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Summer of culture

Time Out has teamed up with Bombay Sapphire to showcase the best of the summer’s cultural events in London

By Time Out in association with Bombay Sapphire

Looking for cultural thrills this summer? We’ve got just the tonic. Time Out and Bombay Sapphire have got together to bring you our pick of the best of London’s music, art, film and performance over the next three months.

From Secret Cinema’s immersive ‘Dirty Dancing’ event to Late at Tate Britain, the Pet Shop Boys at the Royal Opera House and a peek into the history of underwear, there’s plenty to get your cultural chops around. The very best in culture and innovation is on your doorstep. Go out and find it.

Undressed at the V&A

‘Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear’ explores how design and textiles have been used to offer both functional protection and shapely display. With 200 items of men’s and women’s underwear, from the 1700s to the present day, the displays explore changing notions of fashion, body image and morality. From the stylish and the sexy to the ingenious and the mundane, they also show how underwear design isn’t just a matter of look or practicality, it can sometimes verge on civil engineering. Contributions include Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Rigby & Peller.

Victoria & Albert Museum. Until March 12 2017.

Daydreaming With Stanley Kubrick

Film director Stanley Kubrick defied cliché throughout his career. The only thing that unites his films is how masterfully he guides you on a journey, from the mind-bending trip of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to the dark comedy of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and the brutally dystopian ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Musician and Mo’ Wax founder James Lavelle invited artists, musicians and filmmakers to respond to a Kubrick film, character, scene or theme in their own way. The result is a fascinating mix of creative tributes from contributors including Gavin Turk, Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas, Mick Jones and Michael Nyman.

Somerset House. July 6-August 24.

Pet Shop Boys, Royal Opera House
© Pelle Crépin/Pet Shop Boys Partnership

Pet Shop Boys

‘Inner Sanctum’ is the electro-pop elders’ new show, created with longtime friend Es Devlin, who turns their tours into stunning visual spectacles and also designed Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet’ set, Louis Vuitton fashion shows and the London 2012 closing ceremony. The duo air new tunes from their latest album ‘Super’, but you can also expect some PSB classics in the four pre-tour shows at the Royal Opera House. Fittingly elegant and enduringly classy.

Royal Opera House. July 20-23.

Secret Cinema

We Londoners are a trusting lot. We book tickets for mystery events, bowl up at tube stations and follow costumed characters into the night in search of food, theatre and film events. That’s largely thanks to Secret Cinema, who created the first immersive nights out that really worked, from a pie fight in an old picturehouse for ‘Bugsy Malone’ to turning the Olympic Park into 1950s Hill Valley for ‘Back to the Future’. This summer they book us into Max Kellerman’s resort for ‘Dirty Dancing’, inviting us to step back into 1963 for a romance-filled summer holiday in the Catskills. July 15-17, 22-24.

David Bowie IS Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane
© Duffy Archive

Prom 19: The David Bowie Prom

The annual BBC Proms season has long been more than just the world’s biggest classical music festival. But whether it’s a cello concerto or a new jazz piece, every show highlights creative excellence and has £5 standing day tickets, even when it’s sold out. On July 29 the work of David Bowie is celebrated by the contemporary collective Stargaze, conducted by André de Ridder. The late-night show includes counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky in a new piece by David Lang based on Bowie’s ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’ and spots from John Cale, Marc Almond, Anna Calvi and Laura Mvula.

Royal Albert Hall. July 29.

National Portrait Galley_Front Entrance_MUST CAPTION_National Portrait Gallery, London Front Entrance_MUST CREDIT_© National Portrait Gallery, London.JPG
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Exposed: The Naked Portrait

All art inspires and affects, but nothing so instantly touches our emotions as a portrait – the National Portrait Gallery collection gets you up close, warts and all, to hundreds of fascinating personalities. The new exhibition ‘Exposed’ looks at our complex reaction to naked portraits. Does undressing the subject reveal more? Or does it distract from what we might learn from the sitter’s eyes and expression? Setting contemporary paintings and photography alongside famous portraits, from Nell Gwyn to Linford Christie, this free exhibition looks at how art depicts the real and the idealised, and how we want or expect to view other human beings.

National Portrait Gallery. Until September 11.

