Past exhibitions

Sargy Mann: Let it be felt the painter was there

Saturday 9 November 2019 – Sunday 23 February 2020

Sargy Mann (29 May 1937 – 5 April 2015) was a British Painter and one of the most extraordinary artists of recent time. Both a landscape and figurative painter, his diverse works are recognisable by their bright colour scheme and focus on light. Although deeply influenced by Cezanne and Bonnard his paintings attain a remarkable originality.

Mann was the first postgraduate painting student to attend Camberwell Art School (now Camberwell College of Arts) where he later became a teacher. He exhibited regularly in group shows and in over twenty solo exhibitions. Notable recent shows include Euan Uglow/Sargy Mann (the Usher Collection, Lincoln 2016) and Sargy Mann, Late Paintings curated by Chantal Joffe (Royal Drawing School, London 2019). Mann’s works are held in private and several public collections both nationally and internationally.

This exhibition, which has been developed in close collaboration with the artist’s family, will be the largest public showing of Mann’s work. Spanning over fifty years of painting, the show will include never before seen work alongside audio recordings and archival material.

Journeys to Justice

12 October – 27 October 2019The national welfare rights organization marching to end hunger as part of the Poor People's Campaign Journeys to Justice

Journeys to Justice galvanises people to take action for social justice through learning about human rights movements and struggles for change. Journeys to Justice was created by people who believe in the power of 'ordinary people' to change the world.

The Journeys to Justice exhibition showcases extra-ordinary stories of the US and UK civil rights movements, and will highlight Leicester's rich history of activism.

Acceptable in the '80s

17 October – 23 October 2019'80s. A girl in a denim jacket approaches a delorean with it's doors open.

Immerse yourself in perms, patterns and pop as we transform Gallery 1 into an 80’s wonderland. Get dressed up, visit the record store, play some retro games, and hang out in the common room.

The events included:

  • Acceptable in the ‘80s: Vintage Kilo Sale
  • Acceptable in the ‘80s: Film Night & Quiz
  • Acceptable in the ‘80s: Yoga Rave
  • Acceptable in the ‘80s: Prom Nigh Silent Disco


Lucy Jones

27 July – 6 October 2019Lucy Jones (smaller)

Lucy Jones: Awkward Beauty is the artist’s first career retrospective, spanning 25 years of work. For the first time her self-portraits, landscapes, and works on paper will be exhibited together, offering a deep insight into Jones’ prolific and varied practice. Expressive colour, painterly brush work and bold simplicity distinguish her as one of the most significant British painters working today. Often viewed as divergent, Jones sees her portraiture and landscape painting as closely linked, equally important within her practice and contributing to each other.

Jones studied at Camberwell School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art, where she won a Rome scholarship in 1982. Born in London, she now lives in Ludlow, and is much inspired by the landscape area bordering Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

“Her unflinching self portraits could rival any Hockney”. The Guardian, June 2019

The exhibition also featured a new portrait of Grayson Perry, titled The Seeing Orator, recently commissioned by the Attenborough Arts Centre, and a stunning collection of Jones’ landscape paintings.


Criminal Ornamentation Yinka Shonibare curates the Arts Council and Crafts Council Collections

  • yinka opening.jpg
  • 22 September – 21 December 2018

  • Criminal Ornamentation is about the political, cultural and social dimensions of the use of pattern in art and craft. The exhibition is not about the hierarchy of taste as it manifests between high and low culture, but rather about the cultural and political manifestation of pattern within craft, sculpture, painting, costume design, film and photography. Criminal Ornamentation celebrates the impolite and unapologetic display of pattern, repetition and colour as freedom from the elitism of good taste, rejoicing the radical deviancy of pattern..

