Queer British Art Tate Britain, 5th April to 1st October
In 1861, parliament abolished the death penalty for sodomy. Between then and 1967, which saw the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, artists were in the vanguard of changing views about sexuality. Tate celebrates the anniversary with an array of work spanning a century—from covert images of same-sex desire like Simeon Solomon’s Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene (1864) through to David Hockney’s defiant Going to be a Queen for Tonight (1960). There will also be ephemera, photographs, film, magazines and designs for theatre—where gender-bending was exuberant.
Gillian Ayres National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 8th April to 3rd September
Gillian Ayres, born in 1930, is one of Britain’s most renowned abstract artists. This is the largest exhibition of her colourful paintings ever seen in the UK, showing 40 works from the early 1950s until the 1980s. It promises to offer insight into the influence of Wales on her life and work. The exhibition runs in parallel with a major selling show of paintings and prints at the Alan Cristea Gallery (ends 22nd April).
Lucienne Day: A Sense of Growth The Collection Centre, the Whitworth, University of Manchester, 14th April to 11th June
This year is textile designer Lucienne Day’s centenary. Together with her husband, furniture designer Robin Day, she transformed drab Britain in the 1950s. A passionate gardener, her textiles express a very British love of nature in a quirky visual language owing as much to modern art—Kandinsky, Miró and Klee—as to botany. The Whitworth holds one of the world’s largest collections of her textiles, from which the curators have made a celebratory selection.