London art for free
In the rush of the city, finding out what’s new and free can become a constant pursuit, especially when it comes to art. Exhibitions are ever changing, and with the sheer number of galleries and museums across the city, deciding where to go can seem like a daunting task. So, we did it for you – here follows five shows you should definitely check out this summer, and they’re all completely free!
1. Marina Abramović: 512 Hours at the Serpentine Gallery
11th June until 25th August, London W2 3XA
Marina Abramović is famed for interacting with her audience, and her latest show is no different: in 512 Hours you get the chance to become part of the piece. Abramović is present at this exhibit from 10am until 6pm for six days a week, instructing the people in the room with her what to do and how to act, and the blanket ban on taking in bags and technology gives these interactions a deeply intimate feel. The artist’s fame and the free entry to the show can make for some lengthy queues, but fans of interactive art will definitely want to give the Serpentine a visit this summer, if only for a chance to have a quick meeting with Abramović herself.
Read our review of 512 Hours here.
2. Colin O’Brien: London Life at the Hackney Museum
24th June until 6th September, London E8 1GQ
A compelling series traversing the history of London, O’Brien’s collection of photographs span seven decades and are a fascinating glimpse into days long gone. This exhibition tracks the differences in the city and its people through the progression of time. The black and white images give a real sense of history and the snippets of modern day London landmarks before they were called modern is really thought-provoking: in another 70 years, what will be considered historic that we see as new?
3. BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery
26th June until 21st September, London WC2H 0HE
The quality of this annual show makes it popular with both the locals and the tourists, and the standard this year is no different. The open-entry competition gives the art an honest and relatable quality that seems rare for a big establishment such as the National Portrait Gallery. More often than not, the portraits included are of everyday people (with the occasional famous face creeping in), and the personal relationships you can see on show really resonate with the viewer. The BP Portrait Award is an exhibit that art novices and experts alike will enjoy.
Read our review of the BP Portrait Award here.
4. Gilbert & George: SCAPEGOATING PICTURES for Londonat the White Cube Gallery
18th July until 28th September, London SE1 3TQ
The famed Gilbert & George have been making art for almost 50 years, and this new exhibition has the same wry feel to it as many times before, this time turning the focus onto London itself and the complicated, multi-faceted nature of the city. Tackling a wide expanse of social issues, this show sees Gilbert & George themselves as figures in scenes ranging from humorous tableaux to much more serious matters. The image of the “laughing gas” canister you can often find littering streets these days is repeated over and over, the shape echoing those of bombs; this exhibition draws some parallels between everyday life and wider issues, and will especially hit home for those who live in or are familiar with London and its scenery.
5. Martin Parr: Signs of the Times at Beetles + Huxley
16th July until 30th August, London , W1B 4DE
As an early version of reality television, the 90s saw a documentary on the BBC featuring members of the British public involved in Signs of the Times, a programme examining the decorative tastes of people inside their homes. Martin Parr was part of the group who produced the program, and his intensely realistic and often subtly amusing photographs he took during that period are being exhibited at a solo show for the first time. Each photograph has its own title and quotes from the subjects of the show themselves. As quick snapshots of various lives and households all brought together for this show, this exhibition is a bright and nostalgic look into the past.