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 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

  • 1. LOVE LIFE: ACT II at Grundy Art Gallery

    Emma Hart and Jonathan Baldock, LOVE LIFE ACT II, image courtesy of Ian Brown

    LOVE LIFE: ACT II at Grundy Art Gallery, 17 June–12 August 2017, free entry - Visit now

    A radical re-imagining of ‘Punch and Judy’ explores the darker side of the popular Victorian seaside show at Grundy Art Gallery.

  • 2. Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker

    ©RIBA Collections

    Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker at RIBA North, Waterfront, 17 June–16 September 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Liverpool is a city that can be read like no other as a living, breathing encyclopedia of British architecture. But how has its unique skyline been shaped, and how else might it have looked? These are the intriguing questions asked by RIBA North’s inaugural exhibition.

  • 3. IRIS by Marshmallow Laser Feast at The Lowry

    Image (c) Marshmallow Laser Feast.

    IRIS by Marshmallow Laser Feast | A Week 53 Commission at The Lowry, Manchester, 27 May–16 July 2017, free entry - Visit now

    The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre is set to be taken over by a stunning spectacle of lasers, light, sound and colour from leading creative studio Marshmallow Laser Feast. Audiences will experience IRIS – a unique digital art installation created using laser technology.

  • 4. Cut Cloth: Contemporary Textiles and Feminism at The Portico Library

    Orly Cogan

    Cut Cloth: Contemporary Textiles and Feminism Exhibition Launch at The Portico Library, Chinatown, 9 June–5 July 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Cut Cloth explores the shifting role of textiles within contemporary feminist art practices; an exhibition, publication and series of workshops, Cut Cloth contemplates the rise in popularity of art textiles and the resulting impact on textile’s value as a specifically feminist mode of expression.

  • 5. Lindsey Bull and Plastique Fantastique at Castlefield Gallery

    Lindsey Bull, Sisters (detail), 2016.

    Lindsey Bull and Plastique Fantastique at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 23 June–6 August 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Strange and unexplained figures, seances for Tarot card characters… Castlefield Gallery presents: Lindsey Bull and Plastique Fantastique.

  • 6. Raqib Shaw at the Whitworth

    Raqib Shaw, After A Midsummer Night's Dream. © Raqib Shaw and The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

    Raqib Shaw at The Whitworth, Manchester, 24 June–1 November 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Raqib Shaw’s paintings, created by manipulating pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints using a porcupine quill, are as sumptuous as they are subversive. Don’t miss them at the Whitworth.

  • 7. MIF17: Ceremony at Bridgewater Hall Car Park

    Yevgen Nikiforov

    MIF17: Ceremony at NCP Bridgewater Hall Car Park, Castlefield, 16 July 2017 - Book now

    Ceremony marks the return of Manchester’s adopted son and life-long champion of the working classes, Friedrich Engels, to the city with a one-off live film event.

  • 8. MIF17: Party Skills for the End of the World at the Centenary Building


    MIF17: Party Skills for the End of the World at Centenary Building, Manchester, 27 June–16 July 2017, from £12.00 - Book now

    Manchester International Festival has announced the venue for Party Skills for the End of the World – a creative event during which you can learn the skills necessary to survive and savour life during the collapse for civilisation. An immersive piece from ‘the most innovative theatre company in Britain’ (Guardian).

  • 9. What’s in Store? at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

    Mishka Henner, Wasson Oil and Gas Field, Yoakum County, Texas (2013-2014). Image © artist and courtesy of Carroll/Fletcher.

    What’s in Store? at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Manchester, 20 May–19 November 2017, free entry - Visit now

    What’s in Store? is a unique showcase of The University of Salford Art Collection; established in 1969, the collection now includes around 700 works by artists including Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Gilbert and George. Many of the works in this exhibition have never been on public display before.

  • 10. A Weekend of Wonderful Things at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Country Park at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photo © Jonty Wilde.

    A Weekend of Wonderful Things at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 14–16 July 2017, from £0.00 - Book now

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Weekend of Wonderful Things is really a one-off showcase of special events and experiences that highlight just how magical a place it can be. Here are our highlights.

  • 11. Liverpool Biennial 2018

    Lara Favaretto, Momentary Monument – The Stone, 2016.

    Liverpool Biennial 2018, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Find Out More

    Taking place in 2018 is the tenth edition of the Liverpool Biennial, an event that has brought newly-commissioned contemporary art to the city and the region since 1998. Discover the dates and theme for next year’s event here.

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