Art & Nature at The Whitworth Gallery

A city centre ‘must see’!

Our Creative English group made a trip to The Whitworth Gallery and its fabulous gardens and outdoor galleries in Manchester city centre last week. With exhibitions of new work by some of the world’s leading artists alongside watercolours, textiles, wallpapers, photographs and fine art, The Whitworth has become one of the city’s most popular galleries and a ‘must-see’ cultural destination.

Teachers, volunteers and participants came together to enjoy an uplifting tour around the beautiful gallery and took in the sights and scents of the adjacent outdoor galleries and gardens. This visit was part of our ‘Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’ project, funded by The Allen Lane Foundation.

Following our guide to the outside gallery space.

Improving Health & Wellbeing

Experiencing nature and art also improves health and wellbeing. According to mental health charity, MIND, ‘spending time in green spaces or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing’. ‘The Healing Power of Arts’ is an organisation dedicated to raising awareness about how art enhances well-being and enhances social and emotional development.

Our ‘Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’ project aims to provide opportunities for local residents from refugee and asylum seeker communities learn English, interact, make friends and experience cultural UK heritage and nature. You can find out more this project at our earlier blog post: ‘A New Project: Making Friends & Learning English Through Culture & Nature’.

What did we see?

The Whitworth Gallery was enjoyed by all who attended! A tour guide from the Whitworth Gallery also accompanied our group, entertaining us with plenty of information and insights.

Exhibitions included drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and more, from a wide range of local and international artists. Our tour also allowed time to explore tapestries from around the world, from Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen – these pieces held great importance to the cultural heritage of many of our group.

Our group learning about the origins of tapestries on display

A Chance to see the ‘Kiswa’ Cloth

This section of ‘Kiswa’ cloth, woven in satin silk, dates back to 1924 – it really made an impression on many of our group. This important cloth is woven with religious phrases in Arabic and covers the ‘Ka’ba’ in Mecca, with sections distributed across the world every year.

Our group crowding around the ‘Kiswa’ cloth.

Our Shared Heritage

Our group was fascinated to learn more about the Victorian tradition wall-paper designs and processess. We were super interested to learn how British designers at that time actually used methods involving dyes, wood-blocks and printing that originated in Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Japan. The tour guide explained how methods have evolved over time, with modern methods now using computer-aided design to recreate these ancient techniques and draw upon other cultures and tradition.

Finding our about traditional wall paper design.

Challenging Stereotypes

The exhibition ‘Beyond Faith: Muslim Women Artists Today’ showcased the work of five Muslim women and really made an impression on many of our female participants. The exhibition explored themes of identity, culture, ‘otherness’ and belonging. Many of our volunteers and participants were already familiar with the stories and works of these artists but had never actually seen their work. These pieces also reflected the diverse personal journeys of the artists and their artistic journeys, challenging the stereo-types of Muslim women.

Peaceful Gardens and Outdoor Galleries

We also loved this excursion to The Whitworth Gallery because there are galleries situated outside that are integrated into the adjacent park and art garden. There is a sculpture terrace and orchard garden that run alongside spaces that lead into the park.

We hope that participants from our group will return to these free, city-centre green spaces and galleries that are open for everyone to enjoy. Many of our participants also volunteer in our Paradise Garden and were very interested to see this exemplar garden.

So, tell your family and friends and then come back again and soak up the sunshine!

Make new friends & learn new skills!

Do you live in the Salford area? Would you like to improve your English, make new friends and enjoy cultural trips to visit nature and culture? Join our Creative English group as a learner to improve your English language skills. You can also become a volunteer and work within our team to deliver teaching activities. We also run a gardening volunteer group in our Paradise Garden which you can find out more about by exploring this blog.

Our volunteer initiatives will benefit you in many ways – they will build your confidence and communication skills, habits of work and provide you with a good reference for future employers or education.

Vounteers in our Paradise Garden.

Want to Find Out More?

Your can find out more about our learning and volunteer initiatives and the wider activities of The Ascension Church by visiting our website at:

We look forward to meeting you!

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