Open-air gallery featuring work of Lemn Sissay, Josh Widdicombe and Cheddar Gorgeous comes to Manchester this week

The exhibition marks the run up to the Universally Manchester festival

By Natalie Rees | 8 May 2024

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A huge open-air art exhibition is coming to Manchester this week. Spanning 130 sites across the city, Universally Manchester: Where Great Things Come Together has been inspired by different people’s experiences at the University of Manchester.

The brand-new exhibition marks the run up to the Universally Manchester Festival, a four-day long event celebrating the prestigious University’s 200th birthday.

The gallery will feature collaborations with a host of famous faces who all have a connection to Manchester and the University, a reflection of their love for the place and its lasting impact.

universally manchester festival gallery

Contributors to the project include poet and the University’s former Chancellor Lemn Sissay, drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous, comedian Josh Widdicombe, actor Matthew Horne and barrister and broadcaster Rob Rinder.

The artworks are a fusion of creativity, each designed by different Manchester illustrators, breathing life into the inspiring quotes and the colourful personalities behind them. You can find the artworks at spots across the city centre, including Mayfield Park, St Peter’s Square and on over 130 digital billboards and posters.

A mural of Rob Rinder’s words, illustrated by Beth Wilkinson, will be painted live by Open Minds at Mayfield Park on Thursday 9 May, to coincide with the release of hundreds of free tickets for the Universally Manchester Festival, which are available to all.

Taking place from 6-9 June, the Universally Manchester celebration will host speakers and performers including Professor Brian Cox, GRRRL, Ed O’Brien from Radiohead and Professor Daniela Delneri, who will be appearing with the Cloudwater Brew Co.

brian cox
Credit: Nicky Sims

Rob Rinder said: “Manchester never compared itself to anywhere else. I loved the pride the city took in its unique identity. It was, in so many ways, my most important gift. It’s where I discovered that cultural and intellectual curiosity is limitless and where – like the city itself – I found the courage to be different.”

Cheddar Gorgeous added: “A show of grit and glass, a beautiful contradiction. Beyond everything else I admire Manchester’s self belief. it punches above its weight and more often than not comes out top of the bill. The city revels in being its own main character. A perfect production; protagonist, antagonist, stage and audience, all rolled into one.”

You can find out more here…