2024 Exhibition Highlights at the Whitworth

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Colourful figures painted in oil paint on cavas background
Shirley Craven for Hull Traders, Five (detail), 1966-67. Screen-printed furnishing textile. The Whitworth, the University of Manchester (T.12298.2). Photo: Michael Pollard.

Exhibition Highlights 2024 at The Whitworth, Manchester Until 31 December 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

The Whitworth 2024 programme is filled to the brim with a wide array of artworks to be displayed in the gallery’s beautiful surroundings. From Turner Prize nominees to post-war textiles, there will be something exciting taking place at every point over the year.

Starting with Shirley Craven in April, the Whitworth will be celebrating the designer’s boldly colourful textiles. Born in Hull in 1934, Craven’s abstract designs were adventurous for the time yet also perfectly captured the style of the 60s and 70s. Her works are closer to Abstract Expressionist painting than traditional textile design, earning her significant critical acclaim.

It’s also worth noting that textiles are the gallery’s specialty, taking up a significant part of the Whitworth’s extensive collection of over 60,000 works. Included in this are more than 80 of Shirley Craven’s abstract textiles, which will be displayed together for the first time in over 60 years.

Close up of pink, yellow, green screen print design by Shirley Craven
Shirley Craven for Hull Traders, Five (detail), 1966-67. Screen-printed furnishing textile. The Whitworth, the University of Manchester (T.12298.2). Photo: Michael Pollard.

May 2024 will see the opening of a retrospective exhibition of John Lyons, a Caribbean British artist and poet. Both mediums will be on display side by side, woven together to reveal the fruits of six decades of Lyons’ artistic output, including paintings, drawings, woodcuts and sculptures alongside poetry in the form of text and sound. The artist delves into his Trinidadian heritage through an interest in folklore and mythology but the show will also celebrate his contribution to art education in Manchester, West Yorkshire, and nationally.

Early May will also mark the opening of Ayo Akingbade: Show Me The World Mister, the artist’s solo exhibition, comprising two brand new film commissions displayed in a bespoke installation. The Fist and Faluy have both been shot on location in Nigeria and explore Akingbade’s interests in history, legacy and power, from personal heritage and ancestral lands to industrialisation. The films were previously on display at the Baltic and have been acquired by the Whitworth.

Artist Barbara Walker drawing figures on white wall in gallery space
Barbara Walker working on her wall-drawing Vanishing Point at Cristea Roberts Gallery, 2022. Image courtesy Cristea Roberts Gallery. Photo: Helen Waters

The gallery’s autumn season will see the first ever survey exhibition by Turner Prize nominee Barbara Walker. The artist is best known for her large-scale, figurative drawings and paintings, often directly on gallery walls. Walker is based in Birmingham which directly informs her work, fuelling the interest in issues of class, race and power. Through her monumental work, she simultaneously questions and enhances the visibility of the Black experience. 

The exhibition will indeed focus on the concepts of visibility and erasure, bringing together paintings, drawings and prints, including the Turner Prize-nominated Burden of Proof (2022-23). The display will also include a new commission responding to the gallery’s collection of historic drawings and focusing specifically on the Windrush generation.

So you see, we weren’t joking – there is so much to look forward to in the Whitworth’s 2024 exhibition line-up! For now, mark the dates in your diary and be sure to check back soon for more details on each show. 

Exhibition Highlights 2024 at The Whitworth, Manchester Until 31 December 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

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