Well hung: There's nothing cosy about this wallpaper

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The Independent Online

Who says the humble wall can't be a talking point? A new show called Walls are Talking: Wallpaper, Art and Culture, at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, is the first major UK exhibition of wallpaper by artists. It transports domestic wallpaper design far from the world of the cosy sprigged Laura Ashley pattern and into an altogether darker place, where themes of warfare, racism and sexuality often take centre stage.

The playful and provocative designs from more than 30 international artists include works by Damien Hirst, Michael Craig-Martin and David Shrigley. The images range from the saucy (Allen Jones's Right Hand Lady, for example) to the sinister (see Lisa Hecht's pastel-hued Chain Link Fence). It's a compelling testament to the power of print.

'Walls are Talking', Whitworth Art Gallery, from 6 Feb to 3 May; whitworth.manchester.ac.uk