Spring is upon us: it's time to uncurl yourself from the comforts of home and dip your toes into something new. This April is set to lead the way for design innovation with the National Museum of Scotland and the National Centre for Craft & Design reflecting upon the creative practices of contemporary glassmakers, while the Sainsbury Centre looks back at the pioneering history of post-war architecture. In Manchester, Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves provides a place for tradition and modernity to meet, and Christian Boltanski returns to London with a immersive exhibition which examines the fragility of human life.
Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves
The Whitworth, Manchester, 30 March-28 August
Celebrating The Whitworth's most recent moving image acquisition, Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves will be on display for public view throughout the spring and summer. Based on the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy, in which 23 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned off the England's northwest coast, this three screen installation explores traditional and contemporary notions of desire, loss and separation. Isaac Julien draws together archival news footage with fictional scenes shot in the Guangxi province in southern China to portray the cockle-pickers' spirits' journey to the 'Middle Kingdom'. Within, a depiction of the Chinese legend of Mazu the Sea Goddess, protector of seafarers, guides these lost souls back to their home land.
Art of Glass
National Museum of Scotland, 6 April - 16 September
For centuries, glass has been a malleable material for creating functional and decorative objects - in Britain, it has considerable importance as an art form following the Studio Glass Movement of the 1960s. In Art of Glass, the National Museum of Scotland in partnership with the National Centre for Craft & Design reveal the work of 15 UK-based glass artists. These practitioners are pushing the boundaries of age-old techniques and forging new paths for their medium with technological innovations such as waterjet cutting and 3D printing. Featured exhibitors include Filipino-American artist Jeffrey Sarmiento; English sculptor Emma Woffenden (V&A Woman’s Hour Craft Prize shortlist); and Scottish artist Karlyn Sutherland, who is influenced by the environment and quality of light found in the far-north of Scotland.
Christian Boltanski, Éphémères
Marian Goodman Gallery, London, 12 April-12 May
This show marks Boltanski's first solo presentation in London since 2010. Working with a variety of media, his practice touches upon the collective imagination and exposes the fragility of memory. Conceived as a continuous installation, Éphémères pulls together elements of previous works with entirely new pieces: La Traversée de la vie sees Boltanski re-employ imagery used in 1971; Animitas (Blanc) and Animitas (small souls) are subtle variations of his recent Animitas series; and new film installation, Éphémères (Mayflies), features documentary footage of the brief lives of Ephemeroptera insects.
Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960s-1990s
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 24 March - 2 September
This year is the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Sainsbury Centre, the first public building designed by architect Norman Foster. Bringing together architectural drawings, paintings, designs, models, photographs and films from the 1960s to the 1990s, Superstructures reveals the new technologies, lightweight structures, pioneering building techniques and innovative engineering solutions that arose in the post-World War Two decades. Models of projects from these decades such as Pompidou Centre and International Terminal Waterloo, will be on show alongside original plans for the Sainsbury Centre.