Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor

Is it really May already? Time flies but it’s lovely to think that sunny days may soon be a more regular occurrence and you can stop for some ice-cream on the way to an art gallery. And we have some brilliant shows for you to choose from this month.

In the seaside town of Llandudno, you’ll find Paul Maheke’s To Be Blindly Hopeful at Mostyn. The exhibition stems from darkness yet faces towards the light and potential of the future, through drawings and film.

The Bluecoat opens Michelle Williams Gamaker: Our Mountains Are Painted on Glass, a new body of work exploring the racial discrimination present in Hollywood, through the remaking of classic films. 

Elsewhere in Liverpool, the World Museum focuses on bees in an immersive exhibition that combines art installation with scientific research. In Newcastle, Joanne Coates: Middle of Somewhere at the Baltic reveals the hidden lives of rural communities through photography. Also taking a closer look at her human subjects, although in a more abstract, expressionist form is Sylvia Snowden in her solo show Painting Humanity at the Hepworth Wakefield.

Our top picks

Paul Maheke: To Be Blindly Hopeful at Mostyn

Paul Maheke: To Be Blindly Hopeful at MOSTYN in Llandudno, Wales, Wales, Until 29 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

Hope shines through darkness in Paul Maheke’s solo show at Mostyn, where intimate histories meet expansive gestures.

An installation view of Paul Maheke's exhibition at Mostyn.
Paul Maheke, To Be Blindly Hopeful, Installation view at Mostyn, 2024. Image: Rob Battersby.

The Lives of Artists – Michelle Williams Gamaker: Our Mountains Are Painted on Glass at the Bluecoat

Michelle Williams Gamaker: Our Mountains Are Painted on Glass at Bluecoat, Liverpool, Until 30 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

Michelle Williams Gameker attempts to right the wrongs of the past in this retelling of a classic film.

Michelle Williams Gamaker
Michelle Williams Gamaker

Bees: A Story of Survival at World Museum Liverpool

Bees: A Story of Survival at World Museum Liverpool, Liverpool, Until 5 May 2025, from £0.00 - Book now

Take a closer look at the lives of bees and their vital role in human existence, in this immersive exhibition created in partnership with artist Wolfgang Buttress.

Bees: A Story of Survival at World Museum Liverpool
© Photo by Pete Carr - Render by Battlecat and Wolfgang Buttress Studios

The Vasseur Baltic Artists’ Award – Joanne Coates: Middle of Somewhere at Baltic

Joanne Coates | The Vasseur Baltic Artists' Award | Middle of Somewhere at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, North East, Until 17 November 2024, free entry - Visit now

The photographer celebrates the people who live and work in the countryside (with a special focus on women) in her keenly observed portraits.

A woman sits on a rock in the countryside. There are green hills and landscape in the back ground.
Aisling on her home croft, Hoy before having to move to the nearby town of Stromness. Middle of Somewhere. Joanne Coates. 2023.

Sylvia Snowden: Painting Humanity at the Hepworth Wakefield

Sylvia Snowden: Painting Humanity at The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Until 3 November 2024, from £0.00 - Book now

Experience paint in its purest form through Sylvia Snowden’s impasto canvases using both abstraction and figuration to explore what it means to be human.

Installation image of Sylvia Snowden: Painting Humanity, March 2024
Anya Fiáine-Fox

Colours Uncovered at Harewood House

Colours Uncovered at Harewood House, Leeds, Until 9 June 2024, from £12.00 - Book now

From pigments to historical artefacts and contemporary artworks, explore colour in this vibrant show at Harewood House and surrounding grounds.

a large mansion house surrounded by three blocks of colour
Image supplied by Leeds Inspired

Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Cumbria, Until 3 August 2024, from £0.00 - Book now

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Cahun’s photographs gathered here depict different people. They are, in fact, performative self-portraits, veiling the artist/ model with props, compositions and photography techniques to create new personas.

