The Top 10 Exhibitions To See In London: June 2022

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 15 months ago

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The Top 10 Exhibitions To See In London: June 2022

We look ahead to June's must-see shows in London.

1. Heavenly: Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens

Theaster Gates' Black Chapel will host live performances while in situ in Kensington Gardens. © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio

The annual Serpentine pavilion is always a summer event to look forward to; this year Theaster Gates' Black Chapel — inspired by 'performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel' — will also host live performances during its time in situ. Gates, recently had a major exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery, with the support of global architecture practice Adjaye Associates (themselves no stranger to churches, having constructed the stunning National Cathedral of Ghana). Head to Kensington Gardens to chill out in this sanctuary that's worlds apart from the hubbub of London life.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022: Black Chapel by Theaster Gates. 10 June - 16 October, free.

2. Healing: Eternally Yours at Somerset House

Image courtesy Aya Haidar.

We all need a bit of self-care and repair now and again, but can we extend this to the objects around us — and do the two activities overlap? Eternally Yours: Care, Repair and Healing looks at ancient arts of repair, such as the Japanese art of kintsugi, where cracks are filled with gold to celebrate the 'scars'; to contemporary fashion and furniture where upcycling allows battered items to gain new life. The show also covers how the very act of repairing things can itself help us heal, including the stories of Syrian migrants woven into the soles of shoes by Aya Haidar (pictured).

Eternally Yours: Care, Repair and Healing at Somerset House. 16 June - 25 September, free.

3. Sculpture hunt: Mayfair Sculpture Trail

The work of Manolo Valdes from the 2021 sculpture trail. Image curtesy Opera Gallery. Photo: David Owens photography.

Wandering into galleries can be intimidating, especially in well-heeled Mayfair — but that concept's turned upside down with Mayfair Sculpture Trail, which takes the art outdoors, to the masses. Following the trail around the district (or just stumbling upon sections of it) means we can more easily engage with art, while discovering parts of Mayfair we're not familiar with. It's part of the programme of Mayfair Art Weekend where the local galleries throw open their doors, and welcome anyone to pop in.

Mayfair Sculpture Trail. 20 June - 31 July, free.
Mayfair Art Weekend.
24-26 June, free.

4. Summery art: Summer Exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts

Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London / David Parry

You know the drill by now. Over a thousand artworks are stacked floor to ceiling in the grand galleries of the Royal Academy. It's so esoteric, you won't love everything, however it's about winkling out the gems that mean something to you (as well as spotting the works by big name artists like Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry). The annual art bonanza has been going for over 250 years and if you're feeling particularly flush, know that most of the works are for sale and some of the proceeds go towards the Royal Academy schools programme, which also has its graduate exhibition on at the same time.  

Summer Exhibition 2022 at Royal Academy of Arts. 21 June - 21 August, £20-£22.
RA Schools Show 2022 at Royal Academy of Arts. 17 June - 3 July, free.

5. City sculpting: Sculpture in the City

Sculpture in the City returns for its 11th edition — once more scattering the Square Mile with thought-provoking outdoor sculptures to admire among the skyscrapers. One early installation is the creepily playful work by Jocelyn McGregor in Aldgate Square (pictured) and we're sure we'll have a lot more faves from this year's batch.

Sculpture in the City. 21 June - Spring 2023, free.

6. Take the weather with you: A Thousand Words for Weather at Senate House Library

Courtesy of Artangel and Senate House Library. Photograph: Francesco Russo

Us Brits love to talk about the weather but is it really just a British thing? With climate change affecting the entire planet, discussing the topic is now far more important than an ice-breaker. A collaboration of artists and poets have created a dictionary of weather terms, translating it into different languages alongside the sounds of weather from across the world being played within the Senate House Library - accompanied by a programme of related talks on climate change. It's organised by Artangel, who have a track record of putting on spectacular art installations.

Artangel: A Thousand Words for Weather at Senate House Library. 22 June - 25 March 2023, £5.

