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Photograph: ‘Arrivals + Departures’ © Somerset House

Somerset House is unveiling two new outdoor installations

And they’re both free. Hurrah!

Written by
Alexandra Sims
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Somerset House is back in action with not one, but two free open-air installations. The neoclassical arts venue has been partially open since mid-July, but now it’s opening up even more of its site to bring us some extra, and much-needed, culture. 

As well as its choreographed fountains (which have just been brought back to life), the gallery’s grand eighteenth-century courtyard will be home to ‘Arrivals + Departures’ this summer – a new installation from artist duo Yara + Davina.

Created using the arrivals and departures boards you find in airports, the project aims to get visitors exploring ‘birth, death and the journey in between’ by displaying the names of people who have ‘arrived’ and ‘departed’ from this world. Given the events of 2020, it’ll be a poignant and timely response to the collective loss and grief we’ve all felt during this unprecedented year. 

Bethany Williams © Jade Berry.
Photograph: Bethany Williams © Jade Berry

If that all sounds a bit heavy right now, the second alfresco installation will be a colourful pop-up from fashion designer Bethany Williams. Her new capsule collection for this year’s London Fashion Week, ‘All Our Children’, will be on show indoors, giving people an opportunity to get that front-row feeling by attending an actual LFW event. But you’ll also be able to see her specially commissioned flag fluttering over the courtyard, which is being raised on September 19. 

The gallery’s also opening up its River Terrace, and there’ll be a pop-up food stall selling seasonal ice-creams and granitas, so you can cool off after soaking up all the culture. And, if you’re more comfortable staying at home, there’s still a programme of online events to get stuck into – just set up a sprinkler in the garden for that fountain effect. 

‘Arrivals and Departures’ will be on display at Somerset House for one month from Sep 10. ‘All Our Children’ will be displayed on Sep 19 and 20 in the Seamen’s Hall. Both are free to attend. 

See which other London galleries are back open again

The British Museum has announced its return

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