As a city famous for it’s history Chester’s contemporary culture can get overlooked, so it’s always exciting to see arts and culture that is purely focused on the ‘now. I contacted Professor Neil Grant from University of Chester to find out more about their relatively new gallery/space “Contemporary Art Space Chester”
Tell us a bit about you, and about Contemporary Art Space Chester; who’s it for and why was it opened?
Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC) is based in a new gallery development at the Kingsway site of the University of Chester. The site contains the Art and Design Department where students study Fine Art, Photography and Graphic Design. Chester has not had a contemporary art space and I hope this development will bring challenging contemporary art to the attention of the Chester public and inspire the students and staff working in the department. Throughout the academic year the gallery will display the latest work from students and staff and host at least two major shows from invited artists.
Could you tell us about the artists, media and kinds of work a visitor might expect to see at CASC?
CASC aims to represent the eclectic contemporary engagement with a wide range of media from the tradition of painting, printmaking and sculpture to photography, video, digital artworks and performance. In the past eighteen months the gallery has shown work by well-known artists, photographers and designers such as: Dinos Chapman, Greyson Perry, George Shaw, Billy Childish, Bob and Roberta Smith, Tom Wood, David Crow. Emerging artists such as Matthew Denniss, Laurie Lax, Robert Prideaux, Eliot Sergeantson, Richard Hooper and work from students and staff of the university. The current show presents work by Alumni from the department from 2004 and contains painting, printmaking, site specific sculpture and video works.
Who curates the exhibitions and decides on the exhibition programme?
Professor Neil Grant head of the Art and Design Department has overall curatorial responsibility but also invites staff and external curators to work with the space.
What exhibitions are in the pipeline for CASC in the coming months?
The current Alumni exhibition runs until December 18th. It is followed by a show of the work of Russell Kirk the Chester based artist responsible for many of the regions creative parades. In particular the Chester Midsummer watch parade which is a key event in Chester street culture. Following Russell we will host the Young Artists in Tuscany show 27th Feb to March 14th, this presents the work produced by A level student from a number of local schools who take part in an annual study trip to Florence in Italy. From 21st March to the 11th of April we have ‘Beach Culture’ the photographic work of Peter Mearns and this will be followed by ‘Sanctury’ by French Algerian artist Patrick Altes 8thto 30th of May which explores postcolonial ideas of belonging and memory. Patrick uses digital media in his work. After that the gallery is taken up by the graduation assessment and show which opens on June 26th.
Any other exciting plans for the future of CASC?
CASC is titled to suggest that the current gallery can be the hub of a much bigger network that will include interventions in the city. Professor Grant is on the board of Chester Performs and the Paperboat Gallery in Ellesmere Port and allied with the departments Research Fellow in Participatory Practice Dr Simon Grennan it is planned to have a much greater presence within the city walls for CASC branded events and exhibitions.
What opportunities are there for Chester’s community to get involved in exhibiting or supporting the space?
The gallery is developing links with Chester Performs and the Grosvenor Museum and plans are in development for a collaboration with Cheshire Artists Network
Where can people keep up to date with what’s on at Contemporary Art Space Chester?
People can visit the CASC website www.chester.ac.uk/casc
And finally – what aspect of Chester’s arts and culture do you enjoy most, outside of those offered at CASC?
The quality of work being presented by Chester Performs who now offer the summer Theatre in Grosvenor Park, the literature Festival, Music Festival and the pop up visual arts interventions of Rogues Galleries.
Thanks to Professor Neil Grant for taking the time to share this with Chester Culture, looking forward to the coming months of Contemporary art in our fair city.