Britain’s gradual re-emergence from lockdown restrictions is good news for couples hoping to be able to plan a special celebration this year for their wedding anniversary. While non-essential overseas travel remains restricted by the government – at least until May – Britons and foreign residents and visitors now have greater freedom to arrange trips to UK art exhibitions, concerts and theatre performances, and even sports events.
The Betfred World Snooker Championship – currently underway at the Crucible theatre in Sheffield – is the first major “pilot” sports event to welcome fans as part of the UK Government’s Events Research Programme. The ERP’s aim is to work closely with local authorities and organisers to carry out science-led studies that enable fans and audiences to return safely to venues, as restrictions are progressively eased.
The evidence will be reviewed and then shared extensively so that this summer venues can prepare to accommodate larger audiences, not only sport stadiums but also comedy clubs, theatres, live music spaces, conference centres, nightclubs – and wedding venues.
In the meantime, as a key aspect of its own campaign to highlight attractions around the country that can now be enjoyed by both locals and tourists, Visit Britain has focused on Britain’s cultural calendar for 2021, “packed with world-class exhibitions”. These range from the Liverpool Biennial and a display of privately owned Banksy pieces to a viewing of nightclub design at the V&A Dundee.
David Hockney at Royal Academy of Arts
An exhibition by celebrated British artist David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, is due to open at the Royal Academy of Arts on 23 May and continue until 26 September. It features 116 new pieces that Hockney created to capture the resplendence of spring in his signature “master of colour” style. As each was initially created on an iPad and then printed, visitors will be able to view every “brushstroke” he used.
Alice in Wonderland at the V&A
Visitors to the V&A this year are being invited to “tumble down the rabbit hole” on a journey into Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser. Opening on 22 May, the immersive experience encompasses fantastical adaptations and ideas stemming from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland during the book’s 157-year history. Highlights include original illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s novel, designs by Vivienne Westwood and costumes from Tim Burton’s film adaptation.
Kusama’s Vision at the Tate Modern
In spring 2021, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is bringing one of her largest-ever installations to the Tate Modern. The Infinity Mirrored Room–Filled with the Brilliance of Life exhibition will be displayed alongside the Chandelier of Grief, which creates a never-ending illusion of rotating chandeliers.
The Art of Banksy
Scheduled to be displayed in London from 20 May is the largest private collection of works by one of the world’s most influential and enigmatic graffiti artists. The Art of Banksy will be showing at 50 Earlham Street near Covent Garden, including prints, sculpture and limited edition pieces such as Girl and Balloon and Flower Thrower, as well as lesser-known works.
Around England and Scotland
Biennial Festival in Liverpool
Continuing until 6 June is the UK’s largest contemporary art festival, the Liverpool Biennial, a city-wide event featuring a program of free exhibitions, performances and shows created by 50 international artists. The aim of this year’s theme, “The Stomach and the Port”, is “to creatively explore the human body in a place shaped by its maritime past”.
Coastal Art Treasure Hunt
Seven outdoor art works, all inspired by the meeting of land and sea, form part of England’s Creative Coast – an innovative self-guided art treasure hunt covering 1,400 kilometres from West Sussex to Essex and taking in the Thames Estuary en route. Guided by GPS-enabled geocaching technology, visitors can discover works from a range of contemporary artists, together with galleries, festivals and other events.
Art and Life of Barbara Hepworth
Running from 21 May until 27 February 2022, The Hepworth Wakefield gallery is celebrating its 10th anniversary with Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life, the largest exhibition of the artist’s work since she passed away in 1975. The show brings together rarely seen pieces from national and private collections, as well as delving into the master sculptor’s life, legacy and hobbies.
Modern Art Scene in Newcastle
The Ad Minoliti exhibition at Newcastle’s BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts represents the artist’s largest exhibition in Europe to date. Showing from 24 July to 8 May 2022, it is described as “using feminism and queer theory to reinterpret painting, design and visual language”. The geometric collection also includes the Feminist School of Painting, a living installation with a classroom hosting bi-weekly workshops.
Creative Flair in Scotland
Opening on 1 May, V&A Dundee’s Night Fever: Designing Club Culture explores the world of nightclub design from the 1960s to current times. The exhibition looks at how club culture and its design influenced society – and highlights legendary nocturnal venues such as Haçienda in Manchester, New York’s Studio 54 and the Ministry of Sound in London.
Main photo: V&A Dundee – supplied by VisitBritain/RossFraserMcLean
- V&A Museum London – VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett
- Liverpool Town Hall – Image courtesy of Liverpool Biennial (Photo: Pete Carr)
- Tate Liverpool – Image courtesy of Liverpool Biennial (Photo: Mark McNulty)
- The Hepworth Wakefield – VisitBritain/Hufton Crow
- Grand Gallery – Image courtesy of Scotland National Museums