Somerset House August/September 2020 On Site and Online

Somerset House is delighted to announce that it will be further opening the site to visitors this August. The public will be able to enjoy the beautiful, spacious and tranquil surroundings, with additional socially distanced outdoor tables and chairs, a special new food and drink offering, alongside two new installations. For those who are still unable to travel to Somerset House, the popular online programme will continue throughout the summer season, with exclusive talks and brand-new art commissions streamed live.

On site highlights include:​

  • The reopening of the spectacular fountains in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court and the River Terrace complete with fantastic views of the South Bank across the Thames​
  • Spring To Go, a pop-up food stall in the courtyard serving delectable homemade food and drinks from Somerset House’s on site restaurant Spring by acclaimed chef, Skye Gyngell ​
  • Arrivals + Departures, a live interactive public installation about birth, death and the journey in between by artist duo YARA + DAVINA​
  • British fashion designer Bethany Williams joins Somerset House to develop and launch a new fashion capsule collection and flag commission, entitled All Our Children as part of London Fashion Week 2020

Online highlights include:​

  • An online celebration of film and cinema marking Film4 Summer Screen 2020 including an exciting event with the cast and crew of Rocks, featuring exclusive clips ahead of its release​
  • Online premiere for an original film commission from filmmaker and Somerset House Studios artist Akinola Davies exploring themes of mortality, inter-generational relationships, and the black female body​
  • Special Upgrade Yourself event with acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young (Selma, Arrival) sharing tips for aspiring creatives looking to craft a career in the film industry​
  • Second season from Transmissions featuring Turner Prize-winning artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Kat Anderson, Plastique Fantastique and many more


As Somerset House further opens and welcomes visitors to the site, the number one priority is to ensure the health and wellbeing of visitors and staff. Visitors to the Seamen’s Hall, Mushrooms exhibition, Hej Café and Somerset House Shop are now required to wear a face covering while indoors. Face coverings are not mandatory in outdoor areas. Re-opening plans meet all current COVID-19 secure guidelines, which will be reviewed and updated regularly.  Further information on enhanced safety measures can be found on the Somerset House website.


Daily, 10.00 – 19.00 ​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court and River Terrace Free​

Located off the Strand in the heart of London, The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is centred around the magnificent fountains which Somerset House is delighted to re-open on 6 August. Popular with visitors throughout the year, the 55 fountains form not only a beautiful spectacle, but also a fun area for​

children to play, especially in the heat of summer.  In accordance with government guidance, visitor numbers will be monitored, and if necessary limited, to maintain social distancing. In addition, the fountain water has been treated and is routinely checked throughout the day to make sure it meets industry standards.​

Also opening is the popular River Terrace. Offering sweeping views of Somerset House’s glorious façade and the bright lights of the South Bank across the Thames, the River Terrace boasts an unbeatable location for al fresco gatherings, perfect for the height of summer.

Launching Thursday 6 August and then open Thursdays – Sundays, 12.00 – 18.00​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​

Skye Gyngell’s Spring restaurant brings a taste of its celebrated menu to the Somerset House courtyard in a new pop-up food experience. On entering the magnificent courtyard, visitors will find Spring To Go, a striking shipping container painted pale pink by Makerversity members, the on site community of pioneering creatives  and makers, offering a range of delicious food and drinks for purchase. The summertime treats include seasonal ice creams, granitas with softly whipped Heckfield Home Farm Cream, brioche and luxury toasted sandwiches, all homemade by the Spring team, featuring ingredients from Fern Verrow biodynamic farm, and perfect for al-fresco dining.  At Spring, food is celebrated for its conviviality and the joyfulness of sharing seasonal produce, through heartfelt, wholesome, produce-driven cooking. ​

Somerset House is thrilled to announce a new programme of installations taking place around the site.

