In Manchester and Salford, Sustainable Artist-Run Spaces Power Forward

The area’s development boom isn’t just in luxury property – the art scene is determined to keep its place too

There’s a property boom in Manchester and Salford. Construction in the area – developing at an unprecedented rate – includes the region’s new flagship cultural venue, the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed The Factory, set to open in 2020 at a cost of GBP£110 million. All this, however, backdrops the continuing displacement of the cities’ artists, as studios continue to be razed by developers to make way for luxury accommodation. Recently, Salford-based Artwork Atelier learned that they will have to vacate their premises by August. Previously, at the end of 2016, the most high-profile example saw the long-established Rogue Artists’ Studios, which was home to more than 100 artists, having to vacate their site of more than 15 years. Rogue has thankfully been able to continue, albeit in a reduced capacity, with Manchester City Council helping to provide a new space in the suburb of Openshaw, evidently taking the same approach to artists’ studios that they do to affordable housing: it does not need to be within the city centre itself, that is increasingly reserved for the privileged few.

Show.me.up, ‘Tipping the Scales’, 2018, installation view, Paradise Works, Manchester. Courtesy: Show.me.up and Paradise Works, Manchester

Show.me.up, ‘Tipping the Scales’, 2018, installation view, Paradise Works, Manchester. Courtesy: Show.me.up and Paradise Works, Manchester

Show.me.up, ‘Tipping the Scales’, 2018, installation view, Paradise Works, Salford. Courtesy: Show.me.up and Paradise Works, Salford

Despite this gloomy story – one that could be repeated for most major cities across the globe – there are reasons to be hopeful. In the fallout from Rogue’s closure, artists and former Rogue studio holders Hilary Jack and Lucy Harvey made the short journey west to Salford to found Paradise Works, which opened to the public in October 2017. Paradise Works has been a lifeline for artists wanting to retain some proximity to Manchester’s city centre, providing space for those displaced by Rogue’s move, as well as various other closures such as The Penthouse, the ongoing project of Roseanne Robertson and Debbie Sharp. With a culture-friendly developer on board in Urban Splash, as well as support from Salford City Council, Jack and Harvey are aiming to provide some stability for the group of artists that now call Paradise Works home, giving them an opportunity to think long-term and make work without having to worry about the looming threat of eviction. Whether Paradise Works can sustain this intention remains to be seen. Ultimately it is reliant on long-term support from Urban Splash, but feelings are nonetheless positive about the future.

‘Never Gonna Give You Up…’, 2018, installation view, Scaffold Gallery, Islington Mill. Courtesy: Scaffold Gallery

‘Never Gonna Give You Up…’, 2018, installation view, Scaffold Gallery, Islington Mill. Courtesy: Scaffold Gallery

‘Never Gonna Give You Up…’, 2018, installation view, Scaffold Gallery, Islington Mill. Courtesy: Scaffold Gallery

While Paradise Works is a new addition to Salford’s cultural landscape, Islington Mill has been in the city for almost 20 years, providing space for studios, exhibitions, club nights and gigs. It has also hosted the Islington Mill Art Academy for the past ten years, which offers a free, peer-led alternative to increasingly expensive and consumerized traditional art school education. After a recent (successful) battle with the council over noise complaints – highlighting one of the key issues that increased residential development causes for cultural venues – the Mill now finds itself in a position to invest in the future and create room for the scene to grow and develop. This includes renovating the top two floors of its building, providing residency and workshop space as well as room for the Art Academy to expand. In addition, it is partnering with Salford City Council to launch a two-year pilot to develop a Cultural Community Land Trust, encompassing the Mill itself and the warehouses in the nearby trading estate. If successful, the scheme would provide long-term stability for artists’ studios – they have already been able to accommodate the artists who will have to leave Artwork Atelier – and for gallery spaces such as Caustic Coastal.

Leo Fitzmaurice, ‘As Yet’, 2017, installation view, Caustic Coastal, Salford. Courtesy: the artist and Caustic Coastal, Salford; photograph: Harry Meadley

Leo Fitzmaurice, ‘As Yet’, 2017, installation view, Caustic Coastal, Salford. Courtesy:  the artist and Caustic Coastal, Salford; photograph: Harry Meadley

Leo Fitzmaurice, ‘As Yet’, 2017, installation view, Caustic Coastal, Salford. Courtesy:  the artist and Caustic Coastal, Salford; photograph: Harry Meadley

Since its move to a permanent venue in 2016, Caustic Coastal has quickly become one of the most exciting galleries in the area, giving solo shows to artists including Leo Fitzmaurice and Gabriel Birch, and currently exhibiting a series of shows curated by 2016 Woon Prize-winner Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton. Alongside Castlefield Gallery, Caustic Coastal fulfils an important role in between the artist-led projects and institutions, something that is currently underserved in Manchester and Salford. Castlefield Gallery’s current exhibition of Ruth Barker and Hannah Leighton-Boyce, was co-commissioned with the University of Salford Art Collection, whose pro-active commissioning and collecting policy is another positive sign for things to come.