Claude Cahun mirrored self portrait
Jersey Heritage

Leilah Babirye: Obumu (Unity) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Leilah Babirye: Obumu (Unity) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire, Until 8 September 2024, free entry - Visit now

Babirye’s transformative process turns other people’s rubbish into her beautifully bold sculptures. The show gathers a new body of work created during a residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Unity Sculptures
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

On the other side at FACT

On the other side at FACT, Liverpool, Until 2 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

Take a closer look at the structures of power, authority and control that govern our realities and lead us to conform to specific norms, through the work of three artists: Pilvi Takala, Melanie Crean and Katrina Palmer.

An image captured from overhead of two men embracing. One is seated, and the other is kneeling.
Melanie Crean, A Machine to Unmake You (M2UY) (2019-2024). Film still. Courtesy of the artist.

Fragile Microbiomes at Thackray Museum of Medicine

Fragile Microbiomes at Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds, Until 23 June 2024, from £8.95 - Book now

Bio artist Anna Dumitriu facilitates an unlikely collaboration – in ‘Fragile Microbiomes’ bacteria work with textiles and other materials to create fascinating multi-layered artefacts.

The Plague Dress - Fragile Microbiomes - Thackray Museum of Medicine
Jo Ritchie (Chapter 81)

Yukihiro Akama: Basho no Kankaku – A Sense of Place 場所の感覚 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yukihiro Akama: Basho no Kankaku – A Sense of Place 場所の感覚 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire, Until 30 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

Feel right at home at YSP’s new show by Yukihiro Akama, an artist entirely dedicated to his craft of woodcarving beautiful, gem-like miniature houses.

A selection of small carved wooden houses
Photo: Red Photography, courtesy YSP.

40 Years of the Future: Painting at Castlefield Gallery

40 Years of the Future: Painting at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, Until 23 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

The first part of Castlefield Gallery’s anniversary celebrations is all about painting as previously shown artists come back to the space to show work alongside emerging local painters.

An abstract painting with white and colourful marks on a red canvas
Gary Wragg, Skid (1984). Photographed by Paul Tucker, image courtesy of the artist

Re: Loaded at The Royal Armouries Museum

Re: Loaded - Weapons of Mass Seduction at The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, Leeds, Until 30 June 2024, free entry - Visit now

Should we be making weapons beautiful? If so, why? There may be no obvious answers, but Re:Loaded at the Royal Armouries will not leave you indifferent. 

Abstract photo of a blue and platinum, diamond encrusted revolver. The camera lens used has refracted the image so it appears multiple times in the photo, slightly blurred. Taken on a dark purple background.
Royal Armouries Museum

40 Years of the Future at Castlefield Gallery

40 Years of the Future at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, Until 30 March 2025, free entry - Visit now

Manchester’s beloved Castlefield Gallery is turning 40! Check out the exciting programme of events taking place throughout the year

A dynamic painting of colourful shapes arranged to form a cross
Hoyland Studio Ltd

More exhibitions events

a large mansion house surrounded by three blocks of colour
Until
ExhibitionsLeeds
Colours Uncovered at Harewood House

Explore colour through an amazing range of artefacts at ‘Colours Uncovered’, a new exhibition at Harewood House, from colour theory and pigment to classical painting and contemporary textiles. from £12.00

Society Manchester
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Make the most of the sun in one of Manchester's many top-notch beer gardens.

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Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

HOME Manchester
Manchester
Theatre
HOME Manchester

Offering a packed schedule of events and things to do, HOME Manchester is one of the city’s leading hubs for arts and culture.

The Hepworth Wakefield
Wakefield
Gallery
The Hepworth Wakefield

Winner of the 2017 Art Fund Museum of the Year Award, The Hepworth in Wakefield is easily one of the leading cultural highlights of the North.

The Whitworth
Manchester
Gallery
The Whitworth

This much-loved gallery-in-a-park is open for business, showcasing some of the city’s finest contemporary and historic exhibitions.

Waterfront
Museum
The British Music Experience

It’s a discotheque for the senses, an incredible collection of artefacts and memorabilia, audio guides, music and stories. There are iconic costumes worn by David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Dusty Springfield, the Spice Girls and Adam Ant, and musical instruments played by some of the world’s most renowned artists from Noel Gallagher to the Sex Pistols.

Leeds
Gallery
East Street Arts

East Street Arts showcases parts of the city that many people don’t even know exist, inviting visitors to participate and engage with artists on an entirely different level.

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