BELOW you'll find ten of the best art exhibtions and events in and around Manchester throughout September and October. Not your bag? Well then how about the Top 10 Gigs and Concerts or Top 10 Theatre and Comedy shows?
THE GARDENER DIGS IN ANOTHER TIME |The Whitworth | 23 June - 19 October
Following the recent relaunch of its Art Garden, and Anya Gallaccio’s sculptural tree commission, The Whitworth explores the role of gardens as places for transformation and liberation. Walter Crane’s Art Nouveau illustrations in particular give sway to the idealistic notion. One of the most prolific illustrators of his time, Crane was a pioneer of the Arts and Craft movement and known for the child-in-the-garden motifs that would characterise children’s stories for years to come.
The Whitworth, Oxford Road, M15 6ER (10am-5pm, Thurs until 9; free).
WONDER MATERIALS: GRAPHENE AND BEYOND | Museum of Science and Industry | 23 July 2016 - 25 June 2017
A flagship European City of Science world premiere, Wonder Materials: Graphene and Beyond tells the story of graphene - the world’s first two-dimensional material, whose revolutionary isolation won two Manchester University scientists a Nobel prize in 2010. Invisible to the naked eye, graphene nevertheless is changing the world. Learn how through historic objects to futuristic exhibits. A highlight is a provocative new work by acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay MBE, which apparently took him six months to write.
Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, M3 4FP (10am-5pm; free).
THE CURRENT SITUATION | Gallery Oldham | Until 17 September
You don’t often get to view ‘contemporary art’ while playing games but Yara El-Sharbini isn’t your average artist: forget canvases and instead expect quizzes, game shows and jokes based on current affairs. With ‘borders’ being the buzz word the moment, El-Sharbini invites us to navigate her buzz wire ‘globe’ - nerves of steel required.
Gallery Oldham, Greaves Street, Oldham, OL1 1AL (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; free).
LIFE’S A DRAG | Central Library | 26 August - 26 October
Manchester Pride may have hung up its glad rags for another year but there are still plenty of sparkles and towering platforms to be seen yet. Jez Dolan’s exuberant exhibition charts the history of drag in Manchester right from the infamous Hulme Drag Ball of 1880 to the current revolution - all the while encountering outlandish characters like Foo Foo Lamarr and Anna Phylactic.
Central Library, St Peter's Square, M2 5PD (various times; free).
Life's a Drag
HAND CRAFT | Manchester Craft and Design Centre | 8 September - 30 October
If all furniture were like HAND. 01, moving house would be a doddle: the paper-topped table - a collaboration between HAND design studio and paper pioneers G.F.Smith - is refillable and packable. Now, 49 artists have used the piece to each create a customised piece of work which, when collated, will form a large mural. The premise? That inspiration is captured wherever it strikes.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre, 17 Oak Street, M4 5JD (Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm; free).
BENJI REID: A THOUSAND WORDS | Contact | 22 September - 17 December
As part of October’s Black History Month, Contact’s exhibition sees Benji Reid - an award-winning performer and creative director - showcase his transition from hip hop theatre to visual theatre and photography. Reid now calls himself a Choreo-Photolist; where theatricality, choreography and photography meet in a single or series of images. Characterised by dramatic props, powerful compositions and a moody colour palette, these do indeed speak a thousand words.
Contact, Oxford Road, M15 6JA (various times; free).
Benji Reid: A Thousand Words
OFF BEAT: JEFF NUTTALL AND THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERGROUND | John Rylands | 8 September - 5 March
As a prolific polymath and counterculture pioneer, it’s surprising that Jeff Nuttall isn’t better remembered: not only was he one of the first to publish William S. Burroughs’ most experimental writing, Nuttall’s own seminal work Bomb Culture was discussed in Parliament and his combination of art and activism made him central to the 1960s International Underground Movement. As we face our own uncertain times, it feels as prescient today as it did then.
John Rylands, 150 Deansgate, M3 3EH (10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 12-5pm Mon-Sun; free).
EXTRASTELLAR EVALUATIONS II | Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art | 21 October 2016 - 15 January 2017
Marking Manchester’s position as International City of Science this year, Taiwanese artist Chen Yin-ju’s exhibition may look like a series of artistic sketches but actually marks extensive research into the customs and practise of the Lemurians: some of whom supposedly returned to their ‘own planet’ after the mythological sinking of their land in the Pacific Ocean. Those who remained supposedly transmitted messages to outer space using conceptual art. Hmm. Yin-ju will also be running a tarot card reading at Godlee observatory on 18 October.
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, 13 Thomas Street, M4 1EU (Tues-Sun 10am-5pm; free).
WOT U:-) ABOUT? | HOME | 29 October 2016 - 8 January 2017
Grotesque and fascinating in equal measure, Rachel Maclean’s work examines the murky boundary between childhood and adulthood; twisting the fairytales into nightmares, and contemporary culture into ironic candy-coloured tableaux. Ahead of representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale, Maclean presents Wot U :-) About, exploring the dangerous - all too prevalent - idea that happiness can be packaged and sold.
HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN (Tues-Sat 12-8pm, Sun 12-6pm; free).
PERPETUAL MOVEMENT | The Lowry | 29 October 2016 - 26 February 2017
Inspired by the Rambert Archive and Dame Marie Rambert’s call for ‘perpetual movement’, the Lowry’s collaboration with Britain’s national dance company - now a nonagenarian - sees five international artists explore convergences between contemporary visual art and dance. Rambert at 90 celebrations continue with a triple bill of performances including A Linha Curva, Flight and Frames.
The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ (Sun-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm; free).
Frames @ Tristam Kenton