The Top 12 Exhibitions To See In London In July 2023

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 9 months ago

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The Top 12 Exhibitions To See In London In July 2023

Looking for an awesome London exhibition this July? Here's our roundup of must-see shows in the capital, plus one cheeky addition from outside the city.

Young at heart: Young V&A opens

A mock-up of the new museum space, opening this summer. © Victoria and Albert Museum

Gone is the rather dated Museum of Childhood, as it's reopened as the rebranded Young V&A, after a lengthy refurbishment. While the old museum had lots of nostalgia, this incarnation has far more interactive elements: visitors can create their own Minecraft version of a town square, get on stage in a performance and storytelling space, frolic in a sandpit, perform tricks at a finger skateboard park... it's a museum that's very much of the 'please do touch' variety.  Read our full preview here.

Young V&A. 1 July onwards, free.

Intercontinental: Lagos, Peckham, Repeat at South London Gallery

Copyright Adeyemi Michael

Peckham is home to one of the largest Nigerian diaspora communities in UK, so South London Gallery is the ideal space for an exhibition about the shared culture between Peckham and Lagos and how it has transitioned between continents. The exhibition brings together works by 13 Nigerian and British-Nigerian artists, including sculpture, photography, sound and film.

Lagos, Peckham, Repeat: Pilgrimage to the Lakes at South London Gallery. 5 July-29 October, free.

African photography: A World in Common at Tate Modern

Copyright Aida Muluneh, commissioned by Water Aid.

Bringing together 36 artists, this exhibition takes us into the world of contemporary African photography covering themes as wide-ranging as cultural heritage, spirituality, urbanisation and climate change. Looking across generations and geography, it celebrates the wonderful diversity of photography across the African continent.

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography at Tate Modern. 6 July-14 January, £17.

In the wild: Rooted at Wakehurst

The ever popular forest megaphones by Birgit Oigus. Photo: Jim Holden, RBG Kew.

Head outside and find some art among the trees. Installations include neon artworks in the tree line by Chila Kumari Burman who created the fantastic Tate Winter commission, as well as a giant wood mouse and tattoos on trees, plus the returning and ever-popular forest megaphones that amplify the sounds of the surrounding natural world, and a giant installation that absorbs water to sink to the ground before releasing that water back into the earth below.

Rooted at Wakehurst, Sussex. 7 July-17 September, included in entry to the gardens (£16.50).

Remembering Reynolds: Reynolds at Kenwood House

This month is the 300th anniversary of the painter Joshua Reynolds and to celebrate the tercentenary, Kenwood House has gathered together 17 works by Reynolds in a collection of some of his finest portraits, displayed in a wonderful setting.

Reynolds at Kenwood House. 13 July-19 November, free.

Starchitects: Herzog & de Meuron at Royal Academy of Arts

The Tate Modern extension by H&dM. Photo Iwan Baan.

Architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron is best known in London for having designed and constructed the extension to the Tate Modern, and more recently, new additions to the Royal College of Art in Battersea. This exhibition showcases their wide range of projects across the world with a range of working methods, materials and technologies displayed to take us inside their practice.

Herzog & de Meuron at Royal Academy of Arts. 14 July-15 October, £15.

Car creations: Keita Miyazaki at Gallery Rosenfeld

A previous work of the artist's from 2019. Image courtesy gallery Rosenfeld and the artist.

Combining metal car engine parts with colourful origami made from paper, Keita Miyazaki creates sculptures that feel both warm and cold, organic yet mechanical. His use of these incongruous materials has always mesmerised us in the past with his unique take on the vanitas genre, and this time he's got a three-metre-wide piece, taking his work to a larger scale than we've seen before.

Keita Miyazaki: Excess of Desire at Gallery Rosenfeld. 19 July-30 September, free.

Celebrating women: Paula Rego at The National Gallery

A section of Rego's work. Copyright Ostrich Arts. Photo: The National Gallery.

Taking inspiration from a 15th century altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli, Paula Rego created her own altarpiece 30 years ago that incorporated biblical and mythological women and their narratives. The two works are united in a one-room display and while we've always been a fan of these focused single-room shows, this one feels even more poignant given Rego died last year and we lost a truly brilliant artist - we loved her Tate Britain show two years ago.

Paula Rego: Crivelli's Garden at The National Gallery, Room 46. 20 July-29 October, free.

Empowering: Black Venus at Somerset House

Grace on motorcycle. Copyright Ming Smith, courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.

Somerset House is celebrating Black femininity through the largely photographic works of 18 Black female and non-binary artists. It looks at how the Black female figure has been caricatured and objectified, and how contemporary artists incorporate and subvert these loaded narratives in their work to show what Black womanhood can be.

Black Venus: Reclaiming Black Women in Visual Culture at Somerset House. 20 July-24 September, pay what you can.

Statuesque: Thomas J Price at V&A

Copyright Thomas J Price

Thomas J Price creates sculptures of everyday people to celebrate all of us, not just those with the money and connections to have a statue of themselves. By amalgamating features from different subjects he creates composites of the types of people we seldom see celebrated. He's best known for his Windrush commission and his woman looking at her phone on The Line sculpture trail, and we now have an opportunity to see the full range of his work among the classical statues of the V&A.

Thomas J Price at V&A. 22 July-27 May 2024, free.

Immersive: Genesis at Swiss Church in London

What Genesis looking like in Munich.

Spectacular immersive light exhibitions work well in churches — as we saw at St. Martin-in-the-Fields earlier this year. Now we can witness the story of creation through Genesis at the Swiss Church in London. It's a journey through the elements of light, water, earth, and plants, which represent the first three days of creation in the 'Genesis' story, though it's more about the world around us, rather than keeping things too biblical. Be ready to gaze around you in awe as you're immersed in the creation of the world.

Genesis at Swiss Church in London, Covent Garden. 28 July-22 October, £17.

Games galore: Power Up at Science Museum

Battling it out in 16 player Halo. Copyright Jody Kingzett, Science Museum Group.

Power Up has always been one of Science Museum's most enjoyable temporary events. It's a history of gaming under one roof with 160 consoles that let us play everything from Pong to multi-player Halo. The annual event was so popular that it's now become a permanent addition to the museum, so that at any time of the year people can indulge in a full or half day of gaming to their heart's content, whether it be nostalgic thrills from Street Fighter or creating new worlds in Minecraft. Game on.

Power Up at Science Museum. Opens 27 July, from £10.

Short run events

Beetlejuice characters in doll form. Copyright John Lee Bird

While the majority of graduate art shows were in June, there are two more to check out in July as Third Year Photography Students at the Swansea College of Art Trinity St David’s take over the Copeland Gallery in Peckham (6-9 July, free) - with their show Overly Blueish, and the MA graduates of the Royal College of Art showcase at the Truman Brewery (13-16 July, free) in east London.

Over at Ugly Duck in Bermondsey there will be lots of dolls by John Lee Bird (20-23 July), who hand-sewed dolls during lockdown and continued this habit over three years to create over 800 dolls based on everything from David Bowie to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The exhibition also showcases his wider portfolio of work that includes large scale paintings, print, drawing and film over his 25-year career.

Last Updated 24 July 2023