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.  

The Nature Table: Work by Sheila Tilmouth

11 June – 10 September

Drawing of Ants by Sheila TilmouthSheila Tilmouth is captivated and curious about the complexity of life forms and their fragile dependence on natural habitats within our landscape. She uses photography and microscopes to discover and magnify the extraordinary lives that are hidden all around us and in the miniature worlds beneath our feet.  Her work shows a wide range of fascinating detailed, close ups exploring all aspects of nature be it animal, vegetable or mineral.

Recently Shelia has spent many hours exploring and studying the natural history collection at Gallery Oldham and observing Oldham’s wildlife. She has made new works inspired by her visits and added these to her existing body of work. From fungus to flies and bumblebees to birds her work interprets these hugely varied lifeforms using a wide mixture of artists’ materials including painting, drawing, printmaking and digital manipulation. 

British Wildlife Photography Awards 

10 year retrospective 

28 May – 3 September 2022

Photograph of cynet paddling in waterThis exhibition celebrates the tenth anniversary of the British Wildlife Photography Awards at its very best and inspired millions with some of the most outstanding wildlife photography in the world.

 This retrospective looks at the past 10 years and for the first time will include all the overall winners along with a selection of images including category winners and highly commended images, that have made this the exciting and wonderful event it is today.

The competition has captured the imagination of photographers from all over the UK, who collectively have created a unique legacy showcasing British wildlife.

The awards were created to celebrate the talents of both amateur and professional photographers, while simultaneously highlighting the great wealth and diversity of British natural history, raising awareness about British biodiversity, species and habitats, encouraging all ages to discover, explore and help conserve our natural heritage.British Wildlife Photography Awards



Landscape Inside Out

March 5 – June 4 2022

Abstract painting by Liz AckerleyLiz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom present their first joint large-scale exhibition, exploring the local landscapes from their home in Mossley. Moorland, woodland and the valleys are the focus of their explorations.

Both artists spend a lot of time working outside as well as in the studio. They bring into the gallery the atmospheric feeling of the landscape that they both know so well. The collaboration enables two very different, complementary ways of experiencing and interpreting the same landscapes. Hugh’s oil paintings create depth and atmosphere by observing colour and light. Liz’s dynamic mixed media paintings explore the rich visual language of vistas and details.

Follow their journey preparing the artwork for this exhibition via their YouTube Channels: Liz Ackerley and Hugh Winterbottom

Watch this short film by Liz Ackerley as she looks at sketching:

Countryside magazines recently featured both artists on their podcast. Hear how the ever-changing seasons and atmospheres influence their very different styles of work.⁠

Podcast: how the countryside can inspire art –

Image Credit: Fleeting Moment, Lasting Memories by Liz Ackerley

Zarah Hussain: Light Upon Light

22 January – 14 May 2022

Geometric wall based abstract artwork by Zarah Hussain

Zarah Hussain is a contemporary artist based in London. She was born in Macclesfield in 1980. Zarah Hussain works at the intersection of science and spirituality. She combines contemporary digital art with rigorous training in traditional hand-drawn Islamic geometry. She has spent her career exploring the ways in which she can apply the principles of Islamic geometric design to contemporary art, using new technologies and materials.

We are delighted to present 12 new pieces of wall-based sculpture, alongside drawings and the light installation Invisible Threads, which was made in 2018. Invisible Threads is an ever-changing design which has an infinite number of colour combinations, so it appears different every time you see it.

Arts Council England logo




Oldham’s Lockdown Museum – online exhibition

A child’s rainbow in a window

Oldham’s Lockdown Museum is a digital project to collect a snapshot of what life is like in our local area during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We’d love to share your experiences and ideas, and see pictures (photographs or drawings/paintings) or films of the objects that sum them up, whatever they are.

Each week we will set a theme for you to respond to. You are also welcome to send us Lockdown related images which don’t relate to the themes. We will exhibit our favourite entries in Oldham’s Lockdown Museum the following week so make sure that you check back here soon. To find out more about how to enter and this week’s theme click here.

The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour: Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study 

18 September 2021 – 8 January 2022

The title of Degas’ Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study suggests that it is a portrait of a young woman. When you look more closely, however, the stories the painting tells are all about Hélène’s father, Henri Rouart. Our exhibition asks: Is this really a portrait of Hélène, or of her father?

This is the starting point for an exploration of the ways in which women are represented within our art collections. Gallery Oldham holds many portraits in which the woman is not named. Sometimes she is described as “wife” or “daughter”, sometimes the title completely ignores the fact there is a woman in the portrait at all. We are using this exciting National Gallery partnership as a starting point to try to uncover the identities of some of these sitters, and to find out more about those who we know little.


Portrait of Hélène Rouart in her Father's Study.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas. Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study. © The National Gallery, London.

Logo for National Gallery and Christie's








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.