In a round-up of “shows to see now,” critic Tabish Khan lists Metamirrorism as one of the top shows in London.
Which Exhibitions Should You See Right Now?
By Tabish Khan
COLOURFUL INFINITIES: Step into a transformed gallery with colourful reflections and suddenly see yourself on the walls. Cameras record visitors and project them, so you become part of the artwork or to be more accurate temporal versions of yourself do. Due to the delay in transmission of data, visitors see multiple versions of themselves each holding a different split second glimpse into our past. It’s trippy, it’s mind bending and it’s a lot of fun. Signe Pierce: Metamirrorism at Annka Kultys. Until 28 April, free. ★★★★☆ (Wednesday-Saturday)
STORMTROOPERS: The stormtrooper helmets from Star Wars are an iconic design, but what would they look like if a bunch of artists are let loose on them? Find out at HIX Art under the Tramshed restaurant in Shoreditch. There are woven helmets, ones made from lights and a cute one with little arms and legs carrying out repairs on its own ‘brain’. It’s all being done to help raise funds for a missing persons charity, so it’s for a good cause — plus who doesn’t love Star Wars? Art Wars East at HIX Art, Tramshed. Until 18 May, free ★★★☆☆
THINK OF THE CHILDREN: What can we learn about raising and designing for children from the Nordic countries? This exhibition starts with the foundation of the Welfare State in Scandinavia, before delving into the philosophy of designing for living rather than showing off — Ikea makes more sense now. We love the idea of Puckelball, an undulating football pitch with crooked goals so all children are equally rubbish irrespective of talent to make it all about play rather than winning. There’s plenty of interactive elements where children get to be creative with Lego, another Nordic invention, and use building blocks that double up as furniture. Century of the child: Nordic design for children 1900-today at Museum of Childhood. Until 2 September, free ★★★★☆
TREE HUGGING: What does Epping Forest mean to different people? Artist Gayle Chong Kwan has photographed people who have a special relationship with the forest — from those who stretch in the forest to conservationists. Each person is wearing a ceremonial headdress made from photographs of the woods, with these headdresses on display in the gallery. Chong Kwan also gives a rundown of the history of protecting the forest from the 1800s onwards right up to recent history, when the police wanted to base their Olympic base there. Gayle Chong Kwan: The People’s Forest at William Morris Gallery. Until 20 May, free ★★★☆☆ (Wednesday-Sunday)
A WHOLE HOST OF BLUE: Craig Keenan takes the Victorian era method of cyanotypes and creates a gallery filled with photographic prints that have us swimming in a sea of blue. A girl falls into blue nothingness, blue legs distort and change shapes, while geometric shapes bring their straight lines to natural landscapes. It’s refreshing to see this old technique revived with some playful twists, though now we can’t get that Eiffel 65 song out of our head. Craig Keenan: Blueprints at Curious Duke Gallery. Until 28 April, free ★★★★☆ (Monday-Saturday)
A TRIPPY RITUAL: Bronze colourful crystalline sculptures emerge from the ground, some with mushrooms sprouting out of them. A cast of the artist’s hand emerges from the pink pastel walls. Once we venture downstairs we disappear into the rabbit hole of a Hippy-esque ritual projected on to a brass plate and a field of flowers illuminated by pink lights. This is one psychedelic installation that draws us into a quasi-spiritual exhibition where we can forget we’re in east London. Byzantia Harlow: From the same source I have not taken at Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix. Until 24 May, free ★★★★☆ (Wednesday-Saturday).
