The exhibitions you must see this July
Wildlife photography, floral installations and Paula Rego’s evocative paintings – these are the exhibitions you must see this July as museums continue to reopen.
As the days warm up and the sun shines brighter, why not take a break from the UV rays and pop into your favourite museum or gallery for a well-earned exhibition break. Or, now could be the perfect time to discover a new arty hotspot and visit somewhere new.
This month we’ve got plenty of exhibitions that take their inspiration from nature to get you in the mood for summer. The Garden Museum are celebrating the floral designer known as the 20th century’s ‘queen of flowers’, Constance Spry, and Compton Verney have a flora and fauna-inspired installation by artist Rebecca Louise Law.
Other highlights include the final month of Tracey Emin’s love letter to Edvard Munch at the Royal Academy, and an exhibition celebrating an exciting assortment of contemporary art, British Art Show 9, opening at Aberdeen Art Gallery.
These are our picks to get you started, but don’t forget there’s so much more out there to enjoy. Keep an eye on our full exhibition listings to plan your summer adventures and sign up to Art in Your Inbox for updates on what to see.
- Compton Verney, Stratford-upon-avon
- 18 May – 30 August 2021
This sweeping floral installation by Rebecca Louise Law at Compton Verney is enough to make any flower enthusiast swoon. The artist often works with natural materials and all the flowers here have been carefully selected from locations around the UK, Snowdonia and even the Compton Verney gardens! Suspended on copper wires above your head, the installation explores nature changing through the seasons as you make your way through the space.
- Waddesdon, Aylesbury
- 12 June – 17 October 2021
Gustave Moreau is considered one of the most influential Symbolist artists, the movement that sought to present reality through metaphorical words and imagery. His dreamy watercolours are on display here, depicting the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine, a celebrated fabulist poet. For an artist better known for painting biblical and mythological figures, this exhibition reveals a rarely seen side to Moreau's work.
Please note: this exhibition is £5 with a National Art Pass.
- Whitechapel Gallery, London
- 23 September 2020 – 5 September 2021
Nalini Malani’s work confronts powerful themes of violence, feminism, politics, racial tensions and colonial legacies, spanning multiple disciplines including film, photography and painting. Her new work, Can You Hear Me? plays with the boundaries of moving image and mixed media. Exploring a narrative of moral outrage, the work brings together over 80 animated projections of hand-drawn images and notes from the artist’s notebook.
- Natural History Museum, London
- 17 May – 1 August 2021
The popular exhibition and competition celebrating all the beauty the natural world has to offer is back for another year at the Natural History Museum. Featuring photography by dozens of nature-loving photographers, the exhibition includes enigmatic images of extraordinary wildlife, habitats and unusual animal behaviour.
- Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen
- 10 July – 10 October 2021
You can catch this major travelling exhibition in locations such as Wolverhampton, Manchester and Plymouth over the course of the next year, but if you’re itching to see the best in British contemporary art now, the annual show will be opening in Aberdeen this July. The exhibition includes a range of mixed-media work by artists at all stages of their careers, from sculpture and installation to film and performance. The show adapts and changes to its host city, so expect to see work inspired by the landscape and history of Aberdeen.
- Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
- 18 July – 12 December 2021
Leiko Ikemura is another artist drawn to nature in her work, and the dominant theme in this exhibition is how we stay connected to all aspects of the natural world, from humans and animals to plants and minerals. A collection of the artist’s sculpture, drawing, painting and photography will be on display here, exploring the vulnerabilities and changing aesthetics that nature has to offer.
- Royal Academy of Arts, London
- 18 May – 1 August 2021
There's not long left to catch this major exhibition with contemporary artist Tracey Emin, exploring her fascination and admiration for the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, most famously known for The Scream (1893). Pieces by both artists have been hand-selected by Emin and sit side by side, exploring Emin and Munch's shared fascination with the human psyche.
- Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
- 29 May – 5 September 2021
This thrilling group show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park seeks to showcase the importance of post-war sculpture by women. Work by pioneering sculptors such as Elisabeth Frink, Barbara Hepworth and Cornelia Parker is on display here, as well as pieces by lesser-known artists dating from 1945 to the present day.
- Garden Museum, London
- 17 May – 26 September 2021
A highly fashionable florist and floral designer in the 1920s and 30s, Constance Spry was known for her bold and modern approach to floral design, incorporating unusual plants into her arrangements such as kale and pussy willow, as well as providing the flowers for iconic events such as the coronation of Elizabeth II. Photographs, documents and personal items spanning her entire career are on display here, demonstrating her pioneering approach to floral design that continues to influence florists today.
- Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
- 10 July – 19 September 2021
Figurative painters are under the spotlight in Bath, as Victoria Art Gallery explore the friendship between three key artists: Lucian Freud, John Minton and Adrian Ryan. The exhibition includes early works and pieces exploring domestic intimacy, as well as the paintings of lonely figures done by Freud and Ryan following Minton’s death.
- Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne
- 17 May – 4 December 2021
Laing Art Gallery turn their attention to women in 20th-century visual art in an exhibition running alongside their summer blockbuster, Challenging Convention. This show brings together work on paper by artists such as Vanessa Bell, Winifred Knights and Annie French, and features watercolours, etchings, screen prints and pastels by both well-known and lesser-known artists of the period.
- Tate Britain, London
- 7 July – 24 October 2021
An artist celebrated for her unique representation of female subjects, Paula Rego is particularly known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks, making highly personal works and exploring complicated socio-political issues. The landscape of her career is on display here, with highlights include her seminal Dog Women series.