The Best Cities in the UK to Discover Contemporary Art

With so many world famous exhibitions and galleries, living in a capital city like London can make it easy to overlook UK-wide artistic communities. But for those willing to travel out of zone one, and perhaps their comfort zone too, Virgin Trains connects London with the most creatively affluent destinations in the United Kingdom. There’s really no excuse to overlook our national artists.

If you’re considering a cultural getaway, here’s a list to solidify that decision. To honour our collaboration with Virgin Trains (you can get the latest copy of HISKIND on their BEAM service), we turn the spotlight on UK-wide talent, prompting you to leave the big city and immerse in the British creative scene.

Liverpool

Image via Instagram @dirty.hans

Dirty Hans

Watergate Street Gallery

Initially a solution to his childhood hyperactivity, Dirty Hans’ high impact contemporary art reminds us of artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He has developed a unique painting style while drawing upon icons of pop culture. Combining a variety of techniques in his pop art pieces, he has recently expanded into the realm of digital art media.

London to Liverpool: Approximately 2 hours 7 minutes

Manchester

Image via davidgledhill.com

David Gledhill

Rogue Artists’ Studios

Co-administrator of Rogue Artists Studios in Manchester, Gledhill has been on the art radar for several years now. Drawing upon photographic archives in his painting style, he aims to make a statement about the political climate around his subjects. His latest projects include a film based on his Dr. Munscheid paintings, a series of works based on an album discovered in a Frankfurt flea market, depicting candid shots of an East German family living in 1952.

London to Manchester: Approximately 2 hours 9 minutes

Edinburgh

Image via margaretannbennett.co.uk

Margaretann Bennett

Arusha Gallery

Bennett has created a painting style evocative of a sense of loss and remembrance. Her canvases draw upon the gothic to bring to life ghostly girls or abstract bodies envisioned as a ‘mysterious other’. Nostalgia meets surrealism and life stills are filtered through an inherent fragility, creating a haunting visual style.

London to Edinburgh: Approximately 4 hours 28 minutes

Birmingham

Mathe Shepheard

Mathe Shepheard

Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

Shepheard abandoned her initial medium of glass and ceramics and ventured into the world of painting. She creates a fluid style based on a self-proclaimed desire to generate a sense of déjà vu. Focusing on technique, the softness of her strokes aims to animate the unexpected while exploring landscapes, flowers, sky and water and it is now on display at the RBSA.

London to Birmingham: Approximately 1 hour 56 minutes

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