Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP visits New Art Spaces Leigh

Posted on 1 January 2014

Castlefield Gallery was delighted to show Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP around their New Art Spaces Leigh on Friday 20 December 2013, a ‘pop-up’ exhibition gallery with workspaces for artists and creative practitioners on Bradshawgate in Leigh.

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP says:

“As Culture Secretary, I saw for myself the power of art to regenerate our towns and cities. That is why it is a great pleasure for me to welcome Castlefield Gallery to Leigh. Seeing a new gallery open up on Bradshawgate has to go down as one of my highlights of the year. Perceptions of Leigh are changing all the time and this new venture will only add to that.

One of the great things about this project is the way it has brought together a number of local artists to share what would otherwise have been a redundant space. Rather than working in isolation, they can now collaborate and share ideas. Leigh already has a thriving arts community and the creation of this hub can only help build interest and give young artists a place to go.

I would like to thank Castlefield Gallery for making this commitment to Leigh and taking art out of the city centre to new audiences. I have no doubt that the Leigh Gallery will go from strength to strength in 2014.”


The exhibition and studio spaces, in a former empty shop/office space on Leigh’s high street, is now home to 12 talented emerging artists, all from Leigh and Wigan, including recent graduate Abigail Jackson, who says:

“The New Art Spaces in Leigh have been hugely beneficial to myself as an artist and to the continuation of my arts practice. They provide a platform in which I am able to make work in an environment that is both creative and inspiring, and allow me to exhibit my work in the gallery downstairs. Up until joining the New Art Spaces I had been unable to find such an excellent opportunity for emerging artists, as very few opportunities for the arts exist in my local area. The spaces and gallery frequently attract interest from the locals, who have provided lots of positive feedback whilst browsing the art work on show.”

Aaron Pearce, a self-taught artist who only started painting a few years ago, says:

“I have benefitted a lot from the New Art Spaces. It is a great place to work and working with other artists is very useful and great fun. I feel the majority of people who visit the gallery enjoy their visit and believe the area needs something like this. I have had good feedback on my work and have heard good feedback for everyone else’s work.”

The current trend in empty buildings being brought back into use by artists has been well documented and Castlefield Gallery was included in a recent BBC online article ‘The creative boom in empty buildings’ (November 2013) that looked at examples from across the whole of the UK.

In response to the lack of group studio provision and limited opportunities for showcasing art by local contemporary artists, New Art Spaces Leigh provides an incubator for creative start-ups to focus on their painting, photography, print-making, sculpture and music in a supportive environment, with a gallery outlet for the local public to see new art. At its official launch on 21 September 2013, the artists counted 250 visitors, with some exclaiming “We need this in Leigh!” Since then, its high street location has brought in both curious shoppers and art seekers alike.

Castlefield Gallery’s Director Kwong Lee says:

“With the support of a sympathetic landlord we have started an artist-led creative hub in Leigh. Castlefield Gallery has been developing artists and bringing contemporary art to the public since 1984, and New Art Spaces is a great example of our agency role in nurturing early career artists. As members of our CG Associates scheme, the artists in New Art Spaces Leigh have access to advice, training and other opportunities, that provide practical pathways to developing more ambitious art the public can enjoy. We have had great assistance from Martyn Lucas, Visual Arts Officer at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and have already collaborated with another brilliant local group, Cross Street Arts in Standish. Look out for much more New Art Spaces in Greater Manchester in 2014.”


Press coverage on Andy Burnham’s visit to New Art Spaces Leigh:

Leigh Journal

The Bolton News


For further information, to request images or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jennifer Dean, Communications and Audience Development Coordinator on jennifer@castlefieldgallery.co.uk or New Art Spaces Coordinator Nicholas James on newartspaces@castlefieldgallery.co.uk

Address: New Art Spaces: Leigh, 14-16 Bradshawgate, Leigh, WN7 4LX

Current exhibition: Ongoing changing exhibition

Web: www.castlefieldgallery.co.uk/associates/newartspaces

Opening Times: Open most Saturdays and by appointment

Admission: FREE.

More on New Art Spaces

CG has been addressing the lack of project space and exhibition opportunities for the burgeoning number of emerging artists in Greater Manchester since 2006 with the brokerage of alternative spaces with landlord partners such as Urban Splash and Britannia Hotels. In the past 2 years, working with a professional space broker, CG has begun to secure a portfolio of temporary empty retail, office and light industrial units in Greater Manchester and beyond to develop opportunities for emerging creatives for the incubation of their practice, to produce work and present new art to local communities, at no or low cost to the artists. Currently CG runs New Art Spaces in Leigh, Widnes, Salford and city centre Manchester, supporting 94 artists and a further 85 through other artist development agencies.

More on CG Associates

CG Associates is a membership scheme for artists, writers and independent curators working in contemporary art. It was initiated in December 2012 by Castlefield Gallery to support members in developing their work and careers by providing information, skills, opportunities, resources, promotion and critical dialogue.

With 134 members, the CG Associates scheme acts as a hub, bringing together artists, curators and writers, facilitating critical exchange and engagement with members’ work and strengthening the artistic ecology of the North West.

Castlefield Gallery is supported by Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts (2012-14) and is a cultural partner of Manchester City Council (2012-15). Its Manchester city Centre headquarters was supported by a capital lotteries grant from Arts Council England and sponsorship from Crosby Homes North West.