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Whitworth Gallery Re-opening

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
Valentine's Day for art lovers
Visitors to the Whitworth art gallery will be able to explore a new extension and Art Garden when it re-opens on 14 February 2015. A new exhibition by Cornelia Parker will be launched with a firework meteor shower, created by the artist herself, in collaboration with University of Manchester scientists.

The £15m redevelopment project by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) will double public space and create new facilities, including gallery spaces, a learning studio, study centre and a collections access zone.

MUMA's glass, stainless steel and brick extension will see two wings extend into Whitworth Park, from the back of the 125-year-old building. The landscape gallery wing will include large scale sculptures.

An Art Garden, designed by Sarah Price, will fill the space between the new wings. Price, who co-designed the 2012 Olympic Park gardens in London, will make use of grasses and perennial plants in her work, as well as evergreen hedging arranged to look like clouds.
Whitworth Gallery Manchester
Whitworth Art Gallery redevelopment Artist's Impression of Exterior View. Courtesy Whitworth Art Gallery, MUMA & Hayes Davidson

Sculptures by artists including Christine Borland, Nate Lowman, Simon Periton and Nico Vascellari will extend art beyond the gallery walls. A recent donation of 90 works from The Karpidas Foundation has facilitated what will be a permanent display in the Art Garden.

The enclosed Orchard Garden and wildflower area will both provide a space for relaxation and promote biodiversity.

The new exhibitions lined up to be on display from Valentine's Day 2015 include:

1) A major solo exhibition from Cornelia Parker. The acclaimed British artist has collaborated with University of Manchester scientists including Kostya Novoselov, who, with Andre Geim, won a Nobel Prize, for his work on graphene.

Novoselov has taken microscopic samples of graphite from drawings in the Whitworth's collection by William Blake, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Pablo Picasso. He has also taken a sample from a pencil-written letter by Sir Ernest Rutherford, who worked at the University of Manchester and is widely credited with first "splitting the atom" in 1917.

Novoselov made graphene from these samples which Parker will use to create a breath-activated sensor which will, in turn, set off fireworks on the exhibition's opening night.
Cornelia Parker
Cornelia Parker Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991. Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

2) The first exhibition in the new landscape gallery will be Unmanned Nature by Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang. It will be the first showing, outside of Japan, of the forty-five metre long, four metre high gunpowder drawing.

Gai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang Unmanned Nature 2008 Collection of the artist Photograph: Seiji Toyonaga. Courtesy Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

3) The Karpidas Foundation Gift: in memory of Constantine Karpidas. This exhibition will feature contemporary photography and painting, juxtaposed with major works from the Whitworth collection.

4) The Whitworth People exhibition will celebrate the collectors, curators and artist's subjects who brought the gallery and collection into being. It will include Francis Bacon's portrait of fellow artist Lucien Freud.

Francis Bacon Lucian Freud
Francis Bacon Portrait of Lucian Freud 1951. Courtesy Whitworth Art Gallery

5) Black and white photographs, from the 1990s onwards, of Young British Artists (YBAs), including Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Gilbert and George and Damien Hirst, will be the focus of Johnnie Shand Kydd's exhibition.
Johnnie Shand Kydd Young British Artists
Johnnie Shand Kydd Rachel Feinstein and Angus Fairhurst, Hydra, July 1998. Courtesy the artist

6) Work by one of those YBAs will occupy the sculpture court. Tits in Space (2000) is a wallpaper installation by Sarah Lucas. It will feature multiple pairs of cigarette-encrusted orbs floating against a pitch-black background.

7) In BOOM, the Whitworth goes back to the 1960s with art, from its own collection, by Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Bridget Riley and Peter Phillips.

8) Textiles from the 3rd century AD will be juxtaposed with contemporary work in an exhibition focusing on the colour green and its associations, in the Whitworth's textile gallery.

9) Low Tide Wandering by German artist Thomas Schütte will feature 139 images including views of the sea, portraits, flower studies and more global subjects such as 9/11 attacks on New York's Twin Towers. Taut wires will be used to suspend the etchings just above head height.

The Whitworth was created in 1889 as the first English gallery in a park. The redevelopment project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), The University of Manchester, Arts Council England (ACE) and grants from a number of other funders and individuals.

Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, says: "By re-connecting the gallery with its surrounding landscape and creating an exciting programme of events and activities, local people and visitors will be better able to appreciate and enjoy the full Whitworth experience."

The Whitworth, is at the top end of Oxford Road, past the Manchester Museum and the now demolished BBC building. It is part of the University of Manchester campus and a walk or bus-ride from the city centre.
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Why? New awakening for Whitworth Art Gallery
When: February 2015
Phone: 0161 275 7450
Where: Oxford Road, Manchester, Lancashire M15 6ER
Cost: Free
Your Comment
'An Exploded View' reminds me of the patterns my Christmas tree lights create on the ceiling. I can lay back and watch them for ages.
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12626) 2653 days ago
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by David Keyworth on 19/02/2013
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