The best UK art exhibitions to see outside London during autumn and winter 2013

By Richard Moss | 20 September 2013

Here's a guide to some of the best exhibitions across the UK outside of London during autumn and winter 2013. Travel from top to bottom - beginning in Scotland, finishing in Cornwall...

a photo of Louise Bourgeois with a box of pastels next to a frame with her name chaleked on to wood
Louise Bourgeois in 1980.© Photo: Mark Setteducati, © The Easton Foundation

Scotland: Louise Bourgeoise vs. Jack Vettriano 

The big autumn show in Edinburgh is Louise Bourgeois: A Woman with Secrets (October 26 2013 – May 18 2014) at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Part of the national Artist Rooms programme, it focusses on the American artist’s later works and a cycle of 16 monumental drawings L'Infini (2008–2009) and the artist’s final vitrine, Untitled (2010), augmented by important loans from Tate, the Easton Foundation and the Louise Bourgeois Trust in New York.

Over at The Fruitmarket Gallery Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away (October 26 2013 – February 16 2014) reveals her Insomnia Drawings, a remarkable suite of 220 drawings and writings made in the early hours between 1994 and June 1995.

a painting of woman in an American cafe
Jack Vattriano, Star Cafe©
By contrast in Glasgow Kelvingrove opens the much opined about Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective (September 21 – February 23) – a bold and populist show that will no doubt divide and delight in equal measure.

Dundee Contemporary Arts hosts an intriguing show (part of their Discovery Film Festival) that showcases the dreamlike world of Hiraki Sawa (October 5 2013 – January 5 2014) who has created a new film shot at Dundee’s Mills Observatory. It will be cosmic.

Northern Ireland: The Turner Prize vs. William Scott

In UK City of Culture 2013 Derry-Londonderry, the the big art event of the autumn is the arrival of the Turner Prize (October 23 2013 – January 5 2014), which continues its tour of non-London venues with a spell in the recently transformed Ebrington Barracks, which will host the works of Laure Prouvost, Tino Sehgal, David Shrigley and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The winner will be announced December 2.

Turner Prize shortlister Willi Doherty, pops up in his home town at the City Factory for Unseen (September 27 2013 – January 4 2014), a major critical overview of his photographs and videos – most of which were shot on the streets of his native city and its surrounding hinterland.

And amidst the Turner Prize brouhaha don’t forget the William Scott centenary which concludes here with an exhibition in his homeland at Ulster Museum. William Scott (October 25 2013 – February 2 2014) builds on the beautifully evolving touring exhibition developed in collaboration with Tate St Ives and The Hepworth by adding the rarely seen paintings held in Irish collections.

The North: Hockney, Deller and Double Indemnity

a photo of a man in a gallery looking at two screens
Realtime Relapse, By John Topping.© Courtesy DLI
Ever before Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North spread its rusty wings across the outskirts of Newcastle the North East was a hotbed of public art and sculpture - as evidenced by Claes Oldenburg’s Bottle of Notes (September 27 2013 - January 23 2014), which is celebrated this autumn season with a 20th birthday bash At Middlesbrough’s MIMA.

It's a big autumn at MIMA who also have the first major retrospective of Middlesbrough-born painter William Tillyer. Against Nature (October 25 2013 - February 9 2014) spans his fifty-year career in the largest single artist presentation at the gallery since it opened in 2007.

Not to be outdone, Newcastle’s Hatton Gallery celebrates aother pioneer of public artwork, Victor Pasmore, whose 1960s Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee is celebrated with a couple of filmworks in an exhibition called Realtimelapse (September 21 – December 13). Art of the 1960s (September 21 – December 21), accompanies it and features paintings by many of Pasmore’s contemporaries,

At BALTIC they embrace the winter with a retrospective of the work of German pop-minimal-media artist Thomas Bayrle (November 29 2013 – February 23 2014) whose output at the height of the Cold War embraced communist and capitalist symbolism via prints, sculpture, paintings, collages, films and books.

The city’s Laing Art Gallery, meanwhile, has the Laura Knight Portraits exhibition (November 22013 – February 16 2014) fresh from its popular run at the NPG.

a colourful abstract painting of a person
Dana Schutz, Bra Removal, 2012.© Image Courtesy of the artist, Petzel Gallery New York and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin
In Yorkshire the Hepworth Wakefield follow up Roger Hiorns' inaugral show in their new Calder artspace with a trio of shows. An in focus exhibition reveals the work of designer Albert Wainwright (September 21 2013 - March 30 2014) whose Art Deco-cum-Japanese floating world designs will undoubtedly win many new admirers.

The Hepworth's Dana Schutz exhibition sees one of the most significant young contemporary artists in America arrive "with a significant proportion of new paintings and drawings" for her first major show in the UK. And York Art Gallery's W A Ismay collection of post war pottery takes up temporary residence in a show curated by Matthew Darbyshire (both October 12 2013 - January 26 2014).

