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

First Outing by Queerly Made

First Outing

Claye Bowler
Dan Chan
Matthew Rimmer

Produced by Queerly Made

Preview Saturday 25th Sept

3pm – 5pm

Starting at Grundy Art Gallery foyer and then including artist talks leading us to Abingdon Studios Project Space with light refreshments provided.

Exhibition continues 26 Sep – 09 Oct Tue-SaT 11-4pm

image courtesy of Dan Chan

A pun on the term ‘outing’ as the act of disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, ‘First Outing’ is the first physical exhibition produced by Queerly Made, a curatorial project organised by Daniel Fountain and Matthew Gale to examine queer approaches to materials and making in artistic practices and spotlight work by LGBTQIA+ artists.

The exhibition, which is spread across Grundy Art Gallery and Abingdon Studios Window Gallery and Project Space, brings together new works by the artists Claye Bowler, Dan Chan, and Matthew Rimmer.

Inspired by a micro-residency in Blackpool, each of these artists have taken inspiration from the cultural geographies of the local area, emphasising themes of marginality, transformation, and queer ecologies.

image courtesy of Claye Bowler

‘First Outing’ has been made possible through Future Producers, a project by UK New Artists Ltd, kindly funded by
Arts Council England through the Cultural Recovery Fund.

Claye Bowler (Abingdon Studios, Project Space)
Claye Bowler (he/him) is an artist living and working in West Yorkshire. His work explores notions of the archive and the political priorities of history; specifically how queer and trans narratives have been hidden, erased or destroyed. Bowler uses sculpture and performance to subvert these practices by creating archives of his own relationships, experiences, and possessions. Recently, Bowler’s work has focused around the physical transition of their body: the lead-up to surgeries and the violence of the wait involved under the diminished funding and care of the NHS.

Combining the contrasting elements of Blackpool’s seafront and the washed-up treasures of the beach against the glittering and shining arcades, Claye has created globulous concrete sculptures speckled with seaweed, shells, sand, rocks and 2p coins. Echoing the undulating surface of both stacks of teetering coins, as well as sea carved ripples in sand. The sculptures are accompanied by a set of drawings completed during a micro-residency in Blackpool.

Dan Chan (Grundy Art Gallery, foyer)
Dan Chan (he/they) is a Liverpool-based visual and drag artist. Their work takes a playful approach to explore their identity by unpicking racial and queer stereotypes, as well as the gender binary. They create dreamscapes and fantasy beings as a way to bring an idyllic world to life, much of this is inspired by imagery seen in meditation and dreams. A focal point of their work is to create representation they never saw growing up with the hope for queer British Chinese youth to see themselves.

Have you ever wondered what keeps the machines at seaside towns running? What or who brings a sense of wonder and nostalgia to the rides and games? Take a step closer to see the creatures that run the show! These playful beings turn the cogs and press the buttons so the human world can create lifelong memories…

Matthew Rimmer (Abingdon Studios, 24/7 Window Gallery)
Matthew Rimmer (he/him) is an artist based in Glasgow. Their sculptural practice is concerned with the commodification of nature and the ways in which captive environments imitate natural habitats. As an intersex person with silicone prosthesis, whose gender identity was surgically moulded and is maintained through hormonal intervention, he is fascinated by the use of abstract plastic objects to define sex and gender and the ways in which inert plastics can cohabit with living things.

This sculptural paradigm references the transport of organisms in the aquarium trade, whereby fish and coral are individually bagged in temporary water bodies and sold to consumers. A feeling of containment runs throughout this new body of work, stemming from comfort in secrecy and personal space that the artist feels relates to his intersexuality and process of concealing his queerness. Matthew continues to be attracted to plastic as a material, and how this may allude to the defining presence of
plastic prosthetics in his own body.


PROXIMITY; An enquiry into the spatial and social elements of practice as research.

Anne-Marie Atkinson | Ann Carragher | Antony Hall | Jackie Haynes | Rebecca Howard |Sarah-Joy Ford.

26 Aug – 16 Sept*

*Window Gallery visible 24/7

*Upper Floor Project Space open Fridays and Saturdays 11-4pm or by appointment

Proximity is a collective of 6 artists interested in the spatial and social elements of practice-as-research (est. May 2019). We have met online weekly since lockdown began, and have developed our approach of “convivial aesthetics” in the virtual realm. Through these meetups, we have provided professional, creative, and emotional support for one another – spending more time in proximity to one another, digitally in each other’s homes. 
Together we have taken part in several residencies, where our proximity to each other has created new ideas, ways of thinking and strategies for making and thinking art. We have run workshops, as well as launched our mail art project ‘POST IT’ that has been presented and discussed at a variety of online symposiums, events, and conferences.

Proximity provides a community and a social space to make, write, think, present, share, test and disseminate practice-as-research. Proximity constitutes togetherness and separateness. It performs as a space to recognise our individual and shared goals, ideas, plans, methods and processes. 

