Museum and art gallery exhibitions around the UK in August 2022
The best museum and art gallery exhibitions around the UK in August 2022
Summer at Kew Gardens
Kew gardens in London has so far enjoyed a packed calendar in 2022, and this continues throughout August with family-friendly daytime and evening performances of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Theatre on Kew. For visitors who just want to enjoy the gardens during the lighter evenings, get the most out of Kew’s summer bounty by taking in the spectacular Great Broad Walk Borders and tranquil Mediterranean Garden, during this month’s later opening hours (7pm on weekdays and 8pm at weekends).
Meanwhile Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in the heart of Sussex, is returning with its extended eight-day run of late-night events (Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th, and Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st August). ‘Nourish: After Hours’ is a chance to see the gardens and installations come alive with captivating live performances, open-air cooking and botanical cocktails, as the evening light glistens through the trees.
Out of the Blue: Celebrating the work of Designers Guild
Until 29th August at The Arc, Winchester
Founded by Tricia Guild OBE in 1970, Designers Guild has grown from a small section in a shop in Chelsea to the global brand it is today. Through her innovative designs, Tricia has influenced the way we see and appreciate colour, pattern and texture in our homes: ‘I had always been more interested in the total look of an interior, as opposed to just looking at disparate elements,’ she says.
This new exhibition at The Arc in Winchester seeks to unravel Tricia’s unique approach to design, focusing on her techniques, processes and materials. Visitors will get access to the Designers Guild archive, exploring changing tastes in interior design over the past 50 years. The show first debuted at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum in 2020, but was curtailed due to the pandemic. This new incarnation will showcase several new exhibits that have not been seen in public before.
Series of events at Charleston
Until 29th August 2022
Take in four fantastic exhibitions when you visit Charleston this April, including Near Heaven, a new work by Langlands & Bell in Vanessa Bell’s attic studio; a major illuminated text sculpture by Nathan Coley; Ideas of Utopia, an exhibition spotlighting over 40 years of work by the BAFTA award-winning duo, Langlands & Bell; and Absent Artists, which explores artists’ studios in which the artists themselves are conspicuously absent.
True to Nature: Open-air Painting in Europe 1780-1870
Until 29th August 2022 at The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Muuseum will be displaying their brand new exhibition True to Nature: Open-air Painting in Europe this May, giving visitors the opportunity to explore the unique way 18th and 19th-century artists recorded and depicted nature first-hand in the open-air.
The exhibition will featuring over 100 oil sketches by notable artists. Among them will be works by John Constable, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Louise-Joséphine Sarazin de Belmont and André Giroux. The artworks will show scenes of all things nature, from wildlife and botanics to volcanoes and rock formations.
Do it Yourself?
Until September at Museum of Making, Derby
Whether your DIY skills are limited to banging a picture hook into the wall, or you can turn your hand to repairing a section of damaged coving, this exhibition at Derby’s Museum of Making offers an intriguing insight into our relationship with fixing up and improving our homes.
The interactive exhibition has been produced in partnership with the BBC and aims to inspire visitors to get creative at home, with demonstration and have-a-go areas, plus advice on choosing the right tool for the job. Learn how to wire a plug, make a rag rug, and even attempt pipework with a plumbing marble run! As you might imagine, there’ll be ample opportunities to view archive footage from well-known TV shows such as Bucknell’s House in the 1960s, and the overthe-top creations of the original Changing Rooms.
‘Our exhibition explores so many different elements of DIY, from the stone tools our ancestors used for the earliest form of DIY, to the make-do-and-mend movement,’ says Eilish Clohessy-Dennis, Curator of Making at Derby Museums. ‘Importantly, this exhibition also recognises the need for the future of DIY to be a sustainable one,’ she adds.
Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
Until 4th September 2022 at Compton Verney
Compton Verney has embarked on a year-long focus on portraiture and, as part of this, their latest exhibition juxtaposes 10 loans from the National Portrait Gallery with the gallery’s own artworks. ‘Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’ coincides with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer (28th July to 8th August), providing a thoughtprovoking link between the famous countenances lining the walls and the West Midlands.
