UK's biggest touring art exhibition to open in Wolverhampton

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Attractions | Published:

The biggest touring art exhibition in the UK will open in Wolverhampton next year.

Installation view Oliver Beer, Vessel Orchestra, 2019, The Met Breuer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Adam Reich.

Hayward Gallery Touring revealed the British Art Show 9 will be showcased at venues in the city from March 6 to March 30.

The exhibition attracted more than 300,000 visitors during its tour to four cities over two years and is highly regarded. Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: “To be the first city to host the British Art Show 9 is a huge honour.

“It demonstrates how highly regarded Wolverhampton Art Gallery and University of Wolverhampton School of Art are.

“It is an excellent opportunity for City of Wolverhampton residents and visitors to see world class contemporary art and it will attract thousands of visitors, create jobs, learning experiences, volunteering opportunities and inspire creativity.

Lawrence Lek’s 2065. Picture courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

“The West Midlands is becoming a cultural hub and Wolverhampton is proud to be at the heart of it.”

Mark Essen, the University of Wolverhampton’s artist in residence will have work on display at the show.

He said: “The British Art Show coming to Wolverhampton is really important for the city and the region. This show comes to Wolverhampton at a time when culture has a potential to lead a trajectory towards social rehabilitation within post-coronavirus life.


“Working with the university is an opportunity to explore its past and it’s also a chance to address the many changes we need to make for the future and a cultural investment for people in the area.”


The exhibition will be held at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Wolverhampton School of Art. The event heads to Aberdeen, Plymouth and Manchester and features more than 40 artists.

Maggie Ayliffe, head of Wolverhampton School of Art, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming many visitors to the iconic Wolverhampton School of Art.


“There will be a wealth of opportunities for new audiences, students, school children and the artist community to come and engage with some of the most exciting contemporary art being produced in the UK today.

"It will also be an opportunity to talk to the artists who are creating visuals and giving voice to some of the most pressing concerns of our times.”

Don’t Look at the Finger. Picture courtesy of Hetain Patel.

Brian Cass, Senior Curator, Hayward Gallery Touring, added: “We very much look forward to seeing how British Art Show 9 continues to develop and renew in each city.”

The ninth edition of the show was due to open in Manchester in September this year but has been postponed.

Previous works have included Oliver Beer’s Vessel Orchestra – an ensemble of 32 objects rigged up to sound their different pitches through a keyboard.

Lawrence Lek’s video installation 2065 and Don’t Look at the Finger, a film that shows the two main characters, who communicate via sign language and through choreography, in the midst of a ceremomonial fight.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at


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