Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

However much we may think we’ve moved on from a time of straight-laced, ‘do not touch’ exhibitions and reverently silent gallery spaces, these conventions still linger on throughout the contemporary art world. As such, Material Environments at The Tetley and OPAVIVARÁ!: Utupya at Tate Liverpool both look set to offer a welcome change; inviting a fresh approach to the way we traditionally engage with and behave around art, and encouraging moments of genuine play and connection.

Castlefield Gallery’s upcoming show also departs from an overly cerebral approach to curating, instead simply presenting the work of several early career artists from Manchester and Prague, and inviting viewers to find their own points of connections using the tools of imagination and intuition.

Elsewhere, we look forward to the opening of one of our top cultural highlights of 2018; Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth, where the explosive colours, bold geometric shapes and surrealism of the Dutch artist’s work will provide a compelling combination (couple with a trip to see Chiharu Shiota: Beyond Time at the nearby Yorkshire Sculpture Park). And to Leeds International Festival 2018, featuring an eclectic range of exhibitions, performance, music, talks, one-off film screenings and more.

Here are our picks

More in Exhibitions

Roll up for Family Gorgeous at Manchester Art Gallery, part of Manchester After Hours 2018
Festivals 17 May 2018, FREE

Roll up for Family Gorgeous at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester drag artist group Family Gorgeous prepare to takeover Manchester Art Gallery’s Victorian spaces as part of Manchester After Hours 2018. 

Whiskey Chow at CFCCA, part of Manchester After Hours 2018
Exhibitions 17 May 2018, FREE

Whiskey Chow at CFCCA

As part of Manchester After Hours 2018, head to CFCCA for a one-off performance and talk by Chinese artist, activist and drag king Whiskey Chow (Xiaoxuan Zhou).

Here and Now: Take a tour of the Whitworth through music and art at The Whitworth. Part of Manchester After Hours 2018
Exhibitions 17 May 2018, FREE

Here and Now at The Whitworth

Accompany Psappha orchestra on a special, after hours tour of The Whitworth and experience the gallery’s collection in a whole new light (and sound) as part Manchester After Hours 2018.

Dance 17 May 2018, FREE

Colour Alive! at The John Rylands Library

Experience the late-Victorian, neo-Gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library lit-up by a dazzling array of colours and dance inspired by the ancient Indian illuminated manuscripts featured within its hugely popular current exhibition: The Alchemy of Colour.

Manchester After Hours 2018
Cinema 17 May 2018, FREE

Manchester After Hours 2018

Part of the UK-wide ‘Lates’ festival for the culturally curious, Manchester After Hours returns this year with an exciting one-night programme of post 5pm activity spread across many of the city’s most loved venues.

Bertha : Seen & Heard at The Horsfall
Exhibitions 8–10 May 2018, FREE

Bertha : Seen & Heard at The Horsfall

Who was Manchester’s first paid female curator? What are the experiences of Manchester’s female curators today? Bertha: Seen & Heard at The Horsfall is an exhibition and event programme that aims to ‘turn up’ the conversation about Manchester’s female curators.

Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library, Manchester
Exhibitions 18 May–30 June 2018, FREE

Beautiful Monsters at The Portico Library

Inspired by Conrad Gessner’s 16th century encyclopaedia of actual and imaginary animals, Beautiful Monsters at The Portico examines the idea of the monstrous within the context of history, mythology and 21st century life.

Exhibitions 27 April 2018, FREE

That Sinking Feeling at Bankley Studios and Gallery

Bankley Studios and Gallery presents That Sinking Feeling; a lyrical consideration of the relationship between ecology and psychology in the 21st century.

Psych Icons exhibition at Foundation Coffee House, Manchester
Exhibitions 10 May 2018, FREE

Psych Icons at Foundation Coffee House

Psych Icons is a new exhibition by Manchester based artist, Dunstan Carter, featuring twelve portraits of music icons from the golden age of psychedelia.

Culture Guides

IOU Theatre: Rear View


The spring/ summer theatre season is in full swing, we’ve got the pick of the performative crop. Read it, pick it and book in.

Luke Allan, Carcanet New Poetries.


It’s raining poetry and prose this April in the Rainy City, and there’s plenty to catch from both established and emerging writers. Fill your wellie boots – and your mornings, afternoons and evenings, weekdays and weekends.


From death-themed musicals to day-long explorations of the current freakscene, via rising country stars and a fresh look at an art gallery’s collection, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.


It’s festival season at the cinemas of the North this month and we’ve got the low-down.


Out of this world free festivals of making, magical dance experiences and theatrical adventures for all the family.

Things to do right now

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Chiharu Shiota –Uncertain Journey, 2016, Blainsouthern Berlin, Germany. Installation metal frames red wool. Photo Christian Gglaaser. Copyright Vgbildkunstbonn 2017 and the artist. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions 1 January 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2018 Guide