Welcome to our dream venue

A former town centre store will continue to be a hub for Warrington’s creative scene when a new exhibition launches on 8 January.

Space for Nine will be at New Art Spaces (NAS): Warrington in Sankey Street on various dates until 22 January with support from the charity Culture Warrington and Castlefield Gallery.

The unit is better known as the former Marks and Spencer shop but has been transformed into a temporary exhibition and project space by Castlefield Gallery to provide more opportunities for northern artists.

It is part of a wider scheme to breathe new life into commercial properties that are hard-to-let or have been vacant for a long time.

At Space for Nine, Ben Ashford, Jack Dickinson, Tina Ramos Ekongo, Tony Green, Julia Griffin, Sarah Harris, Enya Koster and Steve Sutton will present a diverse range of work including drawing, painting, print, sculpture and photography as well as three-dimensional and multimedia installations.

Much of what will be on display is being created especially for the event.

Artist Steve Sutton said: “New Art Spaces: Warrington is a wonderful space to create and showcase new work. The artists working here are excitingly diverse and remarkably motivated. This venue is developing into a major centre for contemporary art and a stimulating environment for artists to share and discuss creative ideas.”

A number of the creatives involved in the project have already become advocates for NAS after working in the space previously.

Julia Griffin recently used the basement of the former M&S for one of the highlights of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival – an immersive multimedia experience called I Used To Be.

Sarah Harris also used the building as a base to create an explosion of colour when she invited people who made a valuable contribution to their community during the lockdowns to throw paint bombs at two huge canvases. The resulting artwork can now be found in the alleyway between Sankey Street and Old Market Place.

She said: “Having a space like this on my doorstep in Warrington town centre has been a dream. We’re often limited to pokey old studios, which can sometimes impact the work we make but this has allowed me to ‘go big’ with my projects.

“We’re starting to develop an artistic community through the studio, I’m often excited to go in and see new developments – it encourages me to keep on creating.”

Tina Ramos Ekongo, a black African artist, thinks the space provides a valuable platform for artists of all backgrounds.

She added: “Having such a building and the support of Culture Warrington gives artists in the north west the opportunity to develop their art and subsequently their artistic career.

“In my case, I am a black African artist and this makes it even more challenging to have my work accepted and seen in white and male centred art scene.

“This show is an opportunity to keep changing the narrative of art and artistic subjects and also encourage other artists from minority groups living and producing art in Warrington”

Space for Nine will be open from 10.30am to 5pm on January 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 22 and is free to view.