In 2015 we heard of a theory surrounding the movement of artists from Manchester city centre to create a place for production in Salford, and to think of the city centre as a place for the presentation or work. Being external to this dialogue, and also precariously hanging onto a studio in the city centre, meant this was not received well and it was something that I responded to through my curatorial practice at the time. Now I’m settling into Salford it’s an idea that I’m interested to revisit.
The bid from which this idea originated, which included a fairly impressive list of partners, saw Contemporary Visual Arts Manchester (CVAM) commission a 3 week survey of arts production facilities in Salford and Greater Manchester. It was undertaken by Engine directors Ian Brownbill, Jai Redman from their base at Artwork Atelier, Sarie Mairs Slee with assistance from Suzy Prince. The bid behind the resulting report has since morphed into something else. What can be taken from it however, is that it indirectly highlights the lack of production facilities for artists – a familiar story for many artists around the UK and beyond. Roughly these were listed under bronze casting, ceramics, stone masonry, woodwork. Metal work was also listed as offering limited facility.
The 3 week turn around for the survey and the heartening development of facilities mean some of the findings are now outdated. In terms of woodwork there is PLANT and Makers Quarter, although these are more design oriented than sculptural. Manchester Pottery, Clay Studio and 7 Limes mean that access to ceramics is looking much healthier now. The ideas behind the survey can be clearly seen in the Make it in Salford proposal from Engine to create a sustainable place for artistic production and creative industry at Artwork Atelier. I’m hoping to speak to Ian and Jai about this as the future for their building is still uncertain and long term sustainability is a fairly crucial element to creating make space.
In May this year I went to visit M3 Industries, art fabricators and technicians based at Artwork Atelier who have a well kitted ground floor workshop for woodwork, laser cutting, welding and picture framing. To my knowledge Simon and Aaron have the closest thing to a dedicated art fabrication space in Manchester, with the exception of maybe Owl Project who have recently rebuilt heir space at Rogue’s new home in Openshaw. If you know of anyone else please shout?
As the CVAM report points out these are spaces built by individuals for individual use, with kit built up based on the needs of specific practitioners. There is no space for artists to experiment with and respond intuitively to process beyond their own studio spaces. Particularly with the downsizing of AA2A locally there is even less access to fabrication space for artists after graduation. How can we continue to develop our knowledge of materials and process, and have this inform our creative development?