Upcoming Art Exhibitions in Manchester

Written by Alisha Hallam

With lockdown ending and Summer around the corner, the city has once again become a hive of activity and laughter. So why not make the most of the longer days and our newfound freedom by checking out some of the exciting new exhibitions on display!

‘What is Manchester Art Gallery?’ at Manchester Art Gallery

Image credit: Manchester Art Gallery

Along with redisplaying some of its exhibitions, including the highly anticipated Grayson’s Art Club, the exhibition “What is Manchester Art Gallery” explores the gallery’s roots and place as the city’s cultural heart. By completely updating the gallery space for the first time since 2002, the exhibition emphasises that the collection is publicly owned and for the people of Manchester. The works included are from various artists from different time periods using an array of materials ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy. There is even an opportunity via the website to suggest a piece from the gallery collection that you would like to see included too!

Due to COVID restrictions, the gallery cannot open until May 17th, but this exhibition will still be there and running until December 2021!

‘What is Manchester Art Gallery?’ | Manchester Art Gallery

‘Unease’ at Manchester Craft & Design centre

Image credit: Grace Sharp / Manchester Craft and Design Centre

This exhibition from glass artist and MMU Graduate Award Winner Grace Sharp explores the artist’s own experience living with mental health issues. Combining glass blowing techniques to manipulate the glass, Grace creates abstract sculptural forms that embody her experiences with anxiety and depression. Including brand new works on show for the first time, this exhibition encourages essential conversations about mental health in a time of collective anxiety and uncertainty due to the Coronavirus pandemic. A sneak preview of the show is available on Manchester Craft and Design Centre website if you wish to find out more about the works and the artist themself before the exhibition opens to the public on May 17th.

‘Unease’ by Grace Sharp | Manchester Craft and Design Centre

‘Welcome’ at the Peoples History Museum

Image credit: People’s History Museum

From being the birthplace of Emmeline Pankhurst to being the infamous Peterloo massacre site, Manchester has always been a city of radicals and visionaries. The People’s History Museum was founded to showcase and document this rich history through its variety of exhibitions and exhibits. “Welcome” explores the issue of migration and the broader impact of changing government policies as well as negative media coverage. Detailing the personal experiences of migration through those affected first-hand, the exhibition has a plethora of campaign materials, videos, and photographs delving into the complex issue of migration.
Although due to COVID restrictions, the Peoples History Museum remains closed until May 17th, this exhibition will be running until October 2021.

‘Welcome’ | People’s History Museum

‘British Art Show 9’

Image credit: Home mcr

British Art show has been credited as the most important recurrent exhibition of British contemporary art. Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar curate the ninth version of this event which will be touring across the country. At a time of great uncertainty, it explores themes of healing, care, and reparative history to imagine a brighter, more hopeful future. In addition to this, the exhibition also considers each city of residency. In Manchester, it delves into the city’s industrial roots to comment on its struggle to create a new social contract and adapt to an ever-changing society. The exhibition will run in Manchester from 13th May – 22nd September across HOME, Manchester Art Gallery, The Whitworth well as Castlefield Galley, and include various emerging and established British artists, filmmakers, and creatives.

Manchester – British Art Show 9

‘Fledge’ at Contemporary 6 Gallery

Image credit: Contemporary Six

Throughout lockdown, many people have sought to re-engage and enjoy nature as a way to escape, and this exhibition celebrates this through a series of artworks depicting Britain’s native birds. This multidisciplinary exhibition features the work of five artists; Mary Griffiths, Susan Platt, Liam Spencer, Clare Bigger, and Ann Lewis. Each uses a variety of mediums to create this stunning collection. Birds themselves represent hope and welcome in the spring, which makes an uplifting exhibition for all to enjoy at a time of collective anxiety. Each of the works within the show will be available for purchase, with 10% of proceeds being donated to Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, which is committed to providing essential funding to tackle homelessness across our city region.

This exhibition will be running from the 1st – 23rd May 2021.

Please note due to COVID regulations timed slots will be provided to visit the exhibition during its preview weekend Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd May 2021. Please get in touch via telephone: 0161 835 2666 (during normal Gallery opening hours) to book your visiting slot, and to check availability.

Fledge: A Year of Birds | Contemporary Six

Plus, don’t forget about Cotton On MCR’s very own exhibition! ‘In Manchester’ is on at Saul Hay Gallery from Saturday 24th April – Monday 3rd May. Find out more on the ‘In Manchester’ event page.


“I’m Alisha, a second-year Art History and Curating student born and bred in Manchester! This is the first piece I’ve written for Cotton On MCR, and I’m so excited to have been given this opportunity! I have a special interest in highlighting and supporting emerging and underrepresented artists across the North West. Art for me is all about inclusivity and creative freedom to explore the nature of the world we live in. I can be found on Instagram at @alishaa.kate or check out my current project investigating inclusivity and wellbeing in the art world @mindthegap60.”

Leave a Reply