Caught by the River Thames

Caught by the River was originally an online outlet for those who wanted to discuss distinctly non-digital subjects like fishing, beer, philosophy and poetry. Expanding to books and events, it has found a big following with lovers of modern culture and the timeless pleasure of enjoying art at your own pace. This two-day festival might appear to be just another music bash with a great line-up (Super Furry Animals, Beth Orton, Temples, Sun Ra Arkestra) but it’s also a festival of nature, with guests Chris Packham and the Urban Forager, and a literary fest, with Iain Sinclair, Will Self and Kate Tempest. Be entertained and challenged.

Fulham Palace. August 6-7.


Luna Cinema at Kew

We love Rooftop Film Club, Secret Cinema and Floating Cinema, but Luna Cinema’s outdoor screenings really nail matching what’s happening on the screen with the perfect setting. A south London lido gives ‘Jaws’ a little added bite, and there are fewer more romantic spots than the grounds of Hampton Court Palace for treating your date to ‘Notting Hill’ under the stars. Luna also add top-notch street food served from the back of vintage cars. After all, if you’re going to watch a modern epic like ‘Star Wars – The Force Awakens’ in the scented glory of Kew Gardens, you deserve a five-star feast.

August 24-25, September 7-8.

Missoni Art Colour

Ottavio and Rosita Missoni were immersed in and inspired by modern art, and the fashion house they founded in 1953 became part of the story of postwar Italian visual culture. This exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum sets Missoni’s fashions alongside works by twentieth-century European artists from the Museo MAGA and private collections in Italy, many never shown here before. There are also paintings and previously unseen textile studies by Ottavio Missoni, which reveal the essence of the label’s graphic style.

Fashion and Textile Museum. Until September 4.

London Fashion Week SS17

While the big-name catwalk shows fill the front pages in Fashion Week, the Designer Showrooms at Brewer Street Car Park are the focus for fresh visions and talents emerging in ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories. Names to watch include 2014 Central Saint Martins graduate Angel Chen, footwear artisan Havva, the Heavy London collective and the art deco-inspired Jessie VE, launched less than a year ago by Jessie Evans and already celebrated for her Constellation rings. Check the website for news of public shows happening during the week.

September 16-20.

London Design Festival

London gets a little more beautiful for a week, with installations, exhibitions and events focused on future urban living. London studio dRMM’s ‘Baboushka Boxes’ explores housing solutions for a growing world, and an exhibition in the Brompton Design District showcases new materials like ‘liquid marble’. Paul Smith has commissioned nine artists and designers to create a free crazy golf course in Trafalgar Square, and stunning constructions are popping up across London. Look out for ‘The Smile’ outside Chelsea College of Art and Design, a curvaceous cantilevered hardwood structure that you can walk inside, with openings that emit light at night.

September 17-25.


You Say You Want a Revolution?

Subtitled ‘Records and Rebels 1966-70’, this V&A exhibition reflects on how era-defining music and performances are woven into the political and social upheavals of the late 1960s. Looking at fashion, film, design and political activism, the exhibition considers the goals – realised and aspired to – of the ’60s revolutionary movement and how that energy and creativity affected how we live and think about the future today.

Victoria & Albert Museum. September 10-February 26 2017.

Portobello Film Festival

Centred around Westbourne Studios, under the Westway, entry to the festival is free, because it’s about sharing ideas, not making money. Celebrating its twenty-first birthday, the UK’s biggest independent film festival gives exposure to new directors working in every format who have yet to find mainstream recognition. The submissions only closed on June 1, so you’re guaranteed something fresh and new, and you could be seeing the next Guy Ritchie or Shane Meadows, two of the many former contributors who’ve gone on to greater things.

Westbourne Studios and local venues. September 1-16.

National Theatre
Rob Greig / Time Out

Platforms at the National Theatre

Through a series of talks, interviews and discussions, Platforms is a chance to explore the ideas behind the current productions at the NT and wider issues around the performing arts. Tickets are just £6 and the atmosphere is always warm and intimate. September’s guests include Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court, playwright Lee Hall discussing the NT’s new musical ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’, and Helen McCrory, currently starring in the NT’s acclaimed production of Terence Rattigan’s ‘The Deep Blue Sea’. 

National Theatre. September 2, 9, 14, 15, 29.


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