STUDENTS HAVING FUN: Put on some headphones and walk around this fun exhibition of student artwork to a pumping soundtrack. Look at yourself in a mirror affixed with workout equipment to witness a take on the narcissistic culture found at gyms. There’s a diving board with a truncated ladder that can’t be reached unless the whole gallery flooded — which would be worth it just to see a pair of inflatable blue feet float on. The work of art students can often be heavily conceptual but here they are cutting loose and the creativity benefits from this playful energy. Premiums: Interims Projects at Royal Academy of Arts. Until 29 April, free ★★★☆☆
CARTOON GLORY: Where would you find Hogarth, Daleks, The Mad Hatter and Judge Dredd in the same place? Why the Cartoon Museum of course, which is celebrating 50 exhibitions over 12 years before it closes down. Not to worry, it’s moving to a new home in Fitzrovia but this is the last chance to catch it in its current home — and what better way to mark the occasion then to hold a ‘best of’ exhibition from political cartoons to graphic novels. 50 Glorious Shows at The Cartoon Museum. Until 2 September, £7★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)
UNDERWATER POST: The SS Gairsoppa was sunk by German U-boats and its cargo of silver, tea and letters sunk to the ocean floor. Much has now been rescued, having £150m of silver on board used as an incentive to fund the mission, but we get to see the letters that were long thought lost. It’s a fascinating insight into life in the second world war era as we get complaints about insects in India, and an advert asking for matrimonial husbands for five sisters. Throw in the story of the sole survivor of the wreck and this is a dramatic slice of history. Voices from the Deep at Postal Museum. Until January 2019, £11 (includes admission to the rest of the museum) ★★★☆☆
GOTHIC SKETCHES: Inky black sketches of wooded paths lead into gothic environments with colourful skies. Louise Weir creates these atmospheric landscapes, they’re all inspired by Dickens’ novel Great Expectations and she’s been to locations in both London and Kent to sketch them out. Her style gives the works a timeless quality that means they could be from today or Dickens’ era. Add some poignant poetry alongside the images and we have ourselves a fitting and gorgeous tribute to one of the all time greatnovels. Expectations of the Past at Charles Dickens Museum. Until 29 April, £9.50 ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)
IRANIAN ART: CAMA Gallery has opened its first branch in the UK in Westminster, and it’s part of their plan for global expansion beyond Iran. They display Iranian artists in the new gallery across two floors, opening with a showcase of their diversity of artists. Our favourites are the abstract futuristic cityscapes of Bika Vatili where the buildings are made from everyday items, such as staples. There are a lot of striking works in this opening show and we look forward to many more exhibitions from this new addition to the London art scene. Sensation at CAMA Gallery. Until 20 June, free ★★★☆☆
PATHETIC PAINTING: The Saatchi gallery has had some truly dire shows over the last few years but it has hit it’s nadir with this atrocious one — surely it can’t get any worse? It’s a show of painters from Saatchi’s collection and nobody here manages to pop their head above dire and into mediocrity. The brief seems to have been to take well regarded painters like Tracey Emin, Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon; then get other artists to copy their styles and make a real hash of it. Everything feels derivative and dull. Known Unknowns at Saatchi Gallery. Until 24 June, free. ★☆☆☆☆
MACABRE CERAMICS: Think ceramics and most of us would think of twee landscapes on porcelain. Head up to the V&A’s hard to find room 146, and prepare to be shocked as sculptures ooze with viscous blood, guts hang out and man on walking sticks is flayed of all his skin. Dutch artist Carolein Smit takes inspiration from religious imagery and fairy tales to show us how dark ceramic art can get. It’s dark and disturbing, and we love it. Myth & Mortality: The fairy-tale world of Carolein Smit at V&A, Room 146. Until 30 November, free. ★★★★☆
SQUASHED HEADS: Anthea Hamilton surprised us all with a pair of giant buttocks when she was nominated for the Turner Prize. Now she’s taken over the entire main hall of Tate Britain covering it in tiles like a bathroom cum swimming pool. The tiles form plinths that hold works by the like of Henry Moore and their are performers wearing squash shaped masks lounging around the place. It’s the eccentricity we’ve come to expect from Anthea Hamilton, but after smiling at first we quickly realise there really isn’t much more to it than the inanity of it all. Anthea Hamilton at Tate Britain, Duveen Galleries. Until 7 September, free. ★★☆☆☆