The best art exhibitions to see in the North West in 2014

By Richard Moss | 30 December 2013

From Kendal to the Cornerhouse, here are our top art exhibition picks in the North-West for 2014

a painting of a Surreal figure on horseback
Desmond Morris, There's No Time Like The Future, 1957. Part of British Surrealism Unlocked: Works from the Sherwin Collection at Abbot Hall Gallery.© The Sherwin Collection, Leeds, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library. © Desmond Morris
If you enjoyed (or missed) Tate Britain’s Patrick Caulfield retrospective in 2013, the beautiful Abbot Hall Art Gallery, in Kendal, has another treat in Patrick Caulfield (January 17 – March 29) which serves up a series of typically vibrant and witty paintings and prints.

They follow this up with the cabinet of curiosities that is British Surrealism Unlocked: Works from the Sherwin Collection (April 11 – June 21) before the summer delivers Barbara Hepworth, Landscape (July 5 – September 28) which will contain some of Hepworth’s most iconic sculptures alongside prints, photos and ephemera – all of it exploring the artist’s relationship with landscape. Works will be shown at both Abbot Hall and in the stunning grounds of Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House

Also worth a mention here is the celebration of local arts agency Grizedale Arts (various dates tbc) who, despite being based at a farm above Coniston Water, have become one of the most radical and vital arts organisations in the world. Look out for interventions, installations, talks and much more right across Cumbria.

At the Harris in Preston they host the Artists Rooms tour of Bruce Nauman (February 15 – May 24). And Tate Liverpool continues its exploration of art and left-wing politics with Keywords: Art Culture and Society in 1980s Britain (February 28 – May 11).

Based on cultural theorist Raymond Williams’ dissection of more than 100 words in the English language, the show features a roll call of 1980s artists including Helen Chadwick, Rita Donagh, Elizabeth Frink, Stephen McKenna, Donald Rodney and Jo Spence.

The gallery’s big summer show, Mondrian and his Studios: Abstraction into the World (June 6 – October 5), is part of a brace of exhibitions marking the 70th anniversary of the Dutch painter’s death (see Turner Contemporary). It focuses on the significance of Mondrian’s studios and the connection between painting and architecture after his move to Paris in 1911, as well as his time spent in New York and London before his death at the age of 71.

At FACT, a film installation called Science Fiction: Myths of the Present Future (March 27 – June 22) will consider how our relationship with technology has blurred the lines between the real and the virtual, “making our everyday lives feel increasingly like science fiction.” Indeed.

The Walker Art Gallery hosts Grayson Perry’s Vanity of Small Differences (May 17 – August 10) before the Liverpool Biennial brings with it the venerable John Moores Painting Prize (July 5 – November 30).  

At the Lady Lever they deliver a classic JMW Turner exhibition in Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape (February 14 – June 24) with some 30 works in the National Museum Liverpool collection. They follow this with another staple of the British exhibition calendar, the Pre-Raphaelites, via an intriguing exploration, Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris (opens June 20).

Merseyside’s newest arts venue, The Atkinson in Southport, welcomes a suitably impressive exhibition in the Hayward Touring Matisse: Drawing with Scissors: Late Works 1950-1954 (February 15 – March 16) featuring 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs.

In Manchester, the exhibition programme at Manchester Art Gallery gets underway in 2014 with Joana Vasconcelos: Time Machine (February 15 – June 1). Twenty of the acclaimed Portuguese artist’s most significant sculptures fill the gallery's major exhibition spaces, spilling out across the exterior and generally permeating the whole gallery building.

At Manchester’s Cornerhouse, the year opens with the biggest exhibition of work to date by conceptual artist Jamie Shovlin (January 18 – April 21), including excerpts from his exploitation-movie-come-art-film-come-clever-film-within-a-film, Hiker Meat.

A mile or two down Oxford Road, the Whitworth Art Gallery will be opening the doors on a £15 million transformation on September 13. Watch this space.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

You might also like:

The best art exhibitions to see in galleries in the North East during 2014

The best art exhibitions to see in Yorkshire galleries during 2014

The best art exhibitions to see in London during 2014

Latest comment: >Make a comment
What a super year for art in the north west.
>See all comments
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    Museum Crush digest sign up ad
    We are culture24