7. Operatic: LIFT 2022

The London International Festival Theatre — or LIFT — is at venues across London, shining the spotlight on up-and-coming stars of music, dance and theatre. Unlock ghost stories in a shopping centre, or watch an opera about climate change performed on a beach. We saw the latter at the Venice Biennale in 2019 where it won the top award of the Golden Lion and it is an unforgettable spectacle that beautifully ebbs and flows as different performers step out on to the sand. Running alongside LIFT Serpentine North will also have a companion exhibition responding to the climate emergency.

LIFT at multiple venues. 23 June - 10 July, prices vary.
Back to Earth 2022 at Serpentine North. 22 June - 18 September, free.

8: Fantastic: In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery

Copyright Lina Iris Viktor.

Hayward Gallery's new exhibition, In the Black Fantastic, brings together myth, science fiction, spiritual traditions and the legacy of Afrofuturism. See works by 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora, which question our knowledge of the world. It's also accompanied by music, poetry, sound installations and performances across Southbank Centre with a weekend of events in July.

In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery. 29 June - 18 September, £13.50

9: Portals: Space Popular at John Soane's Museum

Image courtesy Space Popular.

A visit to the wondrous John Soane's Museum is like stepping through a portal in time. Design practice Studio Popular has taken this one step further, with a film and a virtual reality experience that whisks us into other eras, worlds and realms. Using the museum as an inspiration and starting point, it's a journey into the unknown where imaginative installations may be found.

Space Popular: The Portal Galleries at John Soane's Museum. 29 June - 25 September, free.

10: London is open: The London Open & Emma Talbot at The Whitechapel Gallery

Work by Patrick Goddard from a previous show. Courtesy artist and Seventeen, London. Photo: David Hoyland

London is a restless arts hub bristling with creative individuals, but who are the ones shaking up London's vibrant art scene today? Whitechapel Gallery has selected 46 artists ranging from 26 to 67 years old for this triennial exhibition, which has been running since 1932. New work includes painting, sculpture, moving image, installation, and performance across themes such as the environment, poetry and politics. Alongside this major exhibition there's also the work of Emma Talbot, who has created two 11-metre-long silk tapestries themed on current issues including the climate emergency and contemporary feminism.

The London Open 2022 at The Whitechapel Gallery. 30 June - 4 September, free.
Emma Talbot: The Age / L'Eta at The Whitechapel Gallery. 30 June - 4 September, free.

Short run events

Fred Perry playing at Wimbledon.

With Wimbledon tennis around the corner, Design Museum has put on a timely display dedicated to Fred Perry: A British Icon (10-19 June, free), both the man himself and the brand, including the subcultures it's inspired.

Another highlight is the return of Little Amal, the refugee puppet who walked her way from Syria to raise awareness of the refugee crisis — she's at the South Bank on 25 June as part of refugee week.

Little Amal on her original journey. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe.

June is also the month when graduates from art colleges get to show off the culmination of their degrees and there are shows all over town including: Central Saint Martins, Chelsea, Wimbledon, Camberwell, Goldsmiths, Royal College of Art and Slade to name just a few (16-30 June, free).

Or head to some open studios at Kingsgate (11-12 June, free) or at the Cockpit Summer Festival and open studios (10-12 June in Bloomsbury, 17-19 June in Deptford - free). Meanwhile, at North Greenwich's Design District for Flux (16-25 June, free), a selection of 50 artists will have their work available for sale. Plus the always popular Kensington and Chelsea Art Week (23 June - 3 July) will return with a free public sculpture trail that will remain up for the length of the summer.

An image from 2019's Masterpiece. Photo: Ben Fisher

If art fairs is what you're after then the always fabulous Masterpiece at Royal Hospital, Chelsea (30 June - 6 July, £38.50-£45) is full of high end art, jewellery, furniture and design — with ticket prices to match. While over at Olympia you can get your fix of old school antiques and artworks at the Art & Antiques fair (22-26 June, £16.50-£18). We're partial to the suits of armour and old maps we've found at previous editions of the fair .

Last Updated 22 June 2022