Exhibitions around the UK in March 2023
The best museum and art gallery exhibitions around the UK in March 2023
Library takeover: Inside Charlotte Brontë's Wardrobe
1st March - 4th June at Chawton House, Hampshire
Visit the Library this spring and find a beautiful artist’s takeover by historian, writer and illustrator Dr Eleanor Houghton. Charlotte Brontë’s wardrobe is stunningly captured in eight original illustrations, displayed alongside Chawton House’s treasured piece of Brontëana, as well as contemporary fashion plates. 'Inside Charlotte Brontë’s Wardrobe' places focus on some of the remarkable garments and accessories worn by Charlotte Brontë. These brightly coloured, fashionable, even exotic items boldly challenge the preconception that Brontë and her famous protagonist Jane Eyre were, at least in terms of dress, one and the same.
Also on display are four original illustrations, created especially for Chawton House, depicting clothing worn by Jane and Cassandra Austen. These take their inspiration from fabrics found in Jane and Cassandra Austen’s quilt, made c1811 and now held at Jane Austen’s House.
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Quills and Characters
8th March - 3rd September at Chawton House, Hampshire
'Quills and Characters' provides fascinating insights into stories of science and scholarship, love, and literature through the manuscript letters on display. These include letters written by mathematician Mary Somerville and her protégée Ada Lovelace on loan from the Bodleian Library, letters written by the novelist and abolitionist Amelia Opie, and letters from the Chawton House collection never before displayed. Today, women’s letters provide an unending and increasingly recognised resource for understanding their lives - both material and imaginative – for piecing together their social networks, fleshing out their biographies, exploring their self-construction, and uncovering the information they valued and shared.
In addition to retelling some of these stories 'Quills and Characters' considers the practicalities of letter writing, from making ink and sourcing paper to folding, sealing and postage. On display are objects used in composition, including novelist Maria Edgeworth’s inkwells, travel writer Maria Graham’s wax seal stamps, and a selection of 18th-century letter-writing manuals. Visitors will be encouraged to pen their own letters, or to take part in reading and transcribing early 19th-century letters.
Deputy director of Chawton House and curator of 'Quills and Characters', Dr Kim Simpson says: 'From brains and hands through ink and paper, across the country and overseas, and sometimes translated into print, letters provided insight into the private worlds of the first celebrities. From the mundane to the momentous, letters captured the everyday and changed the world. The mere act of writing a simple letter was often an international endeavour with quills imported from North America, ink components sourced from Aleppo and Sudan, and sealing wax from India. We write fewer letters now, yet 'Quills and Characters' is a timely reminder of the need for connectivity in a digital world.'
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10th - 12th March in Cheltenham
Celebrate everything that’s wonderful about craft, as makers, writers and QEST Scholars gather for another fantastic weekend of demonstrations and workshops. The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) supports excellence in British craftsmanship, and is joining Craft Festival Cheltenham for the first time. ‘QEST offers funding of up to £18,000 for training and education for talented and aspiring craftspeople. We look forward to meeting new friends and inviting inspiring makers from the Cotswolds and beyond to apply,’ says Deborah Pocock, CEO. As well as perusing the stalls and meeting the makers, expect to find a cafe serving tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches. A live podcast will feature chats with master potter Keith Brymer Jones, fashion historian Dr Kate Strasdin, and ceramicist Sue Pryke. Meanwhile, Aardman Animations Ambassador and clay model maker, Jim Parkyn, will return to host his family workshop.
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Until 12th March at Tate Modern
Tate Modern’s EY Exhibition tells the story of Paul Cezanne’s extraordinary development, from early works made in his twenties through to those completed in his final months. Bringing together around 80 works from collections in Europe, Asia, North and South America, UK audiences have an incredible opportunity to explore the breadth of Cezanne’s career, from Provençale landscapes and still-life paintings, to his portraits and bathing scenes.
Over 20 of these works have never been seen in the UK before, including The Basket of Apples, c1893, on loan from The Art Institute of Chicago. Highlights include a room of paintings depicting the mountain Sainte-Victoire, charting the evolution of his style through this single motif, while another gallery will showcase several magnificent examples of Cezanne’s bather paintings.
Also in the spotlight are certain relationships central to Cezanne’s life, particularly his wife Marie-Hortense Fiquet and their son Paul, as well as childhood friend Émile Zola, and peers including Monet and Pissarro, who were among the first to appreciate his unique vision.
Until 12th March at Hastings Contemporary
Born in Brussels in 1972, Caragh Thuring grew up in Scotland near to the Holy Loch – site of the renowned Cold War US nuclear submarine base, and also the construction site for the first concrete North Sea oil rigs. This clash of nature and industry has had a lasting influence on the artist – looming submarine silhouettes, vast industrial structures and landscapes frequently appear throughout her work.
