Da Vinci drawings, a cult comedian and a rocket - Lauren Dent rounds up a trio of must-see exhibits

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

Manchester Art Gallery | Until 6 May | Free 

Did you know Leonardo da Vinci is currently resident in Manchester? Well, not da Vinci himself, but rather twelve of the Renaissance artist’s greatest drawings; displayed as part of a nationwide commemoration to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. 

Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust, Leonardo da Vinci: A life in Drawing sees 144 of his works shown in twelve separate galleries around the UK - and luckily for us, Manchester Art Gallery (MAG) is one of them. 

There, until 6 May, you'll find a selection of works focused on the body; reflecting the Italian artist's trademark attention to detail. Evoked using pen, ink, watercolours and chalks, they span romanticised male and female bodies to anatomical studies, figures in action and studies of a foetus. 

And what may seem like just an average sketch to the untrained eye can be traced back to the first sketches, 'practice pieces' if you’d like, of what became some of his most renowned works: including The Last Supper and The Lady with an Ermine

If you’re intrigued as to how some of his bigger pieces came about - as well as how da Vinci became fascinated with anatomical studies, dissections and making the connections between art and medical studies - then this exhibition is well worth the queue. 

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Da Vinci's most famous works often began as drawings

Bobbins: Frank Sidebottom and Chris Sievey

Manchester Central Library | Until 30 April | Free 

A wonderful and poignant recollection of a Mancunian mastermind, Bobbins pays tribute to musician-comedian Chris Sievey and his alter ego Frank Sidebottom. 

The multimedia exhibition tells the story of Sievey's life through funny videos, puppets, nostalgic memorabilia and the show-stopping papier-mâché head of Sidebottom itself. 

Currently on as part of Central Library's event series, it was co-curated by Steve Sullivan and David Arnold; the producer and art director behind new documentary Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story. 

Our advice? Catch the film after you've seen the exhibition. It's currently on at HOME and has received rave reviews for good reason. 

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Bobbins commemorates the life of Chris Sievey, creator of Frank Sidebottom, who died in 2010

Stephenson’s Rocket Returns

Science and Industry Museum | Until 8 September | Free 

The name is a little deceptive, for Stephenson's Rocket is actually a locomotive so called for its impressive power. 

Designed by Robert Stephenson, Rocket won the locomotive trials - held at Rainhill in 1829 - and was the only vehicle to reach an average of twelve miles and a top speed of 30 miles per hour. Rocket net its creator £500 in prize money and a contract to produce locomotives for the revolutionary new Liverpool and Manchester railway. 

It was one small step for mankind and one giant leap for the modern railway network. 

A keystone of industrial Manchester, Rocket has returned for the first time in 180 years. We recommend joining one of the daily talks and learning how this iconic symbol changed the way we travel forever.  

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Rocket helped develop the modern railway