Ten ways to get a culture fix in London without spending a penny.
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
London is home to some of the greatest galleries and artists in the world. However, this wealth of variety and cultural richness often comes with a steep price tag. Luckily for us, there are also a whole host of galleries and art exhibitions in London that are free to visit. What more reason do you need to get involved in the art scene?
So whether you know your Monet’s from you Manet’s and your Magritte’s from your Matisse’s or whether you just fancy something different to do in your lunch break: here are 10 great art exhibitions that you can visit in London for free this Spring.
#1 Dutch Flowers | National Gallery | Painting | until 29th August
What is it?: Coinciding with the Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows, the National Gallery’s celebration of floral painting reminds the viewer that humanity’s obsession with flowers has been going on for centuries and that flowers can have much further reaching connotations than being simply something pretty to look at.
When is it?: 6th April – 29th August. (10am – 6pm Mon-Sun excl. Fri, when it is open until 9pm).
Where is it?: Room 1, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN.
#2 Art and Alcohol | Tate Britain | Mixed Media | until Autumn 2016
What is it?: This BP Spotlight exhibition charts Britain’s love affair with drinking from past to present by contrasting two very different works. George Cruikshank’s The Worship of Bacchus (1860-2) makes comment on the effects of drinking upon society, whilst Gilbert and George’s Balls: The Evening Before the Morning After – A drinking Sculpture (1972) is a nod to alcohol’s unwavering position in Britain’s social cultures.
When is it?: Until Autumn 2016. (10am-6pm Mon-Sun).
Where is it?: Tate Britain, Milbank, SW1P 4RG.
#3 Mark Wallinger: ID | Hauser & Wirth | Mixed Media| until 7th May
What is it?: Channeling Sigmund Freud’s terms ‘id’, ‘ego’ and ‘super ego’, Wallinger challenges our emotional and physical connections to personal identity, as it becomes increasingly valued and visible part of our lives and society. This exhibition is Mark Wallinger’s first exhibition with the gallery house.
When is it?: Until 7th May. (10am-6pm Tue-Sat).
Where is it?: Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row, W1S 2ET.
#4 Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen | Serpentine Gallery | Painting | until 15th May
What is it?: Hilma af Klimt wasn’t someone you would call a ‘conventional nineteenth century painter’. Pre-dating the surrealists by decades, this somewhat oddball (who dabbled in automatic drawing and communing with spirits) is now regarded to be a champion of abstract painting. As Klint was so worried about the misinterpretation of her work, she stipulated that some of the more avant-garde pieces not be shown until at least 20 years after her death: now you come and check out what all of the fuss was about!
When is it?: Until 15th May. (10am-6pm Tue-Sun).
Where is it?: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA.
#5 Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street | Somerset House | Urban Art | until 2nd May
What is it?: Challenging the idea that graffiti and street art are strictly dystopian art forms, associated with vandalism and crime, Somerset House brings together specially commissioned works from 17 famous names from the street art scene. As part of the ‘Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility’ project, this exhibition attempts to reclassify street art as a utopian concept, bringing colour and wit to world around us.
When is it?: Until 2nd May. (10am-6pm Mon-Sun).
Where is it?: Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA.
#6 Sarah Lucas: POWER IN WOMAN | Sir John Soane’s Museum | Sculpture | until 21st May
What is it?: Acclaimed British artist Sarah Lucas brings her three select pieces from her collection ‘POWER IN WOMAN‘ to Sir John Soane’s Museum for a rare showing of work – as it is incredibly uncommon for the museum to show pieces from a living artist. The sculptures (depicting the bottom half of the female form in plaster) provide wit and humour as well as a stark contrast to the classical work casts that are regularly exhibited in the space.
When is it?: Until 21st May. (10am-5pm Tue-Sat – the first Tuesday of each month also holds an evening opening from 6pm-9pm).
Where is it?: Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP.
#7 The Art of War: Posters and Propaganda from the First World War | Hackney Museum | Design | until 28th May
What is it?: This collection of original recruitment posters from the First World War hint not only at the aesthetic and themes of the time period but also give glimpses of the communication methods and psychology of the time.
When is it?: Until the 28th May. (9.30am-5.30pm Tue, Wed & Fri. 9.30am-8pm Thu. 10am-5pm Sat.)
Where is it?: Hackney Museum, Hackney Technology and Learning Centre, 1 Reading Lane, E8 1GQ.
#8 Social Fabric: African Textiles Today | William Morris Gallery | Textiles | until 29th May
What is it?: This British Museum touring exhibition gives a unique view of the unspoken languages of Eastern and Southern Africa. Studying the patterns and styles, correlations can be drawn between the historical and emotional contexts of the fabrics, as well as outside influences from across the globe. The exhibitions also features contemporary fashion and art inspired by the textiles at the show.
When is it?: Until 29th May. (10am-5pm Wed-Sun).
Where is it? William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP.
#9 Under London | Museum of London | Photography | until 3rd July
What is it?: A collection of ten photographs taken by world-renowned landscape-photographer Simon Norfolk. The ten objects all share a common theme: as they have all been found on archaeological digs in London since the late 20th century and each have an individual story to tell. They have all been photographed either close to the location in which they were discovered or in a part of the city that hold special significance to their story.
When is it? Until 3rd July. (10am-6pm Mon-Sun).
Where is it? Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN.
#10 Jane Bustin: Rehearsal | Copperfield | Painting | until 6th May
What is it?: This solo exhibition takes inspiration from the Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky – a dancer who paved the way for a new era of ballet dancing that using symmetry and sensual expression, obsessing over never allowing his dances to be recorded and instead witnessed first hand. Bustin mimics this in her compositions that toy with the notions of balance, dimension and texture, so that works only truly come alive when witnessed first hand – just as Nijinsky’s dancing does.
When is it? 14th April- 6th May. (12pm-6pm Wed-Sun).
Where is it? Copperfield, 6 Copperfield Street, SE1 0EP.
Nothing taking your fancy? Not to worry! How about checking out this free artist’s talk on the 26th April.
Or, if art isn’t really your idea of a good time, check out the top ten free events in London this April, for more money-saving ideas.