Creative Spaces in Manchester : Part 2 : Lionel Dobie Project 19 Apr


Lois Macdonald and Helen Collett

Lionel Dobie Project is the brainchild of artists Helen Collett, and Fred’s alumni Lois Macdonald, who noticed a lack of opportunities for graduates interested in curating, and decided to do something about it!

The project headquarters are situated in a renovated railway arch on Hewitt Street, opposite Castlefield Gallery and just off Deansgate Locks. The space is always changing (which isn’t exactly surprising given that its full of curators) and the LDP curatorial collective are currently in the process of a re-fit, building walls and making rooms to divide up the space.

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The first opportunities that LDP set out to offer were six-month residencies, whereby individuals or teams could thoroughly explore issues in curating which interest them, with support from the LDP staff and lots of resources to draw on. These residencies overlap on purpose, so that everybody working in the space can bounce ideas off each other, and progress together – making their research as active as possible.

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As well as these six-month residencies, there are also mini one-month residencies based in a rather delightful wooden chalet, which are especially good for people who might be students, or working. The great thing about short residencies like this is that they give you an excuse to explore ideas that you might have otherwise discarded – you get to be adventurous with your brain.

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Also based at LDP HQ is the D.I.Y Art School, described as ‘a fourth year of art school’ by founder and creator Marcelle Holt. The D.I.Y school is a way for recent graduates to keep their momentum going as they transition from the secure, but sometimes stifling University environment into the wider art world, where there might be more freedom, but it can be very difficult to find your way!

Although LDP is unequivocally not an art gallery, there are frequent public events hosted by residents and staff which have previously taken the form of projector parties and word association lino printing, often with high-concept beer brewed specially for the occasion. These events sometimes take place at the HQ railway arch, but also in pubs and cafes around town – anywhere with a good atmosphere. The aim is to encourage discussion and all are welcome, as Lois put it; “we want to hear as many questions and constructive criticisms as possible. We’re not hear to say we’re right, we’re here to get to the bottom of things.”

Written by Lauren Velvick / Photography by Elle Brotherhood

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