Spring is round the corner, and Hang-Up is ready for some out-of-London weekend breaks – but where’s good for galleries? We’ve rounded up some of our favourite public spaces outside the capital, alongside where to stay to visit them…
The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester
Mike Robinson/Alamy via The Guardian
For spectacular spaces
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Billed as the most sustainable gallery in the UK, this one has grown into its futuristic 2015 refurb and – thanks to the incredible architecture – is a serenely spectacular place to view art (like Hang-Up, it favours huge white spaces with knock-out views). Forward thinking has always been top of the agenda here – the gallery was among the first institutions to purchase work from David Hockney and Bridget Riley back in the 1960s. These days, a well thought-out collection includes stand out pieces from YBAs including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn.
Bridget Riley, Blue Diagonals on Ochre and Orange is one of the artist's works in the Whitworth collection
Whitworth Art Gallery
Where to stay: Opened in December, Moxy Manchester City is set in a former hat factory sandwiched between the bars and restaurants of the city centre. With picture windows overlooking the rooftops, the rooms are as light and bright as the Whitworth gallery – even if most of its guests are more after-dark types.
For all visitors great and small
Margate’s Turner Contemporary may draw the crowds, but you’ll get a mellower experience round the coast at Hastings Contemporary, which sits right on the pebbles by the town’s famed fishing fleet. This gallery has bounced back from a troubled couple of years (during which it parted with its sponsor, the Jerwood Foundation, which triggered a name change and the loss of its permanent collection). In 2022, following a highly successful show by the children’s illustrator and Artist Patron Sir Quentin Blake, a new exhibition titled Seafaring will evoke life on the water with work by Eric Ravilious, Maggi Hambling and others. Democratic, unhushed and with a fascinating shop for little ones, it makes a great family day out.
Ioana Marinescu via BBC
Where to stay: A stroll from the gallery, Moore House is a listed Georgian B&B with wood-panelled bedrooms and the best breakfasts in town – from a veggie feast featuring halloumi, avocado and poached eggs to French toast with sticky bacon and maple syrup.
Hastings Old Town
For old-fashioned thrills
For a whimsical, rollercoaster tour of art through the centuries, it’s hard to beat this eclectic collection amid the dreaming spires of the UK’s oldest university town (it’s also purportedly the oldest public museum in the world). Though most works date from the 19th-century, you’ll find all manner of things behind its classical facade – from priceless Stradivarius violins to Egyptian mummies, via ancient Chinese ink drawings. Between the Renoirs and Toulouse-Lautrecs, look out for bizarre treasures such as A Woman of San Germano by Robert Braithwaite Martineau and Still Life With Herring, by an unknown artist from the Dutch School.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Where to stay: Book into the equally eclectically-adorned Crazy Bear, a 20-minute drive outside town. With a restaurant that invokes Alice in Wonderland, a disco ball-smattered garden and bedrooms straight from a Jackie Collins bonkbuster, it makes for an unforgettable experience.
Crazy Bear Stadhampton
For a beach vibe
Tate St Ives
Cornwall became an unlikely hub for modern artists in 20th-century England – drawing Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and more with its remote, inspiring landscapes. The county has long been an inspiration for Bridget Riley, too – and her work features in the permanent Modern Conversations display, which explores contemporary art in this charming seaside town and beyond through a broad selection of pieces, from photographs to reliefs. The gallery makes the most of the vistas that inspired its artists, looming above Porthmeor Beach and the choppy Atlantic.
View of St Ives with the Tate Gallery
Where to stay Live your own artist’s dream by staring through the sea-framing picture windows of Alba Beach House, a stroll down the road (book through uniquehomestays.com). Impeccably decorated in sandy hues and sitting right on the beach, this self-catering cottage makes an inspiring place to while away a few days.
Alba Beach House, St Ives
To discuss works for sale by any of the artists featured, please get in touch.
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