14 Abingdon Street, Blackpool, FY1 4DE info@abingdonstudios.co.uk

Many Splendored Things: Garth Gratrix & James William Murray

17 May – 07 June



This collaborative project brings together two artists exploring concepts of queer materiality through contrasting aesthetic approaches. The collaboration will culminate in two exhibitions occurring concurrently at Abingdon Studios (Blackpool UK) and Gallery DODO (Brighton UK).

Many Splendored Things is developed as an experimental testing site for new and previously unexhibited artworks, including Gratrix’s Shy Girl Flamboyant Flamingo Crown of Feathers, an iteration of work recently acquired by Grundy Art Gallery’s permanent collection, and several small-scale sculptures by Murray. The installation engenders new formal relationships between the artists’ respective works, transgressing binaries of abstraction and figuration.

Exhibition to be reviewed by Corridor 8….Coming soon…..


Object Q / The Pursuit of Happiness was planned entirely off-site and is a more conceptually driven exhibition based around the theme of ‘queer verticality’. The austere installation features just one example of each of the artist’s work, as referenced in the title.

Exhibition Q&A essay by Amie Corry…. Coming Soon…


This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

SOFT HANDS ON MOSSY ROCKS: Kerry Tenbey & Ellie Barrett

SOFT HANDS ON MOSSY ROCKS is an exhibition of research, ideas and artworks by Ellie Barrett and Kerry Tenbey.

All of the things around us pulsate. Material stores energies, ripe for mining. Stuff we come into
daily contact with absorbs information about the places and people it interacts with. Objects
rumble with knowledge.

Hacking into this information could tell us more about our bodies, our identities, and our

Both artists explore overlaps between material, place, identity, process and information. Ellie
uses accessible materials – salt dough, tin foil and soap – to represent fragmented body-parts,
rock formations and industrial structures, suggesting an overlap between material and social
exchange. Kerry compares material information to data-mining with references to invasive
plants and familiar material forms, inviting us to perceive stored energies contained within. Both
artists navigate the blurred boundaries between the natural, the man-made and the handmade.
Objects in this space are alive.

SOFT HANDS ON MOSSY ROCKS not only presents sculptural and 2D works which explore
these ideas, but brings research into the gallery space. The exhibition is an immersive diagram,
mapping the various activities which both artists have collaboratively engaged in during the
development of this project and placing them in connection to the work. This includes exploring
specific locations, gathering material to make work and creating new connections between
physical sources of meaning.

Material Arts Network was launched as a result of this project, recognising the wealth of
research and activity in contemporary art practice surrounding material and the need to create
new connections between artists to share new knowledge.

You can visit SOFT HANDS ON MOSSY ROCKS by booking here:


Ellie Barrett is a sculptor and researcher investigating the ways in which material contributes
critical meaning to artworks as a means of widening participation in contemporary art. Ellie has
completed a practice-based PhD at Lancaster University. Recent exhibitions include Explain
Things to Me (Subsidiary Projects, London); Breathing Space (Lancaster Arts); More T’North
(The Harris, Preston) and Eminent Domain (ex-Robert Miller Gallery, New York). Ellie is also
co-director of GRAFT Lancaster CIC.

Kerry Tenbey is a queer artist based in Blackpool exploring individual and collective identity
through making. Kerry is currently completing their MFA at The University of Central Lancashire.
Recent exhibitions include Exhbit Gay (The Harris, Preston); Queer Contemporaries (Short
Supply, Manchester); Social Matter (Art B&B, Blackpool); SOFT//HARD (By-Weekly, Enschede,
Netherlands). Kerry is also Cultural Governor for Prestons Cultural Framework Board and
Programme Curator for The Birley, Preston.

This project is supported by Abingdon Studios and Arts Council England.

www.elliebarrett.com / @EllieCBarrett
www.kerrytenbey.com / @kerrytenbey
www.materialartnetwork.hotglue.me / @materialartnetwork

Heritage Action Zone: Calling all artists, creatives, and organisations on the Fylde Coast

Are you an Artist, creative business or arts organisation on the Fylde Coast?
If so, this is your chance to take part in new research to inform Blackpool Council’s Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

The research aims to understand what creative skills and resources are available in the area and ensure that artists don’t miss out on opportunities to be commissioned as part of the project.

Abingdon Studios Ltd is working with lead applicant AuntySocial CIC on behalf of Blackpool Council, to encourage as many people as possible to take part.