10 September – 10 October ​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​

Situated in Somerset House’s spectacular courtyard, Arrivals + Departures is a large-scale interactive installation exploring birth, death and the journey in between by artist duo YARA + DAVINA. Taking the recognisable form of a station or airport arrivals and departures board, the artwork invites visitors to share the names of people who have arrived and departed as a way to celebrate a birth or commemorate a death. As the effects of COVID-19, racial injustice and the environmental crisis continue to disrupt communities across the world, this artwork offers a timely platform to engage with birth, life, death, loss and collective grief, through the act of naming.   ​

The interactive installation also honours the heritage of Somerset House itself, which was formerly home to the General Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, holding the first comprehensive record of life events for the whole of the population for many generations. ​

Responsive to all COVID-19 restrictions, a public programme features both live (open air) and online activity including Birth and Death Cafés, live drawings of the individuals listed on the boards and guest takeovers.​

Supported by Without Walls and co-commissioned by Artsadmin, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Freedom Festival Arts Trust (Hull).

- Pop-up installation: 19-20 September | Seamen’s Hall​
- Flag-raising: 19 September | Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court | Free​

Marking London Fashion Week 2020 (LFW), British fashion designer Bethany Williams, winner of the 2019 British Emerging Talent Menswear category at The Fashion Awards and the Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design, joins

Somerset House to develop and launch a new fashion capsule collection and flag commission, entitled All Our Children.   ​

Launching at Somerset House on the weekend of LFW, All Our Children offers the rare opportunity for the public to attend a LFW event. Visitors can be some of the first to see Williams’ new collection, on display in Somerset House’s Seamen’s Hall, alongside a replica of her flag commission, which will fly above the spectacular courtyard for people to see up-close. In this pop-up installation, audiences can also enjoy a new film commission offering insight into the project. A publication compiled of contributors’ hopes and visions for supporting the next generation will also be on display, with further behind-the-scenes details from the design process.​

Williams is celebrated for her innovative and inclusive practice in the fashion industry, placing both sustainability and social responsibility at its core, with this new venture forming an extension of her recent collaboration with the Magpie Project, a charity based in Newham providing safety and support for mothers and under-fives suffering in temporary or insecure accommodation. In All Our Children, Williams offers a platform for these vulnerable voices, highlighting the urgent need to transform society’s relationship with the planet, to better protect it for future generations. Through a series of collaborative digital workshops with mothers and children from the Magpie Project, artist and illustrator Melissa Kitty Jarram will create illustrations exploring themes of childhood and memory to feature across the collection and flag commission.​

The raising of Williams’ new flag will take place on 19 September and a specially created partner flag will be displayed at the Magpie Project charity’s base in Newham from 12 September. As in all of Williams’ acclaimed collections, which use recycled, organic or handmade materials, the flags will be crafted sustainably.​

All Our Children is an extension of Williams’ original commission for Earth Day 2020 which was moved online due to coronavirus in April this year, and forms part Somerset House’s year-round commitment to environmental sustainability.​

Kindly supported by The Adonyeva Foundation.

Part of the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series​
Until 13 September​
Terrace Rooms, Somerset House ​
Free / Suggested Donation: pre-booking necessary​
Tuesday – Sunday | 12.00 – 18.00​

Following its successful reopening and heart-warming reception from both new and returning visitors, Somerset House’s critically acclaimed exhibition, Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi, continues for the duration of its specially extended run throughout the summer.

Curated by writer and curator Francesca Gavin, the exhibition delves into the fascinating fungi kingdom through the work of 35 artists, designers, and musicians. Visitors are invited to explore the organism’s incredible cultural legacy in a spectacular range of interdisciplinary works, and discover its powerful potential to transform society’s relationship with the planet, as pioneering designers share their innovative processes and products using bio-based materials across architecture, furniture and fashion. To ensure the safety of visitors and staff, capacity will be limited so visitors must pre-book their timed ticket slot online at ​

Mushrooms is the latest exhibition in the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series, an ongoing partnership with the leading law firm to present a wide range of free exhibitions reflecting the broad interests of both organisations. Mushrooms is also supported by Origins as the official Beauty and Wellness Partner.​


- Behind The Screen exclusive with cast and filmmakers of Rocks | 13 August | 18.00​
- Bradford Young, untitled, 19 August | live introduction 18.00​
- Upgrade Yourself: The Cinematographers’ Lens with Bradford Young | 20 August| 13.00 - 14.00 ​

To mark what would have been Film4 Summer Screen 2020, Somerset House is delighted to present a celebration of film and cinema in a special online programme.

