What Exhibitions & Public Art to See This September

Looking for a culture hit? With summer winding down, now’s the perfect time to cosy up in a gallery or museum and take in some world-class art, or go for a stroll with the kids and see some sculpture in the streets. Here’s our pick of exhibitions and arty things to do in London this September…

Photo: David Hockney

1 Right Here Right Now Exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea
Partnering with Jealous Print Studio & Gallery in Shoreditch, this exhibition showcases new and recent works by a diverse lineup of emerging and established artists that have collaborated with Jealous on various projects. Established artists include Jake and Dinos Chapman, Charming Baker, David Shrigley and Chris Levine together with works by London based painter Matt Small and mural and installation artist Morag Myerscough. The show will also include previously unseen original work by Gary Stranger, Jessica Albarn, Eelus, Sara Pope and an exciting new collaboration between Andrew Millar and Word To Mother. An exclusive new David Shrigley edition will be launched to coincide with the exhibition. Works by Chris Levine will include a large scale unique never-before-seen ‘Lightness of Being’ alongside the recent Kate Moss portrait, Stillness Is A Portal To The Divine published by Jealous and Enitharmon.
On until September 9; Wednesday to Sunday 10am-6pm; tickets are free and booking isn’t required; Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, Chelsea, SW3 4RY; saatchigallery.com 

2 Summer Exhibition Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly
This year the Summer Exhibition is coordinated by British artist Yinka Shonibare RA and will explore the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’, celebrating the joy of creating art. Take in prints, paintings, photography and works of film by the likes of Michael Armitage,  William Kentridge, Hade Montserrat, Njideka Akunyili, Rita Keegan and more. The Architecture Room is curated by David Adjaye and  don’t forget, most of the art is for sale. Also don’t forget that the bar is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
September 22 – January 2; Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm; tickets from £20, concessions available; Main Galleries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD

3 Aaron Kasmin: Always a Show at Sims Reed Gallery, St. James’s 
Inspired by old-school American matchbooks, this exhibition by British artist Aaron Kasmin showcases 29 new pencil drawings, which Kasmin created during the lockdowns. The illustrations portray nostalgia laden colourful scenes from the prohibition era, including scenes from bars and restaurants, clothing and diamonds, cars and the Oscars.
September 16 – October 28; 43A Duke Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6DD; gallery.simsreed.com

4 Photo London Fair, Somerset House
More than 90 galleries from 17 countries come together for this fair. In addition to world class photography, it has an extensive programme of events, curated in partnership with the Met and Whitney Museum, Photographic Arts Council in LA, the Barbican Centre, V&A and the Tate, just to name a few. Within the fair, there’s a multitude of exhibitions, including a collection of portraitures by fashion photographer David Bailey, Iranian artist and winner of the Master of Photography Award, Shirin Neshat presents ‘Land of Dreams’ for the first time in full in the UK. The Emerging Photography Award continues too. There’s also free resources for photographers, and a digital fair will run alongside the event, until September 28.
September 9-12; times vary; tickets from £29/£19 adult/concession; Strand, WC2R 1LA; photolondon.org

5 Chila Burman’s Do You See Words in Rainbows? at Covent Garden
British artist Chila Burman, who lit up the Tate Britain’s facade for Diwali last year, now lights up Covent Garden’s Market Building with her colourful installation, Do You See Words In Rainbows? Designed to bring joy and positivity to the viewer, the large-scale installation is a mix of uplifting messages and neon sculptures inspired by her family history, Indian heritage and her feminist perspective. As Chila’s project is a celebration of love and identity, for Pride, Covent Garden will donate £1 to the LGBTQI+ charity Albert Kennedy Trust for each person who Instagrams a picture of themselves with the installation using #CoventGardenInRainbows. So head down and get snapping!
On until October; coventgarden.london