In her first UK exhibition in six years, more than 20 of Thuring’s paintings, drawings and monotypes, created over the last 15 years, will be on show, including recent works for which Thuring has commissioned bespoke cloth from silk weavers in Suffolk to use as her canvas.
Hastings Contemporary director, Liz Gilmore, says: ‘Hastings Contemporary aims to champion the very best in contemporary art, particularly painting; so the work of the important mid-career artist Caragh Thuring is a perfect fit for our 10th anniversary year. Thuring’s work is fluid, intuitive, instinctual. An exhibition of this nature, in our eco seafront gallery, consuming all our ground floor galleries, will have dramatic impact yet also a strong resonance in Hastings and indeed nationally.’
13th-26th March at Darnley Fine Art, London
This is the first solo exhibition by the artist Julia Heijligers, a contemporary artist who studied at Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam and now lives and works in Amsterdam. This exhibition will showcase 10 of her works in oil that have been produced over the last three years.
The pathway to this current series of energetic and dynamic paintings has been varied. As well as working in oil, Heijligers continuously pushes herself into new forms of making and her practice has explored mixed media, ink, wax sculpture, wig design and performance art. Drawing on this artistic multiplicity, this present collection of exquisitely detailed paintings are built up with multiple layers of applied colour and complex narratives. Indeed, the artworks themselves should be viewed as an amalgamation of synthesised subjects, techniques and influences.
With her interest in psychology, Heijligers’ art explores the feelings of alienation and belongingness and this series takes inspiration from those who live on the margins of society. Her distinctive characters are deliberately unapologetic and difficult to classify within a fixed framework.
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Harvest: Fruit Gathering
25th March - 18th June at the Harley Foundation, North Nottinghamshire
The glass exhibition by Neil Wilkin and Rachael Woodman is inspired by natural and spiritual worlds. Visitors will step into a space where towering, improbable installations made from delicate blown glass sit alongside perfectly glittering pieces that would fit in the palm of your hand. Neil and Rachael are both masters in traditional hot-glass techniques and have been working collaboratively for over 40 years - yet this is their first exhibition together.
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25th March - 18th June at the Harley Foundation, North Nottinghamshire
Jennie Moncur makes vibrantly coloured tapestry weaving with geometric contemporary compositions, using centuries-old techniques. Jennie uses the same ‘Gobelins’ weaving technique that is used in the tapestries from the 17th century in the museum next door, and brings the artform into the 21st century in a technical tour-de-force. Expect flowers, geometric patterns, and a palette that will drench the gallery in colour.
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Unseen Treasures of The Portland Collection
25th March - 2026 at the Harley Foundation, North Nottinghamshire
This display reveals works from the world-class art collection that have never been seen before in public and sheds new light on star items from the collection - such as a drawing by Michelangelo and Queen Mary’s stunning ruby coronation ring. A highlight of the exhibition is a picture gallery stacked with Tudor and Jacobean portraits.
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Until 5th April at Long & Ryle, London
After living in rural mid Wales for 40 years, artist and gardener Kate Corbett-Winder knows the landscape well, and finds it often triggers an idea for a painting: ‘It can be the eccentric peaks on the skyline, the sharp diagonals of a field in shadow, a telegraph pole or a clump of foxgloves that make vertical patterns across the picture,’ she explains.
In her second solo exhibition at Long & Ryle, Corbett-Winder will show around 35 new works that capture the changing rhythms, colours and atmosphere of the seasons. This collection moves in a more abstract direction than her previous work – visitors will see her use of collage, oil bars and drawing over the top of paintings in graphite and charcoal, drawing inspiration from artists such as de Staël, Keith Vaughan and Patrick Heron.
‘As a painter and a gardener, my two passions are inextricably entwined, she says. ‘I draw in the landscape, or garden, or might feel inspired by the leaves of a geranium, which then gets hijacked to the studio for a still life, along with jugs of dahlias or tulips.’
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Spain and the Hispanic World
Until 10th April at Royal Academy of Arts, London
Bringing together jaw-dropping works from Spain and colonial Latin America, from antiquity to the early 20th century, this exhibition reflects the incredible range of cultural and religious influences – from Celtic, Islamic, Christian and Jewish, to American, African and Asian – that have enriched Spanish culture across four millennia.
Founded in New York in 1904 by Archer M. Huntington, the Hispanic Society Museum & Library is home to the most extensive collection of Spanish and Hispanic art outside Spain. This is the first time the collection will be presented in the UK.