Launching the season comes an exciting edition of Somerset House’s popular Behind The Screen, which gives audiences the opportunity to hear from filmmakers and industry insiders each year. From the upcoming new feature film Rocks, director Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), associate director Anu Henriques, screenwriters Theresa Ikoko (winner of the Alfred Fagon award in 2015 for her play Girls) and Claire Wilson (Little Drummer Girl, Gangs of London), and actors Bukky Bakray and Kosar Ali all join Simran Hans, writer and film critic for The Observer, for a deep dive discussion into the collaborative creative process behind the film, with a selection of exclusive clips to share with audiences for the first time.​

Rocks follows teenager Rocks (Bakray) who fears that she and her little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) will be forced apart if anyone finds out they are living alone. With the help of her friends, she evades the authorities and navigates the most defining days of her life. A film about the joy, resilience and spirit of girlhood. Behind The Screen viewers will enjoy unique insight into the making of the Film4 Production from its creators and stars, which saw the majority of the actors street cast from East London, and who went on to work collaboratively with the all-female creative team to shape the incredible authentic screenplay.​

To complete the programme, Somerset House welcomes back acclaimed American cinematographer Bradford Young (Selma, Arrival, A Most Violent Year), whose 2019 Film4 Summer Screen commission untitled will stream to audiences on Wednesday 19 August, with a special live introduction from Young at 18.00. Young also joins the line-up for this season’s Upgrade Yourself, leading an exclusive session for aspiring creatives looking to craft a career in the film industry, as he shares his experiences working behind the lens.

Online premiere: 2 September | 13.00 | Free​

Originally commissioned for Somerset House Studios’ permanent exhibition space Gallery 31, Untitled is a new film commission from acclaimed filmmaker and Studios artist Akinola Davies. Somerset House is delighted to invite audiences to the online premiere on 2 September, forming part of its ongoing Pause

programme – an online space designed to carve out time for people to enjoy an artist’s work in full. Combining photography, moving image, experimental sound design and archive interviews, Davies’ beautifully intimate film draws on his interactions with his mother during lockdown, exploring themes of mortality, inter-generational relationships, the black female body, and resilience. ​

Kindly supported by The Adonyeva Foundation.

From 9 September – 30 October​
Wed 21.00 - 22.00 Fri 09.00 - 10.00 | Free​

Following their hugely successful inaugural series, Anne Duffau, Hana Noorali and Tai Shani return with Season 2 of TRANSMISSIONS, an online platform commissioning artists, writers and thinkers to share their work online. With many creatives enduring cancelled exhibitions, opportunities and subsequent fees, TRANSMISSIONS provides a platform to pay artists during this tumultuous time. ​

Season 2 launches with a broadcast on Black liberation from Kat Anderson in Bad Man Nuh Flee. Plastique Fantastique explores planetary problems in Beware Mars with Earth in Ascendance, whilst Juliet Jacques reflects on socialist politics and culture in Spectres of Socialism. Further episodes include a snapshot into queer Black British archives from BBZ TV, and more from Turner Prize-winning artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ignota Books, Legacy Russell and the TRANSMISSIONS co-founders.​

TRANSMISSIONS runs weekly with episodes screening every Wednesday at 21.00 and repeated on Fridays at 09.00 on Twitch. Episodes are not archived.​

TRANSMISSIONS is supported by Somerset House Studios, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Chisenhale Gallery, DACS, Grazer Kunstverein, Matt's Gallery, Studio Oscar Murillo, Netwerk Aalst and Wysing Arts Centre.

- Marija Bozinovska Jones | 1 September| 18.00 - 19.00 | Free ​
- Col Self | 22 September| 18.00 - 19.00 | Free ​

Somerset House’s live streaming series exploring work, play and process concludes with two new commissions responding to the provocation I Should Be Doing Something Else Right Now from Somerset House Studios artists. In Beginningless Mind, Marija Bozinovska Jones presents an audiovisual trilogy with an experimental soundtrack composed by 33EMYBW and J. G. Biberkopf.

