Looking for a dose of culture? Want to know what's hot on London's exhibition scene? To make it easier to navigate, we've roughly split this article into areas of London. Read on.
POPES & A COW'S HEAD: When we think faith and art, we often think of the Renaissance, centuries ago. However, the concept of the sacred is one that many artists have wrestled with in the last century, whether it be a preserved cow's head by Damien Hirst forcing us to examine our own mortality, or a hilarious Pope struck down by a meteorite by Maurizio Cattelan. These items are all up for auction so it's a chance to see these spectacular works before they go under the hammer.
Sacred Noise at Christie's.Until 21 July, free. ★★★★☆
STUNNING LANDSCAPES: The American wilderness has arrived in London with Thomas Cole's vast landscapes. There are lessons in a series of paintings where an opulent empire falls apart as it's raided by enemies — it's Cole's message on the evils of Colonialism. Other great landscape painters such as Turner and Constable also feature in this show and it's testament to Cole that his works can hold their own against these giants.
Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire at The National Gallery. Until 7 October, £8-12. ★★★★☆
PEDESTRIAN PORTRAITS: The BP Portrait Award is an annual fixture at National Portrait Gallery and once again it's filled with talent. We always like those who push the boundaries, such as Nokota Sacha's blurred faces reflecting what it feels like to communicate with family through video calls. Unfortunately most of the work feels quite stale and many previous exhibitors have returned this year showing the prize hasn't evolved much. We wrote a piece two years ago about shaking it up, but alas our piece still rings true today.
BP Portrait Award at National Portrait Gallery. Until 23 September, free. ★★☆☆☆
A HISTORY OF BLING: We're massive fans of the Wallace Collection, but what about the man who gave the place its name — Sir Richard Wallace? This exhibition tells us who he was through a selection of fantastic objects including a detailed miniature Gothic carving and elaborately decorated armour. Previous visitors will know that the exhibition space has always been quite small, but now it's been extended and it looks superb.
Sir Richard Wallace - The Collector at Wallace Collection. Until 6 January, free. ★★★★☆
CINEMATICALLY SURREAL: A woman is surrounded by pigeons, while groups of people sit quietly in a cinema or relax on a beach. All these photographs have a cinematic gloss to them and it comes as no surprise to see they are carefully staged to give them a surreal air. There's star power here too as Bryce Dallas Howard stars in a short film where she leaps from a building. It's a quirky show filled with gorgeous photography and film.
Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive at The Photographers' Gallery. Until 14 October, free-£4. ★★★★☆
VIRTUAL SCULPTURE: Brightly coloured paintings and 3D printed sculpture fill the gallery but they really come alive when visitors don a virtual reality headset. We're shrunk and transported into another dimension where these works have been blown up to a massive scale as we float among them. It's a sensational experience and an exceptional method to bring the artist's other works to life.
Leelee Kimmel: Wormhole at Simon Lee, Mayfair. Until 30 August, free. ★★★★☆
DRINK IT IN: Campari gets arty in a show that looks at how this brand has pushed the envelope of marketing and advertising. Sex sells as a woman is draped over a bottle and another bottle walks on slender high heeled legs. The ad campaigns evolve with the art movements of the time and there are some stylish works in this intoxicating show.
The Art of Campari at Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. Until 16 September, £6.50. ★★★☆☆
QUIRKY CONTRAPTIONS: We were excited by the launch of Heath Robinson Museum a few years ago, and now it's time to head back to Pinner as there's a fun interactive exhibition on. Turn a wheel and a donkey draws itself on paper in a very meta work, and drop a coin into a doll's house to see it come alive. It's full of zany contraptions that Heath Robinson himself would have loved.
A Curious Turn: Moving, Mechanical Sculpture at Heath Robinson Museum, Pinner. Until 19 August, £6. ★★★★☆
UNSETTLING SCI-FI: Large eggs look like something straight out of Alien — we daren't get too close lest a facehugger leaps out at us. Tentacles reach towards us, and scorpion-like creatures bobble around firing laser pointers in all directions. Couple this with science fiction sounds, a projection of a brain, and we have a creepily brilliant one room exhibition that's the stuff of dreams... or, more likely, nightmares.
Katja Novitskova: Invasion Curves at Whitechapel Gallery. Until 2 September, free. ★★★★★
SINGING SCULPTURE: Large stone pillars stand in front of us, and start singing and making noises as we approach them. They have embedded speakers, and it's a surreal sensation to trigger these sounds. Stones are a constant within human history, whether it be for inscribing runes, sheltering us or when the Greek god Cronus devoured a stone believing it to be his son. Artist Evy Jokhova now gives them the opportunity to form new histories through their sounds in this playful exhibition.
Evy Jokhova: I dance for you my edifice at L'etrangere, Shoreditch. Until 9 September, free. ★★★★☆