The survey takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. The survey is open for responses until Sunday, February 28, 2021

Everyone who takes part in the survey will have the option to opt into a draw to win one of three £100 cash prizes.

Following the survey, we will carry out detailed interviews with some local artists & creatives to take a closer look at their needs and finally provide a report to the council.


About HAZ
The Blackpool Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) is a £1m project funded jointly by Blackpool Council, Historic England, and the Department of Culture Media and Sport focused specifically on using built and cultural heritage to revitalise the high street.

The first strand of the project is all about improving streetscapes through improving the condition of historic buildings. This part of the HAZ builds on the success of the ongoing Quality Corridors project, which has focused on new pavements and road surfaces as well as a £1.5m shopfront replacement scheme on Deansgate, Topping Street, and Edward Street. As part f this we’ll be restoring some of the Victorian shopfronts to the church street elevation of the Winter Gardens, putting back the Art Deco frontage of 28 Topping Street, and restoring part of the Former Black’s building on Edward Street. In partnership with the Quality Corridors project, we’ll also be creating a creative cooperative hub at No. 28 Topping Street to provide local artists and creatives with a place to sell their work and run workshops and events. The work at the former Blacks building on Edward Street will also form the first phase of creating live/work units for creatives.

The second strand of the project is a bid for £120k to create a programme of cultural events to bring new offers to the high street and new reasons to visit it. Blackpool’s bid contains proposals for street markets (crafts/farmers/flea/specialist) using empty shops for film screening and performances well as heritage events and walks.


Work/Leisure is inviting emerging and mid-career artists, living and working in the UK/Europe, to create new work in 2020.

In its first iteration, Work/Leisure (2016), delivered 5 short-term, non-prescriptive artist residencies designed to enable artists to research and develop new work in the historically and culturally unique location of Blackpool.

This time, things are different because the world is different. This new iteration of Work/Leisure occurs at a time to global pandemic, social distancing, restricted travel, remote working, and civil unrest and has been made possible through the support of Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Funding.

This funding has allowed Abingdon Studios to continue its work supporting artists in Blackpool and through Work/Leisure we hope to support artists beyond the town boundary to develop new work.

Work/Leisure’s first iteration (2016) sought to address Blackpool as a site where ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ are intricately linked. This second iteration occurs at a time when boundaries between location, space and time have softened and the borders between work and leisure space and time are harder to map.

Work/Leisure is is a project developed by Abingdon Studios Ltd and coordinated by Abingdon Studio directors, Garth Gratrix and Tom Ireland.

Applications for Work/Leisure are now open.

The deadline for applications is Monday 17th August 2020, 5pm (GMT).

Applications received after this time will not be considered. Applications should be sent to workleisureresidency@gmail.com with the subject heading; LastName_FirstName_Work/Leisure_2020

For further information regarding Work/Leisure please contact workleisureresidency@gmail.com.

Application information can be found here.


In 2020, during Covid-19, Abingdon Studios presented a series of invited artist talks. Meanwhile… in partnership with Grundy Art Gallery, LeftCoast and Blackpool School of Arts is pleased to present this permanent digital archive, encapsulating the essence of each artist talk/workshop and or shared research.

The Meanwhile zine has been created by Joseph Doubtfire & Garth Gratrix .

Thanks to all partners and to Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund that supported Abingdon Studios’ time to develop the talk series.

Continuation and/or duration: Margrethe Aanestad & Elin Melberg


Refreshments provided

Conceptually the works will revolve around abstract expressions of universal existential themes, such as contrast and dualities between fragility and strength, the eternal and ephemeral, and the liminal space where the human being lacks control between those states. This will be explored through materials and tactile expressions, executed in a number of ways and dimensions, from delicate, fragile paper works, sculptures, to painting and textile.“- Margrethe Aanestad & Elin Melberg.

Margrethe and Elin are co-founders of the non-profit, artist ran Prosjektrom Normanns in Stavanger, Norway, as well as co-founders and co-owners of the creative studio/working space, ELEFANT, Stavanger, Norway.

Margrethe Aanestad (b. Stavanger, Norway, 1974). Studied Fine Art at the Rogaland Art College and graduated from the University of Stavanger with a BA in Culture & Art Management including Art History and Aesthetic Philosophy.

