Millions and millions flock to London throughout the year, but most of all in the summer months. Admittedly, come the autumn, the city’s visitor numbers drop off just a little; but, don’t doubt it, there’s still a plethora of people coming to the UK capital to check out all its has to offer in October, November and December.
And one of the reasons they do (staying, many of them, at the likes of the salubrious The Marble Arch by Montcalm London – and why not?) is to see for themselves the terrific art exhibitions at this time of year. And, when you take a look at the following, who can blame them…?
Poppies: Weeping Window
(Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road SE1 6HZ/ until 18th November)
Originally to be seen at the Tower of London several autumns ago (to coincide with the UK’s Remembrance Day commemorations), this extraordinary, all-red, poppy-like cascade returns to London this year and, fittingly, to the Imperial War Museum itself – this year’s Remembrance Day (11th November 2018) events coinciding, as they do, with the exact centenary of the conclusion of the bloodiest, most devastating conflict in history, the First World War. The art installation itself has actually been on a national tour and has been viewed by a staggering 3.5 million people.
Turner Prize 2018
(Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG/ until 4th December)
The prestigious – and not a little contentious and controversial – Turner Prize (the annual competition for the greatest British contemporary artwork) pretty much always divides opinion and sparks great debate, as well as perennially giving the newspapers something to write about! And this year’s contest has been no different because, for the first time in the thing’s 33-year history, every one of the final four shortlisted entries are film-based works. And each one of them are on-the-knuckle when it comes to the polemics; covering, as they do, the likes of human rights and gay identity in the world today. So, if you’ve any interest in modern art (and especially the moving-film version), this exhibition – featuring the works of newcomers Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen, Charlotte Prodger and Luke Willis Thompson – may well be a must until it closes on the day the winner’s announced.
Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Graphic Art
(House of MinaLima, 26 Greek Street W1D 5DE/ no fixed dates)
Pop along to quirky Soho for this equally quirky (and definitely revelatory) exhibition of the graphic artworks that have adorned the seven Harry Potter movies and the current Fantastic Beasts… big-screen adventures. Designed by ace artists Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the graphic designers behind the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, the pieces in this free exhibition are bound to entice any and every Potterhead visiting the capital.
Indeed, navigating the suitably narrow staircases of this four-floor building to identify and examine all these priceless pieces from the J. K. Rowling’s visual world on the silver screen would make for a perfect accompaniment to a trip just outside the capital itself to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to check-out all the genuine sets and props made for and used in the Potter films (the latter being something you can do by combining the venue’s ticket and transport costs; ideal then if you’re already taking advantage of nifty London hotels special offers).
Items on display at this exhibition include (from the Potter flicks) a Hogwarts Express ticket, Harry’s acceptance letter to the school and the Marauder’s Map, as well as (from the, so far, two Fantastic Beasts movies) the MACUSA shield design, the insignia for the Magical Congress and Chadwick Boot’s textbook, ‘Chadwick’s Charms’.
(Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BD/ until 10th December)
Finally, here’s another exhibition that’s significant when it comes to commemorations. Helping to mark the esteemed Royal Academy’s celebrations for its own sestercentennial (or semiquincentennial, depending on which moniker you prefer), this one’s focus is the first voyage of the legendary British explorer Captain James Cook to the Pacific; which, yes, also took place 250 years ago and, on which, he managed to discover significant islands and land masses that would later make up parts of Oceania.
As such, the exhibition’s full of fascinating original works of Oceanic art, crafted by Pacific Islanders, especially. More than 200 pieces spanning five centuries include the likes of shell, greenstone and ceramic ornaments, stunning house facades and enormous canoes; all waiting to be discovered by visitors to the capital, especially staying nearby at a Montcalm hotel.