6 London Design Festival, various locations
Now in its 19th year, the London Design Festival returns, showcasing the very best of world-class of design-led creativity. And there’s a lot to see. This year’s festival looks at the ‘power of creative and cultural activity to help reignite the capital and kickstart London’s economy’, which is a pretty meaty focus. With architecture, public art, sculpture, furniture, jewellery and fashion, highlights include an initiative by Yinka Ilori that will transform London into an outdoor art gallery and festival hub V&A will host a collection of specially-commissioned installations. There’s also a swathe of projects and events that look at a circular economy and climate justice ahead of November’s COP26.
September 18-26; the festival takes place across London, with hubs in Brompton, Mayfair, Clerkenwell, Park Royal, Greenwich Peninsula, Shoreditch, Islington, Southwark and Kings Cross; londondesignfestival.com

7 Paula Rego Exhibition at Tate Britain, Millbank
Born in Portugal in 1935 during the dictatorship of Salazar, Paula Rego was sent to school in Kent aged 16. Her socio-political artworks revolutionised the representation of women in art. This exhibition – UK’s largest and most comprehensive retrospect of Rego’s work – tells the story of her remarkable life and highlights the personal nature of much of her art. Featuring more than 100 pieces of art including collage, paintings, large-scale pastels, drawings and etchings, the show spans Rego’s early work from the 1950s to her richly layered, staged scenes from the 2000s.
On until October 24; open daily 10am-6pm; general admission £18, concessions available; Millbank, SW1P 4 RG; tate.org.uk

8 David Hockney The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 at Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly
In lockdown in France, Hockney illustrated the blooming of spring on his iPad (so there really is no reason why your parents can’t work a WhatsApp video call), creating more than 100 new works celebrating nature’s beauty. One of the most important British artists, Hockney remains one of the most inventive artists too.
On until September 26; Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm; tickets from £19; The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD

9 Van Gogh: Alive & Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at Kensington Gardens or Spitalfields, South Kensington and Shoreditch
Confusingly, there are two exhibitions on van Gogh at the moment, and confusingly, they similar but not the same. One is Van Gogh Alive, which finishes up this month and the other is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Both exhibitions have projections and installations of some of the troubled artist’s most famous works, and have whimsical soundtracks to go with them. Creative interpretations of said works tap into van Gogh’s psyche, and The Immersive Experience as an optional VR section that takes you into and through van Gogh’s world. Want more van Gogh? Head to the Hotel Cafe Royal for the Van Gogh Afternoon Tea. Taken in the exquisite Oscar Wilde Lounge which is still in its original 1800s glory (including wine stains on the ceiling’s paintings from raucous nights back in the day) the tea is appropriately indulgent and decadent, and hefty as well.
Van Gogh Alive; East Albert Lawn, Kensington Gardens, SW7 2AP; on now until September 26, tickets from £14; book them herevangoghaliveuk.com
Van Gogh The Immersive Experience; 106 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ (opposite Spitalfields); on now until February 2022 tickets from £22.90; book them herevangoghexpo.com

10 RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show 2021 Exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea
Yet another one for nature buffs and lovers of beauty, the RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show returns to Saatchi Gallery featuring more than 200 botanical drawings and photographs. The exhibition runs in tandem with the Chelsea Flower Show and includes intricate and scientifically accurate illustrations and photos from a global cohort, many of whom are in the running for an RHS Medal.
September 18 – October 3; 10am-6pm; tickets are free for gallery or RHS members, otherwise they start from £5; Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, Chelsea, SW3 4RY; saatchigallery.com 

11 Tusk Lion Trail, central London
In support of African conservation and highlighting the plight of the decreasing wild lion population, a pride of 47 life-sized lion sculptures are at large and prowling about in iconic locations across the globe – 27 of them in central London. Lions have been dolled up by the likes of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, Donna Karan, Noel Fielding and John Cleese, and you can follow a trail by a digital or physical maps which allow you to record lions spotted.
On until September 24; tuskliontrail.com