Aanestad lives and works in Stavanger, Norway, and Brooklyn, New York. Solo exhibitions include Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway (2018); Torrance Shipman Gallery, New York (2015); Dimensions Variable, Miami (2015); Open Source Gallery, New York (2013). Selected group exhibitions, Interface Gallery, Oakland, CA (2019); Vestlandsuttstillingen- a traveling juried exhibition shown across institutions in Norway (2019); Another Space, Copenhagen (2016); Interno4, Bologna (2013); ISCP, New York (2012). Public collections include Unversity of Stavanger (2016); Stavanger City Council (2016); British Petroleum, Norway (2016).


Elin Melberg (b. Stavanger, Norway, 1976) graduated with a Masters in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2012). Melberg has recently exhibited at Interface Gallery, San Francisco (2019), Aker Brigg, Oslo (2018), KUBE Art Museum, Alesund, Norway (2018); Nord-Trondelag Art Museum (2018); Kunsthall Stavanger (2018); Solvberget Galleri, Stavanger, Norway (2018 & 16); Untitled Art Fair, San Francisco (2017 & 18); Nordenfjeldske kunstindustrimuseum (Trondheim) (2017); Stavanger Art Museum (2017 & 14); Galleri Format (Oslo) (2016); Untitled Miami (2015 & 16); Open Source Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) (2016); Griffin Gallery (London) (2015); Vestlandsutstillingen (touring 2015); Galleri Opdahl (Stavanger) (2014).

Collections include Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger Art Museum, Oslo Municipality Art Collection, Stavanger Concert Hall, KORO, Statoil Art Collection, Stavanger Municipality, Royal College of Art, Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Bazil Alkazzi Foundation.

Upcoming projects in 2019 include an outdoor permanent public commission in Oppland Municipality and a scenography for M?NEm?ne that premiers at Rogaland Theatre in December.


*Continuation and/or duration is a micro-residency and exhibition at Abingdon Studios Project Space and has been developed and curated by Abingdon Studios co-director, Garth Gratrix, in collaboration with the artists. Gratrix previously spent a period of residency resulting in an exhibition of new works at Prosjektromm Normanns, Stavanger, Norway (2018).

*Abingdon Studios Project Space is located on the second floor and accessible via stairs only.

Harry Clayton-Wright: The Fortnight

Across 14 days, Harry Clayton-Wright presented 14 brand new eight hour performance pieces. Each day involved its own persona, its own world. Each piece experimented with the different ways in which people stage themselves over time. Reflecting on the artist?s experience with growing up in Blackpool ? a sea-side town ubiquitous with traditional entertainment ? and with his biography as a professional performer, The Fortnight provides a show about show business, a series of performances about performance itself.

Drag, dance, lip sync, tattooing, all day raves, showbiz autobiographies, character comedy, storytelling and Scrabble with mum all took place.

Audience members were invited to visit briefly or stay a while. Some days invited more participation than others, some days required more observation. The days are designed to serve as counterpoints to one another in tone and what they explore. They have been carefully programmed in relation to The Fortnight as a two-week durational experience – visit once or collect all 14.

Because as they say, ?the show must go on?, and on, and on.

Commissioned by The Spire, produced by David Sheppeard, supported by Abingdon Studios, Marlborough Pub & Theatre and New Queers On The Block and using public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England. Set design by Ryan Dawson Laight. Performance development by Melanie Jame Wolf. Poster image by Joel Devereaux with costume by Ruby Slippers. Poster design by Sarah Ferrari.

The Fortnight ran 10 am – 6pm, 5th to the 18th September at Abingdon Studios Project Space, Blackpool* framed by a new queer colour installation produced by artist Garth Gratrix titled Cheeky Felicia.

Images courtesy of Matt Wilkinson



JOYRIDE: Bethany Costerd, Sarah Louise Hawkins and Daniel Newsham

Private View: Feb 08, 6 -8pm / open until 22 Feb by appointment.

Joyride is a new? exhibition featuring new works by artists Bethany Costerd, Sarah Louise Hawkins and Daniel Newsham.

Diverse disciplines and varied perspectives converge, showcasing a shared interest in methodical, repetitive processes and a visual relationship of bold compositions of vibrant colour palettes. The methodical making manifests itself in almost dizzying works, full of movement and kinetic energy. Whether the medium be ceramic sculpture, oil painting or ink drawing, this collection of work falls somewhere between spontaneous gesture and a measured systematic repetition, resulting in works which deliver an immediate impact whilst simultaneously calling for a slower, extended contemplation.


