Somerset House Strand Entrance

Step inside, think outside at Somerset House in 2023

31 Jan 2023

It may still be cold outside, but we can already feel the buzz of energy building for another incredible year of creative experiences at Somerset House, encompassing visual art, digital culture, outdoor installations, fashion, music and photography. Whether you’re here in person at the heart of London or joining us online, you’ll have the chance to encounter today’s most stimulating artists from around the world alongside the incredible talent based here at Somerset House, the home of cultural innovators.

As ever, the artists and creators based here at Somerset House are at the heart of our programme and we kick off the year with the return of Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy, a dynamic series of events from Somerset House Studios that considers individual and collective health and wellbeing through a programme of newly commissioned artworks, films, workshops, and conversations. 2022 also saw the launch of Channel, our new online curated space for art, ideas and the artistic process, and this year will see the new commissions from artist collective Keiken, residents at Somerset House Studios, alongside pioneering American artist Rashaad Newsome.

The iconic Edmond J Safra Fountain Court has been the backdrop for our most unforgettable installations, and in February will play host to the latest courtyard commission from Jitish Kallat. Whorled (Here After Here After Here) is the first major UK commission for the Mumbai-based artist and will invite audiences to explore two intersecting spirals that echo the signage of UK roads, connecting our unique central London courtyard to locations across the planet and distant universe. Like much of Kallat’s work, it interlaces the immediate and the cosmic, the past and present. We can’t wait to see how he transforms the ever versatile space. We’ll also present the first of three Morgan Stanley Lates events alongside Jittish’s installation, with food, drink, and courtyard activities to enhance your visit. 


Jitish-Kallat, Here After Here AfterHere, 2012-15. High endurance paint and stickers, alucobond, steel.jpg
Jitish Kallat, Here After Here AfterHere, 2012-15. High endurance paint and stickers, alucobond, steel

March will see the return of the London Original Print Fair, celebrating printmaking in all its myriad forms, as well as Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design. The Crafts Council produced fair offers a unique opportunity to discover pioneering and thought-provoking artworks from over 400 international artists. In April, we can’t wait to welcome back Now Play This, the leading festival of experimental games, with an extended nine-day exhibition of engaging interaction and play centred around the theme of love. As ever, Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition and Photo London will also be back to share the best of contemporary photography from around the world. 

Throughout June, the fourth edition of the London Design Biennale takes over our whole site, bringing international, immersive and thought-provoking installations to Somerset House, all responding to the theme of Remapping Collaborations. This year’s Artistic Director is Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Dutch national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture, led by Aric Chen.

As the Home of Cultural Innovators, in addition to presenting work from today’s most exciting artists, we’re committed to widening access to careers in the creative industries, and in June we’ll be presenting the next Upgrade Yourself Festival. Across two days, the festival will connect 16–24-year-olds aspiring to break into the creative sectors with trailblazing creative industry experts on hand via talks, workshops, and bespoke mentoring sessions. Our commitment to inclusive talent permeates everything we do, and we’ll also be recruiting the fourth cohort of the Black Business Incubator, our pioneering programme that mentors and supports Black-led creative businesses.

Today’s most exciting musical talent will be centre stage this summer, as we celebrate 20 years of Summer Series at Somerset House with American Express. Following two incredible decades of amazing live music in London’s most inspirational venue, 2023 promises to deliver another cracking line-up of unforgettable experiences. Tickets will be going on sale at the end of March.


Widline Cadet, On A Clear Day I Thought I Saw Forever 1-3, 2020

As we move into August, we’re excited to present Black Venus, an exhibition which examines the historical representation and shifting legacy of Black women in visual culture. The show brings together the work of over 20 Black women and non-binary artists to explore the othering, fetishisation and reclamation of narratives around Black femininity. Exploring the many faces of Black femininity, the show’s contemporary works offer a riotous affront to a centuries-long dynamic of objectification, showcasing all that Black womanhood can be and has always been.

The Missing Thread ©Eileen Perrier 1 Afro Hair and Beauty 1998 webres.jpg

A Black person wearing a blue wig and a blue t-shirt. They are staring directly at the camera.
The Missing Thread. © Eileen Perrier 1 'Afro Hair and Beauty', 1998.

In September we’ll then turn our attention to exploring the story of Black British fashion in a major new exhibition, The Missing Thread sponsored by Morgan Stanley. Looking back over 50 years, this show charts the shifting landscape of Black British culture and the unique contribution it has made to Britain’s rich design history. The exhibition will examine how the cultural, counter-cultural, political and socio-economic backdrop of the 20th and 21st century has shaped the identity of Black style and in turn mainstream fashion culture, celebrating the unique impact of a largely unseen generation of Black creatives who've often been excluded or misrepresented in the traditional story of British fashion.

2023 promises to be a stimulating year, with a programme that offers alternative perspectives on today’s cultural landscape, exploring who we are today and how we got here. We are a place of joy and discovery, where everyone is invited to Step Inside and Think Outside. We hope you’ll find something for you.