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

Manchester Contemporary 2021

Abingdon Studios is pleased to announce our decision to platform Blackpool-based artists at this years Manchester Contemporary Art Fair.

The opportunity has been open to all ABS studio members and contributing artists over the last 2 years and it is a chance for us to share the work that we do by the coast and in the northwest which has seen national and international successes and support to artists through rent-free periods, bursaries, new commissions and collaborations.

We will also be announcing our recent funding achievements and new opportunities through our Work/Leisure residency programme, so come and say hello in person, see exhibiting artists and buy their work.

We are extremely pleased to also be representing Blackpool alongside The pARTnership, an initiative led by Venture Arts and Grundy Art Gallery. A double whammy. Up t’pool!

To see full list of curated exhibtors: https://www.themanchestercontemporary.co.uk/whats-on/2021-exhibitors

Ride Your Pony No.4

21 Oct – 10 Nov 2021

Curated by Marie Jones, Garth Gratrix & Kerry Tenbey

Exhibiting Artists and assigned letters of the alphabet:

A- Abby Sumner | B- Charlotte Cullen | C- Rebecca Wild & Michael May | D- George Gibson | E- Klaire Doyle

F- Niki Colclough & Michael Tan | G- Jonathan Beaver | H- Joseph Cotgrave | I- Laura Parke | J- Linny Venables

K- Sam Venables | L- Khairullah Rahim | M- Elizabeth Jackson | N- Daisy James | O- Hannah Dinsdale

P- Bethan Jayne | Q- Reece Adair | R- Camille Relet | S- Veronkia Neukirch | T- Rosalie Wood | U- Matthew Dowell

V- Matthew Merrick | W- Sam Owen Hull | X- Katherine Plumb | Y- Amrit Randhawa | Z- Rebekah Beasley

Ride Your Pony No.4: Blackpool was supported through National Lottery Project Grant funding provided by Arts Council England.

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.