Gallery exhibition moves online as lockdown scuppers opening

Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery has responded to its continued closure under Tier 3 regulations by creating an online tour of its new exhibition.

Based near Deansgate, the gallery commissioned 15 North West artists for its “Obstructions” exhibition earlier this year.

It was due to open to the public on November 22, but this was pushed back due to the national lockdown.

Once the new Tier 3 regulations were announced in late November, the planned opening had to be cancelled, as cultural venues are still not allowed to open in Greater Manchester.

Rather than abort the project, however, it has moved online.

The exhibition, opening on December 6, is viewable via a 360 degree virtual tour in which visitors can travel the gallery at their own pace, view images of the installations and discover more about them through videos and artist responses.

The “Obstructions” exhibition is a response of sorts to the ongoing pandemic. Each artist had to re-make a work of theirs, incorporating an “obstruction” given to them by another artist.

Artist Alena Ruth Donely’s obstruction, for instance, was an instruction to incorporate a goddess and “full-on, uninhibited anger” into her work.

While also serving as a spur to creativity, these restrictions are a nod to the limited ways in which we have all been living for most of this year.

The 15 artists are all Salford Scholars supported by University of Salford Art Collection, Castlefield Gallery Mentees from Manchester School of Art, and the gallery’s bOlder programme.

They include Tara Collette, whose work lists the many jobs she has had alongside her artistic work, and artist Paddy O’Donnell, whose obstruction told him to create a work that his imaginary childhood friend would approve of.

All works are available to view and explore at https://www.obstructions-castlefieldgallery.co.uk/ while the gallery itself remains closed to the public.

The Tier 3 restrictions have caused frustration among cultural leaders in Greater Manchester, with coucillor Luthfur Rahman likening the situation to a “‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ list” in terms of which venues can and cannot open.

Yet, by moving online, Castlefield Gallery has responded to this “obstruction” with some creative thinking of its own.

Castlefield Gallery’s Obstructions exhibition is available online between 6 December 2020 and 7 March 2021.

Alena Donely, (She)ela (2020). Image courtesy of the artist

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