Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library, Manchester
The Portico Libary

Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library, Chinatown 17 May — 30 June 2018 Entrance is free

Buried deep among The Portico’s impressive, 25,000-strong collection of books, spanning subjects such as ‘Voyages and Travels’, ‘Correspondence’ and ‘Local History’, sits one of the library’s oldest, and perhaps most curious acquisitions of all: an original, leather-bound copy of Historiae Animalium (“Accounts of Animals”), vol. I.

Now regarded as the starting point of modern zoology, the 4,500-page text is an encyclopaedic inventory of actual and mythological animals in which its author – the 16th century Swiss physician and naturalist Conrad Gessner – makes no distinction between the real and the imaginary. Setting out to include every animal in the world, familiar creatures such as elephants, hamsters and camels appear alongside others like the unicorn (which, Gessner speculates, probably didn’t make it onto Noah’s Ark) and numerous unusual specimens labelled ‘monsters’.

For The Portico’s latest exhibition, Beautiful Monsters, seven international artists have been invited to respond to Gessner’s text and other volumes from the library’s collection, resulting in a diverse series of new works (spanning everything from drawing, painting and textiles to robotics) that consider where the idea of the monstrous sits within themes of history, mythology and 21st century life.

Beautiful Monsters was initiated by artist and curator Anya Charikov-Mickleburgh and also features Laura Dekker, Donal Moloney, Ed Saye, Evgenyi Strelkov and Dina Varpahovsky.

Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library, Chinatown 17 May — 30 June 2018 Entrance is free

What's on at The Portico Library

Yellow poster with Weird as Folk written on it
Until
LiteratureManchester
Weird As Folk exhibition at The Portico

The Portico Library’s latest exhibition, Weird As Folk, runs through to November and invites you to explore and reimagine folklore via texts selected from the collection, which includes 100 books of English folklore.

free entry

Where to go near Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library

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Blinker

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Moose Coffee Manchester

Moose Coffee celebrates ‘the best meal of the day’ (brunch) in American style, with stack pancakes, potato hash, Huevos Rancheros and eggs any way. There’s always a queue.

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Six By Nico Manchester

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Home-X is the online spin-off of renowned Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone’s Six By Nico restaurant. This is geared around kit meals to cook at home.

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Pho does a fine line in pho, the noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese street cuisine.

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Salut Wines

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Jamie’s Italian Manchester

Jamie’s Italian is located in Edwin Lutyens’ soaringly elegant Midland Bank, one of the city’s treasures. The menu’s full of crowd-pleasing choices, with a huge selection of pastas, mains and bruschettas, and an appealing kids menu.The drinks range is broad and deep, with wine, beer and cocktails for all tastes and budgets.

What's on: Exhibitions

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.