Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

As the UK’s leading open-air gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of our favourite places to while away a Sunday afternoon – so we hardly need encouraging. Yet its packed 2018 exhibitions programme has left us itching to escape the city and experience all that’s in store; from the mind-blowing web installations of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota to the monumental firs and marble canvases by the eminent Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone.

In Liverpool, the Bluecoat prepares to be transformed into a sonic chamber of collective singing by artist Emma Smith, as part of her exploration into the links between psychology, music and the human brain. And in Manchester, The John Rylands Library delves into the rich history of colour through its rare collection of illuminated manuscripts, and the Whitworth presents a perfectly formed exhibition of work by the 1992 Turner Prize nominee Alison Wilding.

Finally, whilst we’ve been flat-out enjoying Wonder Women 2018, over in Sheffield the Steel City continues the nationwide celebration of the centenary of the People’s Representation Act with a series of exhibitions marking 200 years of radical protest and activism in South Yorkshire. Jump on a TransPennine Express and head over the hills to learn more about the city’s links with Chartism, the Battle of Orgreave and current campaign to save its ‘urban forest’.

Here are our picks

More in Exhibitions

In So Many Words: Roget’s Thesaurus and the Power of Language at The Portico Library, Manchester
Exhibitions 2 April–12 May 2018, FREE

In So Many Words: Roget’s Thesaurus and the Power of Language at The Portico Library

As part of The Portico’s 2018 Information is Power project, three contemporary artists have created new works based on research into the incalculable legacy of Peter Mark Roget, inventor of the thesaurus and a founding member of the library.

Exhibitions 1 March 2018, FREE

One69A New Studio Opening Party at Islington Mill

Legendary screen printers one69a mark the launch of their new Islington Mill with a party. Join them and celebrate all things print.

Hope is Strong at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
Exhibitions 17 February–10 June 2018, FREE

Hope is Strong at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

With far right parties and hate crimes on the rise, civil liberties and minority rights seem more at risk today than we could have imagined. In these turbulent times, Hope is Strong explores the power of art to question the world we live in.

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors. World Museum, Liverpool
Exhibitions 9 February–28 October 2018, from £5.50

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at World Museum Liverpool

Encounter objects from one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries, spanning almost 1,000 years of Chinese history, at China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.

Mario Popham and Tom Baskeyfield: Of Flesh and Stone. HOME, Manchester
Exhibitions 9 March–29 April 2018, FREE

Mario Popham and Tom Baskeyfield: Of Flesh and Stone

Through a dialogue between drawing and photography, artists Tom Baskeyfield and Mario Popham continue their exploration into how we have shaped, and in turn, been shaped by stone.

Exhibitions 15 February–24 March 2018, FREE

Sophie Tyrrell: The Uncivilised Sun at The Portico

Through books and artworks, Tyrrell illuminates the links between diverse traditions in myth, folklore and popular culture, exploring the idea of ‘uncivilisation’ and the alternative histories we share across borders and among peoples.

Fe/Male. Courtesy AIR Gallery
Exhibitions 2 February–10 March 2018, FREE

Fe/Male at AIR Gallery in Altrincham

Fe/Male is an exhibition that explores the boundaries of gender in contemporary art. The exhibition aims to stimulate the mind and the senses playing with the politics and pleasures of visual culture.

The Rumblings Muckle Flugga Shetland, 2013, © Norman Ackroyd. Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP)
Exhibitions 17 November 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Norman Ackroyd at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Be transported back in time to an older, wilder England, full of drama and ancient poetry, through the enigmatic work of Norman Ackroyd at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Mister Finch – Toadstool Postboxes, 2017. Courtesy the artist. The Wish Post at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions 23 June–23 September 2018, FREE

Mister Finch: The Wish Post at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Don’t worry, you haven’t OD’ed on contemporary art. The dapperly dressed mole and skittish prickle of hedgehogs playing brass bells are part of YSP’s new exhibition; The Wishing Post by Etsy-celeb, Mister Finch.

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Get ready for some heady cultural adventures this February with our guide to the best things to do right now with kids and book ahead for.

Author Joe Dunthorne. Photo by Angus Muir.


We have a fun-packed February leading up to a mad-busy March. There’s lots of brand-new work from both established and emerging writers, and plenty of prose and poetry to fill your mornings, afternoons and evenings.


Manchester’s top music venues have been busy filling their diaries for the year ahead – with spring highlights including Fever Ray and Joan as Police Woman, plus new seasons by the likes of Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic.

Things to do right now

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Robots at the Museum of Science and Industry
Exhibitions 19 October 2017–15 April 2018, from £5

Robots at the Museum of Science and Industry

Exhibitions 13 October 2017–8 April 2018, FREE

In the Peaceful Dome at Bluecoat