PIERRE HUYGHE, Les Grands ensembles, 2001

Somerset House Autumn/Winter 2019 Announced

International contemporary artists and designers interrogate our non-stop world in major exhibition 24/7

First major solo UK exhibition from celebrated contemporary South African artist Mary Sibande explores the power of imagination through the transformative journey of her avatar Sophie

• Artists, designers and musicians come together to celebrate the fascinating world of Mushrooms, showcasing the ideas the remarkable organism inspires in the poetic, spiritual and psychedelic, and the powerful promise it offers to combat the human devastation of the planet

Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason returns for its 20th year with a season of festive celebration, complete with Skate Lates and pop-ups Fortnum’s Lodge and Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade

Somerset House Studios unveils its new programme, including the return of contemporary electronic and experimental music festival Assembly, curated by visual artist and Studios resident Christian Marclay

• Somerset House launches The Exchange, a new shared workspace which is an important addition to our dynamic community of creative enterprises, artists and makers



31 October 2019 – 23 February 2020

Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, London

£14/£11 concessions

This autumn, Somerset House presents 24/7, a major exhibition exploring the non-stop nature of our modern lives.  A host of international contemporary artists and designers will hold a mirror up to a world in which we are sleeping less, complex systems are exerting control, and the pull of the screen is disrupting our instincts to daydream and pay attention to the world around us, and each other. The exhibition is inspired by the book of the same title by art critic and essayist Jonathan Crary (Verso, 2013).

Contributors include Marcus Coates, Mat Collishaw, Harun Farocki, Pierre Huyghe, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Kelly Richardson, Pilvi Takala, Addie Wagenknecht, and ten artists and designers from Somerset House Studios, including Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard.

It is estimated that Britons worked 37 more hours in 2017 than in 2010 (the equivalent of one week’s extra work for many people), with 200,000 working days lost annually to insufficient sleep. Living in the glow of blue light, people in the UK now check their smartphones, on average, every 12 minutes, and half of all UK adults say their life would be boring if they could not get online access.

Curated by Somerset House and Sarah Cook, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey from the cold light of the moon to the fading warmth of the sunset through a series of interactive installations and interrogations of 24/7 life.

Installations include:

Tatsuo Miyajima’s meditative isolation chamber Life Palace (tea room), in which individuals can climb inside, shut the door and bathe in the blue glow of LED countdowns

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s new immersive orchestration of a machine generated dawn chorus, highlighting the impact of 24/7 urban lifestyles on bird populations

Daily tous les jours’ I heard there was a secret chord, where visitors can unite with listeners around the world to hum the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at the end of the exhibition

Other exhibition highlights include Nastja Säde Rönkkö’s project 6 months without, in which she spent 6 months living and working from Somerset House Studios without the internet; Roman Signer’s Bett, where the artist attempts to sleep with a drone helicopter hovering above his head; Thomson & Craighead’s Beacon, a railway flap sign continuously relaying live web searches as they are being made around the world; Tega Brain’s unfit bits, where the artist fools fitness tracking tools into thinking she is taking exercise, and Alan Warburton’s series of 3D-scanned self-portraits depicting his worktime naps in a visual effects studio in Beijing.

24/7 is supported by the world leader in lighting, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) and will include new work commissioned in partnership between Somerset House and design innovator A/D/O. 


3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020

Part of the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Rooms Series

Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, London


This October, Somerset House and 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair are proud to present Mary Sibande: I Came Apart at the Seams, an exhibition of new and celebrated works from one of South Africa’s most prominent contemporary artists, Mary Sibande. In her first solo exhibition in the UK, Sibande presents a series of photographic and sculptural works exploring the power of imagination and constructive anger in shaping identities and personal narratives in a post-colonial world.

I Came Apart at the Seams follows the transformative journey of Sibande’s avatar, Sophie. Taking form as a series of colourful human-scale sculptures modelled on Sibande herself, Sophie transgresses from her humble beginnings as a domestic housemaid into myriad empowered characters,transcending racial bias and marginalisation. Iterations of these striking installations are also captured in vibrant large-scale photography, documenting Sophie’s journey. Through these works, Sibande pays homage to the generations of women in her family who worked as domestic labourers. In sharing their previously untold stories, Sibande challenges stereotypical depictions of Black women in post-apartheid South Africa throughout history and today.


Friday 31 January – Sunday 26 April 2020

Part of the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series

Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, London


To start 2020, Somerset House invites visitors to explore the fascinating world of mushrooms, in a new exhibition from curator and writer, Francesca Gavin. Through the work of over 40 artists, designers and musicians, Mushrooms celebrates the rich legacy and incredible potential of the remarkable organism, the ideas it inspires in the poetic, spiritual and psychedelic, and the powerful promise it offers to combat the human devastation of the planet.

