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11th October 2023

Getting out of the gallery: A guide to outdoor art in Manchester

Head out into Manchester to discover the Mancunion’s favourite art beyond the boundaries of gallery walls
Getting out of the gallery: A guide to outdoor art in Manchester
Credit: Nathan J Hilton @ Pexels

There are no shortage of places to see great art in Manchester. The city is home to a host of amazing galleries and studios exhibiting a wide range of art forms. But, outside of those institutions Manchester also boasts several opportunities to consume culture without setting foot in a gallery. We’ve rounded up some of the spots you can head to for a culture fix en-plein air. 

Stevenson Square 

Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one of the city’s hot spots for street art and Stevenson Square is one location that won’t disappoint. Curated by Out House MCR, the square is home to a regular rotation of street art. Currently, the square is adorned with vibrant abstract compositions commissioned by nearby art shop Fred Aldous.

Space Invaders 

Another artist who has made their mark on the streets of Manchester, is the anonymous, Invader. In 2004, Manchester was ‘invaded’ by 47 mini mosaics, depicting characters from the arcade game Space Invaders. Initially deemed an act of vandalism by Manchester City Council, the invaders have remained, and though some have started to deteriorate, they can still be spotted in locations across the city such as Canal Street.

Credit: erokism @Wikimedia Commons

Withington Walls 

Withington Walls is a crowdfunded project aiming to transform the streets of Withington. The project has worked with several artists to paint Withington’s walls and shop shutters, injecting colour and vibrancy into the area with a vast range of designs. These include the now iconic Marcus Rashford mural, painted by artist Akse, the artist also behind the newly reinstated Star and Garter Ian Curtis mural, and Ethan Lemon’s tribute to women’s rights campaigner Margaret Ashton. There’s also a handy map of all the artworks. 

Read our feature on the colourful history behind the walls here.

Ishinki Touchstone 

You can find several examples of public sculpture in Manchester city centre, but a highlight is The Ishinki Touchstone. The sculpture is situated in the Bridgewater Hall’s courtyard, Barbirolli Square. Kan Yasuda carved the 18-tonne stone from Carrara marble. Yasuda translates Ishinki as “form returning to its heart”, and touchstone refers to the belief that touching the sculpture will bring you luck. Thanks to the tactile nature of its material, viewers can often be spotted touching the stone.

Credit: Jake @Wikimedia Commons

285 Deansgate 

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Deansgate, you could easily bypass the small gallery occupying the window of 285, part of the Great Northern Warehouse. But, it’s well worth taking a minute to check it out. The window space hosts artists in short pop-up residencies, providing an artistic experience, all from street view.  

The window is home to the photography project, Subtle Rebellion by Helen and David Roscoe-Rutter until 13th October. The artists’ work considers the idea of community, drawing on both the communities they are part of, and those they have travelled through, hoping to inspire a kind of “gentle activism” which starts with kindness and connections. 

Making the most of Manchester’s public and outdoor art is a great way to get some fresh air and explore the city without spending any money; if you’re new to Manchester this year, or returning to university and luckily, the artworks and spaces above are just a fraction of what Manchester has to offer. 

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