Whitworth is back with a bang

by Cass Art

A new art garden, a major revamp and an eclectic range of exhibitions are ushering in the re-opening of Whitworth Art Gallery this autumn. October 25 is when the £15 million redevelopment of the 125-year-old Manchester art gallery is unveiled.

The upgrade will double the amount of public space to enable it to show more than 55,000 historical and contemporary pieces. The aim is to raise visitor numbers by a third to 250,000 a year and the new look includes a learning studio, study centre, collections access zone, as well as a sculpture-filled art garden. 

At the hub of the major redevelopment project is the creation of an elegant glass, stainless steel and brick extension. This lends the gallery a distinctly airy feel and sees two wings extend into Whitworth Park from the back of the current 19th-century building.

Across the promenade, a beautiful linear café extends into the trees in Whitworth Park. London 2012 Olympic Park Gardens co-designer Sarah Price has designed the new Art Garden and an Orchard Garden. 

The dazzling array of new exhibitions to mark the occasions is led by one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Cornelia Parker. Her display Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View includes fragments of a wooden shed blown up by the British Army and hung from the ceiling.

Other highlights of the re-opening programme include Chinese-born Cai Guo-Qiang's haunting 45-metre (147ft 7in) long Gunpowder installation that will launch the new landscape gallery. 

Laure Prouvost and Dorothy Cross are among the artists featured in two exhibitions of pieces recently donated by the Karpidas Foundation to illuminate the new Art Garden. Francis Bacon and Sir Stanley Spencer are luminaries featured in a display celebrating Whitworth People, whose lives and relationships brought the gallery and the collection into being.

Johnnie Shand Kydd's photographs and prominent German artist Thomas Schütte's daily etchings also grace the re-opening. Three of the best watercolour exponents, J. M. W. Turner, William Blake and John Robert Cozens will adorn an exhibition of works lent by newspaper owner John Edward Taylor.

Peter Blake and Bridget Riley are among the icons in a display of paintings, prints and sculptures from the 1960s, while William Morris and Lucienne Day all feature in a celebration of all things green for the textile gallery's re-opening.

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Image Credits

Whitworth Art Gallery redevelopment. Artist's Impression of Exterior View, Image courtesy of Whitworth Art Gallery, MUMA & Hayes Davidson

Dexter Dalwood, Neverland, 1999Oil on canvas, Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, London & Hong Kong

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

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