One of my favourite things about living in London is the amazing array of galleries and museums this city contains. From immersive installations to classic works of art, there is always something fascinating to see and experience. So, here are the latest exhibitions in London that I’ve been lucky enough to see and would highly recommend you do too.
Looking for something else to do in London? Check out my events guide.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year at The Natural History Museum
There isn’t an annual exhibition in London that captures my heart quite like Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Now in its 57th year, this show is a chance to see the best of this year’s competition entries up close. Handpicked from a record-breaking 50,000+ entries by a panel of scientists, photographers and editors, these images are judged for their originality, freshness, truth to nature, wow factor and lasting impact.
The exhibition includes category winners and those that were Highly Commended, encompassing 71 photographers from 26 countries. The extraordinary Dome Home stands out among the winners, featuring a kaleidoscopic spider’s web captured by ten-year-old Vidyun R Hebbar from India. Speaking of arachnids, I don’t think any image has ever made my stomach lurch quite like Gil Wizen’s shot of a human-hand-sized Brazilian wandering spider he found hiding under his bed.
Be prepared for this exhibition to provoke a vast range of emotions. From the adorable portrait of a 40-year-old mountain gorilla chilling in the rain to the distressing shot of a grey seal struggling to free itself from the fishing rope wrapped around its neck, practically every photo will leave you deeply affected.
These extraordinary images showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth and spark curiosity and wonder. Telling the story of a planet under pressure, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition illuminates the urgent challenges we face and the collective action we need to take.
Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum.
My favourite shot from this years’ selection has to be dreamy underwater Turtle in Paradise by Henley Spiers. As soon as I saw this photo, I couldn’t look away. The sea of deep pink lilypads in Cenote Aktun Ha, Mexico, perfectly contrasts with the blue water above. No wonder the little terrapin seems so happy with its surroundings.
I chatted to the photographer at the exhibition preview about the underlying meaning of this image. It turns out that this is a red-eared slider, who was probably a pet released into the wild. This type of turtle is now banned in many countries because it has sadly become one of the most invasive species in the world.
I don’t think any exhibition in London is more suited for a day date idea this winter than WPY. Beautifully staged in two darkened galleries, it’s simultaneously visually delightful and conversation-provoking. Plus, afterwards, you can spend a few hours museum-hopping in South Kensington, if you have the time.
📅 Exhibition runs till 5 June 2022
📍The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD
Even if you don’t know much about sculpture (like me), I still recommend spending an afternoon wandering around this wonderful retrospective of the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904 – 1988). His design work encompassed playgrounds and set designs, alongside the beautiful pieces you see pictured here.
The first thing I noticed was all the mid-century paper lamps dotted around the exhibition. Turns out, those cheap Ikea light coverings that every student house features these days were inspired by Noguchi’s original Akari designs from the 1950s and 60s.
One of my favourite elements was seeing the collaborations between Noguchi and Martha Graham. The sculptor-designer began his creative partnership with the legendary dancer-choreographer in 1935 when he designed the set for her solo work, Frontier. I particularly loved seeing the Spider Dress he designed for Graham’s work Cave of the Heart in 1946.
It’s so interesting to see how much Noguchi’s sculptures are infused by his dual heritage and childhood’s spent in both the USA and Japan. The landscape of Double Red Mountain (1969) is reminiscent of the vastness of the American Midwest, where Noguchi spent much of his teens. He also travelled to Hiroshima in 1951, only five years after the devastating bombing, and was approached by both the Japanese and American governments over the following years to design a memorial (although, neither opportunity ever came to fruition).
Sculpture can be a vital force in our everyday life if projected into communal usefulness.
Queer history buffs will be interested to know that Isamu Noguchi was the son of bisexual writer and poet, Yone Noguchi, and the unconventional editor and journalist, Léonie Gilmour. Noguchi adopted his father’s itinerant approach to life, creating work in various countries, including the anti-fascist mural History Mexico (1936) for a project with Diego Rivera.
Make sure you pick up a copy of the exhibition’s brochure before you enter it contains all the information about each work. At first, I found it annoying that there weren’t the usual credits next to each piece. However, I soon came to appreciate the fact that no one needed to crowd any artwork to read more about it. Plus, it really suited the subject’s minimalist facade.
Following a profoundly strange and uncertain year, this landmark exhibition has arrived with impeccable timing. After all, this pandemic has probably made us all feel like we’ve tumbled down a dystopian rabbit hole at times.
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser unpacks the mythology and explores the endless reimaginings of Lewis Carol’s highly influential 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, including film, fashion and VR in a comprehensive and sumptuous display. From the original miniature drawings to a giant funfair-sized caterpillar, the exhibition’s scale grows and shrinks in Alice-sized proportions.
The V&A is the ideal museum for an exhibition that delves into one of the most enduring works of the Victorian era. Released during quite a priggish time, Alice includes a fascinating array of attitudes around mental health, drug use and philosophy for a children’s book, which is probably why it sparked the imagination of adults as well.
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Alice is one of those exhibitions where you swoon a little as your enter each room, moving from one visual delight to the next, making it one of the most Instagrammable exhibitions in London this year. The V&A always outdoes itself with an exhibition of this calibre. Though this isn’t on the same scale as their iconic retrospectives like David Bowie Is… or Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, it still managed to exceed my very high expectations.
My highlights from this exhibition were Bob Crowley’s towering costume for the Queen of Hearts from the Royal Ballet’s 2011 production, Ralph Steadman’s unsettling 1970s illustrations and RuPaul as the Queen of Hearts in Pirelli’s Alice in Wonderland-Themed 2018 Calendar. I also really loved Chris Riddell’s illustrations for Macmillian’s new edition last year as he drew inspiration from the actual Alice’s dark bob and turned the Mad Hatter into a more androgynous character.
📅 Exhibition runs till 31 December 2021
📍Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL
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A lifestyle blog for everyone who questions the norm. From polyamorous relationships and personal growth to queer travel adventures, Minka Guides helps you live a fabulous life with intentionality.