Federation House Says Goodbye, One Year On

Liz West, Your Colour Perception, Federation House, Manchester (2015)

One year since Federation House became the largest of Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces to date, its occupants were given notice to vacate to make way for new tenants. Nichola Jacques addresses the unfortunate, forthcoming closure of a space which, since its inception, has granted much-needed support to creative practitioners…

Situated in a vacant, eight-storey, 80, 000 sq. ft. former Cooperative building on the outskirts of Manchester City Centre, Federation House is the latest of Castlefield Gallery’s pop-up New Art Spaces, offering short-term, low-cost project space for emerging artists, curators and artist development agencies. And it’s soon to close.

New Art Spaces — of which there are two more in Widnes and Leigh — are the manifestation of a 30-year-long commitment by Castlefield to ‘nurture talent, explore cultural trends and deepen our audience’s relationship to contemporary art.’ Federation House alone has hosted a significant number of individual artists and collectives over the last 12 months, including Liz West (pictured, above), MARS, Curated Place, DIY Art School, Mark Devereux Projects, TEA, Filmonik and TOAST.

Transience underlies pop-up artists’ spaces such as these, but this is an end — May 2015 — which comes far sooner that the initial five-year agreement which was in place between CG and landlords NOMA.

“It can be a good thing for projects to have a definite end… but this end is just coming too soon”

“It would have been great to see Federation House get its full five years, which was the initial plan”, says Tom Emery, an independent curator working with TOAST at Federation House (pictured, below). “Although it can be a good thing for projects to have a definite end — it keeps things contained, stops you from becoming complacent — but this end is just coming too soon.”

Tom Emery's An Arbitrary Exhibition, at Toast, Federation House, Manchester

An OPEN HOUSE event held next week will showcase some of the emerging artists who have been working at Federation House since it opened its doors, including many Manchester School of Art and Salford University graduates.

Speaking to CG Director Kwong Lee, OPEN HOUSE will “not only celebrate the artists’ hub that has built up over the past year, but also demonstrate to the various communities (e.g. creative, residents, business) that artists contribute to the success and growth of Manchester.”

“Manchester is set to lose a valuable asset at the end of May, but CG’s continued commitment to nurturing talent across the North-West will no doubt secure further spaces”

“We are obviously keen”, Lee assures, “to continue developing new spaces for artists to produce and platform new and ambitious art, and so we are already looking for a replacement for Federation House.”  In this vein, OPEN HOUSE offers a key opportunity for CG to engage with other landlords and future partners as they near the end of their agreement with NOMA.

The announcement invites reflection on the significance of spaces like Federation House, particularly to artists such as Elisa Artesero, who runs the afore-mentioned DIY Art School. Artesero, along with fellow NOISE Festival Fine Art Curator Choice winner Richard Hughes, will also enjoy one of the space’s last exhibitions, A Slow Passion, in April.

Artesero, who graduated in 2013, remarks that most of her successes can be attributed to having affordable city centre spaces such as Federation House, “to run projects and create ambitious artwork”.

Manchester is set to lose a valuable asset at the end of May, but CG’s continued commitment to nurturing talent across the North-West will no doubt secure further spaces in the city to replace Federation House and to support the Manchester’s thriving and ambitious artistic community. What’s more, there are plenty of opportunities in the next few months to celebrate the successes of Federation House and the artists who have worked so hard there, with the support of NOMA, to create something remarkable.

Nichola Jacques

OPEN HOUSE, Thursday 26th March (6-9pm), Federation House, Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces, Federation/Balloon Street, Manchester, M60 4EP

Speeches at 6.30pm on the sixth floor by:
Peter Heslip: Director Visual Arts, Arts Council England
Professor David Crow: Pro-Vice-Chancellor for internal communications and Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University
Nicola Ellis: Artist

A Slow Passion previews 6-9pm Thursday 2 April 2015 on the fourth floor of Federation House — exhibition continues Friday 3-Sunday 5 April, 4-8pm

Posted on 20/03/2015 by thedoublenegative