Castlefield Gallery was established in 1984 by graduates of Manchester School of Art, (Manchester Metropolitan University), operating under Manchester Artists’ Studio Association (MASA).

The foresight of this group led to the first gallery and charity of its kind opening its doors in the city of Manchester. At the time, outside of London it was one of only a few public not-for-profit galleries dedicated to contemporary visual arts.

That the gallery continues today is testimony to the MASA group and all those who have followed, especially the inspiring roster of artists the gallery has worked with over the last four decades.

What Castlefield Gallery is most understood for is developing the practice and careers of contemporary visual artists in the region, and in so doing bringing together the more established, and those working nationally and internationally, with practitioners operating in Manchester and the North West. So strong was the belief in Castlefield Gallery’s approach, after exhibiting with the gallery the wonderful Sir Anthony Caro joined the gallery to be its Artist Patron until 2013.

Ryan Gander OBE too, taking up this position in 2014 to the present and remaining a staunch supporter today. Gander states:

“Castlefield Gallery is the centre to the periphery, which in my thinking is the best position to work from and where I want to be. Castlefield Gallery oozes with explorers and pioneers, and understands that the currency of a scene is its ability to import and export culture, not sit stagnant in its own melting pot.”

Many of the artists the gallery has worked with have become strong supporters over the years, including generously contributing to past fundraising auctions to ensure Castlefield Gallery can continue to nurture artists of the future, and hosted by champions of its work like Manchester’s late Anthony Wilson.

Being able to celebrate 40 years of Castlefield Gallery is something very special, and quite distinct, especially given over the last decade how many artist-led initiatives and studios have been displaced from city and town centres across the UK.

The gallery are able to share Castlefield Gallery’s first programme release for its 40-year anniversary, launching 20 March 2024, 40 years to the day from when the gallery first opened its doors to the public in 1984.


40 Years of the Future: Painting

Exhibition: Sun 24 March – Sun 23 June 2024

Preview: 20 March 2024

Slow Saturday preview: 23 March 2024


40 Years of the Future: Painting welcomes back Sarah Feinmann, Tricia Gillman, John Hoyland, and Gary Wragg. Each exhibited as part of Castlefield Gallery’s 1984 inaugural programme. Large abstract paintings shown at the time, including Harvest 6.3.81 (1981) the centre-piece for Hoyland’s solo exhibition ‘Recent Paintings’, will return to Castlefield Gallery in March 2024. These works will be shown alongside later paintings by the same artists and the work of four ‘up-and-coming’ painters in the North West – Jamie Kirk, Robin Megannity, Azraa Motala and Katie Tomlinson. An unashamed celebration of painting, the exhibition will house powerful examples of abstract and figurative work. Some works are sombre and intense whilst others exuberant and bombastic.

Whether you are a painting enthusiast or simply curious about what painting can do, 40 Years of the Future: Painting will deliver a rich dialogue around the past, present and future of the medium, individual expression, the power of imagery and the politics of representation.

40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now?


Jeffrey Knopf, Theo Simpson, Hope Strickland


Exhibition: Sun 7 July –  Sun 6 October 2024

Preview: Thurs 4 July 2024

Slow Saturday Preview: 6 July 2024


Artists Jeffrey Knopf, Theo Simpson and Hope Strickland – a sculptor, a photographer and artist-filmmaker, are deeply committed to their disciplines, whilst pushing their boundaries. All actively work around the edges of each of their respective mediums. In both the content of their works and materials used they explore our deep and complex relationships with the past, present and future. They challenge dominant cultural narratives and the idea that history is singular. Their works are subtle and poetic but also expansive, mixing the personal and the political.


The exhibition will present existing pieces alongside commissioned works developed in partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection, some of which will enter the university’s collection for the benefit of future generations. This builds on Castlefield Gallery’s decade of co-commissioning and artist development collaborations with the University of Salford Art Collection. 40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? will bring together sculptural works 3D-printed from manipulated scans of ancient artefacts, photographic works and materials that relate to the history of the British economy and landscape, alongside film that skillfully and elegantly weaves together archival footage and historic documentation.


As Castlefield Gallery marks 40 years, the exhibition will inform how we might imagine our future, and doing so with the recognition that history isn’t the same for everyone; that amongst the artists we work with and the people that visit us, the past is felt and experienced differently.


40 Years of the Future: Jo McGonigal x Frank Bowling  

Exhibition: Sun 20 October 2024 – Sun 2 February 2025
Preview: Thurs 17 October 2024
Slow Saturday Preview: 19 October 2024

This exhibition will bring together two painters whose works have drawn inspiration from sculpture. Jo McGonigal makes what she refers to as spatial paintings. They leave the constraints of the canvas support behind to interact directly with the architecture in which her works are placed. For McGonigal encountering painting should activate the body as much as it does the eye. Frank Bowling has been exploring the possibilities of paint for over six decades. Renowned for his engagement with abstraction, his technically pioneering works mix new materials and methodologies to create bold, large-scale paintings. They demonstrate his grasp of structure and geometry, and some works feature heavily built-up layered surfaces of paint and various materials, forming artworks that could be characterised as sculptural paintings.

In his book Frank Bowling: Sculpture (2022) curator Sam Cornish delves into the sculptural aspects of Bowling’s art. He shares a story of how the artist once received an invitation from Castlefield Gallery to exhibit his paintings alongside the work of a contemporary sculptor: in reply, Bowling said that he would create the sculptures himself. This led to a solo exhibition of Bowling’s paintings, works on paper and sculpture at the gallery in 1988. To celebrate its 40 year anniversary, Castlefield Gallery is delighted to present works from the original exhibition, alongside earlier and more recent paintings by Bowling and new works by McGonigal. Bringing their work together is a unique opportunity to challenge our understanding of the relationship between painting and sculpture, as they explore the concepts of physical space and pictorial depth, surface and substance, seeing how one practice can enrich and influence the other.

40 Years of the Future: Castlefield Gallery Associates


Exhibition: Sun 16 February – Sun 30 March 2025

Preview: Thurs 13 February 2025

Slow Saturday Preview: Sat 15 February 2025


The gallery will close the 40 year exhibition programme with an extraordinary Castlefield Gallery Associates exhibition. Castlefield Gallery Associates is an artist development programme designed to provide skills, practice and career development support for artists in Greater Manchester, the region and beyond. The programme acts as a hub, facilitating critical exchange and engagement between artists and creatives. The exhibition will be an opportunity for Castlefield Gallery Associates to submit proposals for an exhibition that if selected will form part of the gallery’s 40 year programme. Associates will be able to apply to exhibit as a solo artist, a member of a group/collective, or to curate an exhibition project. We will be looking for timely and ambitious proposals which enable those involved to significantly develop their practice and profile. More will follow on this later in 2024, including a new package of funded Associates’ awards and the exhibition’s guest selector.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here