In My Shoes. Art and the Self since the 1990s

An Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition

  • IN MY SHOES.jpg
  • 7 July – 26 August 2018

  • Self-portraiture has provided a source of inspiration to artists throughout history, and in recent years many artists have revolutionised and extended the genre by incorporating action, performance, narrative and explorations of identity. This exhibition offers a timely opportunity to consider the legacies of the so-called ‘Young British Artists’ including Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Gavin Turk, who received international attention for putting themselves in the frame with bold and confrontational works.

In Out There

  • IN OUT THERE.jpg
  • Saturday 14 April - Sunday 17 June 2018

  • Attenborough Arts Centre and Shape Arts present a major exhibition by four artists drawing influence from the work of renowned disabled artist, gallerist, and activist Adam Reynolds. In Out There features new work by Terrence Birch, Sarah Carpenter, Nicola Lane and Catherine Cleary, who were shortlisted for the 2018 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary. The exhibition places this work alongside Reynolds' own practice, with archival material relating to the history of the gallery, The Adam Gallery.
  • Supported by Arts Council England and Garfield Weston Foundation

Amartey Golding- Is it me, or is it you?

  • man with flowers on his face.jpg
  • Sat 14 April - Sunday 17 June 2018

  • Amartey Golding is a multimedia artist whose work addresses subjects of cultural identity and intolerance. During his childhood, Golding's family moved house regularly, not only to various contrasting communities in London but also overseas to Ghana, West Africa.  These experiences of continuous fluidity and movement have undoubtedly influenced Goldingís artwork. Golding will premier two new films alongside his 2016 film Chainmail which forms a loose portrait of his younger brother Solomon, the first black British male dancer of The Royal Ballet.
  • Produced in association with Young Masters and The Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Supported by Arts Council Funding.

Laura Swanson

  • image on a girl with a face mask
  • 9 September - 10 December 2017

  • Laura Swanson: American photographer Laura Swanson makes her UK debut. Swanson explores the expectations of portraiture, the complications of representing and looking at different bodies, and how the cultural dominance of the selfie is shaping new perceptions of identity.
  • First UK solo exhibition by American artist Laura Swanson. Gallery 1 present brand new, especially commissioned work by Laura Swanson: the photographic series, Beauty and Recluse, alongside recent work from her mixed-media series Uniforms (2015) and pieces from various past projects. Swanson explores the behaviour of looking at physical difference, working across media including drawing, installation, photography, and sculpture. In much of her work, the artist theatrically conceals her face or short statured body to question the expectations of portraiture, examine the motive to look at different bodies, and to reveal the performative nature of identity.

Claude Cahun - Beneath this Mask

  • lady with hearts on her cheeks holding a weight
  • 9 September - 10 December 2017

  • A Hayward Touring exhibition of photography by gender-defying artist Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954). Beneath the Mask will show 42 contemporary giclee prints by French photographer Claude Cahun, whose radical selfportraits brought her posthumous fame. Born Lucy Schwob, she adopted the pseudonym in 1917 to free herself from the narrow confines of gender. Cahun’s work was far beyond its time, challenging ideas of gender, identity and traditional portraiture in these now famous images.

Leicester Memories of Industry

  • Image of gallery from Leicester memories of industry
  • 9 June - 20 August 2017

  • Exploring the influence of Leicester’s industrial legacy on its urban and natural landscapes. Seldom seen artefacts and contemporary art work come together in unexpected ways, provoking interaction between science, technology, philosophy and art. The exhibitions have been developed by local artists Diane E Hall, Graham Ensor and Robert Thacker, alongside sound and visual artist Lucy Stevens. Collectively, their work will aim to reflect the cyclic nature of the landscape, from industrial use to the reestablishment of the natural environment.

Alan Caine: A retrospective

  • Alan Caine sitting in his studio surrounded by his artwork
  • 9 June - 20 August 2017

  • A retrospective of local artist, tutor and Associate Director at Attenborough Arts Centre Alan Caine. Caine played a crucial role in establishing the centre, where he was responsible for curating the Balcony Gallery.
  • Featuring drawings and paintings that show his ongoing fascination with nature, geometry, pattern and colour; this exhibitions spans the last 30 years of Caine’s career and celebrates his significant contributions to the centre.