Leeds Art Gallery unveils the wonderfully autumnal Nocturne (October 2013 - April 2014) which pairs the paintings of Atkinson Grimshaw with those of George Shaw and some others.

The fruits of another great idea materialise in Sheffield where ex Cabaret Voltaire electornica guru turned wildlife sound recordist, Chris Watson, transforms the Millennium Gallery into an immersive ‘sound map’ of Sheffield for Inside the Circle of Fire: A Sheffield Sound Map (September 12 2013 - February 23 2014).

At The Graves Gallery Josef Beuys' Economic Values (October 4 - December 14 2013) goes on display as part of Art Sheffield 2013.

The impressive Radev Collection (September 27 - December 21 2013) arrives at the equally impressive Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal with paintings by Duncan Grant, Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson, Ivon Hitchens, Keith Vaughan, Graham Sutherland, Pablo Picasso and many others.

In Manchester Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War (October 12 2013 – January 19 2014) at Imperial War Museum North reveals the extent to which the IWM has collected contemporary art in the last 20 years with works by over 40 artists including Steve McQueen, Langlands and Bell, Willie Doherty and Edmund Clark.

a film still of a woman in traditona geisha style costume with hands bound behind her
Hito Steyerl, Still from Lovely Andrea (2007), Digital video, 30 mins. Double Indemnity at Cornerhouse.© Courtesy and copyright the artist
Cornerhouse has an intriguing group show inspired by Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (September 14 2013 - June 5 2014) with artists including Sophie Calle, Jenny Holzer, Ming Wong, Anicka Yi and Frances Stark taking on the noir-ish themes of desire, possession and complicity.

Manchester Art Gallery's big show is Jeremy Deller’s All That is Solid Melts Into Air (October 12 2013 – January 19 2014), which is a chance to savour Mr D’s peculiar vision of Britishness – this time through working class musical culture, from 19th century industrial folk to glam and heavy rock music in the 70s and 80s.

Thrown into this piquant mix will be his take on the effects of industrialisation via historical paintings of factories and forges, oppositional broadsheets, political tracts, poems and popular ballads against exploitation, including works by William Blake and William Morris.

With almost perfect symmetry Tate Liverpool‘s autumn offering is the intriguing Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789–2013 (November 8 2013 – February 2 2014), which examines how left wing ideas influenced art in all its forms - from the French Revolution to the present day.

It's a strong programme in the North West but perhaps the most popular show of all might just be the Walker Art Gallery's David Hockney (October 11 2013 – March 16 2014) charting the development of his style and subject matter during the swinging 1960s and into his famous 1970s Los Angeles period.

The Midlands: Curious Beasts and the dead animals of Damien Hirst

a drawing of a man and woman on a camel with leopard spots
William Heath, The Camelopard, or a New Hobby, 1827. Curious Beasts at Compton Verney. © Th e Trustees of the British Museum
Curious Beasts (October 5 – December 15 2013) at Compton Verney, mines the collection of Animal Prints held by the British Museum and serves up some beautifully bizarre imagery by the likes Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, George Stubbs and many more.

A Fantastical Animal Alphabet (October 5 – December 15 2013) runs alongside and draws inspiration from Enid Marx’s (Marco) Animal Alphabet via new prints by artists from Leicester Print Workshop.

In Birmingham at BMAG there’s a major overview of the strangely compelling American Photorealism (November 30 2013 – March 30 2014) movement of the sixties and seventies which will have visitors taking second glances and questioning what makes an authentic image.

The answer might be found at IKON’s autumn show, which showcases the figurative paintings of much-hyped Birmingham-born artist Hurvin Anderson (September 25 – November 10) who fills the entire exhibition space with some stunning paintings including his wonderful Peters’ series, portraying the inside of an Afro-Caribbean barbers’ shop in Brum.

At New Art Gallery Walsall the art-religion-death-related interests of Ged Quinn (October 9 2013 – January 5 2014) make for a thought-provoking exhibition of paintings foull of symbol and myth.

Nottingham Contemporary lines up a fascinating examination of Chicano American art movement Asco (which means disgust or nausea in Spanish) and their wild street art interventions of the 1970s. Asco: No Movies (October 12 2013 - January 5 2014) is a rare insight into this world of radical and interventionist art.

Accompanying this is a new sculptural sound installation by "disconcerting" Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer. Let's Make the Water Turn Black (October 12 2013 - January 5 2014) is a vast musical sculpture inspired by the Frank Zappa tune Farmers, Let's Turn the Water Black.

The East of England: Craxton, De Waal and East Anglian Masterpieces

a painting of a reclining figure in a flower bed
John Craxton, Reclining figure with asphodels, 1983 - 1984.© Estate of John Craxton
One of the standout painting shows of the season can be found in the East of England at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum who celebrate the life and work of John Craxton. A world of private mystery: John Craxton, RA (1922-2009) (December 2 2013 – April 21 2014) is the first major Craxton exhibition since the Whitechapel Gallery survey in 1967 and traces his development as an artist, his travels and where he sits with his contemporaries.

