2020 Exhibition Hot List

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It’s the start of a new year, and nearly every publication out there seems to have an article about the exciting things the contemporary art world has in store for us in 2020.

If you’re not based in the South, you might have noticed that the majority of these exhibitions are happening in London, making them hard to reach for those of us living further North with a tight budget and busy schedule, no matter how ‘unmissable’ we are assured they are.

However, that’s not to say that there’s not plenty going on much closer to home. For those in need of an art fix, we’ve compiled a hotlist of six exhibitions happening right here in Yorkshire…

The Hepworth, Wakefield

Image Credit: The Hepworth

Bringing with it vibrant colours and alluring shapes, The Hepworth will play host to over seventy works by innovative sculptor Sheila Hicks this June. 

Known for her pioneering use of experimental textiles, Hicks’ works range from dramatic, large-scale installations, down to intimate small-scale woven drawings. 

This seems to be the perfect exhibition for those wanting to fully appreciate The Hepworth’s striking architecture and distinctive riverside location since Hicks’ work promises to respond to both the gallery’s inside spaces and its new garden.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton

Image Credit: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

From now until March, YSP’s 18th-century chapel will be home to Saad Qureshi’s exhibition Something About Paradise. An apt fit for the space, his sculptures are based on how members of the public – both those with and without faith – responded when asked what ‘paradise’ means to them. 

He turns his interpretations of the often imaginary or uncertain places described to him into fantastical and intricate large-scale landscapes, adorned with temples, houses, palaces and more.

If you’re wanting to make a day of your visit – which seems the only sensible option given the open-air gallery’s breathtaking, five-hundred-acre parkland location – works from the likes of renowned artists Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Damien Hurst, and Ai Weiwei can be found amongst countless others scattered throughout its grounds.

York Castle Museum, York

Image Credit: The York Castle Museum

Image Credit: York Castle Museum

A wooden toy motorcycle, a can of incense, and a pair of fluffy handcuffs are just three of the items on show at the Museum of Broken Relationships exhibition at York Castle Museum this year.

With each object illustrating a key moment in a relationship breaking down, here York becomes one of fifty-four cities to contribute to a global project curating a virtual and physical collection of sentimental possessions and stories of heartbreak.

With the project’s only permanent displays based in Zagreb and LA, those interested in this moving collaboration should pay these objects a visit before they’re shipped off in mid-March. 

York Art Gallery, York

Image Credit: Holbourne.org

Come June, York Art Gallery’s Centre of Ceramic Art will harbour the hotly anticipated touring exhibition of one of Britain’s most well-known artists – Grayson Perry.

Described by some as ‘the lost pots’, The Pre-Therapy Years brings together seventy of the artist’s early works that were crowdsourced following a public appeal back in 2018. This offers visitors the unique opportunity to observe the progression of Perry’s style between 1982, when he was first working as an artist, up until his establishment in the mainstream London art scene in the mid-nineties. 

The Piece Hall, Haliax

Following the success of their first sculpture commission by artist David Murphy in 2019, The Piece Hall has tasked emerging artist Alice Irwin with transforming the courtyard of its sprawling former 18th-century cloth hall through her installation People Play. 

Starting in February this year, Irwin hopes her colourful, larger-than-life creatures will create ‘an unusual playground for people to enjoy’, evoking childhood, innocence, and imagination, while also engaging with the town’s textile heritage. Her work makes reference to the people, and especially children, who put Halifax on the map for cloth production by working long hours in the town’s mills, and for whom play was not an option.

The Tetley, Leeds

Image Credit: The Tetley

Hold Your Horses, an exhibition by performance and video artist Taus Makhacheva, will be showing at The Tetley this year. 

Highlights include Superhero Sighting Society – a mountainscape installed in the gallery’s atrium that resonates with the recordings of many voices speaking about everyday heroes who tackle daily injustice – and ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) Spa – a performance piece in which visitors are invited to receive a facial from a performer.
The exhibition launches alongside ceramic artist Emii Alrai’s The High Dam at a free launch night on February 6th, so head along for an evening of speeches and complimentary drinks.

Image Credit: Tetley Instagram