2021 Creative Highlights: Exhibitions

While an intense year, the re-opening of exhibitions saved our creative souls in many ways.

It was a joy to re-enter these ever inspiring spaces which put a pause on life and evoke some of the most unexpected ideas and emotions. Here are some of our favourites.

Manchester Hip Hop Archive Exhibition opens at Manchester Central Library

The exhibit traced through the 1980s up to the present day with a showcase of clothing, posters, cassettes, flyers, and oral histories tracking the growth of the transformative youth movement. Many, even Brits, may not be aware of how impactful Hip Hop was as a genre to Manchester specifically – despite its roots stemming from the US. Furthermore, Hip Hop and the Acid House/Madchester scene were also intrinsically linked – Hip Hop was a large part of what made the Hacienda great and artists such as 808 State, MC Tunes, A Guy Called Gerald, Ruthless Rap Assassins and KISS AMC are all a good example of that.

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Eleanor Tattersfield Lockdown Secrets Exhibition

With the rise of TikTok, relatable content is more and more in demand these days. It’s safe to say that Eleanor Tatterfield’s exhibition at London’s Jealous Gallery was one of the most relatable exhibitions you’ll see this year. A collage that reads “I hated every minute of Yoga with Adriene” – one of YouTube’s most popular fitness channels? Wow. We are taken right back to March 2020…in a good and ironic way, we promise!

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Gujarati Grans Shine on Piccadilly Circus’ BillBoard 

Exploring themes of immigration and identity on a global stage, ‘Baa’s House 11’ pays homage to Patel’s grandmother, performed by Indian Kathak dancer, Vina Ladwa. Co-opting billboard spaces in five major cities, Patel shows his grandmother looking out from the screen, empowered in everyday labour, whilst surveying passers-by watching below. Typically under-represented in such spaces of mass media and advertising, the matriarch challenges audiences around the world to confront the power of such torchbearers of cultural heritage within the migrant community.

The film played every night of November on Piccadilly Circus’ billboard at 8:30pm.

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Amy, Beyond the Stage: A Real Tearjerker of an Exhibition 

If you think you’ve learnt all there is to know about Amy via the countless documentaries, interviews and photo books published on her then think again. 

From now until April 10 2022, The Design Museum hosts this intimate exhibition on the iconic London jazz singer which, rather than focus on her tragic death a decade ago, celebrates Winehouse’s frank joie de vivre, youth and ambition. 

The exhibition consists of photographs of Winehouse in her first flat alongside most of her iconic outfits imported from the museum they’re held at in Santiago, Chile. Her famous beehive wig sits alongside extracts from her notebook written aged 6. A list of her ambitions reads “make a song with Missy Elliot”, “avoid surgery”, “fuck Huey” and “have Marilyn Hair”. It is nothing less than enchanting to see the then-teenage singer’s dreams manifest into reality from her love of jazz and hip hop to her raw authentic self, witty humour and vintage rockabilly style. 

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