Winning tip: Sculpture, Junk and Stories in Glasgow
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, actually a gallery, is a wonderful walk through beautiful madness. Just minutes from Buchanan Street in Glasgow, this storyland is full of mechanical figures made of wood and metal and all sorts of junk, arranged in two different ‘performances’ of scenarios and stories. The place is peaceful And frenetic and like nothing else I’ve found anywhere in the world. You’ll marvel at the skill behind the creations and come out with a big goofy grin on your face.
An island of art in Wales
Anglesey isn’t all long names and great beaches. It also has many hidden gems including the Oriel Môn Arts Center and Museum in Llangefni. Stunning works by Welsh artists and a fascinating statue by Kyffin Williams are among the many great things for visitors to discover. It’s a fascinating collection, with activities for children – and free entry.
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Indigenous Southwest showcase
The Rainmaker Gallery in Bristol is a dedicated space for contemporary Native American art. The owner, Jo, strives to showcase the best emerging and established talent. It’s worth a visit to see the changing program of exhibitions, while the artwork, homewares and trinkets for sale always make great gifts. If you have time, visit the Coe Gallery (also in Bristol) which focuses on Indigenous art from Australia.
Beautiful and nautical in Dorset
Love visiting Sladers Yard in West Bay, Dorset. This beautiful Georgian former rope camp now displays contemporary British crafts – including amazing furniture made by the owner, who sailed here from Norway decades ago in a boat he built. His work continues to evoke nautical shapes and sentiments. My budget isn’t quite big enough for the artworks on display, but I’m lucky enough to be able to afford the cafe’s Fabulous Fish Pie (£20).
A show of time and tides on the Thames
At Trinity Buoy Wharf, an outdoor arts hub opposite the O2, moored ships evoke memories of east London’s maritime trade, including the tugboat Knocker White and a red lightship that’s now a music recording studio. A small shed houses objects dedicated to scientist Michael Faraday, while quirky iron sculptures by Andrew Baldwin range from tabletop objects to larger, mechanical objects. One of Britain’s several Time and Tide bells is rung on the river to indicate high tide, and a high tide listening post plays music dictated by the tide. Feast at Fat Boy’s Diner or Orchard Cafe in a former shipping container with a black cab and tree on the roof.
Have your eyes opened in Liverpool
I first found the Open Eye gallery behind a cafe on a cobbled street in Liverpudlian. It’s moved now, like the rest of the city, sprouting feet and picking up gaffs elsewhere. It is triangular in shape and occupies a spot on Mann Island, facing seagulls and the waves of the flowing River Mersey. The space is tranquil, allowing the whispers of photography to echo and expand your perception of humanity. community is important. It is a place to look at reality in reflection and to decipher the mood of the moment. It’s timeless, it only seems to exist once you’ve arrived.
Crafts and culture in the Ribbletal
The Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, Lancashire showcased delightful, imaginative and thoughtful crafts long before the Ribble Valley became famous for its gastropubs. Local artists and craftsmen are rooted in the region’s industry, agriculture, landscape, history and culture, and their work reflects these influences – wool, bobbin lace, wood, linoleum cuts of chimneys, mills and rolling hills. It’s next to the railway that used to take you to Yorkshire, but it’s now the end of the line – a short step from Manchester but a giant leap into that sweet spot between town and country.
Art, life and nature in a Cornish idyll
On a quiet lane between the woods of Frenchman’s Creek and the Cornish village of Helford lies Kestle Barton. It’s a gallery showcasing talent from across Cornwall and beyond in a beautiful historic farm complex, parts of which date back to the Tudor era. The remaining buildings are holiday homes. Originally designed by James Alexander-Sinclair, the gardens come to life in late spring and are a great place to just spend time and watch the swallows soar and frond in the sky. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy art, life and nature together.
Admire the masters in Birmingham
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham occupies an airy building on the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus, close to the city center and easily accessible by local trains and buses. It offers a curated collection of Western art spanning seven centuries, with paintings and sculptures by Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, Turner, Van Gogh and Magritte, among others. Dubbed the ‘National Gallery for the Midlands in Miniature’, it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.
Attend art school Alnmouth, Northumberland
The Old School Gallery in Alnmouth on the north east coast is in a cute building: a former Victorian school, it serves great cakes, has a great shop and hosts atmospheric art exhibitions. It does a good job of showcasing local and female artists. Always a must when we are at the top!