You may not know it – but if you’re an art lover soon-to-visit London, you ought to – the grand, Victorian-era-established but thoroughly inclusive, progressive and all-round awesome Royal Academy of the Arts (‘RA’) has just reopened this year and, in its 250th year (no less), is better than ever before. That said, there are other exciting art gallery unveilings this year throughout the UK; some of them brand new, others merely renovated and others having found a new home in an unlikely place. So, should you fancy the idea of getting about the capital during your stay in the city or stepping foot beyond the city-limits and going a little further afield, here are a few to visit before everyone else discovers them (don’t worry one or two are still in London and very easy to reach from the Grand Royale hotel London)…!
(Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX)
It may not be obvious from the outside, but the Southbank’s beloved Brutalist landmark has gone through a major interior refurbishment – its first in its 50-year history. The two-year-long renovation has seen 66 of its gallery’s pyramid rooflights replaced, enabling the holding of the exhibit Adapt to Survive, which in May this year enabled visitors to look into the future through the work of seven contemporary artists’ new takes on architecture, technology, biology and language.
(Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ)
The one-time home of an art teacher Helen Ede and her husband (the latter having been the curator of the major London gallery that’s the Tate, no less), this was an idyllic-looking building that was filled by its owners with artists’ works all nestled in and among the various natural furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects it contained (like any other house would). Closed for redevelopment for more than two years, the intimate display space reopened in February 2018 with an improved opportunity for artwork display, a four-floor education wing and a research space.
(City Observatory and City Dome, 38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA)
A contemporary arts organisation, Collective (as it’s called), has been going for more than 30 years now (since 1984, in fact) and Edinburgh’s City Observatory has been in existence ever since 1818; yet, sadly, disrepair saw it forced to close down in the year 2009. This year, however, Collective were happily able to unveil their new home in the redeveloped building complex – a space to discover and observe a city by looking at, thinking about and generating contemporary art. Of its new site then, the Collective’s director proudly claims “it allows us ways of looking forward through the lenses of the past” – why not take the trip up to the glorious Scottish capital (a city of true living history), following a stay at one of the hotels Inverness Terrace, and find out for yourself?
Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art
(St James’s, London SE14 6AD)
Finally, Goldsmiths University (one of London’s many and various higher education institutions) in unveiling and opening its new arts centre this month (September), to be found housed inside the environs of a former Victorian swimming baths, the building’s water tanks having once supplied the buildings and homes of the surrounding neighbourhood. With a design created by the Turner Prize-winning architecture collective Assemble, this brand-spanking-new project marks their very first major building commission; including, as it does, as many as eight different exhibition spaces where can be held artist residencies, exhibitions, talks and performances. Plus, the obligatory a café as well. The centre’s director has rightly commented that “in a troubling time [in the UK] for cultural institutions, it is really nice to be part of something that is opening rather than a story that is about closure or cuts”. Again, take a look inside and see exactly what she means!