A Way of Flying: CEM at the new Climate Justice Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery

A new Climate Justice Gallery is now open at Manchester Art Gallery (MAG), featuring artworks from its publicly owned collection.

The MAG Climate Justice Group includes gallery staff, artists and activists based in Manchester. The group selected works for Gallery 6 to explore how art and collections can help people learn from history, shape the future, scrutinise decision-making and encourage caring, collective action. This includes Modo de Volar (A Way of Flying), an aquatint on etching paper by Francisco Goya y Lucientes (see below).

Manchester’s air quality at the time is placed next to the year of each artwork, 1864 in this example, and is expressed as parts per million of carbon dioxide, which can be seen to increase with time on the other exhibits’ interpretation panels.

The interpretation panel reads:

Modo de Volar (A Way of Flying)
Printing plate 1825, print 1864 286.8 ppm CO2
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes 1746-1828
Aquatint and etching on paper

Each man is strapped to a pair of oversized moth-like wings, and dons a hat shaped as a bird’s head. They crouch and lean, defying gravity with no apparent collective direction. A personalised flying contraption that doesn’t require fuel is sadly but a fantastical dream.

The contrasting reality is stark. In 2021 the concerned citizens of Climate Emergency Manchester (CEM) published a report exposing the continual promotion and expansion of carbon-intensive assets at Manchester Airport. They make recommendations that are more harmonious with the 2019 climate emergency declaration and net-zero ambitions for the city.
For more information visit:

Abbie Hawkins (CEM)

Purchased with the assistance of Art Fund_ and the Bostock Will Trust 1984.14

Visit in person!

Free and open to all
Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm. Last entry 4.15pm.
Closed Good Friday, 24–26 December, 1 January.

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester
M2 3JL
Tel: 0161 235 8888


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