Through the three visual essays, Bozinovska Jones considers planetary kinship as a visceral sense of interconnectedness grounded in terrestrial breathing patterns and how other ecosystems' (plants, animals, earth elements) breath is mirrored in our own. An element of the final artwork will be permanently acquired into the University of Salford Art Collection.​

The final instalment comes from Col Self, whose moving image work, in collaboration with the LA-based artist 011668, explores the concept of the rite of passage, inspired by the Stonehenge Winter Solstice. Due to the challenges faced during filming as a result of COVID-19, the artists further question what it means to move through a period which similarly to the rite can be described as an "unknown between two knowns". ​

Beginningless Mind by Marija Bozinovska Jones is commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices (AND), University of Salford Art Collection and Somerset House Studios. Produced by Abandon Normal Devices and Somerset House Studios, and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Artist talks and Q&As for future creative professionals   ​​
Fortnightly on Thursdays from 20 August | 13.00 - 14.00 | Free   ​​

Upgrade Yourself is a digital strand of Somerset House’s Creative Careers Programme, formed of fortnightly lunch-time sessions, introducing aspiring creatives (aged 18-30) looking to work in the creative industries and cultural sector to industry peers and innovators. Events for August and September include a deep-dive into what a career as a fashion communicator may look like from creative director and mentor Louise Gray, and emerging fashion talent Thea Siwale.  There will also be an unmissable Upgrade Yourself special as Somerset House Trust employees give behind-the-scenes insight into working at Somerset House and the wider arts industry.


Regular releases of long-reads, films, music and podcasts​

Throughout August and September, Somerset House will continue to release newly-commissioned long reads and the best video and audio recordings from its archives.

Highlights below, with details of the full programme in the Listings section towards the end of the press release:​ ​

LONG READ: newly-commissioned long reads, released typically fortnightly on Mondays. Over the next two months, audiences can enjoy pieces including Season Butler on commonalities.​

PAUSE: video works featured in exhibitions or commissioned as part of previous programmes, released weekly on Wednesdays. Highlights from this season include works from Stine Deja, Erica Scourti, Rhea Storr, Alan Warburton, Sam Williams & Roly Porter and Flora Yin-Wong. ​

DEEP LISTEN: music, podcasts and spoken word works from Somerset House’s archives, released weekly on Sundays. For summer 2020, listeners can enjoy the music most important to Wolfgang Tillmans in Nabihah Iqbal’s Glory To Sound; consider the politics of sound system culture with Gaika in conversation with Ash Sarkar; delve into discussions around Black futures and Afrofuturism in Get Up, Stand Up Now: Motherships featuring Yinka Shonibare CBE, Shabaka Hutchings, Mowalola Ogunlesi and Zak Ové; and the impact of dating apps on modern relationships from Marija Bozinovska Jones. ​

23-27 September

Somerset House is delighted to announce a special digital ​edition of contemporary electronic and experimental music festival Assembly. Full line-up will be announced in late August.


Gerda Paliušyte secures Somerset House Studios x Rupert x Lithuanian Culture Institute residency ​

Somerset House Studios, Vilnius-based centre for art and education Rupert and the Lithuanian Culture Institute are delighted to announce artist and curator Gerda Paliušyte as the successful recipient of a new online residency, designed to support a Lithuanian artist pushing the boundaries of established practice. The residency is focused on artistic development, providing a virtual space for the artist to build confidence and trust in their practice and process.

During the residency, the Vilnius-based Paliušytė will work on her new film "Early Winter", which focuses on the escapist forms of entertainment used by a group of pupils in one of the secondary schools in Vilnius. The film focuses on the annual "Horror Escape Room", one of the more popular attractions at the school's Christmas party, exploring alternative realities and platforms, which not only strengthen the school community but also emphasise the impact of the virtual on more traditional infrastructures, such as schools. ​

During her time at Somerset House Studios, Paliušytė hopes to gain a new understanding of how virtual spaces, created and archived on social media apps, can be eloquently incorporated in the narrative structure of documentary film both aesthetically and technically.



