Hew Locke: The Ambassadors at The Lowry

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Hew Locke, The Ambassadors. Image: Jules Lister

Hew Locke: The Ambassadors at The Lowry, Salford Until 25 June 2023 Entrance is free — Book now

The Lowry is proudly presenting a brand new exhibition from acclaimed Guyanese-British sculptor Hew Locke. The Ambassadors, originally commissioned in 2019, has arrived in Salford a few years late due to the pandemic, but the resulting display is more than worth the wait.

The Ambassadors consists of four Black figures on horseback, acting as messengers from the past to the future. Elevated high above the viewers, the figures carry a statuesque aura of grandeur and power. Each one is intricately adorned with symbolic elements such as colonial medals, slave pennies, Benin bronzes and portraits of Toussaint Louverture. Textile elements are combined with metal, colours range from shiny golds and shades of grey to acid greens.

Hew Locke, The Ambassadors. Detail of installation, depicting daisies alongside skulls adorned with leaves and a gold chain
Hew Locke, The Ambassadors. Image: Jules Lister


Their ornamental aesthetic is typical of Locke’s maximalist oeuvre. His fascination with details, material tactility and the ways in which different materials can interact, all drive the visual aspect of his work. Conceptually, the artist is interested in themes of the state, ceremony, royalty, legacy of the empire and the symbols of nationhood. His work questions the dominant historical narratives along with their bearing on society today.

Having spent his formative years in Guyana, Locke continues to regularly return to his home country in order to maintain a sense of connection to his roots and heritage. This also informs his ornate visual style, which can seem chaotic in some ways and incredibly considered in others with the components piled on in complex layers, yet each one is carefully chosen. Locke’s aim is to retain the viewer’s interest for long enough that they start to speculate about their meaning and connections, forming new narratives and possible interpretations.

Hew Locke, The Millar Loom Compamy Ltd, 2022. Piece from Locke's 'Share' series, depicting an antique document painted over with an image of a winged woman. Image: Jules Lister
Hew Locke, The Millar Loom Compamy Ltd, 2022. Image: Jules Lister


There are also other elements to the exhibition: the figures are shown alongside a bespoke wallpaper, created using the imagery from Locke’s ongoing Share series, as well as three new original pieces. These original antique documents are painted over, obscured and embellished by the artist, bringing their historical records of the movement of money and power into the present day.

Adjacent to The Ambassadors installation audiences will find a space made to act as an artist’s studio. This is the interactive part of the show where you will be able to take part in self-led activities using the provided materials and guidance on how to make your own mini monument, medals and coins – all to be displayed in the gallery space.

Despite the delay since the initial commission, The Ambassadors actually comes at a pertinent time when discussions about statues as public symbols of power, and the decisions about who we choose to commemorate and celebrate, have slipped away from the public eye and mainstream media. Questions surrounding post-colonial power, state and royal figures still stand and Locke’s installation is a striking way to carry on the conversation.

Hew Locke: The Ambassadors at The Lowry, Salford Until 25 June 2023

Book Now

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.