Night in the Museum

  • Ryan Gander sculpture looking at colour palettes
  • 25 February - 21 May

  • Leading British artist, Ryan Gander, select work from Art Council Collection’s world class national collection of modern and contemporary British art.
    This exhibition includes a major new commission ‘As old as time itself, slept alone’ by Ryan Gander, presented as part of the exhibition. Night in the Museum brings together over 30 works by artists including Roger Hiorns, Henry Moore, Angela Bulloch and Wolfgang Tillmans. For this exhibition, Gander has made a selection of works from the Arts Council Collection’s nearly 8,000 works of British art in a range of media. The majority of these were acquired from young and emerging UK-based artists over the past 70 years.


  • A head painted white with a trout painted by the mouth
  • Saturday 28 January - 5 February

  • Ridiculous is contemporary, current and provocative. Emma Fay, Juliette Burton and Adam Pearson have collectively confronted the ridiculous standards of accepted body image prescribed by popular magazine culture in the culmination of an innovative and unconventional visual arts exhibition.
  • Watch 'Discussing the Ridiculous' here

Scott Bridgwood - The Venus Papers

  • Scott Bridgwood Venus Papers
  • Monday 23 January - Sunday 12 February

  • Award-winning figurative artist Scott Bridgwood will exhibit a collection of paintings as part of The Venus Papers, a theatrical poetry show about the Roman Goddess of love and beauty.
  • The Venus Papers Preview Evening, Saturday 4 February
  • What if Venus, the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, washed up on a beach at this moment in time? Join figurative painter, Scott Bridgwood and poet, Lydia Towsey for this very special UK tour date, comprised of exhibition preview and live performance. Experience tales of 21st century women – every-woman, immigrant, outsider – at a time of social, cultural and political turmoil and change. Written and performed by Lydia, paintings by Scott, music from David Dhonau and Ola Szmidt - with complementary cava and cupcakes

Ollie Smith - A Collector's Piece

  • Ollie Smith A Collector's Piece
  • Monday 23 January - Thursday 26 January

  • Performance maker and artist Ollie Smith is experimenting in our gallery space for a few days with every birthday card he has ever received. He’s exploring how we draw the boundary between collecting and hoarding, wondering why we become sentimentally attached to “stuff”, and grappling with why it’s often so hard to let useless items go.
  • These few days are research and development towards an intimate performance installation. It will bring a private collection that spans 30 years into the public, exhibiting a life-in-progress, cataloguing the passage of time and standing on the edge of obsession.

Guerrilla Art Lab - Performing Alchemy: Artist Takeover

  • Guerrilla Art Lab Performing Alchemy Artist Takeover
  • Saturday 21 January - Sunday 22 January

  • This event is about energy. This event is about flux. This event is about the magic which can be created with the simplest of elements. This is performance alchemy. Using the four elements, water, fire, earth, and air as thematic inspiration, the GuerillaArtLab (G.A.L) collective explore the use of materials in performance. The physical remnants and residue left by the live actions is then transformed into documentative installation. They create immersive environments and interactive experiences. The members perform both individually and collaboratively, adapting and improvising in response to the changing environment, the engagement of the viewer, and each other.

Tetrad Takeover

  • Tetrad Takeover
  • Saturday 14 January - Saturday 20 January

  • Tetrad will be taking over the Attenborough Arts Centre’s gallery space for a week of events and activities. Including (but not limited to) ‘The Big Launch’, workshops and artist talks much more. If you’re a practicing artist yourself, interested in the arts and environment, or if you’ve ever been to a Tetrad event before you’ll know that this is not to be missed.
  • Tetrad is focused on supporting the process and practice of making performance, offering opportunities at different stages of the journey from early research and conversations to showcasing a new performance in it’s completeness.
  • Click here for full details. Text in the words of Tetrad!

