Originally programmed for July 2020, a solo exhibition of work by Nicola Ellis will open at Castlefield Gallery in March 2021. To mark the occasion of what would have been the public preview, on Thursday 2 July we are releasing: a podcast with Ellis and Matthew Pendergast (Castlefield Gallery Curator and Deputy Director) talking about Ellis’s work and artist placement at Ritherdon & Co Ltd; a sound piece produced in collaboration with Manoli Moriaty and an e-publication featuring photographs and paintings by Ellis, which will be available via this webpage:
Ellis’s work includes site responsive installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, video and photography. Recent projects have seen her operating within existing workplace ecosystems; making artworks which respond to the relationships between people, materials and processes. Some works feature loaned or exchanged waste materials, which are temporarily transformed, often into large scale sculpture.
The exhibition of work by Ellis at Castlefield Gallery will mark the end of her two year placement at Ritherdon & Co Ltd: a manufacturer of steel enclosures based in Darwen, Lancashire. Following a short Art in Manufacturing (festivalofmaking.co.uk) residency in 2018, Ellis discussed continuing her placement with Managing Director Ben Ritherdon and after securing Arts Council England funding was welcomed back to the factory in February 2019. Throughout the Return to Ritherdon project she has been observing, participating in and at times disrupting the ecosystem of the factory and its associated business operations. New works and methodologies have been informed in particular by studying the application of Lean Manufacturing philosophy – a philosophy aimed at the reduction of waste in the form of time, energy or materials.
The nature of Ellis’s project resonates with the activity of the Artist Placement Group (A.P.G.). Founded in 1966, the organisation sought to reposition the role of the artist within a wider social context, including government and commerce. A.P.G material at Tate Archive has informed Ellis’s thinking throughout the project.
Ultimately Return to Ritherdon has created opportunities for an artist and a manufacturer to witness each other’s work in the factory, studio, gallery and respective communities. Site-responsive works are being developed for the exhibition at Castlefield Gallery which will continue this process, connecting the factory and the gallery space and sharing the project with wider audiences.
Castlefield Gallery has supported and followed Ellis’s work over several years. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions at the gallery including: LAUNCH PAD: Meanwhile See This (2012) , Nicola Ellis & Aura Satz (2013) and Oh, it is easy to be clever if one does not know all these questions continues at DOX Centre for Contemporary Arts (2018). In 2019 we celebrated our 35th anniversary with the exhibition No Particular Place to Go? 35 years of sculpture at Castlefield Gallery which included work by Ellis and later that year we took her work to the Manchester Contemporary Art Fair where Dead powder series: Yellow, (2019) was selected by The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund for acquisition into the public collection of Manchester Art Gallery.
Special thanks to: the Ronnie Duncan Art Foundation and Castlefield Gallery Commissioning Patron Prof. Chris Klingenberg.