From a long-awaited major retrospective, to an exhibition all about the nation’s favourite hot drinks, end the year on a high with our picks of the best art to see in Manchester this December.

Derek Jarman: Protest! | Manchester Art Gallery | 2 Dec 2021 - 10 Apr 2022

Manchester Art Gallery’s long-delayed celebration of the life and career of artist Derek Jarman will finally open this December. Visitors are invited to explore key pieces from the career of one of the most influential figures in 20th century British culture, whose diverse practice spanned painting, film making, set design and political activism. 

This is the first time that all these strands of Jarman’s practice will be brought together in over 20 years. This extensive new retrospective chronicles Jarman’s engagement with both art and society, with a particular focus on his collaborations with figures including Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean, and bands such as The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys.

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
TOWARDS MEMORIAL and MO(NU)MENTARIES | Bury Art Museum | Until Jan 2022

What do sandals and social activism have in common? Find out at Bury Art Museum this winter as artist Yuen Fong Ling presents two interrelated exhibitions, both exploring ideas of public memorial and political uncertainty. 

In an exploration of how what you wear can help express your beliefs and what you stand for, TOWARDS MEMORIAL and MO(NU)MENTARIES celebrate Bury’s LGBTQI+ community and its champions through objects, film and photography across the themes of protest and public space. 


Trading Station: How hot drinks shape our lives | Manchester Art Gallery | Until 31 Dec 2021

You might be reading this article with a cup of tea by your side or maybe even a winter cup of hot chocolate. But how has the history of these drinks shaped our culture and influenced our lives? This exhibition traces the story of how hot drinks—once expensive luxuries for the few—have promoted the exchange of ideas and even influenced the design of our homes. 

Following the journey of how these drinks arrived in the UK, Manchester Art Gallery reveals their global histories, connections to slavery and colonisation and puts them in the context of contemporary ethical issues. Spanning four centuries and ranging from silver and porcelain to fashion, prints and painting, this is an eye-opening showcase of everyday objects and their hidden histories. 

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
Completely a Hustling Place | Manchester Central Library | Until 31 Dec 2021

Enter the world of Venture Arts and discover brand new work from over 70 local artists, direct from the studio. Venture Arts is one of Manchester’s most exciting visual arts studios, working with neurodivergent and learning disabled artists to create truly multimedia artwork. 

Within the stunning setting of Manchester Central Library, the exhibition spans photography, ceramics, audio, illustration, film, textiles and much more. A celebration of the power of creativity in times of adversity. 

St Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD
Poppies | Imperial War Museum North | Permanent exhibition

The brand-new artwork, Poppies, has just opened at Imperial War Museum North. The sculptures were originally part of the installation Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red, and became part of a national cultural programme to mark the First World War Centenary.

Conceived by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, the poppies were hand-crafted from clay by a team of over 300 people. They have now been combined and returned to Manchester as part of Imperial War Museums’ permanent collection.

Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ
Wed 1 Dec
Rachel Kevern
Published on:
Tue 21 Dec 2021