London is a cultural smorgasbord and its galleries are windows to other worlds. Cleanse your inner eye with a visit to these inspiring spaces. Londoner & writer Oliver Horton did the research so you don’t have to.
Seems obvious that London’s art behemoth should have the killer shows. But it really does. Tate Modern presents… Nam June Paik is responsible for the phrase “electronic superhighway” and pioneered the use of TV and video in artwork. The exhibition pulls 200 works from the South-Korea-born artist’s five–decade career – a “mesmerizing riot of sights and sounds”, claims the briefing. Fun robots are a motif. Meanwhile, Oliafur Eliasson’s In Real Life could be the show of the year. Want to see rainbows in a gallery space? Of course! In 2003 Eliasson put the sun in the Turbine Room, to create this museum’s most iconic exhibit, ever. The new show explores how we perceive and interact with our world. You can also catch [director of the film ‘12 Years A Slave’] Steve McQueen’s uplifting Year Three. And the museum’s restaurant has a great view across the Thames. Take the Jubilee tube line from Canada Water to Waterloo or London Bridge – super fast.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The world’s leading art and design palace is having a good run. The Christian Dior show was the most successful of all time, while Alexander McQueen and Frida Kahlo proved blisteringly popular subjects. We were really excited for February 2020’s Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, which will present 350 years of the Japanese wrap dress. But that’s then and this is now, so check out Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, a deep dive into works by the fantastical fashion (& more) photographer.
Cromwell Road SW7
180 The Strand
The seasonal home of London Fashion Week is a creative space for immersive artworks and more. When Wes Anderson’s charming film ‘I Love Dogs’ came out, this place had an exhibition of the puppets. More prosaically it’s the base for Dazed Media, talent agency IMG and independent music imprint The Vinyl Factory. Other Spaces is three installations for the price of none: yes, entry is free. Behind the art is multi-disciplinary collective UVA. The three exhibits are Our Time (kinetic light), The Great Animal Orchestra (soundscape) and Vanishing Point (lasers) – big and bold and light and sound.
180 The Strand WC2R
The non-stop nature of modern life is the subject of 24/7. This quirky, often-amusing show comprises more than 50 multi-disciplinary works that challenge you to step off the metaphorical treadmill and upload some perspective. The blurb on 24/7 declares: “With every moment … an opportunity to connect and work, unrelenting pressure to produce and consume, sleep … monitored and commodified, how we cope is one of the most urgent contemporary issues affecting us all.” Shut yourself in Tatsuo Miyajima’s meditative isolation chamber, Life Palace, and bask in LED countdowns! Tune in to Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s machine-generated dawn chorus and lament the impact of urban spread on birds! Unite with listeners around the world at Daily tous les jours and hum the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah! Or, if that does your head in, Somerset House also hosts an ice skate rink.
The Strand WC2R
Out in West London the Design Museum is in good spirits following the knockout success of this year’s Stanley Kubrick retrospective. The film director of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ rarely ventured out of Hertfordshire, so he might have approved of new show Moving to Mars, which takes visitors to the red planet while rooted in the relative comfort of Kensington. Crafted for all the family (ages 8-80), the exhibition uses the notion of Martian living to explore zero waste, clean energy and future-forward design. Discover immersive environments and imaginative, space-friendly objects including the first Mars-adapted spacesuit. NASA, the European Space Agency and Space X join the Martian mix. And fashion designer Christopher Raeburn has whipped up a special collection.
224 Kensington High Street W8
Come to discover: