The Manifestation of Space
Updated: Jul 15, 2019
To enter Rogue Studios is to encounter the ghosts of educations past. The former Victorian school retains much of the original signage, so as you walk through the studios, you navigate corridors marked ‘red zone’ and ‘blue zone’, past doors labelled ‘student support’ and through a kitchen space that was once probably the staff room. Cold though they may be in winter, the former classrooms are perhaps an artist’s dream: large windows and high ceilings; some with the original storage cupboards and still-functioning, rotating blackboards. You are prompted to wonder what effect this space has on the working practices of the artists. How does physical space shape the art that is produced in it? I know already that this will be a question I ask myself as I follow the #ManifestArts19 trail over the next couple of weeks. Indeed, the history of the artist’s studio and its significance in the contemporary times is the focus of Sara Riccardi’s talk at Saul Hay Gallery next week.
As one of the largest independent artists’ workspaces in the north west, Rogue Studios was an obvious choice for the launch of Manifest Arts 2019. Following ‘Manifesto’ at their official launch last October, this year’s exhibition ‘Manifestation’ is located in the ground floor ex-sports hall. The architectural space is a perfect setting for Simon Woollam’s ‘School’ - an interactive digital piece containing biro drawings of his old secondary school in Wythenshawe, which has been knocked down. You can navigate the reconstructed building, zooming in on specific areas that link to Woollam’s memories of events that happened in the playground. You are given not just a close-up pen drawing of the space but words as memory haikus. His piece captures the relationship between identity and space remembered and reconstructed. He describes ‘School’ as activating a kind of ‘Friends Reunited’, a trigger for the key moments that shaped his education and his past.
Concepts of place and space underpin the work of many of the artists: Tim Egerton’s ‘Contemplation of Space’; Abraham Emajaro’s ‘Modern Retail’ and Mike Black’s ‘Before the Bomb’. In her studio piece ’40 Fragments’, Sue Reddish, working with textiles, captures her experience of the city, intertwined with T. S. Eliot’s meditation on the city in The Waste Land. In the upper hall, the installation ‘A Dialogue with Space’ contains a wooden structure which is paved with mirrored surfaces that reflecting projections. You become hypnotised by rotating images of cityscapes, of the natural environment, of the old school itself that Rogue now inhabits.
This shifting sense of place is captured, too, in David Gledhill’s piece, ‘Karl Hoffman’, a portrait of one man’s life journey as the place he lived in shifted from former Czechoslavakia to East Germany. The paintings of him as a young man and an old man are inset into suitcases that represent his migration, movement and changing geographical boundaries. It is a reminder - like the fabric of Rogue Studios itself - that space is ever-changing, often palimpsestic, overwritten with new memories, experiences and events.
'Manifestation' remains in the project space until 24 August. The exhibition can be viewed by appointment until then. For more information, see www.roguestudios.co.uk