Life is back! Things are open! And there’s so much going on across the north this summer. Which has made it hard to choose this month’s top picks, but here we go.
First on the list is the return of Yorkshire Sculpture International. Billed as the UK’s largest dedicated sculpture festival when it first launched in 2019, this is YSI’s second-ever edition. Highlights include works by Shezad Dawood and Ariel René Jackson, as well as a series of new commissions by Yorkshire-based artists, all of which test the boundaries of what we might consider to be sculpture today.
Over in Liverpool (where the Biennial is now in full swing), FACT presents a new film by Toxteth-based Somali, queer, trans multidisciplinary artist, Kiara Mohamed. Curated by founder and editor of ROOT-ed Zine, Fauziya Johnson, Soft Boys draws attention to how conservative many people’s notions of masculinity still remain, and explores the radical potential of softness, tenderness and joy as transformational forces in overcoming trauma. Coinciding with the 10-year anniversary of the artist’s death, Real Lives at Tate Liverpool marks the first major display of Lucian Freud’s work in the North West in over 30 years – celebrating his achievements as one of the great masters of modern portraiture. Meanwhile, a short train ride away in sunny Port Sunlight, the Lady Lever Art Gallery has reopened with The Last Bohemian – an exhibition showcasing over 40 works by one of the UK’s most iconic and controversial artists: Augustus John.
Closer to home, the Manchester Jewish Museum is celebrating its long-awaited reopening following two years of major renovation works with the launch of a new audio-visual installation by Turner Prize-winning artist Laure Prouvost (jointly commissioned in partnership with Manchester International Festival). Presented within the museum’s breath-taking Grade II listed synagogue, The long waited, weighted gathering is inspired by stories from the museum’s oral history collection that capture the lives and experiences of the women who once occupied its Ladies’ Galleries – the area of the synagogue where women sat during services, separated from the men, in accordance with Jewish Orthodox tradition and religion. The work has been made in collaboration with women from the Cheetham Hill area and includes a number of textile pieces that respond to the themes and imagery in Prouvost’s film.
With plenty more going on across the region, check out our full list of recommendations below.
Here are our picks
Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2021, Until 11 July 2021, Tickets not yet on sale - Book now
Abandon Normal Devices Festival, the UK’s only roaming digital festival, resurfaces in 2021 with a new hybrid format, exploring the post-industrial landscapes of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.
Tai Shani: The Neon Hieroglyph – Online with Manchester International Festival Virtual Factory, online, Until 31 March 2022, free entry - Visit now
Turner Prize winning artist Tai Shani takes us on an LSD-inspired hallucinatory journey across time and space. Prepare to have your consciousness expanded.
Experience YBA artist Damien Hirst’s towering and provocative outdoor sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Trading Station at Manchester Art Gallery charts the history and changing social role of hot drinks in our lives.
A collaborative project that takes inspiration from the history of the Leigh Female Reformers of 1819 and the monstrous representations of them in the media of the time.
Working Class Movement Library presents an online exhibition of powerful posters made by young activists fighting for civil rights in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
The Portico Library marks 250 years since British explorer James Cook first landed on the shores of what we now call Australia with an online exhibition that explores the history of violence and resistance that followed.
Manchester Art Gallery reopens with a thought-provoking new exhibition that delves into the history of the public institution and its role within the city.
Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North takes a close look at the moral dilemmas surrounding overseas aid.
#WELCOME? at the People’s History Museum explores the wider impact of media coverage and changing immigration controls.