The re-opening of bars, restaurants, shops, gyms and hairdressers this April has put a spring in many people’s step, and hopefully galleries are not far behind with many scheduled to welcome visitors back in May. There’s much to look forward to, including REMOTE WORK and Lubaina Himid: The Mourning Kangas – two shows wrapped inside one – at Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, and Top Secret – an exhibition curated in partnership with expert advisors from GCHQ, at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.
Over the past year, artists and art organisations have become highly adept at finding new ways to present art, however, and we still have plenty to look forward to outside of the traditional gallery space. Among these, Abandon Normal Devices – the nomadic festival of digital culture, art and film – is returning to the cultural landscape with a water-borne, water-inspired programme that makes use of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey in an entirely new way. The 2021 edition is centred around an urgent message concerning the damage humans are causing to the lakes, rivers and oceans of this planet. The need to repair our relationship with the natural world also lies at the heart of Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds – a new artist commission sited within a stand of birch trees at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, where visitors will be invited to enter into an act of solitary communion with nature.
A different kind of communion with nature fuels the Turner Prize-winning artist Tai Shani’s major new digital commission for Manchester International Festival’s Virtual Factory series. Unfolding as a nine-part hallucinatory journey across time and space, The Neon Hieroglyph explores the potential of psychedelic drugs to open a powerful imaginative space from which new visions of society and alternative possible futures can emerge. Buckle up, you’re in for a trip.
Here are our picks
Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2021, 27 May–11 July 2021, Tickets not yet on sale - Book now
Abandon Normal Devices Festival, the UK’s only roaming digital festival, resurfaces in 2021 with a new hybrid format, exploring the post-industrial landscapes of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.
Tai Shani: The Neon Hieroglyph – Online with Manchester International Festival Virtual Factory, online, Until 31 March 2022, free entry - Visit now
Turner Prize winning artist Tai Shani takes us on an LSD-inspired hallucinatory journey across time and space. Prepare to have your consciousness expanded.
Experience YBA artist Damien Hirst’s towering and provocative outdoor sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Trading Station at Manchester Art Gallery charts the history and changing social role of hot drinks in our lives.
A collaborative project that takes inspiration from the history of the Leigh Female Reformers of 1819 and the monstrous representations of them in the media of the time.
Working Class Movement Library presents an online exhibition of powerful posters made by young activists fighting for civil rights in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
The Portico Library marks 250 years since British explorer James Cook first landed on the shores of what we now call Australia with an online exhibition that explores the history of violence and resistance that followed.
Manchester Art Gallery reopens with a thought-provoking new exhibition that delves into the history of the public institution and its role within the city.
Tate Liverpool presents a major retrospective of work by Don McCullin, widely considered to be one of the greatest photojournalists of our time.
Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North takes a close look at the moral dilemmas surrounding overseas aid.
It’s the March edition of the Food and Drink Guide to Manchester and the North and things are slowly starting to feel more promising. Spring is here, the weather is mostly warming up and in just a few weeks we’ll be allowed to eat and drink outside at venues with outside space.