The story of Incubation Arts describes a fascinating development which has mirrored the changing world in which we live.
Originally, the 1996 group was known as Moving Clay, begun by Gill Broadhurst and Judith Quinn and reflected the skills and interests of the mainly ceramics-based membership.
However, after a series of successful prestigious exhibitions and public workshops across Cheshire, Tameside, Manchester and further afield, and using premises not usually associated with ‘art’ – shopping centres, corporate offices and vacant premises, interest in the group grew with its vision to take art out of the context of ‘art galleries’ which many people felt was threatening, and so artists and makers with a wide range of specialisms applied to join.
In order to better describe this expanding range of activities – painting, print-making, sculpture, photography, textiles, and a range of crafts etc, Moving Clay changed its name to ArtsXstrA in 2011 and took up a permanent presence in Macclesfield, first developing an exhibition space in Dukes Court, and then moving to bigger premises in Charles Roe House, the former home of Charles Roe, the 18th Century entrepreneur who brought both the silk and copper industries to Macclesfield to establish the town as manufacturing centre of national importance.
This new space afforded huge opportunities for the work of ArtsXstra to expand, and as well as numerous exhibitions of the group’s work, we also ‘incubated’ the work of others who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to express and explore their talents on a public stage. These included fashion, dance and drama students, the work of young musicians and artists, and lectures and talks open to the public.
Parallel to the work of artsXstra, we also wanted to celebrate the work of Joy Division, and in particular the song-writing of Macclesfield-based Ian Curtis, Joy Division’s singer. One of the band’s many songs was ‘Incubation’ and in the spirit of our ‘incubation’ policy towards new artists, we then decided to rename the group as ‘Incubation Arts’ and form a limited company and charity.
Now based across the road from Charles Roe House in Churchill Chambers, Incubation Arts continues to thrive, with monthly exhibitions of members’ work and a developing programme of creative workshops for the public, of which the access to a large printing press forms the current corner-stone.
This ‘incubation’ of peoples’ skills continues to be the driving force of our mission, as was the original case with Moving Clay in 1996. The education system of this country has generally tended to neglect and suppress creativity as a process, and yet despite this and as a business activty, the Creative Industries employ tens of thousands of people in the UK, with this part of the North West being a particular ‘hot-spot’ with its close links to Manchester and the city’s rapidly developing transport infrastructure which supports and connects its growing creative, scientific and manufacturing base. We believe that creativity is at the heart of all human activity and we aim to redress that current imbalance in this area by demonstrating that everyone has an innate creative ability which can be fulfilled by skilled nurturing, and an access to quality materials and equipment.