The best exhibitions to see in Wales in 2016

By Kate McNab | 04 January 2016 | Updated: 31 March 2016

We've scoured the land to bring you our recommendations of the best exhibitions to see in Wales in 2016 with everything from an archaeological fact and fiction mash-up to an ode to a nuclear power station

photograph of clear crystal skull
19th century crystal skull© Musée du Quai Branly, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais Patrick Gries Valérie Torre
Kicking off this year’s programme at National Museum Cardiff, (January 23 – October 20) brings together remarkable archaeological objects from around the world in an inspiring exhibition to celebrate 2016, The Year of Adventure in Wales.

The adventurous exhibition allows you to follow in the footsteps of famous explorers - real and fictional - and features star objects including an Egyptian mummy, 19th century fake French crystal skull and Indiana Jones’ whip, hat and coat.

painted portrait of a Jamaican woman
Augustus John, Portrait of a Jamaican Woman© The Estate of Augustus John, Bridgeman Images
Not to be missed when visiting the museum this year is a display of work by important Welsh modernist (until September 30), featuring painting, drawings and prints from the museum’s extensive collection.

The Makers Guild in Wales’ gallery Craft in the Bay hosts a range of contemporary craft and applied art shows throughout the year. This year’s programme welcomes German-born ’s sculptural metal and enamel pieces (May 14 – July 10) and ’s stunning sculptural glass artworks (July 1 – August 28).

image of sketched landscape on blue watercolour background
Elizabeth Turrell from Drawing Inspirations© Makers Guild in Wales
The Gallery’s penultimate show explores the role of drawing in the conception and development of artists’ work in the exciting (September 17 – November 6); and they round off the year with , (November 4 2016 – January 2 2017) who pushes the boundaries of industrial tools and techniques to produce beautifully meticulous waterjet-cut glass sculptures.

Over at Chapter Arts Centre, the bold, large scale paintings of take over the gallery’s walls (February 13 – May 29). Drawing on various themes and issues, often from popular culture and politics, Wylie’s carefully deconstructed practice creates energetic, chaotic imagery.

Heading north to Cwmbran, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre gets nostalgic this spring with a look back at the last 50 years of exhibitions in (March 26 – May 14). Having featured work by thousands of artists, they’ve got lots to choose from for this special anniversary exhibition, which presents work by thirty of the most influential artists the gallery’s seen so far.

Later on in the year, the gallery looks to the future for (October 1 – November 19). LGAC have scoured the UK, searching for remarkable graduate artists to showcase in this exhibition celebrating emerging talent.

Mission Gallery's 2015 curatorial resident Louise Hobson presents the fruits of her month-long labour in (March 19 – April 10) which unleashes a collaboration of ideas and conversations surrounding temporary and mobile architecture.

photograph of white slipware jug with black loop design
© Mission Gallery
Towards the end of spring, (April 16 – June 5) sees ceramicist Philip Eglin reinvigorating the tradition of slipware by drawing on museum collections, and in particular responding to 19th century slipware from North Wales. Eglin has created a body of work that offers a contemporary take on slipware, whilst retaining a traditional charm.

There’s a treat in store for those visiting Swansea later in the year as ten original drawings by the Rennaissance artist and influential polymath Leonardo da Vinci stopover in Wales for the last leg of their 2016 tour. Glynn Vivian Art Gallery hosts the exquisite drawings in (October 15 – January 6 2017). The drawings will be visiting Newcastle, Dublin and Nottingham earlier in the year.

In rural Powys, Oriel Davies Gallery focuses on data and power. (February 6 – April 6) sees artist collaborative X-10 contemplating the past, the future and the complex issues surrounding nuclear power,  working around the decommissioning of the last remaining Magnox stations, Wylfa. Each artist has responded to the theme through their practice, which comprises video, photography, sound and installation.

Alongside, Chris Oackley explores the future of data in an increasingly digital world. (February 6 – April 6) is a sculptural installation, created through the destruction of hard disk drives and is designed to raise issues around the obsolescence of technology and its waste materials whilst contemplating the meaning of data.

Visitors to Llandudno in 2016 will find a variety of exciting shows on the cards at MOSTYN, where Cuban conceptual artist Diango Hernandez holds his first solo UK exhibition. (until May 15) explores the artist’s upbringing in Cuba from a western perspective and features both old and new sculptural work and works on paper.

For more art in the gallery you can also check out MOSTYN youth collective GLITCH’s  exhibition exploring collaboration, (until May 15) and Iwan Lewis (until May 22), an installation of paintings exploring a fictional narrative.

If history’s more your thing, the gallery also present (also until May 15). A sequel to 2014’s War I, which explored the use of the MOSTYN space during the First World War, War II discovers the history of Llandudno in World War II, paying special attention to the American soldiers stationed in the town, and tells the story of the gallery’s previous life as the ‘Donut Dugout’ where American troops would go for food and recreation.

We'll be updating this guide as more exhibitions are announced throughout the year - check back often to discover more amazing art near you.

Anything we've missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Explore more of our regional guides:

The best exhibitions to see in the East of England in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in London in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in the Midlands in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in the North in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in Scotland in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in the South East in 2016
The best exhibitions to see in the South West in 2016

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