Past Exhibitions

This is a short list of some of our previous exhibitions. For more information or a full list of past displays please contact the gallery.  

Benedict Phillips 

6 July – 9 October 2021

Benedict Philips in Red Hat in front of blackboard
The Red DIV, 2011 by Benedict Philips
© Benedict Philips

We present Benedict Phillips’ first large scale exhibition of contemporary art and performance.

Benedict is “very good at being disleksick” and his work concentrates on his experiences of living in a leksick world. Benedict has been exploring social and political ideas of difference through photography, sculpture, performance and video since 1995, when his ‘Agenda of the Aggressive Dyslexic was published.

Benedict says Exploring and communicating through doing and making images is fundamental to human nature despite the text heavy society that we live in. My work is deadly serious about some flippant attitudes within society and deliberately provocative and humorous about the harsh experiences of this life”.


Brick by Brick

26 June – 4 September 2021

Girl playing with tilting table part of the Brick by Brick exhibition interactives.


The Brick by Brick exhibition gathers the work of 18 artists, designers and photographers from around the world who use LEGO® bricks as their medium or inspiration. Using this simple plastic construction block as their starting point, they have created stunning, thought provoking and often humorous artworks which will appeal to art enthusiasts and LEGO® fans alike. Inspired by the wide range of artworks on show, a LEGO® graffiti wall, build tables and a selection of LEGO® related games gives visitors the opportunity to try their hand at creating their own construction brick artwork.

Image Credit: Photography – James Mulkeen

Brick by Brick is a 20-21 Visual Arts Centre Touring Exhibition.           


The Art of the Everyday

18 May 2021 – 26 June 2021

Art of the Everyday shows a diverse range of artworks by artists from Manchester Academy of Fine Art (MAFA).

Installation photo showing paintings and sculpture by MAFA artists in Gallery 2

We decided upon the theme of “the everyday” last year, when we couldn’t have begun to imagine how drastically our everyday lives would change. Since the artists began to work on this exhibition the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of life as we know it. This is reflected in the drawings, prints, sculpture and paintings of the 53 artists taking part in the exhibition.

Artist Colin Taylor’s ‘Last day in Manchester’ shows eerily empty streets of the city centre, Alison Diamond Rogers’ ‘Holding Hands’ feels very different from if we’d looked at this a year ago.

To find out more about this exhibition, download the exhibition catalogue.

Glass water bottles

RainDrop to Corporation Pop!

October 2020 – 26 June 2021

This exhibition has a very watery feel, exploring water from the start of its journey in the clouds through all freshwater aquatic environments using objects chosen from across the Gallery’s collection. Water is an essential element for all life that has ever lived on the planet and makes up important part of our local wildlife habitats. Come and see beautiful paintings portraying rivers, lakes and canals displayed alongside ancient fossil fish and an array of present-day aquatic creatures. A special attraction is the fossil skeleton of an Ichthyosaur a dolphin-like creature from Jurassic times. This is the largest fossil in our geological collections. Oldham became the most important spinning town in the world because it is nestled high in the hills making the most of the damp climate so necessary to spin the best cotton yarn. Water collected in newly constructed reservoirs was important for an expanding human population to ensure good health and hygiene as well as textile processing. Water has a special attraction to us for leisure activities, swimming, boating and fishing to name just a few. Amazing fish trophy mounts donated by Oldham Central Angling Club will be displayed together with swimming memorabilia. View the online exhibition, click here.

Image: Eight in Green, 2016 by Madeleine Mbida.

Sounds Like Her

14 December – 7 March 2020

Sounds Like Her is a touring exhibition curated by Christine Eyene and produced by New Art Exchange. It brings together six artists to explore what sound can mean in different contexts.

The exhibition includes the latest version of Sonia Boyce’s Devotional Series, an ongoing piece that documents the input of influential black women in the music industry.

Christine Sun Kim has been deaf since birth. Her contribution to Sounds Like Her investigates how sound can be experienced when you are unable to hear – primarily through sight and touch.

The exhibition also includes pieces by Ain Bailey, Madeleine Mbida, Magda Stawarska-Beavan and Linda O’Keeffe.

The Oldham Open 2019

20 September- 30 November 2019 This show is held every two years to showcase work by artists living, working or studying in the borough of Oldham. From drawing, painting and photography to ceramics, jewellery and sculpture, the exhibition features a wide range of artists with a huge array of styles. The exhibition is always incredibly varied – from people who may have recently retired and joined their first art class, to the professional artists who are based in our borough. As ever, there will definitely be something for everyone.


On Paper

Gareth Jones, Cape, 1995

5 October – 30 November 2019 See paper in a new light. From collage to sculpture, corrugated card to blotting paper, this Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition features a huge range of approaches. The show features works on paper which have been burnt, torn and cut by artists such as Roger Ackling, Cornelia Parker, Tim Davies and Simon Periton. Artists have also long used paper to construct three dimensional objects, such as Lesley Foxcroft’s two tone corrugated bricks.  


From Waterloo to Peterloo

25 May – 21 September 2019

Image © Peterloo graphic novel (

In 1819 a peaceful political meeting in Manchester ended in violence, confusion and death. This notorious event quickly became known as the Peterloo Massacre and today is recognised as an important step in the development of democracy in Britain. Thousands of people walked from Oldham and the surrounding areas to attend the meeting. Dozens were injured and several were killed. Oldham became the scene of a notorious inquest into the death of one local man, John Lees. This exhibition explores what life was like in 1819 using the collections of Gallery Oldham, Oldham Archives and Local Studies Library and a selection of images from the new graphic novel about Peterloo. Who were the Oldhamers at Peterloo and what ideas were they fighting for?

Family matters

13 January – 12 May 2018 A family can be made of any number of individuals and consist of many different relationships. The common link is the shared experiences of people or animals who live together as a unit. This exhibition looks at families in its widest sense using our extensive collections of social history, natural history, art and archives.

The Big Big Camera

22 January – 22 April 2017 The big big camera has long been in the collections of Gallery Oldham. Photographer Ian Beesley has been working to repurpose this industrial relic. This exhibition of new photographs also features poems by Ian McMillan and charts the journey to reuse the camera and take it out on the road. This exhibition of large scale photographs that will make you think again about the whole process of taking a picture.

Art Forms in Nature

14 October 2016 – 7 January 2017 The German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) was celebrated by the Surrealists and early modernists for his pioneering close-up images of plants and flora. Trained as a sculptor he was also an Karl Blossfeldtamateur botanist, fascinated by the underlying structures of nature. This Hayward Touring exhibition consists of 40 photogravures from an original German portfolio, ‘Wundergarten der Natur’ 1932, edited by Blossfeldt and published in the year of his death. This exhibition also featured a selection of larger than life plant models from Gallery Oldham’s natural history collection.

The Current Situation by Yara El-Sherbini

July – September 2016 Yara El-Sherbini creates contemporary art which is accessible, playful and can be enjoyed by all. Over the last 10 years her artworks have used recognisable formats, such as quizzes, game shows and jokes. Yara El-Sherbini. Photo by Natxo Bassols Salles. Image courtesy of the NAE, LCB and the Artist. In her current exhibition she invites people to navigate the world’s borders using her giant buzz-wire game, where it will be nearly as hard to travel across the world’s borders in theory as it is in practice. The Current Situation by Yara El-Sherbini is a touring exhibition produced by New Art Exchange, Nottingham.