Visitors can expect to see over 150 works including paintings by the likes of Goya, Velázquez and El Greco, sculpture, silk textiles, ceramics, lustreware, silverwork, precious jewellery, maps, drawings and illuminated manuscripts.
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Illustrating the World: Woodcuts in the Age of Dürer
Until 23rd April at The Holburne Museum, Bath
During the 15th century, woodcutting became a prolific art throughout Europe, mainly in the form of cheap, mass-produced decorative and devotional images. With the spread of the movable-type press in the late 15th century, woodcuts became the preferred means of illustrating books and, in 1493, the publication of the lavishly illustrated Nuremberg Chronicle set a new standard.
Young Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) was an apprentice at the Nuremberg workshop while this masterpiece was being produced, and possibly contributed to it. Three years later, he started working on his Great Passion cycle, becoming the first artist in history to devise, create and publish an illustrated book. This helped to raise the status of woodcuts as a powerful medium for all manner of ‘marketing’ – from religious and political propaganda to the simple sharing of ideas.
In this exhibition at Bath’s Holburne, the complete set of Dürer’s woodcuts, known as The Great Passion, will be on display – a rare and exciting chance to see this historic work in its entirety and admire the craftsmanship and ingenuity.
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Althea McNish: Colour is Mine
Until 23rd April at The Whitworth, Manchester
On tour from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, this exhibition celebrates Althea McNish’s extraordinary career as a textile artist and her transformative impact on mid-century design. McNish (1924–2020) was the first Caribbean designer to achieve international recognition and one of the most innovative textile creators in the UK.
In this show, visitors will be able to admire the Whitworth’s unparalleled collection of fabrics and wallpapers designed by McNish and on display together for the first time, alongside unseen works from the McNish Family Archive.
Also featured will be works by McNish’s friends and contemporaries, including fellow member of Trinidad Art Society Sybil Atteck, and tutors Edward Bawden and Eduardo Paolozzi, alongside contemporary designers Barbara Brown and Shirley Craven, fellow members of the Caribbean Artist Movement Ronald Moody and Winston Branch and protégé Leslee Wills.
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Until 1st May at Manchester Art Gallery
Focusing on style over the past 250 years, this fun and engaging exhibition takes us on a journey through men’s fashion and image from the 18th century to the present day. Split into two parts – Tailored Dandy and Decorated Dandy, juxtaposing the respectable with the provocative – visitors will be greeted with a selection of pieces from Manchester’s own collections (including some that have never been seen before).
From fashion to fine art, work from highly respected artists such as Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence and Hockney will be showcased alongside photographs by David Bailey, Olivia Rose and Jason Evans and garments by visionary fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Ozwald Boateng.
This show coincides with the launch of Manchester Art Gallery’s brand-new dedicated Fashion Gallery – a dynamic space that will greatly enhance the display of the museum’s costume and dress collection.
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Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life
Until 1st May at Tate St Ives
Encompassing almost 50 sculptures, rarely seen drawings, paintings and archival material, this new exhibition will celebrate one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, while shining a light on the significance that St Ives had on her work. This show was originally staged at The Hepworth Wakefield, near the artist’s birthplace, and Tate St Ives has collaborated with the gallery to reimagine the exhibition within a Cornish context.
Local connections are revealed in the titles of many of Hepworth’s key works, such as Curved Form (Trevalgan), 1956, and Sea Form (Porthmeor), 1958. Visitors will follow Hepworth’s early artistic journey from her studies at Leeds School of Art, to travels across Europe, her life in London in the 1930s when she started a family, followed by her years in St Ives. You’ll also be treated to glimpses of her forays into stage design and her interest in the movement of the body, as well as her adoption of bronze in response to the landscape.
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The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Peter Doig
Until 29th May at The Courtauld Gallery, London
Scottish artist Peter Doig is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading artists. In the 1990s he gained a reputation for his large-scale, immersive landscapes, which exist somewhere between real and imagined places. A rich array of influences are layered into his works, from film scenes to album covers.
In 2002 Doig moved to Trinidad, a place – along with the UK and Canada – that has many resonances in his paintings. He moved back to London in 2021 and set up a new studio, where paintings that were begun in Trinidad and New York have been worked up alongside fresh creations.
This exhibition at The Courtauld will include works that explore Doig’s creative experience of transition through a variety of places, people, memories and ways of painting. ‘We are excited to unveil this new exhibition of works by Peter Doig, the first since his return to London,’ says Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen, head of The Courtauld Gallery.
‘The Courtauld’s great Impressionist collection is a touchstone for many artists. It offers the perfect context to experience how Doig’s work resonates strongly with the art of the past whilst charting new directions.’
