Feast your eyes upon the glory of Venice, Raphael and football – and zoom your focus on some cunning little miniatures too. May’s offering of arts exhibitions is an eclectic range of beauty and brilliance.
Canaletto’s Venice Revisited / National Maritime Museum
Runs until 25th September 2022
‘Water, water everywhere / And not a drop to drink’ goes the famous line from Coleridge. Fortunately, at this exhibition, what there isn’t any lack of is artistic merit, with the complete set of Canaletto’s 24 Venetian paintings. The museum also explores the current issues facing The City of Water, including rising sea levels and the ever-increasing number of cruise ships that risk further damage. Thankfully, Canaletto captured the beauty of this landscape before any of that – and you have chance to see them in all their glory.
Sheila Hicks: Off Grid / The Hepworth Wakefield
Runs 7th April until 25th September 2022
The clue is in the name for this one. Bringing together over 70 pieces by Sheila Hicks from across the globe, this exhibition will explore the explosion of colourful across her work – be it through small woven drawings to large-scale installations. Hicks herself was an extensive traveller and often accustomed herself to the local knowledge of her surroundings, filling her works with a global perspective. Fortunately for you, you only have to travel to Wakefield to get a sense of this, where it all looms the Hepworth Gallery.
Kick Off: Designing the Beautiful Game / The Design Museum
Runs 8th April until 29th August 2022
As we gear up toward the World Cup – which many of us are still having to get used to the fact it’s being played in winter – what better way to appreciate the beautiful game than with an exhibition dedicated to it. Perhaps more bizarrely, this is the first major exhibition to explore the story behind football and uses more than 500 objects, films and interviews to unpick how design has affected the game. Certainly one to visit before we all inevitably have our hearts broken in a penalty shootout.
Renaissance Man / The National Gallery
Runs 9th April until 31st July 2022
There’s always room for Raphael. The power of this exhibition, though, lies in its presentation of a man who – much like da Vinci – was a true Renaissance man, with work traversing across art, architecture, archaeology, tapestry and, of course, painting. Originally scheduled to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, the exhibition was forced into a two-year delay – no points for guessing why. So go and see it now you can.
Small is Beautiful / 79-85 Old Brompton Road
Runs 15th April until 15th May
And as there’s space for the major greats, so too is there space for the small; not small in artistic merit, but in the size of the works themselves. This exhibition is a real-life follow-up to the viral success of #MiniatureArt and presents over 130 miniature artworks to the general public (no doubt they’ll find a way to fit them all in). Picture tennis courts on pieces of fruit, bottle caps used as boats and a wide use of Lego figures, this show plays with your sense of space and offers a little perspective on the world.
Ai Weiwei: Liberty of Doubt / Kettles Yard, Cambridge
Runs until 19th June
Ai Weiwei brings his typically thought-provoking work to Kettle’s Yard inn Cambridge. Touching on subjects ranging from coronavirus to authoritarianism in China, this exhibition comes at an important time for us to stop and consider the world’s present predicament. This exhibition is also the first time the Chinese artist and activist will have his work displayed alongside historical antiquities – all 14 of which he bought at an auction in Cambridge in 2020. Some of them are believed to date from the Northern Wei (386-534 CE) and Tang (618-907 CE) dynasties.
Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child / Hayward Gallery
Runs until 15th May
A full retrospective of Louise Bourgeois’ fabrics and textile work is on display at the Southbank, featuring over 90 works, including several of the French-American artist’s gargantuan Cell installations. Bourgeois, who only started working with fabrics in the final 20 years of her life, held a special place in her artistic art for the imagery of the spider, as it weaved its web around much of her work. So be sure to avoid if you have a phobia of creepy-crawlies; otherwise, we thoroughly recommend you check out this exhibition.
Surrealism Beyond Borders
Runs until 29th August
Do you like me, try and think back to when everything went a little weird – a little… surreal? I think it was around 2016. The world hasn’t been the same since. Thankfully, many of us are united, not just in the UK but globally; and we have art to console our existential concerns. This exhibition at the Tate Modern also reminds us once more that whilst surrealism very much originated in Paris, its significance and impact spreaded beyond the French borders. We all have the same fears, concerns and curiosity with the world, no matter where we are in the world. And you can observe all of that in London this May.