Portraits of note include former heptathlete Denise Lewis who hails from West Bromwich, Edgbaston-born comedian and actress Dame Julie Walters, dub poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah, born and raised in Handsworth, former politician Mo Mowlam who grew up in Coventry, and writer George Eliot from Nuneaton.
Meanwhile, a full-length painting of Nobel Prizewinning Malala Yousafzai, who attended Edgbaston High School, has been positioned next to that of King Edward VI. Both were teenagers when they were painted and, despite their markedly different backgrounds, they share a legacy of supporting education. Other thought-provoking pairings include Frances Howard with Sonia Boyce OBE RA, winner of the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale, and Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley with Henry VIII.
Dorothy: Writer, Sister, Friend
Until 4th September at Dove Cottage, Grasmere
Think of Wordsworth and inevitably Dorothy’s much more famous brother, William, is conjured. But Dorothy was an extraordinary person in her own right – a pioneering walker, local philanthropist, inspiring gardener and author of the celebrated Grasmere Journal . This exhibition (which has been running since last October) was commissioned as a celebration of Dorothy’s 250th birthday, and visitors have been treated to a selection of special treasures from the Wordsworth Trust’s collection.
Highlights include the Grasmere Journal, detailing life for the Wordsworths at Dove Cottage in the Lake District; letters, including the earliest one to survive written when she was 16; accounts of her travels across Scotland and Europe; and her report of climbing England’s highest mountain – the earliest remaining record of such an adventure by a woman.
Alongside these manuscripts are responses from people living today, exploring and responding to Dorothy’s life and words – from members of Grasmere Women’s Institute, who are examining what it means to be a woman in Grasmere today, to refugees now living in West Yorkshire and Manchester, who have walked in Dorothy’s footsteps in Grasmere valley.
Reframed: The Woman in the Window
Until 4th September 2022 at Dulwich Picture Gallery
From Rembrandt to Rossetti, artists have long used the motif of a woman at a window to elicit a response from the viewer. In this exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, visitors will be able to admire over 50 works in the form of sculpture, painting, print, photography, film and installation art. Themes of visibility and issues around gender will be explored, as well as the relationship between the artist and their muse.
‘This show will allow visitors to explore a powerful motif across geographic boundaries and time periods to discover why the ‘woman in the window’ has been so important to different cultures at different times,’ says curator Dr Jennifer Sliwka (King’s College London). ‘It will provide insight into the ways artists have taken up the device of the window as a kind of ‘portal’ between two realms: the real and the imagined, the sacred and the profane, between this life and the afterlife or between the public and the private.’
Key works to look out for include Louise Bourgeois’ My Blue Sky (1989–2003), David Hockney’s The Tower Had One Window (1969) and Dulwich Picture Gallery’s own Girl at a Window (1645) by Rembrandt, which was the catalyst for this exhibition.
Vivian Maier: Anthology
Until 25th September 2022 at the MK Gallery
One of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, Vivian Maier was an intensely private person who took thousands of photographs of places, objects and street life in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and on her travels. Her images present a wonderfully eclectic view of America. Born in New York in 1926, Maier began playing with a Kodak Brownie box camera c1949, while living in France. After moving back to New York in 1952 and becoming a nanny, she bought a Rolleiflex camera and began experimenting with photography.
She took over 2,000 rolls of film, 3,000 prints and more than 100,000 negatives, which she shared with virtually no one. In 2007, two years before she died, and unable to pay her rent, Maier sold the negatives at auction; they were bought by several buyers including John Maloof, who established the Maloof Collection to promote the work of Maier and safeguard it for future generations. This retrospective at MK Gallery in Milton Keynes has been curated by Anne Morin and produced by diChroma Photography, and showcases Maier’s immense talent.
Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts
Until 16th October 2022 at the Wallace Collection
This spring, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Wallace Collection in London is presenting the enchanting vision of Disney from a surprisingly fresh perspective. Walt Disney the man was fascinated by France and its culture, and many of the artists working on his much loved films were influenced by 18th-century French artworks and decorative antiques.