Mushrooms brings together work from leading international artists and designers, renowned for their use of the mushroom motif, spanning large-scale sculpture, hand-cut collage, painting, drawing, photography, film and performance. The incredible versatility of mushrooms is also explored in new, conceptual pieces from designers working across architecture, furniture and fashion, including a 3D-printed mycelium chair from Eric Klarenbeek, light shades and stools from Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova, and mushroom-based textiles.

Contributing artists include Carsten Höller, John Cage, Salvatore Arancio, Haroon Mirza, Hannah Collins, Seana Gavin, Adham Faramawy, Annie Ratti, Claudia Comte and Simon Popper.


Celebrating 20 years of skating at Somerset House

13 November 2019 – 12 January 2020

Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court

Tickets on sale in September

Now in its 20th year, Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason returns, promising a spectacular season of celebration in the heart of London. Hailed as one of the capital’s favourite winter experiences, Skate at Somerset House heralds the start of the festive period with unrivalled skating, contemporary music, seasonal shopping, and delicious food and drink. The magnificent ice rink transforms the neoclassical courtyard into an exciting winter destination, complete with a glorious 40ft Christmas tree, and a multitude of special events and experiences from the major exhibition, 24/7.

From skating lessons with Skate School and Polar Bear Club, to the ultimate nightlife sets from trailblazing DJs on rink-side decks at Skate Lates, there is something for everyone across the Skate season. Skate at Somerset House partners with Fortnum & Mason for the sixth year, bringing a range of the renowned grocer’s luxury food, drinks and gifts to the Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade. Gourmet dining also returns at The Lodge, providing the perfect post-skate treat at the pop-up alpine restaurant. Further treats off the ice can be enjoyed at the Skate Lounge with Baileys, where indulgent Baileys Hot Chocolates and cocktails await.



Opening Friday 6 September 2019, Free

Open daily Mon, Tues, Sat & Sun: 10.00 – 18.00, Wed, Thurs & Fri: 11.00 – 20.00

In September 2019, Somerset House will open a new permanent exhibition space dedicated to profiling 

the Somerset House Studios community of resident artists and the range of work being developed in-house. Located on the ground floor at Lancaster Place in the room designated as G31 in its civil service days, the opening of Gallery 31 provides a much-needed platform for the multitude of new creative projects and collaborations arising from the building’s community and programmes.

Open daily with a revolving programme of works, Gallery 31 will explore a different theme each season, presenting a curated selection of complete and in-progress works by the Studios’ resident artists and alumni. It will also present work commissioned through our residency programmes, which has so far included artists such as Vessel, Lucy Railton and Jenna Sutela. Reflecting the Studios’ collaboration with Wysing Arts Centre on Wysing Polyphonic this autumn, the first season will consider the themes of connection and communication.

Supported by The Rothschild Foundation


Beatrice Dillon b2b TTB, Zuli (in residence), Jesse Darling, Ziur, Flora Yin-Wong, AMRA, Valentina Magaletti, Emma Smith, Jennifer Walshe, Erica Scourti and more TBA

Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire, Saturday 7 September 2019, 13.00-01.00

Early bird tickets now on sale here

This year Wysing Arts Centre turns 30, and Somerset House Studios are honoured to have been invited to guest curate Wysing Polyphonic, their annual festival of music and sound, now in its 10th year. The 2019 programme will consider the idea of connection, moving beyond the Cambridgeshire site as a place where artists meet and experiment to consider connection beyond the physical: connection as a channel of communication; an incantation, returning, or heralding; the calling on an ‘other’ or unknown to understand different worlds and possibilities.

Somerset House Studios and Wysing Arts Centre have worked closely together since the Studios launched in 2016, sharing a joint ambition to support experimental work across disciplines, and to connect a network of artists beyond the duration of any residency. The 2019 edition of Wysing Polyphonic marks the first time the two organisations have collaborated to support the creation of new works.

In partnership with The Wire.


Friday 4 October 2019

Somerset House Studios, 19.00 - 00.00

Tickets on sale in July

This October Somerset House Studios turns three, and this year’s AGM will again open the building up for one night only with artists taking over the Grade I listed former Admiralty HQ; giving the public a rare opportunity to access three floors of private former Admiralty HQ; giving the public a rare opportunity to access three floors of private underground spaces for performance, music, pop-up bars and an after-hours party like no other.

For 2019, a performance-led programme will explore states of temporality and continuous change. Movement, flux, decay; works seen to materialise and dissipate, where beginnings and endings are blurred; encounters beyond the gallery, stage or club which might be experienced only in part, yet squarely locate the audience in the here and now.

Since October 2016, the Studios have nurtured a unique community of over 300 artists and makers who’ve inspired a boundary-breaking programme of events, workshops and exhibitions rooted in art, music, subversion, critical thinking and the celebration of counter cultural movements. Full programme announced in July.