Anne-Marie Atkinson is an artist and PhD candidate with VC Scholarship at Manchester Metropolitan University. Their research asks how intellectually disabled artists are informing contemporary art.

Anne’s interdisciplinary practice is hinged on collaboration. Interested in the social relations inherent in art, as well as its transformative potential, I have taken dialogue, touch, gesture, listening, negotiation, response-ability and ‘becoming-with’ as my tools.
Choosing materials that are sensitive to the experience and desires of the people, place, time and issues worked with. Often starting with photography, video, writing, drawing and performance to work spontaneously while engaging feminist ethics of care. Transparency, light, barely-there marks, repetition /with variation, and physical and digital layering and manipulation are employed to open up or flatten multiple dimensions, speaking to the unresolved nature of our social relations. Their practice-led PhD research is carried out alongside seven artists with learning disabilities (individually) to examine how their relationships to their practice correlate with, develop, or contest existing notions of inclusivity in contemporary art. While revealing and tackling barriers to access, the research also seeks to put artists with learning disabilities at the centre and ask what aspects of their way of practicing provide an enviable model for artist everywhere.

Ann Carragher is a practicing artist and lecturer in Fine Art, living and working in Blackpool. Originally from Newry in Northern Ireland and is currently a practice–based PhD candidate at MMU. Ann’s visual art practice is interdisciplinary, and her research explores the concept of liminality applicable to debates concerning borders and identity; more specifically, her research mediates on a particular area of border territory known as the ‘Gap of the North’, between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  

Ann presents works that weave together notions of loss and lament, by exploring the ambiguous and allusive qualities that manifest (physically and psychologically) in the intersection between space, place, mobility, and memory.  

Sarah-Joy Ford is an Artist and Post-graduate Researcher based in Manchester. She works with textiles to explore the complexities and pleasures of queer communities, histories and archives. Her practice sits at the intersection of digital and traditional: using strategies of quilting, digital embroidery, digital print, applique, and hand embellishment.  
She is the recipient of an NWDTCP award for her PhD research examining quilting as a methodology for re-visioning British lesbian archive. Current work created in response to the Lesbian Archive Collection at Glasgow Women’s Library is exhibited at HOME Projects, Manchester, entitled Archives and Amazons. Ford is a co-director of the Queer Research Network Manchester, an interdisciplinary network connecting postgraduates across the Manchester Universities and a member of the practice-based research collective Proximity. Exhibitions include Banner Culture, British Textile Biennale (Blackburn), Queen, COLLAR (Manchester), and Weaving Europe: The World as Mediation, Shelly Residence (Paphos). Independent curatorial projects include The Guild: Contemporary Textiles, Templeworks (Leeds) and Cut Cloth: Contemporary Textiles and Feminism, The Portico Library (Manchester). She has been commissioned by The Yorkshire Year of the Textile, Artichoke, The Pitt Rivers Museum and Superbia.

Antony Hall is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who creates installations and workshops inspired by science. Recent works have used fluid mechanics, light, kinetic energy, and electrogenic fish, to create multimedia installations. He has exhibited and performed internationally and undertaken numerous commissions. Antony was a resident artist at UMISTs Fluid Mechanics Lab 2001-04, Manchester Natural History Museum 2005 and Loughborough Universities Underwater Acoustics Laboratory 2009. In 2006 he completed an Arts Council International Artists Fellowship with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and ENSAD Paris which led to the ENKI project 2006-2012. He is also a member of Owl Project collective who are known for work which intersects craft and technology. Most recently Antony was awarded an AHRC NWCDTP scholarship for his current PhD research in the field of art and experimental psychology, exploring multisensory perceptual illusion at MMU.

Jackie Haynes is an artist and art practice-based researcher in the final stages of a doctoral study of selected aspects of German artist Kurt Schwitters’ legacy, often referred to as ‘Merz,’ the neologism associated with his literary and artistic output.

Jackie has a textiles background and founded House of Haynes, a costume design, manufacture, hire and wholesale business, which ran for 17 years in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. She returned to education in 2012 to study MA Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University, where an interest in Kurt Schwitters, Merz and its associations with Dada began. Her PhD inquiry at the University of Cumbria examines Schwitters’ motifs which migrate across his artistic and literary forms and his involvement in the avant-garde networks, particularly De Stijl and Dada, which nourished her work.

Rebecca Howard (b.1989), is an artist and academic living in Sheffield and working at Derby University. Through her practice, Rebecca engages with photography, sculpture, and installation to consider the ways in which photographic images mediate and shape our experiences of the built environment.  
Her recently completed PhD practice-research (Manchester School of Art) investigates the spatial and dimensional qualities of the photographic paper-print and its capacity to generate form and reconfigure interior space. 