By positioning illustrations by Disney artists beside fine furniture and porcelain at The Wallace Collection, visitors will be able to instantly connect the wit, humour and ingenuity of French rococo decorative arts with some well-known animations. Artists of the rococo era aimed to breathe new life into inanimate objects, and this is precisely what Disney sought to do in his films, witnessed in particular in Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
Over 120 pieces of artwork from the productions will be on display, alongside 30 18th-century paintings, including Fragonard’s The Swing, which influenced Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Frozen, and will be freshly revealed after conservation works.
Between the Sheets: Turner’s Nudes
Until 30th October 2022 at Turner’s House
In this new exhibition, visitors will be treated to rarely seen pictures with an intimate subject matter, not usually associated with Turner, who remains better known for his landscapes and seascapes. Throughout his career, Turner often produced drawings and watercolours depicting erotic encounters and the female form. Some of his interior scenes, too, such as those he created during stays at Petworth House, feature elegant bedrooms, their recent occupant’s presence alluded to with unmade beds and suggestively crumpled sheets.
The exhibition takes place at Turner’s country villa, Sandycombe Lodge, which reopened to the public in 2017 after a £2.4m restoration. The Turner’s House Trust undertook the project to preserve the artist’s architectural vision and original design for his small country retreat. During the restoration, some surprises were revealed, such as a brick exterior beneath the white render (which we now know was Turner’s original intention when the house was built c1813.)
Some fascinating objects were also found within the wall space of the first-floor corridor, including fragments of children’s drawings and toys from a later period than Turner’s occupation. Most interesting was a scrap of early wallpaper, incomplete and very dirty, but sufficient to be confirmed as of the period of Turner.
Based on this scrap, hand-blocked wallpaper has been hung in the large bedroom, its design meticulously recreated by Robert Weston. Paint historian Helen Hughes’ detailed analysis of many layers of paint and paper has determined the dining room’s original wall colouring and the delicate painted marbling of the vestibule, corridor and staircase. Where paint colours were not retrievable, appropriate early 19th-century shades have been chosen.
Delight in Nature: Stanley Spencer’s World
Until 30th October 2022 at the Stanley Spencer Gallery
In this life-affirming exhibition, the influence of the natural world on Stanley Spencer’s development as an artist is charted. Starting with his childhood drawings, this show reveals how the natural world became an integral part of Spencer’s artistic landscape. The majority of the works on display focus on the village of Cookham, Spencer’s home.
Visitors will be invited to consider key themes in his work: his love of dirt and the discarded; the use of boundaries to suggest other metaphysical worlds; the conflict between the sacred and the profane; and the idea of absolution through nature and place.
‘This exhibition demonstrates how the natural world and the everyday were unified with Spencer’s spiritual vision: how rubbish became something beautiful; suburban spaces were considered places for mysterious, heavenly happenings; and how the sacred co-existed with the profane,’ says curator Amanda Bradley. ‘Spencer’s paintings of the natural world were not just a financial necessity, but were a form of personal redemption.’
Song (After Nature) Paul Rooney
Until 30th October 2022 at Lindisfarne Castle
Paul's immersive sound piece is installed in the castle's Upper Gallery, along with nature images from the castle collection and pieces of nature writing, some from local writers. A video text is projected amongst the objects, which aims to ‘translate’ the seal song as a playful yet grave warning of climate catastrophe.
Becoming Anne: Connections, Culture, Court
Until November 2022 at Hever Castle
Perhaps more than any of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn is the one who captures the collective imagination the most, thanks to her incredible rise and then tragic fall from grace. This new exhibition at her childhood home, Hever Castle, aims to explore the factors that moulded Anne’s character.
Her early life will be charted along with her relationship with her family, her education at home, her year at the court of Margaret of Austria (1480–1530) and her time spent serving Queen Claude of France (1499–1524) as Maid of Honour – a post she would again assume upon her return to England in 1522, this time with Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536).
Visitors will be able to wander the castle, spending time in chambers that would still be recognisable to Anne today. From her bedroom to the Book of Hours Room, which houses two beautifully illuminated personal prayer books that bear Anne’s signature, ‘Becoming Anne’ gives us all the chance to walk in her footsteps.