7 – 10 November 2019

Lancaster Rooms, New Wing, Somerset House, London

Tickets on sale in September

For Somerset House Studios’ second Assembly season, resident artist Christian Marclay will curate a series of intimate musical performances in the Lancaster Rooms responding to the infrastructural acoustics and milieu outside the former Inland Revenue building. Pedestrians, traffic, roadworks, protest, the corner of Somerset House where Waterloo Bridge meets Embankment is a hive of often unpredictable activity and noise. Acknowledging and working with these sounds to define a compositional framework, Marclay will invite a series of guests to collaborate in bringing the outdoor inside for an evolving series of electro-acoustic performances.  

Christian Marclay’s ambitious and accomplished practice explores the juxtaposition between sound, photography, video and sculpture. His installations display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions around the world including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris and Kunsthaus Zurich. More recently, he exhibited The Clock at the Tate Modern.



3-6 October 2019

Somerset House site-wide

Day ticket £20/£15 concession, on sale in June

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will return for its seventh edition at Somerset House, 3 – 6 October 2019. With editions in London, Marrakech and New York, 1-54 has established itself as the leading tricontinental fair of its kind, dedicated to championing contemporary African art. 

This year, the fair expands its roaster by welcoming 47 selected international galleries, showcasing the works of multidisciplinary artists of established and emerging profile. A selection of Special Projects, including a large-scale installation in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court presented in partnership with the Kamel Lazaar Foundation and, a new iteration of 1-54 FORUM will also accompany this edition of the fair.


24 September – 20 October 2019

Great Arch Hall, South Wing, Free

Sponsored by H&M Foundation

Engaging in issues of water scarcity and ecological emergency, photographer Aida Muluneh presents a new series of work commissioned by WaterAid. Exploring ideas of representation, gender and social justice through an Afrofuturist tableaux of twelve, large-scale images shot in Ethiopia, the powerful work builds on Somerset House’s ongoing strand of environmental themed programming.


27 February – 1 March 2020

Somerset House is delighted to be welcoming Collect, organised by the Crafts Council and the only gallery-presented art fair dedicated to modern craft and design. Over 40 galleries from the UK and around the world sell work made in the last five years by the leading craft artists working today. Collect shows the exceptional skill and intellectual rigour behind modern craft – from works in ceramics, glass, metal, wood and textiles to makers working in non-traditional materials with experimental techniques. In addition to the main fair Collect Open presents new ambitious craft installations by individual artists and collectives and a lively talks programme explores contemporary craft with leading voices from the worlds of craft, design, architecture, fashion and art.


A new shared workspace for freelancers, individuals and small businesses working in the arts and creative industries.

Somerset House is home to a diverse and dynamic mix of creative enterprises, artists and makers, and a public programme of inspiring contemporary culture. This unique network sparks innovation, forges connections and acts as an incubator for creative potential and business opportunities.

The launch of Somerset House Exchange, our new shared work-space opening in October 2019, will accelerate this exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills. With over 200 desks, Exchange Members will benefit from a curated programme of events, with opportunities for networking and creative collaboration. By joining, they will become part of a community which is already home to artists, makers and thinkers in Somerset House Studios and Makerversity, and our wider network of creative enterprises.

With a range of flexible and affordable memberships, we’re looking for freelancers, individuals and small businesses that will fuel the creative potential of our community and be part of this unique network. 

We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community reflecting the diversity of our society and will offer bursaries for emerging talent and underrepresented groups. For more information visit somersethouse.org.uk/exchange

Supported by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund

FOR PRESS ENQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT: press@somersethouse.org.uk/0207 845 4624


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

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Inspiring contemporary culture

One of the city’s most spectacular and well-loved spaces, Somerset House is a new kind of arts centre in the heart of London, designed for today’s audiences, artists and creatives – an inspirational community where contemporary culture is imagined, created and experienced.

From its 18th Century origins, Somerset House has played a central role in our society as a place where our culture and collective understanding of the world is shaped and defined. In 2000, it began its reinvention as a cultural powerhouse and home for arts and culture today, creating unique and stimulating experiences for the public, bringing them into direct contact with ideas from the greatest artists, makers and thinkers of our time. Our distinctive and dynamic year-round programme spans the contemporary arts in all its forms, from cutting-edge exhibitions and installations to annual festivals, seasonal events in the courtyard including Film4 Summer Screen, Summer Series and Skate, and an extensive learning and engagement programme.

As well as welcoming over 3million visitors annually, Somerset House houses the largest and most diverse creative communities in the country – from one-person start-ups to successful creative enterprises including British Fashion Council, Dance Umbrella, Improbable Theatre, Hofesh Schecter Company, and Dartmouth Films. 

In 2016 we launched Somerset House Studios – a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Currently housing over 80 artists and Makerversity (a community of over 250 emergent makers), the Studios are a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies. www.somersethouse.org.uk