12 Culture Hits To Look Forward To For The Rest Of 2020

This year might have been filled with closures, postponements and cancellations, but autumn is here to provide plenty of Covid-friendly screenings, exhibitions and theatre productions across the capital. From the most-talked-about books to musicals and gallery shows, here are 12 things to look out for over the next few months…

Summer Exhibition at Royal Academy

Over 250 years ago, a group of artists created an annual exhibition that would support artists and architects by showcasing the art of the moment to the nation. The Summer Exhibition has run uninterrupted ever since, but for the first time in history, the Royal Academy’s main event is taking place over autumn/winter. Coordinated by artistic duo Jane and Louise Wilson RA, this year’s exhibition includes new works by Tracey Emin, Rebecca Horn, Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel, Gillian Wearing and Ai Weiwei. Income from the exhibition supports both the exhibiting artists and the not-for-profit work of the RA. So buy a ticket or an artwork and you’ll be helping the gallery continue its mission to champion artists – from training the next generation of artists to outreach work to teachers, children and local communities.

Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD; until 3rd January 2021

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

In the highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his journey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency – a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil. Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of partisan US politics and international diplomacy. The memoir is published on 17th November.

Visit Waterstones.com

BFI London Film Festival

The 64th BFI London Film Festival is taking place in a socially distanced manner across the country. Running until 18th October, the festival gives fans the chance to experience the best new films online and in cinemas, as well as laying on free talks, other events and a virtual XR exhibition. Tickets are still available at select cinemas across the UK for the premiere of God’s Own Country director Francis Lee’s second film Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. In 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both their lives forever. Now’s your chance to see it before everyone else does in January.

Various locations across the UK, until 18th October

Visit BFI.org.uk

Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern

This new exhibition is a journey through the works of contemporary American artist Bruce Nauman. Since the late 1960s he has continually tested what an artwork can be, reshaping old forms and creating new ones. His ground-breaking works using sound, film, video and neon have influenced generations of artists. This is the first major exhibition of his work in London in more than 20 years. It allows visitors to engage with his universe through immersive installations with a strong emphasis on sound and moving images, as well as poetic sculptures and neon pieces. Major works like ‘Double Steel Cage Piece 1974’, ‘Anthro/Socio (Rinde Spinning)’ and ‘Clown Torture 1987’ highlight Nauman’s distinctive preoccupations and how he incessantly revisits them, yet never repeats himself. A must book.

Bankside, SE1 9TG; until 21st February 2021

Visit Tate.org.uk

Small Axe, BBC1

Oscar and Bafta-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (Widows, Twelve Years A Slave) brings TV series Small Axe to BBC1 this autumn, with an all-star British cast including Star Wars’ John Boyega and Black Panther’s Letitia Wright. Joining the headline cast are Evening Standard Theatre Awards Outstanding Newcomer Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror), Shaun Parkes (Lost in Space), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), Alex Jennings (A Very English Scandal) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots). Small Axe is an anthology of five hour-long stories. Each film is set between the late 1960s and the early 1980s in London’s West Indian community, and all investigate systemic racism. First episode ‘Mangrove’ is set to hit screens on Sunday 15th November.

Visit BBC.co.uk

Secret 7” at Now Gallery

Secret 7” is the much-loved anonymous charity record sleeve sale that combines world-leading artists with legendary tracks. This month, it’s returning for a seventh and final show. Taking place at Now Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula, it will showcase the works of Sir Anish Kapoor, Lubaina Himid, the Connor Brothers and conceptual visual artist Tacita Dean. To raise money for charity Help Refugees, the designers have created one-of-a-kind artworks for one of this year’s seven tracks: Aretha Franklin’s ‘One Step Ahead’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’, Foo Fighters’ ‘This Is A Call’, The Internet’s ‘Come Over’, Koffee’s ‘Toast’, Miles Davis’s ‘Miles Runs The Voodoo Down’, and Vampire Weekend’s ‘Harmony Hall’. At the gallery, viewers can see the lot and bid on vinyl – all for a great cause.

Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, SE10 0SQ; 14th October-1st November

Visit NowGallery.co.uk

Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul at Royal Academy

She’s been a major figure in contemporary art for over 25 years; he pioneered a radical new style known as expressionism. In this landmark exhibition, Tracey Emin selects masterpieces by Edvard Munch to show alongside her own most recent paintings. Emin has long had a fascination with the Norwegian painter of 'The Scream'. In 1998 she even created a haunting video piece filmed at the same Oslo jetty that was the location of many of his well-known works. This exhibition features over 25 of Emin’s works including paintings, some of which will be on display for the first time, as well neons and sculptures. These works, which explore the loneliness of the soul, have been chosen by Emin to sit alongside a carefully considered selection of 19 oils and watercolours drawn from the rich collection and archives of Oslo’s Munch Museum. Seen together, the dark territories and raw emotions that both artists navigate offer a moving exploration of grief, loss and longing. 

Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD; from 15th November-28th February 2021

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

Industry, BBC2

Partly directed by Girls’ Lena Dunham, Industry is an exhilarating dive into the world of international finance, seen through the eyes of ambitious 20-somethings struggling to secure their futures. A collaboration between the BBC and HBO, the series follows a group of graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London – but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover and enemy soon blur as they immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line. There’s no release date yet, but the show has been promised a 2020 outing.

Visit BBC.co.uk

There’s No Such Thing As an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

Kikuko Tsumura has won numerous literary awards in her native Japan. The enormously successful There’s No Such Thing As A Easy Job is the first of her books to be translated into English. A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that requires no reading, no writing – and, ideally, very little thinking. She is sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she's not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful. The book is published on 26th November.

Visit Waterstones.com


Talking Heads Live at Bridge Theatre 

During April and May, while London’s Bridge Theatre was closed, the production team worked with the BBC to produce Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, which were broadcast in June. Now, a repertoire of 12 one-person plays are being performed using the Bridge’s flexible auditorium to provide 250 socially distanced seats, all with the same actors whose performances were acclaimed on television – think Leslie Manville, Imelda Staunton and Kristen Scott-Thomas. These must-see live performances run until 31st October.

3 Potters Fields Park, Tower Bridge, SE1 2SG; until 31st October

Visit BridgeTheatre.co.uk

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly in League with the Night at Tate Britain

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. This exhibition brings together around 80 works from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of her career to date. The figures in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are not real people – she creates them from found images and her own imagination. Both familiar and mysterious, they invite viewers to project their own interpretations, and raise important questions of identity and representation. Yiadom-Boakye was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2018, was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013. Inspiring stuff.

Bankside, SE1 9TG; from 18th November-9th May 2021

Visit Tate.org.uk


The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse

The Last Five Years has returned to Southwark Playhouse after its critically acclaimed run was cut short in March. Performances are now taking place in a newly configured socially distanced auditorium. Jason Robert Brown’s award-winning musical The Last Five Years is an emotionally powerful and intimate show about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The musical’s unconventional structure unfolds as Cathy tells her story in reverse, from the end of their turbulent relationship, while Jamie tells his story chronologically from the spark of their initial meeting. The two characters meet only once, at their wedding in the middle of the show. But this bold actor/musician production shows the actors on stage at all times, playing the piano, to add a new dimension to the story.

77-85 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6BD; until 14th November

Visit SouthwarkPlayhouse.co.uk

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