The UK’s vaccine rollout is continuing apace and with the country’s various outlets and establishments now opening their doors once more there has never been a better time to visit a museum or gallery. Here are some exhibitions that are worth visiting
Phantoms of Surrealism
19 May – 12 December
This is a display almost 90 years in the making. In 1936, a mysterious woman – later discovered to be renowned artist Sheila Legge – spent a day patrolling around Trafalgar Square adorned in a wedding dress and a crown made of red roses. Legge later confirmed that it was a tribute to Salvador Dalí, arguably the world’s most revered surrealist, and an exhibition was subsequently put on in London by Legge and some of her contemporaries. Now, 85 years later, the Whitechapel Gallery is putting on a free display to honour this event, complete with press cuttings, scrapbook entries and works not seen for almost a century.
Henry Moore Institute
17 May onwards
DO HO SUH, HUB, WIELANDSTR. 18, 12159 BERLIN, 2015
Sculpture is often associated with large stone or marble edifices that are so robust as to give off a degree of immovable permanence. However, this incredible display being put on by the Henry Moore Institute has been designed to celebrate the exact opposite – namely, sculptures that have been designed with mobility specifically in mind. This is an incredibly unique, and undoubtedly eye-opening, display.
Covent Garden, 50 Earlham Street
The Art of Banksy
24 May – onwards
The Art of Banksy is a display to – no surprises here – showcase the work of the incredible (and still anonymous) Banksy, who has been a political and artistic force in the UK for the last two decades. This event, originally scheduled to take place in April 2020, but due to the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions, was held back for twelve months. The exhibition, which will showcase more than 80 of his most iconic pieces, is a unique opportunity to see items that are generally not displayed publicly, and even includes a selection of works that have been temporarily borrowed from a number of private collectors.
For Artists: Art Sale
17 May – 31 May
If you’ve ever wanted to boast about being a fan of an artist from the beginning of their career, or have wondered how to get your hands on a work before it becomes a collector’s item, then this art sale is for you. IKON is famed the world over for promoting the work of artists that have perhaps not been given the platform they deserve, and this display, featuring pieces created by over 250 Birmingham based artists, is arguably the best example of the gallery’s dedication to giving a voice to talented artistic voices. Created in response to Covid-19 and in a bid to counteract how badly the disease has damaged the creative community, 100% of the proceeds from artwork sales go directly to the artists.
Manchester Craft & Design Centre
Unease by Grace Sharp
8 March – 31 August
Grace Sharp is the face leading the charge when it comes to promoting the growing number of exceptional glassblowers in the UK. She has a penchant for the abstract and the unusual, and routinely uses her skills to craft pieces that are somewhat intangible and undeniably “Sharpian”. Initially due to launch in 2020, the display was held back because of Covid-19 restrictions but is now going to be one of the go-to Manchester events of 2021.
National Museum Wales
The Natural World at Home
22 – 23 May
Hosted digitally, this innovative home experience is destined to be an evening of fun for the entire family. The “sleepover” will allow viewers to get a behind-the-scenes view at the National Museum of Wales, seeing where insects, marine life and an array of unusual animal species are stored. It will have a specially-designed yoga session that can be enjoyed by anyone and will include a live video call with a South African safari, allowing viewers to spot elephants in their natural habitat! You don’t have to be in Cardiff to enjoy this one, so wherever you are, get your binoculars and sleeping bags ready for a night of educational enjoyment!
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival:
3 – 23 May
The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) is an internationally-renowned selection of displays, exhibits and live productions designed to help the arts grow. While giving people the stimulation required to think about mental health in a new light, it also shows how engaging with art can help those who are experiencing mental health issues of any kind. Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, it makes use of the incredible work of its innovative and pioneering creators. The event has been copied across Europe to great
effect, showing not only the huge value of SMHAF’s work, but also its capacity to genuinely touch people and positively impact lives. For more information about how you can get involved, and where you can see specific displays, visit the website.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
27 March – 27 June
ALISON MILLNER, LEAVES & SEEDS, 2020. PHOTO: STEVE SPELLER.
The self-proclaimed master of minimalism has built a reputation for putting on incredible, thought-provoking displays of minimalist art, and her current exhibition, taking part at the fabulous Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is arguably her best work yet. Exploring the relationship between that which is natural and that which is man-made, this outdoor display is the perfect backdrop for an afternoon stroll in the sunshine.
Farleys House & Gallery
Lee Miller: Fashion in Wartime Britain
1 May onwards
One of the most iconic surrealists of the 1930s and 1940s, Lee Miller was also an incredible photographer and photojournalist, something which has often flown below the radar due to her prominence in other artistic areas. This display of her extraordinary work, which is being held at the stunning Farley’s House in the heart of the Sussex countryside, offers unprecedented insight into the mind and work of one of the world’s pioneering photographers.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life
21 May – 27 February 2022
This exhibition, launched to celebrate the tenth year of The Hepworth’s existence, is unquestionably the most expansive and extensive collection of work by Barbara Hepworth to be shown on these shores. Including an array of carvings, drawings and fabrics that have never been displayed to the public before, there is something for everyone to love in this display, regardless of their level of prior knowledge of Hepworth and her astonishing legacy.