Tucked away on a quiet street in Salford lies the much-loved, crumbly Islington Mill – an ever-evolving creative space, arts hub and community that's home to 50 small businesses and more than 100 artists. One of its residents is Manchester artist Rachel Goodyear – who rents a cosy Studio space there.
Born in Oldham, Rachel studied on the Art Foundation at Rochdale’s Hopwood Hall College and Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University, before launching her own creative career. Working predominantly in pencil and ink she creates intricate but sparse images that capture notions of fragmented recollections, false memories and unconscious fears and desires that bubble up from the psyche. She works mostly on paper, but will often allow her practice to playfully expand into projections, animations and installation.
Just recently, Rachel has been invited to take up inaugural 'Projects' residency at The Lowry galleries, where she'll be given a special studio to be impulsive, experimental, and get closer to their audiences.
We caught up with Rachel to quiz her about her workspace, and what she has planned for The Lowry:
Describe your studio
"A walk in scrap-book. It's a good sized space and full to bursting with sketches, books, materials and collected ephemera. On the fourth Floor at Islington Mill, I have a great view and soft light, making it a perfect place for drawing. I have been here for some time now, so it has taken on a lot of my personality and feels very much like a second home. It's very cosy which means it is an enjoyable place to both work and relax in."
What do you love about your workspace the most?
"It's the overall environment of Islington Mill that I love the most. There are so many wonderful creative people here who make art across the board from designers, and painters to musicians and filmmakers. It is a fantastic community and the whole place has an energy of encouragement and engagement and collaborations are pretty common, which is how I started working with musicians and became part of our all woman noise band, Water.
"There are often visiting artists from all around the world and when I've finished for the day in the studio, I can walk down just a few flights of stairs and immerse myself in an incredible gig, exhibition, film screening, pot-luck dinner, lecture, or just hang out in the beautiful courtyard with the B&B resident cat."
Any favourite pieces of furniture, accessories or decorations? Can you tell us a story behind them?
"Two of my favourite pieces dominate the space – one is my beautiful old Plan Chest, which actually started life as a gallery space within a gallery space. A long time ago, I co-ran a small gallery called Floating Ip, and the Plan Chest was our 'smaller gallery' within the main space where we would curate exhibitions within its drawers. When we moved out of the gallery, I was determined the it would come with me!
"The other piece is my curiosity cabinet. It is full of trinkets, each with a story attached. Some are little pieces I have made, others are gifts from friends and there are many objects with a lot of sentimental value to me. A little autograph book has a note left behind from my great aunt who was a huge inspiration to me; there are all sorts from a wooden bear who was my lucky charm throughout an illness, to pieces of volcanic rock from Vesuvius and a group of lavender ladies mourning a dead bird."
Describe the local creative scene in Salford
"There's a lot going on around this immediate area at the moment. Aside from the Mill with over 50 studios, there's Caustic Coastal gallery and art label, which has recently opened around the corner; International 3 Gallery relocated from Manchester to Chapel Street in Salford a couple of years ago... there are also new cafes, some with art galleries attached opening up along this strip and the music scene is very vibrant.
"Within Islington Mill, Fat Out present an incredible programme in The Burrow, and most recently Idle Chatter, a collective presenting carefully curated shows of experimental music have set up next to the Mill on Regents Trading Estate. Not to forget Sounds From The Other City which takes over this area for one day a year and transforms every inch of space into a throbbing hub of music, performance and art."
Tell us more about The Lowry 'Projects' residency opportunity
"I am very excited about this opportunity. I will have a studio built for me in the gallery space where I will be working within the view of the public for the duration of the residency. There will be drawings and animations on display as well and the whole idea of it was to bring the realms of the public and the private together into one space.
"The world of the studio is often a very private space and I rarely draw in front of other people. Visitors to the Lowry will be able to observe me at work, have a chat and and see my techniques and new works in development.
"I love doing residences as they offer a little time out of my familiar settings and I find these circumstances often whip up exciting ideas and new work. It will be quite a contrast to my own studio – I will bring only the bare essentials with me, such as my old faithful drawing board and art materials so that I can have a completely blank canvas to work with."
You can see Rachel Goodyear and her Glimpse project at The Lowry in Salford from Saturday 24 September until Sunday 9 October. More information can be found online at www.thelowry.com.
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Photo credit: Michael Pollard