Kajal Nisha Patel, Lightseekers

  • Kajal Nisha Patel, Lightseekers
  • Friday 13 January - Sunday 5 February

  • This exhibition brings together a selection of works produced in collaboration between the artist and different community groups
  • The exhibition features ‘Liberation’, a new work created as part of Kajal’s Leverhulme artist residency at the University of Leicester. More than 100 individuals from new, settled and indigenous communities contributed towards the production of this collaborative artwork.
  • Kajal Nisha Patel is resident within the department of Sociology, Media & Communication at the University of Leicester. She is currently developing research and artwork on British South Asian women’s working and domestic lives.

Two Queens - Happy to Be Here

  • Two Queens Happy to be Here
  • Friday 6 January - Thursday 12 January

  • To mark Two Queens 5th anniversary, Leicester’s leading artist-run gallery and studio group will operate from within Attenborough Arts Centre’s galleries as an institution in residence. ‘Happy to be here’ sees the group invite current members and past exhibiting artists to make work about Two Queens, its building, personality, and their experiences within it.
  • Two Queens is situated in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. With the ambition of providing a centre for experimental modes of arts production, exhibition and exchange, Two Queens is dedicated to establishing an agenda for new activity in the city and across the region.

Paracosm: Faiza Butt

  • Faiza Butt All or Nothing image of a man with a tiger face holding a gun
  • Saturday 15 October - Sunday 18 December

  • FREE Public preview: Friday 14 October, 5pm - 8pm

  • Attenborough Arts Centre, in partnership with New Art Exchange Nottingham, is proud to present a major touring survey of Faiza Butt’s work.  ‘Paracosm’ explores Butt’s practice over two decades and comprises a rich collection of work ranging from drawings to digital prints, light works and sculptural installation. Butts practice is rooted in the craft of Indian miniature tradition and the social-political context of Pakistan where she was born and educated.
  • This exhibition has been made possible through support from Arts Council England. Faiza Butt is represented by Rossi & Rossi Gallery and Grosvenor Gallery, London. In partnership with New Art Exchange

Plant Culture

  • Layered leaves with a hole in the middle by artist Andy Goldsworthy
  • Saturday 23 July – Sunday 25 September, FREE

  • FREE Preview Friday 6 May, 5.30pm - 8pm
  • View preview invitation.
  • Bringing together different artistic representations of plant life in modern and contemporary art, Plant Culture will explore how artists have used plants as a subject matter, material or aesthetic. The exhibition constitutes an investigation into the relationship between humans and the natural world. You are invited to the launch of our new exhibition, with a chance to meet the artists and see the artwork for the first time.

Small Print international

  • A black and white print of the back of a man walking down a road holding a pink pole
  • Saturday 7 May – Sunday 10 July, FREE

  • FREE Preview Friday 6 May, 5.30pm - 8pm
  • View the invite
  • In partnership with Leicester Print Workshop, a touring exhibition of contemporary fine art miniprints by local and international printmakers. The panel made up of curators and printmakers received 631 prints from artists across the world and selected 150 images that measure no more than 100 square centimetres, including etching, lithography, letterpress, relief, screenprinting and digital prints. You are invited to join the Attenborough Arts Centre team for the launch of our new exhibitions, with a chance to meet the artists and see the artwork for the first time.

Idols and Monsters

  • An image of a person hidden underneath a blanket
  • Saturday 7 May - Sunday 3 July

  • FREE preview evening on Friday 6 May, 5.30pm - 8pm.
  • View the invite
  • Idols and Monsters brings together artworks by Nick Mobbs that investigate adults hiding themselves or concealing their identity in the same way that a child might hide (very visibly) under a towel or blanket. Some of the works are based on staged photographs, taken by the artist. These scenes are deliberately ambiguous; leaving us uncertain of the nature of what confronts us. Other works are based on googled photographs of celebrities and criminals covering themselves.

