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Rogue Artists Studios, one of the largest studio groups in the North, is facing closure after 21 years in Manchester’s city centre. With a new wave of property speculation and a diminishing stock of affordable workshop space, grass roots artistic production is under severe threat.
The race is on to find a new home for Rogue and the studio group currently has a retrospective exhibition at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. Curator Kelda Savage, Rogue’s co-director David Gledhill and Rogue Project Space coordinator Lucy Harvey discuss Rogue Artists Studios 21st birthday celebrations and speculate about the future.
Kelda Savage (KS): Tell us three interesting facts about Rogue.
David Gledhill (DG): Well, we’ve been around in Manchester for 21 years for a start! That’s a long time in the arts, so I’d probably start there. In that time we’ve had two mills, 195 members, eight collectives, three project spaces, three galleries, and no fights! Oh, and according to ‘Manchester: the complete guide to the city’ (www.mcrbooks.co.uk) our Open Studios is “one of the highlights of the Manchester art year.”
KS: That’s a great achievement! What activities, events and exhibitions are taking place to celebrate your 21st birthday?
Lucy Harvey (LH): We’ve kicked off with a group show of current members at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, and thanks to Arts Council England we are just launching a programme of events which mark our final few months in our current home, Crusader Mill. As part of this we are documenting Rogue at this point of transition and will be running guided tours around Rogue from our booth at The Manchester Contemporary in September.
The 21st Anniversary Open Studios happens over the 14-16th October and will also be our last at the mill so we’re keen to give it a real send off with over three floors of artists’ studios. I’m working with Manchester based artists Linda Hemmersbach, Matthew Bamber, Hannah Leighton-Boyce and Michelle Shields on a group exhibition called Excuse Me While I Am Changing which responds to the current location of our studios. The show launches in Rogue’s Project Space alongside our opening party on Friday 14th October, 6-9pm.
KS: Sounds like a busy time for the studios. Can you share some highlights for some of your artists this year?
LH: Our Arts Council activities include a residency by Rogue member Sam Meech with the knitwear manufacturers who we share a building with and Mike Chavez-Dawson is working with photographers Shaw + Shaw on Portrayal Rogue, a new moving image work which documents the artists at Rogue before we enter our relocation period. We are still yet to find a new home so that makes us quite a bit busier than usual and certainly adds a bit more tension to proceedings.
DG: As well as the programme of special events, Rogue artists are as active as ever, exhibiting and collaborating on projects throughout the country and abroad. As a representative sample, Margaret Cahill and myself are showing in Berlin in September as part of a group show about the 1936 Berlin Olympic Village, Louise Giovanelli is exhibiting at Touchstones in Rochdale in December, Evangelia Spiliopoulou is on a residency at Lokaal 01 in Antwerp, and Dave Griffiths is exhibiting in Perpetual Uncertainty: Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene, Bildmuseet, Umea Sweden, from 2 October to April 2017.
KS: Thinking about your imminent move in 2017, can you tell us about your hopes and plans for the future?
DG: A number of possibilities are open to us and we’re looking very seriously at all of them. We’re excited about the idea of working more closely with educational institutions and local authorities in order to broaden the range of activities we support. We’ve run a successful production hub for a long time and we’re taking the opportunity to have a long hard look at what we are and how we can develop what we do. One thing I’m sure about is that Rogue will continue to support artists who have chosen to live and work in the North.
Kelda Savage is an Independent Curator and Project Manager based in Manchester. She has worked widely across the UK including Manchester International Festival, Waterside Arts Centre, Manchester Craft & Design Centre, mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) and Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. She will be Cultural Programme Coordinator for the National Trust in the NW from October 2016.
David Gledhill is co-director of Rogue Artists’ Studios CIC with Martin Nash. He is an artist and senior lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Bolton. He is currently undertaking a PhD at MIRIAD in Manchester. David works with amateur photographic material to produce series of paintings that engage with historical themes.
Lucy Harvey is an artist and is Programme Coordinator for Rogue Project Space. Her practice is concerned with material culture and often results in responsive sculpture, installation, exhibitions and public facing projects. As an artist and curator she has produced Progress at Rogue as part of Manchester Histories Festival 2016 and CG Launchpad: For Posterity at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
The exhibition Rogue Artists Studios are 21 is at the Waterside Arts Centre until October 22nd.
Rogue’s 21st Anniversary Open Studios launches Friday October 14th, 6-9pm, and is open Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, 12-5pm.