Looking forward to the first half of 2022

25 Jan 2022

It’s definitely too late in January to say ‘Happy New Year!’ but we are very excited to look ahead to an amazing year at Somerset House. We’re back with new exhibitions, inspiring installations and much-loved returning events, alongside new ways to engage with our creative community online.

Our year begins with Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design, which returns to Somerset House in February. The Crafts Council-produced fair provides thrilling access to recent work by living artists, providing a welcome connection with authentic and handmade craft.

Collect 2022. North Lands Creative. Jonas Noel Niedermann.jpg

Collect 2022. North Lands Creative. Jonas Noel Niedermann
Collect 2022. North Lands Creative. Jonas Noel Niedermann

In April, we’ll be showcasing the very latest in independent and experimental game design from the across the globe, as London’s leading festival of experimental games Now Play This returns. Across a weekend of interaction and play for all ages, this year’s festival explores the relationship between democracy and game design, with power, decision-making and representation at the heart of gaming experiences.

Also in April, our courtyard will be transformed by Filipino artist-designer Leeroy New, who presents his first large-scale UK installation, The Arks of Gimokudan. Marking Earth Day, this striking outdoor installation features a fleet of three ships docked within our courtyard, appearing to float over visitors’ heads. Constructed using reused and recycled materials, this major work will address the often-problematic life cycle of everyday objects, confronting us with the scale of single use plastic waste around the world.

Arks of Gimokudan by Leeroy New, 2022 (Artist's Rendition).jpg

Arks of Gimokudan by Leeroy New, 2022 (Artist's Rendition)
Arks of Gimokudan by Leeroy New, 2022 (Artist's Rendition)

Echoing the themes of transformation and sustainability, in June we present Eternally Yours, a free exhibition exploring ideas around repair, care and healing. Showcasing diverse examples of creative reuse, from historical samples of the Japanese art of Kintsugi and Boro, to works from contemporary artists who put repair at the heart of their practice, the exhibition explores the unexpectedly hopeful and healing stories that repair reveals. At the heart of the exhibition, visitors will have the chance to see designers and makers first-hand at the Beasley Brothers’ Repair Shop, giving discarded objects a new lease of life.

Angela Maddock Holding A Work in Progress. Matthew Otten .jpg

Angela Maddock Holding A Work in Progress. Matthew Otten
Angela Maddock Holding A Work in Progress. Matthew Otten

Our newest gallery space in the New Wing of Somerset House, Gallery 31, presents its fifth season, Piece of Mind, opening in April. This new exhibition, curated by Harlesden High Street, an art space which celebrates ungentrified neighbourhoods of London, and provides resources for under-represented artists, explores the effects of the changing functions of our intimate domestic space, where we increasingly carry out more work, social and leisure activities.

Somerset House Studios, our experimental artist workspace, continues to champion new perspectives and innovative practice, and in March we present Grounding Practice, a series of artist and curator-led workshops, talks, and demos, shaped by and for creative practitioners and critical thinkers. Spanning practice, process, and skill sharing alongside artist development sessions, Grounding Practice will see contributions from Nkisi, Keiken, Shama Khanna / Flatness, Phoebe Davies, Marta Salogni and Aja.

Also returning in March is our hugely successful series of online interactive talks and workshops Upgrade Yourself. Aimed at people aged 18-30 who are looking to unlock their creative potential, these monthly live-streamed events unpack alternative career pathways in the creative industries – whether behind the scenes or at the forefront – connecting young creatives and high-profile creative industry gamechangers.

We’re also giving everyone a chance to get closer to the creative practice that underpins our programme, as in February we launch the Somerset House Podcast: The Process. Uncovering the stories of artists, musicians, writers and creators connected to Somerset House’s cultural programme and community, this weekly podcast will provide listeners with a fascinating glimpse into the artistic process behind some of today’s most inspiring works. The series touches on a wide range of thought-provoking topics from protest, economics and astrology to music, language, identity and colonialism, with contributors including Andy Holden, Mark McGowan, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Françoise Verges and Shiraz Bayjoo.

Photography lovers will be excited to see the return of Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition in April, featuring some of the world’s best photography from the past year, with a special presentation by the renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, best known for his sweeping images of industrial landscapes and the wider environmental crisis.

In May, leading international photography fair Photo London returns, showcasing iconic imagery from established galleries alongside the most exciting emerging talent. Photo London Digital will also return, supplementing the physical event. In the lead-up to the fair itself, the Photo London Academy continues to promote year-round digital initiatives, including regular artist talks.

As the world continues to open up and we’re able to rediscover the cultural spaces that we love, we hope that as many of you as possible will return to Somerset House, either IRL or online, as a place of inspiration and creativity, somewhere to engage with new perspectives, encounter new artistic voices and reflect on contemporary global issues.