In 2016 I programmed three exhibitions to mark Rogue Artists' Studios final year at Crusader Mill which explored the grade 2 listed building and the post-industrial landscape that Rogue were soon to leave behind. This gave plenty of pause for thought on the value and place for artists in Manchester, leading to a number of animated conversations with artist Hilary Jack about a potential lead for new studio space on the edge of Manchester and Salford. So, along with artists Richard Shields, Michael Branthwaite and a few other interested folks, we went to investigate a light industrial building besides the River Irwell on a cold afternoon in December.
As the space was being used for storage it was difficult to gauge how best to use the space but we loved the building and location, and were determined to join the cultural hub that's establishing in Salford. Since collecting the keys in March, we've drawn together a membership through this continuing dialogue about the presence of artists in the city and ensuring that artistic production is accessible to the people who visit and live within it. In April we were delighted to be receive Arts Council England support for the studio build and to enable us to run our first artist residency with Salford based artist Michelle Shields, whose research and site responsive work will help us understand the area we've just moved into.
In May we were offered an extra 6,000 square foot of space on the building’s first floor which took our membership up to 29 artists and has enabled us to make ambitious plans for an exhibition and screening space. We have a waiting list already and have more plans beyond all this too, but we're learning to walk before we can run. We’ve come up against some serious challenges, it’s been a complex process and a steep learning curve but we've made some fantastic contacts along the way. Paradise Works has come together out of generosity and the unshakable belief that this needs to happen.
The new artist community at Paradise Works have given up their time to carry in lorry loads of MDF board, do numerous tip runs and tidy up, and our tech team have done an outstanding job building the studios. Hilary and I are incredibly grateful that people came on-board with us, shared risks and gave their time so freely because this couldn't have happened without them. The studios are now fully populated and it is bloody brilliant to be able to now come into the studios and be part of a proactive community of artists making work in the heart of the city. We can't wait to share our new work space so make sure you put our launch events over 27-29 October in your diary and follow us on all the usual channels for news when we have it.
Lucy Harvey, Co Director at Paradise Works.