Ruth Barker, Victory, 2013, and Her whole self, 2018. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: © Drew Forsyth

Ruth Barker, Victory, 2013, and Her whole self, 2018. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: © Drew Forsyth

Ruth Barker, Victory, 2013, and Her whole self, 2018. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: © Drew Forsyth

With space increasingly at a premium, the area’s artist-led projects are becoming increasingly nomadic, relying on the support of the more established spaces to host them as the property boom makes it unrealistic to find, and keep hold of, spaces of their own. One such initiative, Scaffold Gallery, have recently opened their show ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ at Islington Mill, inviting several of their former art school peers who have since fallen away from making work and exhibiting to return for this exhibition. This forms part of Scaffold’s ongoing objectives, which is to provide a support system for emerging artists, such as themselves, who are often unsure of their next steps upon leaving art school. Similarly nomadic, artists and curatorial duo Kieran Leach and Precious Innes, working under the moniker Show.me.up, have taken up residence in the Paradise Works project space with their first exhibition ‘Tipping the Scales’, which looks at work-life balance, and how for artists the two often overlap and become inseparable.

As property development continues, and the price of living in Salford and Manchester rapidly increases, making it increasingly difficult to actually live here, the art-scene itself is becoming increasingly resilient, determined to find and keep its place.

Main image: Paradise Works, Manchester, 2017. Courtesy: Paradise Works, Manchester; photograph: John Lynch

Tom Emery is a curator and writer based in Manchester.

Most Read

The punk artists’s invasion of the pitch during the Croatia vs. France match reminded us what Russia’s new ‘normality’...
In further news: Brexit voters avoid arts; New York libraries’s culture pass unlocks museums; Grayson Perry-backed...
If artificial intelligence were ever to achieve sentience, could it feasibly produce art? (And would it be good?)
The punk activist-artists have been charged with disruption after they charged the field during the France vs Croatia...
27 educators are taking the London gallery to an employment tribunal, demanding that they be recognized as employees
In further news: Glasgow School of Art to be rebuilt; Philadelphia Museum of Art gets a Frank Gehry-designed restaurant
Highlights from Condo New York 2018 and Commonwealth and Council at 47 Canal: the summer shows to see
Knussen’s music laid out each component as ‘precarious, vulnerable, exposed’ – and his conducting similarly worked from...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...
‘You can’t reason with him but you can ridicule him’ – lightweight as it is, Trump Baby is a win for art as a...
Anderson and partner Juman Malouf are sorting through the treasures of the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum for...
From Capote to Basquiat, the pop artist’s glittering ‘visual diary’ of the last years of his life is seen for the first...
‘When I opened Monika Sprüth Galerie, only very few German gallerists represented women artists’
Can a ragtag cluster of artists, curators and critics really push back against our ‘bare’ art world?
In further news: German government buys Giambologna at the eleventh hour; LACMA’s new expansion delayed
Gucci and Frieze present film number two in the Second Summer of Love series, focusing on the history of acid house
Judges described the gallery’s GBP£20 million redevelopment by Jamie Fobert Architects as ‘deeply intelligent’ and a ‘...
Is the lack of social mobility in the arts due to a self-congratulatory conviction that the sector represents the...
The controversial intellectual suggests art would be better done at home – she should be careful what she wishes for
Previously unheard music on Both Directions At Once includes blues as imposing as the saxophonist would ever record
In further news: Macron reconsiders artist residencies; British Council accused of censorship; V&A to host largest...
In our devotion to computation and its predictive capabilities are we rushing blindly towards our own demise?
Arts subjects are increasingly marginalized in the UK curriculum – but the controversial intellectual suggests art is...
An exhibition of performances at Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, unfolds the rituals of sexual encounters
An art historian explains what the Carters’s takeover of the Paris museum says about art, race and power
Artist Andrea Fraser’s 2016 in Museums, Money and Politics lifts the lid on US museum board members and...
The Ruhrtriennale arts festival disinvited the Scottish hip-hop trio for their pro-Palestinian politics, then u-turned
The Baltimore’s director on why correcting the art historical canon is not only right but urgent for museums to remain...
Serpentine swimmers complain about Christo’s floating pyramid; and Hermitage’s psychic cat is a World Cup oracle: the...
The largest mural in Europe by the artist has been hidden for 30 years in an old storage depot – until now
Alumni Martin Boyce, Karla Black, Duncan Campbell and Ciara Phillips on the past and future of Charles Rennie...
In further news: po-mo architecture in the UK gets heritage status; Kassel to buy Olu Oguibe’s monument to refugees
The frieze columnist's first novel is an homage to, and embodiment of, the late, great Kathy Acker
60 years after the celebrated Brutalist architect fell foul of local authorities, a Berlin Unité d’Habitation apartment...
The British artist and Turner Prize winner is taking on the gun advocacy group at a time of renewed debate around arms...
The central thrust of the exhibition positions Sicily as the fulcrum of geopolitical conflicts over migration, trade,...
The Carters’s museum takeover powers through art history’s greatest hits – with a serious message about how the canon...
The 20-metre-high Mastaba finally realizes the artist and his late wife Jeanne-Claude’s design
‘What is being exhibited at Manifesta, above all, is Palermo itself’
With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
US true crime series Unsolved takes two formative pop cultural events to explore their concealed human stories and...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018