Open daily from 6 Aug | 10.00 – 19.00​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​

Open Thurs-Sun from 6 Aug | 12.00 – 18.00​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​

Open Tues – Sun, 12.00 – 18.00​
Terrace Rooms, South Wing ​
Suggested Donation: pre-booking necessary​

10 Sep – 10 Oct ​
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​

Pop-up capsule collection | 19-20 Sep |  Seamen’s Hall​
Flag raising | 19 Sep | Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court​


- Behind The Screen exclusive with cast from Rocks | 13 Aug | 18.00​
- Bradford Young, untitled, 19 Aug | live introduction 18.00​
- Upgrade Yourself: The Cinematographers’ Lens with Bradford Young | 20 Aug | 13.00 - 14.00



- Erica Scourti, Body Scan | 12 Aug ​
- Flora Yin-Wong, Ubi Sunt | 19 Aug
- Bradford Young, untitled | 19 Aug with live introduction at 18.00​
- Rhea Storr, A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message | 26 Aug  ​
- Akinola Davies, premiere of Untitled | 2 Sep | 13.00​
- Stine Deja, Cryptic Ruins | 16 Sep ​
- Sam Williams & Roly Porter, Salvage Rhythms | 30 Sep ​

Long Read:  ​
- Season Butler | 31 Aug​

Deep Listen:  ​

- Get Up, Stand Up Now: Mothership | 9 Aug ​
- Technologically Fabricated Intimacy: Marija Bozinovska Jones | 9 Aug ​
- Moodboard: Manthe Ribane & Kemi Alemoru | 16 Aug ​
- (Inter-) | 23 Aug ​
- Feminist Internet: Recoding Utopias | 30 Aug
- Wysing Polyphonic x Somerset House Studios | 6 Sep ​
- Gaika In Conversation with Ash Sarkar | 13 Sep ​
- Glory To Sound: Wolfgang TIllmans | 20 Sep ​

Wed 21.00 - 22.00 | Fri 09.00 - 10.00 ​

- Kat Anderson | 9 and 11 Sep ​
- Plastique Fantastique | 16 and 18 Sep ​
- Juliet Jacques | 23 and 25 Sep ​
- Lawrence Abu Hamdan | 30 Sep and 2 Oct ​
- BBZ TV | 7 and 9 Oct ​
- Ignota Books | 14 and 16 Oct​
- Anne Duffau, Hana Noorali and Tai Shani | 21 and 23 Oct ​
- Legacy Russell | 28 and 30 Oct ​


- Marija Bozinovska Jones | 1 Sep | 18.00 - 19.00​
- Col Self | 22 Sep| 18.00 - 19.00​


- The Cinematographers’ Lens with Bradford Young | 20 Aug| 13.00 - 14.00 ​
- Arts Careers [Behind-The-Scenes] | 03 Sep | 13.00 - 14.00    ​
- Fashion & Identity with Louise Gray and Thea Siwale | 17 Sep | 13.00 - 14.00 ​

- NSDOS and Dmitry Paranyushkin in conversation with Louise O’Kelly | Wed 12 Aug | 18.00 – 19.00​
- DIY Hardware Workshop Recording Unhearable Sounds in the Home with Victor Mazon | Sat 08 Aug | 10.00 – 14.00​

23-27 Sep


Address:  Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA ​

Transport:  Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail:  Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars​



London’s working arts centre

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, we are situated in the very heart of the capital.​

Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of our times and are committed to oxygenating new work by emerging artists. Where else can you spend an hour ice-skating while listening to a specially commissioned sound piece by a cutting edge artist? ​

It is this creative tension – the way we harness our heritage, put the too-often overlooked on our central stage and use our neo-classical backdrop to showcase ground-breaking contemporary culture – that inspires our programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that we are home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is our point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energizing, urgent and exciting.