Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Polly Checkland Harding

The echoes between the preoccupations of the art world and the political climate of the day can, at times, feel uncanny – particularly when you consider that the exhibitions which make up the top picks in our Exhibitions guide will have been planned months, if not years, in advance. Admittedly, it is easy to get a little too Freudian about drawing parallels between the two; we naturally look for a reflection of the prevailing social themes in art.

Yet when art events are themselves built to be responsive and unpredictable, parallels are encouraged: so it is with Manchester International Festival‘s Party Skills for the End of the World, which sets out to equip its audience with the skills to both survive and savour the end of civilisation ( /the outcome of welfare budget cuts). Or with the launch event for Lindsey Bull and Plastique Fantastique at Castlefield Gallery, in which collaborative group Plastique Fantastic will be bringing a figure of alternative fictions into life via a séance of sorts, thus fulfilling Trump’s wildest #FakeNews dreams.

Raqib Shaw’s stunning paintings – at the Whitworth from 24 June – are themselves highly subversive, featuring scenes of extreme hedonism and moral abandon, but they also draw together connections with the gallery’s own historic collection of drawings and textiles. As with Cut Cloth: Contemporary Textiles and Feminism at The Portico Library, the point here is that social themes can be recursive (or simply enduring). We can conclude, then, although the 2018 dates and title for the next Liverpool Biennial have been fixed, its programme will evolve with as much predictable uncertainty as the world.

Here are our picks

Culture Guides

Food and Drink

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.


We highlight the best arthouse gems, charming animations and underrated blockbuster revivals showing on cinema screens near you this month.


We celebrate all things boundary breaking and ambitious this month – think aerial interactive fairy tales at museums, a “story slide”, cutting edge technology, riotous street performance and the best summer festival experiences.

Author David Gaffney headlines Bad Language. (Credit: Phil Rigby)


Novels, narrative non-fiction, new works… June sees the last Verbose before summer, a whole host of live literature events in Didsbury, FutureEverything poetry and a look forward to next month…


As we enter festival season, the likes of bluedot, Cloudspotting and Manchester International Festival offer the chance to see some of the biggest artists on the planet in our own backyards…

Sophie Willan Branded at Contact


Jaunts to the countryside, a new comedy show that turns tragedy on its tail and the best bits of MIF17 are all in this month’s theatre guide.

Destination Guides