It's an impressive autumn at the Fitz which also hosts Britain’s second most famous potter. Edmund de Waal: On White – Porcelain stories from the Fitzwilliam (November 29 2013 – February 22 2014) features pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, together with poetry, photographs, letters and de Waal’s own work. Watch out for a walk through vitrine of 1,000 pots.

a photo of an oil portrait of an Edwardian Lady
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).Portrait of the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, 1922. Part of Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia.© Private Collection Photo: Pete Huggins
It’s a good time for art in Norwich too, at the Sainsbury Centre the impressive Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia (September 14 2013 – February 24 2014) celebrates the artistic heritage of East Anglia from antiquity through to the present via painting, furniture, sculpture, design, jewellery, textiles and a wealth of stunning treasures.

In the city centre, the multifarious touring show devoted to wonder, awe and mystery, Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing (September 28 – January 5) arrives at Norwich Castle and Art Gallery for the autumn season.

Wales: Peter Blake takes on Dylan Thomas

At National Museum Cardiff they kick off the Dylan Thomas Centenary  with Peter Blake’s illustrations for Under Milk Wood (November 23 – March 16 2014). The culmination of a 25 year project by the great pop artist it includes portraits of every character of Thomas’ great opus together with watercolours of the dream sequences and collages and paintings of scenes from the fictional village of Llareggub.

Autumn at Amgueddfa Cymru also offers a chance to see the Arts Council Collection touring exhibition Land Art (September 28 2013 – January 5 2014) featuring some of the most important British artists of the last 50 years including Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, Susan Hiller, Richard Long and David Nash.

An ambitious group show arrives at Chapter in Cardiff, 3am (December 13 2013 - March 2 2014), is all about insomnia and features an impressive roster of artists working in a variety of media including Ed Pien, Francis Alÿs, Sophy Rickett, and Fred Tomaselli.

The South: Bacon and Moore and Turner x 2

a photo of two abstract seated sculptural figures
Henry Moore (1898–1986), King and Queen, 1952–53.© The Henry Moore Foundation
The big show at The Ashmolean in Oxford pairs two twentieth century titans, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, for the fittingly named Flesh and Bone (September 12 2013 — January 19 2014). The show features 20 carefully selected works by each artist that bring out their similarities, differences and some fresh perspectives of the pair who exhibited regularly together.

In Brighton the exotic Regency pleasure dome of the Royal Pavilion plays host to a recent acquisition, J M W Turner’s watercolour Brighthelmston, with Turner in Brighton (November 2 2013 – March 2 2014) an exhibition that explores how Turner and his contemporaries perceived the town at the height of its development in the 1820s.

The perfect accompaniment to this celebration of regency pomp can be found in one of Turner’s other haunts, Margate, whose Turner Contemporary hosts Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature (October 5 2013 – January 5 2014) featuring 75 oil sketches from the Tate collection by JMW Turner, John Constable and their contemporaries.
a black and white photo of a woman wearing jodphurs and with short hair standing beneath a direction signpost
Marlow Moss© Image courtesy of Florette Dijkstra. Private collection
At the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings another great painting show is in the offing with a look at the most recent work of abstract painter Basil Beattie (RA) (October 12 2013 – January 1 2014) accompanied by an upstairs display of works by the intriguing English cross dressing Constructivist artist Marlow Moss (October 12 2013 – April 23 2014).

Eastbourne’s Towner hosts the immersive labyrinthine installations of Japanese artist Chihura Shiota (October 11 2013 – January 5 2014) and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill pairs the meticulous cluster diagrams and star charts of painter Alison Turnbull with a roof exhibition of the angular sculptures of Matt Calderwood (both November 9 2013 – February 23 2014).

In Chichester a tempting trio of exhibitions seems to perfectly encapsulate ’s Pallant House Art Gallery's collection and ethos. The Nicholsons and their Circle: The Mill House Collection (October 12 2013 – February 1 2014); Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman (November 30 2013 – February 9 2014) and a welcome look at the triptychs of contemporary abstract painter, Sean Scully (November 2 2013 – January 26 2014) offer an enticing autumn of twentieth and twenty-first century British art. There's also a Ravilious prints show in the prints room.

And finally to Cornwall andl Tate St Ives who take delivery of Aquatopia (October 12 2013 – January 26 2014) the engaging trawl of aquatic-themed art that entertained visitors to Nottingham Contemporary during the summer.

Do you agree? Anything we missed? Leave a comment below. 

You might also like:

The best art exhibitions to see in London during autumn 2013

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The stunning Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary retrospective at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham is not to be missed - and is free entry!
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