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Catherine and Anne: Queens, Rivals, Mothers
Until 4th June at Hever Castle, Kent
For centuries, Henry VIII’s wives Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn have been pitted against each other as queen and queen-in-waiting, respectively. Now, after research revealed that Catherine and Anne each owned a copy of the same prayer book, the similarities between the two women will be explored in a new exhibition at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
The 1527 prayer book belonging to Catherine of Aragon is on loan from the Pierpont Morgan’s Library in New York, while the 1527 Book of Hours, which belonged to Anne Boleyn, is already on display in the Castle. By seeing them side by side, under the same roof for the first time in 500 years, visitors will be able to better appreciate how Catherine and Anne were ‘arguably at their most divided, yet also united through perhaps the most peaceful of means: prayer,’ says Hever Castle’s assistant curator Kate McCaffrey.
Other highlights include a previously unexhibited panel portrait of Catherine of Aragon; a 16th-century panel, originally from Dunstable Priory, featuring the emblem of King Henry VIII’s Tudor rose, fused with Queen Catherine of Aragon’s emblem of a pomegranate; and portrait miniatures of all four of the queens featured in the exhibition – Queen Catherine of Aragon and her daughter Queen Mary I, and Queen Anne Boleyn and her daughter Queen Elizabeth I.
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Until 4th June at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
One of the reasons many people visit Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is to see up close the masterful everyday scenes painted by Johannes Vermeer. And in this new exhibition you can do just that, in what is being touted as the largest Vermeer exhibition ever staged.
This amazing selection of 28 paintings from the artist’s very small oeuvre has been loaned from museums and collections across Europe, the United States and Japan. In an extraordinary gesture, The Frick Collection is lending all three of its Vermeer masterpieces: Girl Interrupted at Her Music, Officer and Laughing Girl, and Mistress and Maid – the first time the trio have been shown together outside New York since they were acquired over a century ago.
Excitingly, recent research into The Milkmaid has brought to light two objects on the artist’s world-famous canvas: a jug holder and a fire basket, which the artist later painted over. The most recent scans have also revealed what is clearly an underpainting.
‘Vermeer’s technique has always had something of a mystery,’ says Gregor J.M. Weber, co-curator of the exhibition. ‘With the discovery of a first sketch in black paint, we get a much better picture of his working method.’
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Making Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain
Until 11th June at Compton Verney
The recent pandemic had a major impact on in-person events. And while many communities adapted by putting their events online, nothing could truly replicate the collective joy of Hastings’ Jack in the Green festival, or the raucous Haxey Hood game in north Lincolnshire.
As these traditional activities begin to re-emerge, ‘Making Mischief’ explores the shared creativity, resilience, identity and communality of British folk cultures and the vital role that dress plays within them. Thanks to a £250,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, over 40 costumes – all made, customised and worn by people participating in local, seasonal customs – will be on display.
As the exhibition shows, certain themes recur throughout the various events and festivals – notably horses, music and dance. The child-focused Festival of the Horse on Orkney is characterised by girls dressing as highly decorated horses, with shiny, jangling costumes that have been handed down through generations. While the boys of South Ronaldsay island congregate on the Sands o’Wright beach and use miniature ploughs to draw lines in the sand, learning the craft of the finely tilled furrow.
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Hallyu! The Korean Wave
Until 25th June at the V&A Museum
The first tides of hallyu or ‘Korean Wave’ rippled across Asia in the late 1990s before becoming a worldwide phenomenon that challenges the currents of global pop culture today. ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is the first exhibition of its kind to showcase the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea. The exhibition will explore the makings of the Korean Wave and its impact on the creative industries of cinema, drama, music, fandom, beauty and fashion.
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Conversations with the Collection
Until 2025 at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One)
Curators have been delving into the riches of Scotland’s collection of modern and contemporary art to bring to light rarely displayed yet fascinating artworks and stories. This major exhibition presents over 100 artworks in unexpected arrangements, finding bold juxtapositions and visual similarities across different styles and movements without using jargon or art-historical terminology.
The curators, Emma Gillespie, Leila Riszko and Stephanie Straine, have tapped into key ideas and issues of our times in a fresh approach that offers visitors a new way of understanding modern and contemporary art. ‘With open-ended creativity at the heart of this big exhibition, we hope our visitors will feel inspired to rediscover their collection,’ says Stephanie.
Highlights include a ‘Madonna’ lithograph by Edvard Munch, on long loan from a private collection, a vibrant still life by celebrated Scottish artist Anne Redpath, and Saturn by Helen Frankenthaler, which has not been on display for 10 years.
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