Three’s a crowd: curated by Short Supply

Exhibition ran: 23rd July – 10th August 


Three’s A Crowd was an exhibition of work created through peer exchange, bringing the collaborative efforts of 6 northern artists to Abingdon Studios. Each member of the curatorial team, Short Supply, has selected an emerging artist from their respective hometowns in the North West, to reflect on their own queer, working-class experience and refocus their collective curatorial vision in collaborating with artists directly.

“The idea for this exhibition came from our interest in exploring our own relationships with our northern hometowns; and each other too! All of our programmed activities this year foster an “it’s not the destination that counts, but the friends you make along the way” kind of vibe. As the team grows, and we begin to adjust to physical programming again, we want to create events that allow us to rethink and reevaluate our position and needs. We also want to provide opportunities that allow others to build long-term, quality relationships with us, and give us crucial feedback to help us grow!!”

“Chatting, exchanging, relating – or not – to a showcase against the backdrop of the vegas of the north. As artists we often work and thrive on the peripheries; and we’re embracing this sentiment with Three’s A Crowd by bringing our shenanigans to a location close to our (doughnut-laden, candy floss coated) hearts.”

The exhibition was installed across ABS project space and new ground floor window gallery in the heart of Blackpool town centre.

Short Supply have been supported by Abingdon Studios and achieved their own National Lottery Project Grant through Arts Council England.

ABS Ambitions for a new coastal curators and artists network

Back in 2020, Abingdon Studios received some research investment to explore the idea of a new artist and curators network with a focus on seaside and coastal terrain where artists reside. This peripherality and living and working on the edge and or cusp of something is a pertinent topic for many artists and the cultural sector.

Blackpool-based artist and curator Garth Gratrix initiated the idea with investment received from LeftCoast CPP, Grundy Art Gallery NPO and East Street Arts SSO as part of the GUILD programme. It forms part of ABS ask to Arts Council England to help expand the research into a pilot network; whereby we will be able to announce a number of coastal bursaries and commissions through our upcoming a-n assembly conference in Blackpool September 2021.

The purpose of the network is to explore future commissions and touring of coastally based contemporary artists nationally inc Blackpool, Brighton, Margate, Scarborough, Grimsby, Eastbourne, Plymouth, Hull, Hastings and beyond. We are particularly interested in ‘The Coast is Queer’ as a framework to explore difference and diversity in the quest to change perceptions of people and place. We hope such a network would impact policy, commissioning and partnership strategies to include the coast into the future and build stronger relationships between funded organisations and growing artist-led ecologies and spaces.

This continues the efforts of ABS to maintain paid opportunities for artists currently and builds on our covid-19 support packages of rent-free periods and bursaries to Blackpool-based artists to connect and collaborate with artists nationally. This has created over £35k in individual grants awarded to artists in the area in the last 10 months.

Rockified: Gustavo Ferro & Sam Meredith


Gustavo Ferro (São Paulo/Blackpool) in collaboration with Sam Meredith (London)

Exhibition Ran: 18 JUNE – 10 JULY

Gustavo Ferro (b.1988) is a visual artist based between Brazil and the United Kingdom. He is interested in the urban environment and the relationship between the human body and man-made objects. His approach to materials is experimental, working across different media such as sculpture, drawing, video and photography.  

Gustavo and Sam first met as part of the School of the Damned Cohort in 2018. During this time they began a conversation surrounding the materiality of objects and the process of making sculptures, travelling from city to city in the UK and engaging with each other by exploring their practices within different contexts. 

Gustavo’s recent work comes from an investigation into artificial landscapes built with pulhamite, a material that resembles natural rock created by Pulham & Son and used to ‘rockify’ the cliffs in the North Shore of Blackpool in 1923. Since Gustavo began to research and regularly visit these sites in person, a collaboration with Sam began remotely, developing homemade recipes and mix designs to try and simulate this material. 

Sam Meredith (b.1991) is a visual artist based in London. Sam’s work arrives through the process of construction, unpicking objects he encounters by making moulds and casting multiples, then slowly assembling them into new hybrids. Sam enjoys documenting the pre-life of his sculptures, filming videos to elaborate on the experience of them being made. 

Abingdon Studios Project Space and Window Gallery* will act as a laboratory and workshop, allowing for the experimentation with glass fibre reinforced concrete to continue to unravel, exploring possibilities of working together through creating a site-responsive installation. 

For both artists tactility is important, their work is a collaboration with materials that demands kinship and presence, acknowledging the waste, sweat, labour, and love that goes into creation. 

This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England with additional support from Abingdon Studios.

*The Window Gallery is a new partnership between Abingdon Studio and Blackpool Council as an iteration of a former Culture Shops Project (est. 2013/14). With thanks to Heritage Action Zone funding.

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).

READ THE REVIEW BY JAZMINE LINKLATER, CORRIDOR 8, HERE: https://corridor8.co.uk/article/many-splendored-things/

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.

READ THE REVIEW by Grace Edwards, Corridor 8 here: https://corridor8.co.uk/article/soft-hands-on-mossy-rocks/

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.

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.