Bethany Costerd creates ceramic sculptures which are influenced by her insatiable desire to build large structures. However, lacking structural integrity, the work becomes precarious in its ‘temporary’ approach to support. This insatiability also becomes suppressed by the slow medium of ceramics, a frustration she likens to a childhood desire to build her own theme park; impatiently drawing and building structures that inevitably lay unfinished.

Sarah Louise Hawkins makes abstract compositions based on the systematic repetition in grid patterns, geometric shapes, repeated lines and colour combinations. A series of delicate drawings comprising a continuous line of tiny dashes and dots randomly snake their way across the paper and from one drawing to the next. Her painted wall reliefs stretch and flatten solid shapes within space whilst the patterns on their surface bring about an optical experience, playing with the viewer’s perception and creating a constantly changing composition within their line of sight.

Daniel Newsham is a painter and printmaker. His current practice explores the material and accretive processes of painting.



Alison J Carr: Felicity Means Happiness


Allie Carr?Felicity Means Happiness

Preview 13 Sept, 6 – 8pm

Felicity Means Happiness is video work that tells the story of a 98-year old former chorus girl. Alison J Carr interviewed Felicity about her time as a chorus girl, her story is fascinating and riveting. In the thirties, Felicity was one of the Bluebell Young Ladies. She toured France, Germany, and Italy until WW2 was declared in Italy. Felicity Means Happiness shows Felicity, telling her stories, Carr showing Felicity her artworks inspired by 1930s dancers, and footage of an Austrian film Felicity was in. The piece is as much about the connection between to the two women as it is about the realities of dancing and travelling.

Carr’s disrupts the constant stream of images of women we are surrounded by in magazines, films and commercials that reiterate the connection between perfect female bodies and commodification. I want to contrast these assumptions with compositions I create to re-frame the female body: imperfect, glamorous, located in a context of radical thought, disruptive intentions, where excess is not about consumption, but pleasure. I re-imagine the frivolity of entertainment and ask if it can be ruptured away the service of neo-liberal individuality, and that political agency need not be dry, earnest, contained.

Alongside Felicity Means Happiness, Carr will be delivering an artist talk (date and venue TBC)


Alison J Carr is an artist and writer. She studied at the California Institute of the Arts, absorbing both the critical dialogue and the lure of the Hollywood facade. Following her soujorn to LA, she returned to Sheffield to do a PhD at Sheffield Hallam University where she had gained her undergraduate degree. The book that emerged from the research, Viewing Pleasure and Being A Showgirl: How Do I Look? Was published by Routledge in 2018. She has been a Terra Summer Residency fellow in Giverny France, LoBe Gallery resident in Berlin, and has exhibited her work in London, LA, Indiana, Berlin Sheffield, and Huddersfield. She has performed her work in London, LA, Leeds, and Sheffield. She is a lecturer in contemporary art at the University of Huddersfield.

ELBOWS AT DAWN | Matt Antoniak & Matt Wilkinson

Elbows at Dawn

Matt Antoniak | Matt Wilkinson

Preview: Thursday 10 May 6 ?? 8pm
11 May ?? 27 May

Abingdon Studios
14 Abingdon Street

M I L K are pleased to present Elbows at Dawn, a two-person exhibition of Matt Antoniak and Matt Wilkinson.

Working across painting, photography and video, both artists bring a forensic eye to overlooked objects and situations within daily life. This interest in the trivial imbues the works with surrealist tendencies and a quiet politicism. Elbows at Dawn will feature new work from both artists made specially for the exhibition.

Matt Antoniak (b. 1991). Recent exhibitions include: Les Bo?tes, Suede Gallery, Edinburgh; The Bunt, Ginny Projects, London; People See Nothing, Division of Labour, London; East Midlands Today, curated by ebc, Two Queens, Leicester; Like the green fig tree, WORKPLACE, Gateshead.

Matt Wilkinson (b. 1992). Recent exhibitions include: SPECTRA Light Festival, Aberdeen; Experimental Film Festival, Middlesbrough; Les Bo?tes, Suede Gallery, Edinburgh; One foot in the cradle, House of Blah Blah, Middlesbrough; Dialogus, Lungs Project, Vane, Newcastle upon Tyne.

For more information or images please contact: mmmilkcollective@gmail.com