In April’s artful adventures, explore Dickens’ foggy London, Steve McQueen’s Grenfell tribute, and the pioneers of abstract art. Here are the best London exhibitions this month.
Dickens and the London Fog, Charles Dickens Museum
until 22nd October
Titled A Great and Dirty City: Dickens and the London Fog, it opens on 29 March and runs until 22 October. Admission to the exhibition will be included as part of visiting the museum. The new exhibition will “explore the circumstances that created this problem and how Dickens was inspired by the phenomenon”, noting how, as well as Bleak House, fog features in Dickens’s works such as Our Mutual Friend, A Christmas Carol and The Old Curiosity Shop. Fog, the museum argues, created “the essential elements of a dark and filthy ‘Dickensian’ London.”
Gilbert & George Brew Up a Centre for Art
opens 1st April
In 1968, British artists Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore, known as Gilbert & George, moved into their east London home near Brick Lane. This April, they will open a permanent exhibition centre, The Gilbert & George Centre, in a converted brewery next to their home and studio. The centre, a registered charity established in 2017, has been developing for nearly a decade and was acquired for £5m in 2015. Designed by SIRS Architects, it features three exhibition spaces across 280 sq. m and will showcase new and historical work by the duo, with free admission for most programmes.
The artists have also announced a major show at London’s Hayward Gallery, likely in 2025, focusing on their 21st Century Pictures series. The pair, early performance art pioneers, have strongly advocated “Art for All” and contributed significantly to contemporary British art throughout their careers.
McQueen’s Grenfell Exhibition: A Cinematic Tribute to Tragedy and Resilience
7th April – 10th May
In 2017, artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen created a short film to respond to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in West London, where 72 people lost their lives. McQueen filmed the tower before it was concealed with hoarding, aiming to preserve its memory. The Grenfell artwork will be exhibited at Serpentine South this spring.
Despite a government inquiry, the Phase One report’s recommendations have yet to be implemented, leaving the risk of a similar tragedy. The final phase’s findings are expected in late 2023, with an ongoing criminal investigation.
Born in West London in 1969, McQueen studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and has significantly contributed to film as an art form. His accolades include an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave (2013) and the creation of the Small Axe anthology film series. A Turner Prize winner in 1999, McQueen’s works are showcased in public museums worldwide.
For more information and to book free tickets, visit the Serpentine Gallery website.
Discover Af Klint and Mondrian: Pioneers of Abstract Art in Nature’s Realm
20th April – 3rd September
Seize this exceptional opportunity to delve into the innovative artwork of Swedish painter Hilma af Klint and appreciate Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s influential creations from a fresh perspective.
Though the two never crossed paths, Af Klint and Mondrian established distinct abstract art languages grounded in nature. Their artistic explorations shared a mutual quest to comprehend the underlying forces shaping life on Earth.
Mondrian, primarily recognised for his abstract pieces, commenced his creative journey as a landscape painter, similar to Af Klint. The exhibition showcases Mondrian’s iconic grids and his lesser-known floral paintings created throughout his life. Enigmatic works by Af Klint, where natural forms transform into abstraction, will also be featured.
Both artists were fascinated with emerging spiritual concepts, scientific advancements, and philosophy. As a medium, Af Klint produced large-scale, ethereal masterpieces she believed were commissioned by higher beings.
Visitors will be captivated by the vibrant symbols, forms, and colours in both artists’ intricate and stunning work.
Displayed in the Eyal Ofer Galleries, this exhibition is organised by Tate Modern and Kunstmuseum Den Haag.
From Royals to Runways: Kensington Palace’s Grand Fashion Exhibition
5th April – 29th October
Kensington Palace’s grandest exhibition yet features over 200 items showcasing fashion from the Georgian era to the present day. Visitors can admire the silver tissue gown worn at Charles II’s court and the contemporary styles donned by Lady Gaga and Lizzo. The State Apartments have been transformed into a dazzling catwalk, with a highlight being the iconic dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Roman Holiday, later modified by Givenchy for her 1954 Oscars appearance.
Entry to the exhibition is included with a standard Kensington Palace ticket.
Home Sweet Home: Tracing a Century of British Domestic Photography
until 28th May
The English at Home: A Century of Domestic Photography from the Hyman Collection showcases over 150 works that highlight the significance of home in British photography throughout the past 100 years. Inspired by Bill Brandt’s seminal 1935 book, The English at Home, the exhibition traces the evolution of home-based photography from Brandt’s era, through Picture Post magazine’s heyday, to the more conceptual approaches of photographers since the 1970s.
This broadly thematic exhibition takes visitors through the street, into living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, and finally into the back garden. It begins with neighbourhood streets as extensions of the home, where neighbours converse and children play. From there, it delves into the various rooms of the house. A recurring theme throughout the exhibition is reflecting and critiquing the English class system within these images, building upon Brandt’s work.
For more information, visit The Centre for British Photography website.