The Mancunion

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Fall in love as Whitworth Art Gallery reopens this Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s day sees the reopening of one of Manchester’s biggest art galleries. Get yourself down there for a weekend to remember


After over a year’s closure and with immense work having been done, the Whitworth Art Gallery will finally be returning this Saturday 14 February. The new gallery will be double the space of its previous size and will see new display areas that reach into the landscape–including a major solo exhibition by one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Cornelia Parker.

Her work will invite you to witness the transformation of ordinary objects into something compelling and extraordinary. Her signature piece, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991) will feature in the exhibition here in Manchester, alongside two new commissions and many of her other works.

Ahead of the opening, Parker has worked closely with scientists from the University of Manchester, including Professor Kostya Novoselov, who along with Andre Geim won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of graphene in 2010. Novoselov has expertly taken samples of graphite from drawings in the Whitworth collection by artists such as William Blake, Turner, Constable and Picasso, as well as from a pencil written letter by Ernest Rutherford.

These samples have been turned into graphene, which Parker will make into a work of art to celebrate the gallery’s opening. Also, a Blake-graphene sensor, activated by breath of a physicist, will set off a firework display which will return iron meteorite into the Manchester sky. This meteor shower will be a spectacular and unmissable opening to the new Whitworth Art Gallery.

Celebrating its opening, the gallery will open its doors to the public on Saturday at 10am for a whole 48 hours of free, cultural mayhem for anyone and everyone. Throughout the weekend, curators will be giving specialist talks in the galleries and Cornelia Parker will be discussing the incredible work she has created for the opening. The day will end with a fire and light show, followed by a night of performance art and an after party led by legendary Manchester DJ, Dave Halsam. The celebrations continue on Sunday 15 February with a sunrise yoga session at 7:15am followed by many talks.

What else is new to the Whitworth Art Gallery?

Chinese contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang gives the Whitworth a spectacular installation in the new landscape gallery. He is best known for his remarkable use of gun powder, including the fireworks for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His installation, Unmanned Nature (2008), which includes a 45-metre long, four-metre high gunpowder drawing, is the first artwork to be shown in the Whitworth’s new landscape gallery. It is also the first time that the installation—first commissioned by the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art—has been shown outside Japan.

New Acquisitions is an exhibition celebrating a further 90 contemporary works that have been added to the Whitworth’s collection as a gift from The Karpidas Foundation. They include works by artists Laure Prouvost, Dorothy Cross, Nathan Coley, Anna Barriball and Gillian Wearing.

The water colours exhibition will feature an internationally renowned collection of watercolours including works by J. M. W. Turner and William Blake.

Johnnie Shand Kydd, the iconic black and white photographer who created hundreds of images of his artist friends such as Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Gilbert and George and Damien Hirst, will be displaying a selection of works from his yearly trips to the Greek island of Hydra.

Find out more about their opening and other exhibitions this year at The Whitworth Art Gallery’s website.