Now all galleries and museums can open, we look ahead to London’s must-see shows in June. As venues are restricting numbers for social distancing, you’ll need to book ahead for most of these.
Small world: Gaia at Painted Hall
How do you improve on the stunning interior of Greenwich’s Painted Hall? By hanging a huge, spinning model of Earth from the ceiling, that’s how. Luke Jerram’s scale replica of our ‘blue marble’ simulates the mind-blowing effect astronauts encounter when seeing Earth from space.
Gaia: Luke Jerram at The Painter Hall, Old Royal Naval College. Until 1 July, £13.50 (includes general admittance).
Life-changing design: London Design Biennale at Somerset House
Designers from across the globe converge on London to show off the latest designs that allow us to live simpler, more sustainable lives. Covering global and highly topical issues, participating designers address the need for more public housing, our over-reliance on fossil fuels, and how we come back stronger after the pandemic. Outside, Es Devlin brings us closer to nature with a forest filling Somerset House’s courtyard.
London Design Biennale at Somerset House. Until 27 June, £22.50
Fallen men and bronze Ferraris: Mayfair Sculpture Trail
The Mayfair Sculpture Trail launched last year to help people enjoy art in an age of social distancing. Now it’s back, with a man who looks like he’s fallen from space by David Breuer-Weil, and a bronze Ferrari by Anthony James. It’s part of Mayfair Art Weekend, where local galleries open across the weekend and art becomes more accessible.
Massive art: JR at Saatchi Gallery
Whether creating optical illusions at the Louvre or murals on top of maximum security prisons, artist JR’s work is all about making a big impact. He’s stepping indoors at Saatchi Gallery, though, so we can examine his many projects and the sociological issues at the heart of these large scale interventions.
JR: Chronicles at Saatchi Gallery. 4 June – 3 October, £9-12.
Kusama-rama: Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro
The infinity rooms at Tate Modern may be sold out but here’s a chance to see work by Yayoi Kusama for free (and without having to wait months for your slot). Expect trademark bronze pumpkins, painted soft sculptures and dots aplenty. The queen of polka dots’ work is exhibited alongside the figurative paintings of Chantal Joffe at the same gallery.
Yayoi Kusama: I want your tears to flow with the words I wrote & Chantal Joffe: Story at Victoria Miro Gallery. 4 June – 31 July, free.
Starry nights: Van Gogh Alive at Kensington Gardens
Ever wanted to walk straight into a Van Gogh painting? Here’s the immersive show for you. Projectors plaster the great artist’s painted worlds across the walls — inviting you to get truly lost in them. Walk through a mirrored room of sunflowers, and be dazzled under a starry canvas in this escapist, highly Instagrammable experience.
Van Gogh Alive: The Experience at Kensington Gardens. 4 June – 26 September, £24-£29.
City living: Sculpture in the City
The Square Mile’s annual sculpture trail is back with a fresh set of artworks to stop commuters in their tracks, and get the City buzzing with non-bankers. Metal men, flags hanging in Leadenhall Market, projections onto undersides of escalators and an ultra-colourful flower await.
Sculpture in the City, city of London. 15 June – 2022, free.
Art & activism: Claudia Andujar at Barbican
Claudia Andujar has spent five decades working alongside and defending the Yanomani, one of Brazil’s largest groups of indigenous peoples. Andujar’s drawings and photographs take us through her learning of their complex culture and activism to defend their territory from illegal mining and, more recently, the pandemic. The exhibition gives a voice to those who are seldom heard.
Claudia Andujar: The Yanomani Struggle at Barbican, Curve Gallery. 17 June – 29 August, £16.
Prize photography: Deutsche Borse Prize at The Photographers’ Gallery
Covering themes of conflict, urban housing, technology and identity, this year’s line up for the coveted Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2021 is as diverse as ever. Among the thought-provoking photographers is Cao Fei — auteur of surreal, darkly humorous dystopian fictions — and Zineb Sedira, who combines the personal with the globally political.
Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2021 at The Photographers’ Gallery. 25 June – 26 September, £5.
Art that’s made for walking: Julian Opie at Pitzhanger Manor
Julian Opie’s known for his walking figures, and this time they’ve strolled over to Ealing for an exhibition at Pitzhanger Manor. Opie recreates a French village landscape and invites us to wander around it — plus his trademark walking figures are scattered throughout the grounds of the gallery.
Julian Opie at Pitzhanger Manor. 25 June – 24 October, £7.
Short run events
London’s galleries are gearing up to welcome us back across an entire weekend with London Gallery Weekend (4-6 June, free), where each day will focus on central, east and south London respectively, with over 100 exhibitions to choose from.
Taking over empty shop windows, brightening up the borough with murals and big public art installations, Kensington and Chelsea Art Week (24 June – 4 July, free) returns to ensure a major dose of art as we explore west London.
If you’re looking for an artwork for your home, try the Open Studios at Wimbledon Art Studios (26-27 June, free), and visit studios where you can buy directly from artists. We’ve managed to snap up some great affordable art at previous fairs.