MIF23: Balmy Army at HOME

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor

Balmy Army at HOME Manchester, Manchester 1 — 15 July 2023 Entrance is free

It’s a well-known fact that mental health services for young people in the UK are lacking, and quite severely too. From year-long waiting lists to understaffing, young people are often not getting the help they need, with few alternatives available. Enter – Balmy Army!

As part of Manchester International Festival 2023, HOME is welcoming Balmy Army, a movement for youth-led mental health. Combining art with activism, the project gathers 40 people from Greater Manchester, all of whom have lived experience of mental health struggles.

The exhibition is far from the traditional format of viewers simply coming to see art on the walls. Instead, there are lots of opportunities to participate in the events directly, meet people, discuss feelings and explore shared experiences.

The non-traditional setup continues with activities that include making placards, poetry, social media takeovers and generally speaking – acts of civil disobedience, shared with anyone willing to join in. Balmy Army are keen to promote the space as a safe haven for trying out ideas, planning protests and performing. The results will feature tangible artefacts such as drawings and writing as well as fleeting moments and experiences to remember and cherish. Community is the driving force behind Balmy Army’s actions so this show needs you and your ideas!

Importantly, it’s not just about people who themselves are struggling with their mental health. If you know or are supporting someone going through a difficult time, or just want to find out more (because we could always benefit from knowing more about mental health!), this event is for you. The communal approach to gathering ideas and sparking action really emphasises the importance of community care and reminds us that, no matter how isolating it may feel, mental health is not just about individuals. Healing is easier with others around us.

Balmy Army are starting off at HOME on Saturday 1 July for a Welcome and Sharing session, followed by a Movement and Call to Action on 15 July. New events and opportunities will be added closer to the time, so do keep an eye on the MIF23 and HOME websites.

Balmy Army at HOME Manchester, Manchester 1 — 15 July 2023

Part of Manchester International Festival

What's on at HOME Manchester

What's on: Exhibitions

Nothing About Us Without Us at PHM

‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ at PHM explores the history of disabled people’s activism and their ongoing fight for inclusion with a wonderful collection of exhibits brought together for the first time, 

free entry
ExhibitionsNorth East
Chris Killip, retrospective at Baltic

This spring, Baltic welcomes a major retrospective of the work of Chris Killip, one of Britain’s most influential and prolific post-war documentary photographers whose tender gaze captured the lives of communities in the North East of England.

free entry
(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth

Through a fantastic collection of classical and contemporary artists’ work, ‘(Un)Defining Queer’ examines the use of language, histories and narratives to explore what ‘queer’ really means today. free entry

Culture Guides


There's no rest for the art lover - this month brings outdoor sculpture, musings on water, political drawings and Liverpool Biennial 2023!


We look towards a summer filled with quality festivals, from cultural behemoths to grassroots gems.

Winnie the Pooh at Manchester Opera House

The sun has finally got his hat on! Enjoy our top picks of family-friendly events and activities, both indoors and outdoors.

Classical Music

Summer's classical music calendar is filling up nicely! Read our top picks of concerts happening in Manchester and the North.

Gerry Potter (credit Lee Baxter)

Books are big this summer, with festival readings, poetry slams, creative writing activities and famous faces all putting in an appearance.

Food and Drink

All signs point toward June being a scorcher of a month, so let’s take a look at all things summery food and drink.

Tours and Activities

From literary activities to brilliant independent shops, keep your minds and homes filled with the good stuff this month.

Theatre in Manchester

Check out our updated guide for lively theatre festivals, rip-roaring rooftop circus and dreamy outdoor shows.