If you are looking for a something creative and inspiring to do this evening we recommend heading over to Islington Mill for an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Michael Chance which document the inner life and surroundings of Islington Mill.
Over the course of a three week residency, Michael has aimed to enter the Mill’s daily life and capture its varied moods, its madness and serenity, its inward and outward faces, documenting its spaces and events through observational drawing and painting. He has also made a series of paintings which explore its larger context within an area that is in transition, held awkwardly between post-industrial emptiness and bland redevelopment.
These works focus mainly on Middlewood Locks, an area of abandoned land alongside the mill which has become a strange and beautifully overgrown and bio-diverse sanctuary of sorts. Long grasses and wildflowers sweep up the hillside, skirting aimless stretches of tarmac and green-topped canals which run slowly down through ponds and locks to the Irwell. It is a patch without purpose, yet that is precisely what gives it value; in a world where our experiences seem increasingly pre-designed (and often with an entry price) nothing feels like a discovery. It is the emptiness of this place that allows each of us to find our own personal space and purpose within it.
In addition, a series of paintings of Pomona – another nearby post-industrial scrub – reinforce this idea and give us a glimpse into a post-human world where nature’s reclamation goes unchecked. On the brink of redevelopment, these places are captured in a timeless state through Michael’s paintings, suspended in a contemplative reverie. He, as a quiet observer, daydreamer and idle wanderer, seeks to counter the utilitarian work and profit-obsessed culture that threatens our ability to find meaning in our lives through other means.
Likewise, Islington Mill is proof that a physical space and its eco-system of dwellers, given time, energy and freedom from profit-driven purpose, will engender a wonderfully diverse and open-ended platform for meaningful activity – like a petri dish, the Mill’s buildings provide a stable substrate for experimental and spontaneous growth.
Self-contained, isolated and walled like a fort, at times it feels protective, nurturing many who feel alienated from, or critical of ‘normal’ consumerist, atomised society. However, it’s doors are – figuratively at least – always open; new visitors are welcomed like old friends and those that pass through almost always return. The Mill’s vibrant events schedule ensures that nothing stagnates; every day there are new encounters and opportunities to share experiences and ideas with other artists. In drawing the musical events Michael explores the Mill’s public face; the excitement and atmosphere of the club space, the variety and passion of its performers.
In search of its private side, he has observed how artists find purpose and express themselves through their living spaces and studios. If you give people a space and freedom to fill, alter and add to that space as they see fit, the results are spectacularly varied, and as expressive of their character as any artwork. Giving people a sense of ownership and responsibility for their space means that they maintain and improve it, and feel a sense of personal pride that extends outward and bonds them together. In observing and drawing these spaces Michael hopes to bring out the character of each individual and celebrate the diversity of their lifestyles and aspirations.
Michael Chance at The Mill
Preview event: Wednesday 23 September, 6pm
Closes Saturday 26 September
Islington Mill, James Street, Salford, M3 5HW
About the Artist
Michael Chance studied Popular Music at Liverpool University, before moving to Manchester to become involved in the music scene which has now found its home in Islington Mill. Working with promoters Fat Out, he returned to focus on visual art through the production of hand-printed concert posters. In 2012 he moved to London to study a Post-graduate Diploma at The Royal Drawing School. He now works for the school as a Technician and Tutor in drawing and Art History.
In 2014, Michael co-founded Mercer Chance, a gallery and studio space in Hoxton, London, which aims to provide an accessible platform for emerging artists whose work is built on a foundation of observational contemplation, usually through drawing and painting.
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07415134155