Must-see winter art exhibitions that are on right now

It’s cold, its wet and it’s miserable- no change there. So while we wait for spring to kick in, an afternoon swanning around one of Manchester’s excellent art galleries is the perfect way to spend a rainy day.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 14 March 2018

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Of course, if you haven’t seen the permanent collections at any of the galleries here in Manchester, I highly recommend seeing those first. For example, the gorgeous collection of English watercolours or textiles at The Whitworth, or the Pre-Raphaelite paintings and sculpture at Manchester Art Gallery. But if you are a seasoned art fanatic like myself- it is always a good idea to keep your ear to the ground about some of the temporary shows, because there are some real gems out there that you would kick yourself if you missed.

Here are four fantastic shows that are on right now- so put on a beret and get down there is weekend and get your culture fix.

Digital Matters: The Earth behind the screen @ Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art
4th November 2017- 4th February 2018
Whilst the world is increasingly dependent on digital technologies, the physical impact of the electronics we use daily is often ignored. We live in a world which is ruled by technologies. computers, televisions, mobile phones and even household appliances. It is easy to forget how these items are made and where their resources come from that make all the minuscule parts. As the scale and potentially harmful impact of these processes become greater on our planet, we must ask ourselves what is the social and environmental cost of our consumer desires?

Digital Matters: the earth behind the screen is a group exhibition exploring the relationship between the natural and the technological through artworks produced in Hong Kong and China. The participating artists attempt to interrogate the material foundations of our contemporary digital universe and its related socio-political and environmental concerns.

Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, 13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
0161 832 7271


Risham Syed @ Manchester Art Gallery
30th September 2017-25th February 2017
In exquisite postcard sized paintings, Risham Syed shows the ever-changing urban landscape in Lahore, Pakistan as a city in a state of constant flux. Instead of idealised postcard images for tourists, Syed depicts the construction work which transforms her native city with an extreme amount of detail and realism. She creates contrasts by depicting both the pristine new builds across the Lahore and also revealing these darker, neglected areas which are not for public view juxtapositioned in a tiny memento sized paintings.

Other sculptural works, shown amid the existing historic collection, include paintings inspired by newspaper images and diverse objects such as domestic ornaments and Victorian furniture. These works reference historical and political shifts in education, architecture and gender roles, exploring Pakistan’s cultural inheritance, collective memory and colonial history. The work is diverse and utilises a plethora of skills such as painting, sculpture, embroidery, weaving just to name a few.

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
0161 235 8888


Steve McQueen’s Ashes @ The Whitworth
22nd September 2017-March 2018
Ashes is a double video projection which tells the story of a young Caribbean man known by this name by English film director Steve McQueen, not to be confused with the strapping American actor from the 60s of the same name. On one screen we see a film portrait of the protagonist, Ashes, young and handsome, standing on the prow of a boat. In stark contrast, the other side of this screen shows the building of Ashes’ tomb after he has been murdered by drug dealers on the island. Life, death, despair and hope are presented by McQueen in this perfectly crafted elegy. I went to see it a few weeks back and it really is exceptionally moving- it’s a must-see.

The Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
0161 2757450


The Return of Memory @ HOME
21 Oct 2017 –7 Jan 2018
Unofficial Histories, suppressed memories and strategies of resistance are all ideas brought up by The Return of Memory at HOME. This exhibition seeks to redress the legacy of the Russian Revolution on its centenary by exploring how contemporary artists are responding to the state of the ‘New East’ today. Rather than a nostalgic look at the past, new commissions and existing works re-activate, re-examine and repurpose key emblems and stories of this past. Part of the A/W season A Revolution Betrayed – this collection of artwork explores the avant-garde response to the collapse of the Communist system and ideology – addressing key questions around the concept of The Return of Memory.

This show closes on Sunday- so make sure you check it out before it disappears.

HOME, 2, Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN
0161 200 1500