This spectacular arts centre has kick-started the year with some impressive events, but the best is yet to come…
Somerset House has welcomed new arrivals to their Studios for 2018. The line-up includes: Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, directors of the multi award winning Nick Cave documentary, 20,000 days on Earth; Seoul-born artist Koo Jeong-A; electronic musician Gaika; Savage Messiah author Laura Grace Ford; Frankfurt-born simulation artist, Lawrence Lek; maker- researcher Natasha Trotman; and last but not least, Jenna Sutela, Berlin-based Finnish installation and performance artist.
Somerset House Events Programme 2018
Here are the art centre’s highlights for 2018…
From 31 January – 22 April
This examination of the connection between civil engineering and cutting-edge medical imaging devices takes inspiration from Somerset House’s history and uniquely influential position on the river. Comprised of sculptures, collage, video simulations, sound art instillations, archival imagery and fully functional medical imaging ‘phantoms’, the exhibit runs from January to April. Be prepared to gain insight into Eloise Hawsers creative work as well as hidden parts of Somerset House’s history. From 31 January – 22 April, Free.
A series of one-off events sees Europe’s most exciting community of emergent makers, Makerversity, explore synthetic biology by looking into the ethics and applications of Pharma Food Labs. Expect to hear special guests share their thoughts on an array of subjects including lab-grown meat, genetic data privacy, personalised drugs and harvesting. Guests are also welcome to experience some engineering themselves: the third day of the event teaches you how to brew Kombucha. 8 – 10 February, Times and prices vary.
With a ‘reality’ theme in mind, a panel of guests speakers discuss how technology is changing the media landscape, for better or for worse. Guest speakers include James Ball, former WikiLeaks staffer and special projects editor of The Guardian, Sevi Akiwowo, founder of Glitch!, an anti-online abuse campaign, designer Ted Hunt, and Mevan Babakar from Full Fact. 13 February, 18:45 – 20:30, Pay what you can.
12, 26 March; 23 April; 7, 21 May
In celebration of documentary at its finest, Somerset House presents its fifth annual ‘Unorthodocs’ this March, April and May. Their programme of award-winning, internationally acclaimed documentaries are all created by Somerset House residents. Included in the line up of fascinating stories is Being Blacker, an intimate following of Blacker Thread, a Jamaican-born, reggae businessman, father and producer. Also on the agenda, is Gleason. This documentary follows the life of a former New Orleans Saints Defensive, who was given a life expectancy of 4-5 years when he was diagnosed with ALS at 34. The Cannes prize-winning story, The Cinema Travellers, which took five years to film, will introduce audiences to the people keeping traveling cinema alive. At the end of each film, guests are welcome to stay for a discussion and Q&A with the producers and directors from each film. 12, 26 March; 23 April; 7, 21 May £8-£10.
This three-day games festival is returning to Somerset House in April as part of the city-wide London Games Festival. The event will explore and show the wider possibilities for game design. Guests are encouraged to take part in a range of games including inside, outside, table, screen and mind games. This years highlights include BAFTA winning, digital artist Dan Hett’s game, based on his personal experience after his brother Martyn was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing last May. 6-8 April, £6.50-£8.
From 22 April
In celebration of World-Earth Day 2018, Somerset house will be raising a flag above its famous courtyard to make passers-by aware of pollution and climate change in London. The flag has been created by T H E U N S E E N studio, who began at Somerset House. Inside the flag, are revolutionary inks which react to temperatures, light and air quality. Over time, the technology will transform the flag’s appearance depending on city climate change. From 22 April, Free.
The Listening Party combines a mix of artists and musicians who want to explore the unique sound and visual cultures that highlight their practice. The first event of this series by Somerset House resident Imran Perretta is a performance focusing on the evolution of his identity. Expect to hear a unique line-up and exclusive sets from the artists and guests participating. 26 April, 18:45 – 20:30, Pay what you can.
Until 6 May
Somerset House’s Great Arch Hall entrance has been transformed by leading theatre designer Chloe Lamford. The new space is an imaginary, theatrical backdrop that includes everything from abandoned architectural features to shimmering curtains and theatrical props. Until 6 May, Free.
Showcasing the very best of photography from the past, present and future, this exhibition involves 90 of the world’s leading galleries, as well as a special exhibition from Edward Burtynsky, the 2018 Master of Photography. A collection of both new work and vintage masterpieces will be on show as well as work by Alan Govenar, Jean-Michael Sanches, Julien Roger, Darren Almond and many more. 17-20 May, From £22.
This June, the World Illustration Awards exhibition will return to Somerset House yet again. The display will showcase the very best work by both international emerging and established illustrators. Featuring 200 projects, which have all been shortlisted by a jury of industry professionals, this year will feature the spectacular work of special guest, Quentin Blake. Don’t miss the talks, masterclasses and family-focused events planned in collaboration with Walker Books. 6 20 June, Free.
8 June- 22 August
‘Print! Tearing It Up’ is an exploration of the history and impact of today’s British, independent magazine scene. The exhibition aims to disprove the idea that print magazines are dying. During its three-month residency, the display by Paul Gorman and Somerset House Senior Curator, Claire Catterall, will explore the development of print publications whilst celebrating several independent magazines for their popularity. Magazines to be discussed include BLAST, Peace News, Private Eye, Spare Rib, The Face, and various D.I.Y zines. Come along to learn about the contemporary market of magazines and learn about the ever-demanding want for print magazines during this digital era in which we live. 8 June- 22 August, Free.
Come along for a night under the stars that you won’t forget. The most magnificent, outdoors cinema you’ve ever seen awaits in Somerset House’s incredible courtyard. Film 4 will be premiering several critically acclaimed titles and cult classics. Expect special guest appearances as well as a Behind The Screen programme that shares unique insights into the world of cinema. 9-22 August, From £17.
Want to know what else is on in London this week? The Culture Diary has you covered!
Sign up to our Newsletter