Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Polly Checkland Harding, Exhibitions Editor

Organising an exhibition in collaboration with a dance company might not be the most obvious of premises – but Perpetual Movement, curated by The Lowry and Rambert, Britain’s oldest dance company, looks set to be the excellent, genre-bending result. Featuring work by international artists (including an immersive LED installation and a candle infused with 23 scents that can be found in space) alongside objects, footage and costumes from Rambert’s archive, the show is an homage to founder Marie Rambert’s philosophy of pursuing constant change in art and ideas. The much-anticipated return of the Manchester Science Festival also sees a fusion of disciplines: brilliantly combining science, art, play and even food, the ten-day programme undoubtedly does justice to England’s largest science festival on its tenth anniversary with a sleep lab in the Manchester Arndale, birthday party, Bond-esque gambling event, incredible-sounding exhibition of microclimates and more.

Over at the Whitworth, leading contemporary British artist Idris Khan has a solo exhibition of seminal works including The Rite of Spring, created from layering photographs of the entire score of Stravinsky’s controversial masterpiece. Here, Khan is thinking about how music, a durational medium when performed, might be represented within the moment of an image – thus colliding facets of two different art forms. So, as neon is recontextualised at the Grundy and the shifting identities of Manchester are related back to its history in the Humanities in Public festival – it’s an exciting, boundary transcending time for art in the city.

Here are our top 5 picks

  • 1. Rachel Maclean: Wot u :-) about? exhibition at HOME

    We Want Data! by Rachel Maclean. Commissioned by Artpace and HOME.

    Rachel Maclean: Wot u :-) about? at HOME, Manchester, 29 October 2016–8 January 2017, free entry - Visit now

    This brilliant, twisted exhibition of entirely new work by Rachel Maclean, the artist who will be representing Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale, contains videos of subverted fairy tales, prints of violence in Barbie-doll colours and hybrid sculptures of cutesy monsters blended with bored commuters. Unnerving, provocative and highly unusual, HOME‘s latest major exhibition is not to be missed.

  • 2. Animal Kingdom: Stereoscopic Images of Natural History at Manchester Museum

    Animal Kingdom: Stereoscopic Images of Natural History
    Transparent chameleon. Image courtesy of Manchester Museum.

    Animal Kingdom: Stereoscopic Images of Natural History at Manchester Museum, Manchester, 17 August 2016–31 October 2016, free entry - Visit now

    This stunning exhibition will have you looking at museum specimens an entirely new way – through stereoscopic photography. Developed in the 1800s, this technique makes objects appear three dimensional; used by artist and photographer Jim Naughten, it’s a wonderful showcase of key pieces in Manchester Museum‘s collection.

  • 3. Manchester Science Festival 2016

    Members of Public Service Broadcasting in space
    Public Service Broadcasting - MSI

    Manchester Science Festival 2016 at Museum of Science and Industry, Castlefield, 20 October 2016–30 October 2016, free entry - Book now

    It’s the tenth anniversary of the Manchester Science Festival – so it’s no wonder that the Museum of Science and Industry team behind it have pulled out all the stops. The ten-day programme is packed with superb events that brilliantly combine discovery and fun: adults can don a cocktail dress and understand the psychology behind gambling, find out about how whisky is made (while tasting it), and snooze in a sleep lab in the Manchester Arndale. The family programme is exceptional, too, with events like The Philosopher’s Scone a chance to taste the treats from Harry Potter alongside a special screening. Read our full guide for more, and get booking – things are already selling out.

  • 4. LightPool Festival

    LightPool Festival
    Les Commandos Percu

    LightPool Festival at St John’s Square, 28 October 2016–2 November 2016, free entry - Visit now

    The first ever LightPool Festival is a celebration of art and light in Blackpool, a town that has a long, illuminated history. Featuring a trail across town of art works, street fire performances and much more, LightPool Festival offers the perfect excuse to visit Blackpool during the annual Illuminations.

  • 5. Perpetual Movement at The Lowry

    Taken with iPhone 6 (GSM+CDMA),iOS 9.1
    Copyright: Leila Johnston.

    Perpetual Movement at The Lowry, Manchester, 29 October 2016–26 February 2017, free entry - Visit now

    A candle infused with 23 unique scents from space – including ‘burnt gunpowder’ for the moon and an ‘old penny’ for Mars – will be burnt at the finale of this major new exhibition at The Lowry. Part of a nationwide programme marking the Rambert dance company’s 90th anniversary, Perpetual Movement brings together work by international artists with objects, footage and costumes from the Rambert archives to showcase the relationship between contemporary art and dance. Featuring Rambert’s first ever digital artists in residence, an immersive LED installation, and a performance piece that combines music, costume, performance, choreography and art, Perpetual Movement looks set to be endlessly inventive.

Culture Guides

Field Music


As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music venues burst from the seams with live music for you to enjoy. So whether it’s an acclaimed classical ensemble in a world-renowned concert hall or that up-and-coming young artist in a packed, sweaty venue, we’ve got your gig-going plans covered – with occasional musical highlights from around the region thrown in for good measure…

Penny Arcade at Unity Theatre


You’ll be pleased to hear that this month’s theatre selections serve up a rich slice of everyone’s three favourite things: sex, swearing and scandal.

Victoria - Image courtesy of HOME


As always, October brings with it a surplus of scary films timed to coincide with Halloween.

Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop


Autumn, half term and Halloween adventures are here. Here are our top tips for outdoor and indoor hot tickets to book and do now.

Image of David Gaffney copyright Kezia Tan.


With Rising Stars and World Literature, nothing says October in the Rainy City like Manchester Literature Festival. As we enter the final furlongs, there are still tickets available for some events, from creative non-fiction to a canalside special commission. And once MLF is over, Manchester Science Festival will be chemically enhancing words with poems about the periodic table.

Destination Guides