showing widely later in the year.”
All images courtesy: Annie Feng