Nicola Ellis and Ritherdon & Co Ltd: No gaps in the line

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Castlefield Gallery

2 Hewitt Street
Greater Manchester
M15 4GB

Nicola Ellis’ first major solo exhibition will feature site-responsive installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, video and photography; works which bring the rhythms, sounds and material of manufacturing into the gallery space in unexpected ways. First introduced to Ritherdon & Co Ltd (est. 1895) by The National Festival of Making, Ellis has spent two years in Darwen, Lancashire, as artist in placement at this family-run manufacturer of specialist steel enclosures. Working closely with experienced members of the Ritherdon team, Ellis has been observing, participating in, and at times, disrupting the ecosystem of the factory, relying on their knowledge and ability to operate machinery at the edge of its potential. Large site responsive work will reach up into the gallery’s double height space interacting with its architecture and towering over visitors. The work is being developed by feeding a CAD programmed machine instructions to punch out a drawing of itself into thick steel sheets which will then be sprayed the same bright industrial colours as the machine. In order to make the work Ellis and the factory will drive the machine beyond the normal parameters of its operation. The nature of Ellis’s project speaks to the activity of the Artist Placement Group (APG). Founded in 1966, the organisation sought to reposition the role of the artist within a wider social context, including government and commerce. The success of this situation, where both artist and manufacturer can observe, learn and benefit from each other, is testament to Ellis’ ability to build enduring relationships, as well as the openness of Ritherdon & Co Ltd to the placement of an artist in their working environment. New works from Ellis’ ‘dead powder’ series - metal panels coated with the leftover paint from the factory’s daily jobs and a mixture of standard industrial colours and vibrant one offs, exploit the qualities of accident and excess. Other new work will see industrial strip lights in the gallery linked to light sensors in Ritherdon’s factory that will communicate the rhythm of welders working in real time.

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Further information

Upcoming event dates:

  • Sunday 13th June 2021 - Sunday 1st August 2021



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