The Reliquary Project

  • A sculpture made from bones by artist Jo Dacombe
  • Saturday 7 May – Sunday 3 July

  • FREE preview evening on Friday 6 May, 5.30pm - 8pm.
  • View the invite
  • The Reliquary Project exhibition is a culmination of artist Jo Dacombe’s residency within the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester. Working within their Bone Laboratory and supported by zooarchaeologist Dr Richard Thomas since September 2014, Jo has created a body of work that explores the idea of bones as relics and questions how we value objects, relics and archaeological items in a contemporary context. Through the residency Jo has explored ideas through making, including large and small scale sculptures, drawings, photographs, mechanical devices, scans and x-rays.

Small Print International Family workshops

  • A girl dancing with a colourful rope as part of our children's courses
  • Artist-led Small Print International Family workshops

  • Saturday 7 May -  9 July, 1pm – 3pm, FREE, book in advance or sign up on the day
  • FREE Preview Friday 6 May, 5.30pm - 8pm View the invite.
  • Explore themes, materials and ideas from the exhibition with our friendly learning team. No experience needed. Sensory Suitcases: These fun lap-sized suitcases are jam packed with tactile and multisensory objects linked to the exhibition, including our touch guides. This is as close as you can get to touching the artwork! FREE Book at Front of House. #artexplorers area: Pop into our art explorers kids area for free drop in activities to help guide you around the exhibition.
  • January - April 2016

    • A group of colourful life line objects as part of a wall installation by Lucy + Jorge Orta. Photograph  by Jonty Wilde. Courtesy of Yorkshire Sculpture Park
    • Lucy + Jorge Orta

    • Saturday 30 January - Sunday 24 April
    • The internationally acclaimed Lucy + Jorge Orta produce artwork that questions the social and ecological sustainability of our planet. Their output has been significant, employing diverse media like drawing, sculpture, installation, couture, painting, silkscreen, photography, and video, as well as staged interventions and performances.

    • A tour of our new galleries
    • FREE Guided Lucy + Jorge Orta tours

    • Wednesday 3 February, 2 March and 6 April, 12.30pm – 1.15pm.
    • Join our curators for a deeper insight into the exhibition and the ideas behind it.
    • For Group tours: Book in advance so we can tailor to the needs of your group. Maximum 25 people in group, including assistants. For more information or to book, please email or call 0116 252 2455.
    • For Schools: Our new gallery has a fantastic programme of exhibitions that can unlock access to learning and culture in a new and engaging way for Leicester. We offer tailored guided tours for a range of subjects and curriculum themes for each exhibition. Please contact us by email or call 0116 252 2455. Keep in touch and subscribe to our free, termly learning newsletter, to find out about teachers CPD, artist talks, symposia, networking events, arts award support and lots more!
    • We also offer a Braille Guide and Listening Tours on ipods available to hire front Front of House.
    • a boy holding up a colourful parachute with people playing under it
    • Artist-led Lucy + Jorge Orta Family workshops

    • Saturdays 6, 13, 20 and 27 February, 5, 12, 19 and 20 March, 2, 9, 16 and 23 April
    • 1pm – 3pm, FREE, book in advance or sign up on the day
    • Explore themes, materials and ideas from the exhibition with our friendly learning team and lead artist Jo Dacombe. No experience needed. Sensory Suitcases: These fun lap-sized suitcases are jam packed with tactile and multisensory objects linked to the exhibition, including our touch guides. This is as close as you can get to touching the artwork! FREE Book at Front of House. #artexplorers area: Pop into our art explorers kids area for free drop in activities to help guide you around the exhibition.
    • An image of a man delivering a talk to an audience
    • Migration

    • Thursday 25 February, 6pm – 9pm, FREE, booking advised
    • An evening of talks, discussions, a book launch and live music drawing on the work of Lucy + Jorge Orta and their specific interest in migration.Join experts from the University of Leicester, local community groups, campaigners and activists for a thought-provoking look at the causes and implications of global migration, as well as an exciting book launch of ‘Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge’  with poetry readings and live saxophone accompaniment.
    • A colourful monoprint to visualise birdsong
    • The Red Species List

    • Friday 22 April, 8pm £8 / £7 / £5
    • A new commission from Attenborough Arts Centre to explore the songs of endangered birds, using Indian classical, traditional and folk music, field recordings, printmaking and video to visualise birdsong as part of a concert. Featuring artist Lucy Stevens and musicians Rishii Chowdhury (tabla), Waqas Choudhary (bansuri-flute) and Eleanor Graff-Baker (violin). Supported by Geoff Sample and The Wildlife Sound Recording Society.

    November 2015 - January 2016

    Art, Life, Activism exhibition

    • An installation with a gold car hanging from the ceiling
    • Preview evening: Tuesday 17 November, 6pm - 9pm

    • Art, Life, Activism draws on our own history as a centre for inclusive art practice, bringing you a thought-provoking look at art and disability.
    • We have selected works by artists Tony Heaton, Noëmi Lakmaier, Aaron Williamson, Bobby Baker, Simon Raven, David Hevey, Adam Reynolds and Liz Crow. Using sculpture, performance, drawing and film to address issues around political activism, economic participation, medical treatment, public access and hidden history.
    • Exhibitions continues until 17 January 2016. View the Gallery brochure here.

    Attenborough Forum: Debates & Lectures

    • A lady crawling along the floor outside a shop
    • Art, Life, Activism: Talks and performances

    • Thursday 10 December, 5.30pm, £10 / £5 (4 hours with interval)
    • Talk 6pm - 7.30pm: Join our panel of experts and arts professionals for a discussion about contemporary art and political activism. Speakers include Shape Arts Chief executive and artist Tony Heaton, artist Aaron Williamson, and Professor Richard Sandell, from University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies.
    • Performance 8pm: Bobby Baker is restaging 'Drawing on a Mother's Experience'. First staged in 1988, the work had almost 300 performances by the year 2000. Now a grandmother, Baker chooses to revisit the performance.

    Guided tours

    • An installation with a gold car hanging from the ceiling
    • Art, Life, Activism: Tours

    • Exhibition lunchtime tours every Wednesday, 12.30pm – 1.15pm, FREE. Meet at Front of House.
    • 18 Nov: Sam West, exhibition curator and Visual Arts Officer at Attenborough Arts Centre
      25 Nov: Dr. Anna Claydon, University lecturer, specialising in representation of disabled people in the media
      2 Dec: Marianne Pape, Learning and Outreach Officer at Attenborough Arts Centre
      9 Dec: Exhibiting artist, TBC
      16 Dec: Jeremy Webster, Deputy Director at Attenborough Arts Centre
      6 Jan: Sam West, exhibition curator and Visual Arts Officer at Attenborough Arts Centre
      13 Jan: Michaela Butter, Director at Attenborough Arts Centre
    • Group tours: Book in advance so we can tailor to the needs of your group. Maximum 25 people in group, including assistants. For more information or to book, please email or call 0116 252 2455

    Kids and families

    • A girl dancing with a colourful rope as part of our children's courses
    • Art, Life, Activism: Family workshops

    • FREE artist-led drop in activities and games every Saturday 1pm – 3pm in the gallery.
    • Led by Joanna Dacombe
    • 21 November
      28 November
      5 December
      12 December
      19 December
      9 January
      16 January
    • The activities will relate directly to the exhibition and are free to attend but donations towards materials are welcome. View Kid's guide for Art, Life, Activism here.
    • Plus FREE activities and resources booklet designed to accompany our younger visitors’ experience of the exhibition. Includes discussion points and further reading for group work. Sensory learning bags: FREE hire from Front of House: these bags are packed with resources to enable a multi-sensory experience of the exhibition and gallery space.

    Share this page: