Somerset House's January - September 2023 Programme Highlights Announced

Somerset House Programme 

  • Whorled: Here After Here After Here (16 February – 23 April) - A major new courtyard commission from Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat  
  • Now Play This (1 - 9 April) - The leading festival of experimental games returns with an extended nine-day exhibition of engaging interaction and play centred around the theme of love 
  • BLACK VENUS (20 July – 24 September) - An exhibition examining the historical representation and shifting legacy of Black women in visual culture, curated by Aindrea Emelife 
  • The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: The Missing Thread (21 September 2023 – 7 January 2024) - A major new exhibition charting the shifting landscape of Black British culture and the unique contribution it has made to fashion design  
  • Somerset House Summer Series with American Express (6 - 16 July) - Somerset House Summer Series celebrates its 20th year with eleven nights of unmissable gigs in Somerset House’s spectacular courtyard 
  • Morgan Stanley Lates – Evening events celebrating and exploring the best of Somerset House’s cultural programme return for a new series  

Somerset House Studios  

  • Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy - A dynamic series that considers individual and collective health and wellbeing through a programme of newly commissioned artworks, films, workshops, and conversations 
  • Sonya Dyer - Somerset House Studios resident artist Sonya Dyer forms the final stage of her Andromeda trilogy, part of her project Hailing Frequencies Open, in a new installation  


  • New commissions for Channel - Somerset House’s online curated space for art, ideas and the artistic process - from artist collective Keiken and artist Rashaad Newsome 

Inclusive Talent at Somerset House 

  • Upgrade Yourself Festival (2-3 June) - Across two days, the festival will connect 16–24-year-olds aspiring to break into creative sectors with trailblazing creatives industry experts via talks, workshops, and bespoke mentoring sessions 
  • Black Business Incubator - Recruitment opens for the fourth cohort of Somerset House’s free programme that mentors Black-led creative businesses, produced in partnership with Mentor Black Business and sponsored by Morgan Stanley  

Somerset House Programme 

Whorled (Here After Here After Here) 
16 February – 23 April 2023 
Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court 

This February, Jitish Kallat presents Whorled (Here After Here After Here), a new courtyard commission by Somerset House and the Mumbai-based artist’s first major public commission in the UK. This striking outdoor installation, over 30 metres in diameter, comprises two intersecting spirals that echo the signage of UK roads and connect the famed neoclassical courtyard of Somerset House to locations across the planet and distant universe.  

Whorled (Here After Here After Here) is conceived as a seismic ripple or a galactic whorl, aligned to the Earth’s cardinal north-south directions and spiralling outwards from the centre of the Somerset House courtyard. The work draws upon sacred geometry and alchemical diagrams; like much of Kallat’s work, it interlaces the immediate and the cosmic, the past and present. Two vast scrolls, each 168 metres in length, form interlocking spirals and a continuum of text and symbols follows the visual language of UK motorway signage. As visitors walk through the scrolls, these signs indicate the distance from Somerset House to over 300 locations across the planet and beyond, pointing to celestial bodies, such as the Moon, Mars, and distant stars in the Milky Way. 

Whorled (Here After Here After Here) is presented in partnership with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, with additional support from Malik & Azmina Karim, SANTI and those that wish to remain anonymous. 

Now Play This 
1 - 9 April 2023   
New Wing  
Interactive Exhibition: £9/£6.50 concessions /£25 family ticket (two adults and up to three children)  
Live Events: £6  
Festival Pass: £27 (with access to all live events)  

London’s leading festival of experimental games Now Play This returns to Somerset House, as part of the city-wide London Games Festival, showcasing the very latest in independent and experimental game design from the across the globe. Now in its ninth year, the festival hosts an extended nine-day exhibition of engaging interaction and play for all ages to enjoy.  

This year’s festival explores the relationship between games and one of humanity’s most fundamental experiences: love. Inspired by American scholar and activist bell hooks’ seminal book ‘All About Love’, which insisted on an ethical definition of love rooted in care and championing of one another’s personal growth, the festival asks how we can treat each other in more loving ways.  

From family, friendship and romance to selfcare and consent, different forms of love will be explored in an interactive exhibition featuring games, installations, activities and workshops. Accompanying the interactive exhibition, the 2023 festival will host a programme of live events, including a creative funding event for game-makers, as well as conversations and in-depth workshop sessions around storytelling, mental health, relationship therapy and systems of care.  

Reclaiming Black Women in Visual Culture 
20 July – 24 September 2023 
Terrace Rooms & Courtyard Rooms  
Pay what you can 

Somerset House is delighted to present BLACK VENUS, an exhibition which examines the historical representation and shifting legacy of Black women in visual culture. Curated by Aindrea Emelife, BLACK VENUS 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. 

BLACK VENUS pairs over 40 contemporary and primarily photographic artworks with a selection of archival imagery, dated between 1793 to 1930, illustrating historical depictions of Black women and the caricaturing of the Black body. 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 exhibition evocatively mines the complex narratives of Black womanhood through the lens of three perceived archetypes: the Hottentot Venus, the Sable Venus, and the Jezebel. Through the use of these three thematic pillars, BLACK VENUS examines the shifting image of the Black woman in visual culture and the complex lived experience that informs the work of cross-generational women and non-binary artists today. 

Having debuted in 2022 at New York’s Fotografiska, BLACK VENUS’s run at Somerset House features a new curation with over 15 new works and the addition of UK-based artists to the line-up. The exhibition opens at Somerset House, following its residency at San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). 

The Morgan Stanley Exhibition 
The Missing Thread 
Curated by BOLD 
21 September 2023 – 07 January 2024  
East Wing Galleries 

This autumn, Somerset House explores the story of Black British fashion in a major new exhibition, The Missing Thread. Spanning from the 1970s to present day, The Missing Thread 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. Extending far beyond the traditional realm of fashion, the immersive exhibition will encompass music, art and design, including garments, cultural objects and artefacts, as well as photography and video.  

Black creativity has had a significant influence on mainstream culture and continues to be referenced to great effect, often without acknowledgement. The exhibition seeks to redress this, celebrating the unique visions and impact of a largely unseen generation of Black creatives, often excluded or misrepresented in the traditional story of British fashion.  

The Missing Thread will explore the generational lineage of Black creative excellence in British fashion through commissioned original works by the new wave of contemporary Black British artist and designers who, informed by the legacies explored in the exhibition, continue to remake the fabric of British fashion.  

Threaded through the exhibition is the story of the late Joe Casely-Hayford, a designer who, despite being held in quiet esteem within the fashion world, has not been met with the same recognition as his white peers who have become household names. Over a four-decade long career Casely-Hayford revolutionised menswear, attaining cult status internationally for his subversive Savile Row sensibility and iconic fans including the likes of Lou Reed, The Clash and U2. The Missing Thread celebrates Joe Casely-Hayford’s genius, presenting the designer’s archive in an exhibition format for the first time in the UK.  

BOLD is a creative, design development agency working to forge structural and institutional change across the fashion industry and beyond. 

Somerset House Summer Series with American Express 2023  
6 - 16 July  

Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court  
Line-up announcement and tickets on-sale in March 

Celebrating 20 years of Somerset House Summer Series 

Somerset House Summer Series with American Express returns in July 2023 with eleven nights of unmissable gigs in the intimate and immersive setting of Somerset House’s spectacular courtyard. A staple summer experience, the series presents a trailblazing line-up of breakthrough music artists and established acts from across the globe. 

Morgan Stanley Lates at Somerset House with The Courtauld  
19 April, 21 June 
Further dates to be announced  

Morgan Stanley Lates returns in 2023 with a new series of evening events celebrating and exploring the best of Somerset House’s cultural programme.  

Doors around the spectacular central courtyard will be thrown open for evenings of after-hours access, exclusive experiences and activities hosted by artists and curators, as well as drinks, food and music.  

Working collaboratively with The Courtauld and occurring just three times a year- in spring, summer and autumn - the events will be themed around current exhibitions, the first of which will be linked to Earth Day and features Somerset House’s courtyard commission, the large-scale installation, Whorled: Here After Here After Here.  

After-hours exhibition entry to both Somerset House and The Courtauld will be free to those aged 25 and under and many activities will be free of charge to everyone.   

Somerset House Studios Programme  

Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy  
From February 2023 
New Wing  

Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy is a dynamic series that considers individual and collective health and wellbeing through a programme of newly commissioned artworks, films, workshops, and conversations. The programme returns in February 2023 with a focus on disability justice and artists who engage with the space of health and care. 

Undoing the mythology of the ‘good body’ and contemporary ideas of ‘wellness’ as a capitalist construct, Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy seeks to explore its perceived binary opposite – ‘sickness’ – as a way to propose an inclusive framework of existence for all. The series seeks to prioritise those whose experience of sickness is not temporary and encounter stigmatisation for mental health issues and physical illness. Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy will include a new commission from American sound artist Christine Sun Kim as well as a panel discussion, performances and film screening programmed in collaboration artist, writer and researcher Jamila Prowse

Christine Sun Kim is presented with the support of Goethe-Institut London as part of the Goethe-Institut x Somerset House Studios residency. 

Sonya Dyer 
Autumn 2023
River Rooms 

This Autumn, Somerset House Studios resident Sonya Dyer forms the final stage of her Andromeda trilogy, part of her project Hailing Frequencies Open. This is Sonya’s ground-breaking and ongoing body of work which reimagines the history and radical potentiality of human space travel, exploring the intersections between scientific enquiry, the stories of Black women of history and mythology, and ongoing conversations around monumentalism and memory. 

This installation features Dyer’s complex fusion of moving image, performance and sculpture, incorporating movement, sound and lighting to conjure a speculative conduit between the Andromeda Galaxy and Earth. By expanding her world building to incorporate the notion of Dark Fecundity - reproduction through darkness - Sonya presents a dramatic new work that brings the project into the final phase of the trilogy.  


Somerset House’s online curated space for art, ideas and the artistic process 

Morphogenic Angels 
Goes live on Thursday 9 March 2023 

A newly commissioned film from artist collective, Keiken, will bring a futuristic transhuman love story to Channel - Somerset House’s online curated space for art, ideas and the artistic process. Morphogenic Angels encompasses a stream of Keiken’s new prototype role-playing game, set 500 years from now in a future version of Somerset House. This new RPG simulation explores a futuristic love story, in which humans have morphic upgrades that organically re-engineer them to have transhuman capabilities. The two central characters, Yaxu and Anamt’u’ul, explore our endless capacity for change and self-discovery in fantastical and unimaginable ways, as the characters live and love through cycles of drastic evolution. 

Hand Performance by Rashaad Newsome 
Goes live on Wednesday 7 June  

Somerset House presents Hand Performance by Rashaad Newsome, a new digital commission presented on Channel. Blackness and stories of Black people are often told through a lens of oppression, loss, and struggle - identities hinged only on resistance and resilience – an idea reinforced by the technologies we consume daily. In response, Hand Performance explores the ways in which racially marginalised identities are creating space, and the act and importance of self-authorship for those historically erased or written into oppression.  

Working with a team of Black Queer signers and motion capture technology, Hand Performance privileges those who do not have the gift to speak audibly and celebrates the beauty of signing to make visible the power and morphosyntactic features embedded in Black Queer vernacular.  

Somerset House Podcast  

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The Process 2  
The Process returns Wednesday 1 February 2023  

Drawing on our creative community on site and from the exhibition programme, each episode of The Process follows one artist as they explore an idea from their practice to see where it ends up.  We hear their journey from the studio on, as they invite other thinkers to discuss an idea that has come out of a work in progress and help shape where it might go next.   

In this second series we take a turn for the unexplained, starting with a ghost story from musician Gazelle Twin, who explores how art can be a form of exorcism with artist Mark Leckey. Film maker Morgan Quaintance reflects a recent film that couldn't be made and examines the culture of secrecy in AI. Artist Leila Dear asks how geometry can help us communicate with life on other planets and Somerset House Studios resident Libby Heaney explores quantum entanglement, through the prism of slime and deep listening.  

Produced by Alannah Chance, as part of the Creators Programme 2022. Supported by The Rothschild Foundation. 

Coming soon to Somerset House podcast channels: “Soft Life” - a new 4-part limited podcast series 

As a UK trend of ‘quiet quitting’ follows The Great Resignation in the US, a movement towards ‘soft life’ - choosing a life of ease over stress and burnout - is snowballing on social media. Are we in the middle of a quiet revolution against productivity? In this new immersive podcast series we talk to artists and thinkers who are re-thinking rest and our relationship to time, to see what this could mean for the future and the climate crisis. 

Somerset House Inclusive Talent 

Upgrade Yourself Festival  
Friday 2 - Saturday 3 June 
For ticketing information sign up to the Upgrade Yourself Newsletter  
Lancaster and River Rooms 

Upgrade Yourself Festival will return in 2023 for the third time, empowering young people to pursue creative careers on their own terms. Across two days, the festival will connect 16–24-year-olds aspiring to break into creative sectors with trailblazing industry experts via talks, workshops, and bespoke mentoring sessions. Guest speakers will share the tools, hacks and skills to help navigate the creative industries, such as financial literacy, DIY content creation, wellbeing and self-care.  

Black Business Incubator 
Sponsored by Morgan Stanley 
Register your interest for Black Business Incubator 

In Spring 2023, the Black Business Incubator at Somerset House will open applications for the fourth time. The free programme produced in partnership with Mentor Black Business and sponsored by Morgan Stanley, aims to help early-stage Black-led creative businesses unlock their full potential and enable their creative enterprises to thrive.  

Current and previous alumni of the Black Business Incubator include entrepreneurs pursuing innovation and pushing boundaries in industries across the creative sector, from performing arts, fashion and food to publishing, technology and social media.  

Bringing together Somerset House’s and Mentor Black Business’s different skills and networks, the twelve-month programme provides participants with a series of expert-led workshops, mentorship from industry specialists. Members are given free access to Somerset House’s shared workspace The Exchange and are integrated into Somerset House’s vibrant resident community programme.   

Upgrade Yourself Live  

Upgrade Yourself Live, Somerset House’s series of interactive talks aimed at people aged 18-30 looking to unlock their creative potential and work out what their next steps are returns for 2023. Talks connect a live audience of young creatives with high-profile creative industry gamechangers to unpick alternative career pathways in the creative industries. 

Cultural Programme Upgrade Yourself Takeovers   

Taking place throughout the year, 18–30-year-olds are offered free, after-hours access to Somerset House's exhibitions, including talks from exhibition contributors about carving creative careers and access to socials with DJs, drinks and networking opportunities.  

Upgrade Yourself: Creative Industry Placements 

For information about creative industry placements at Somerset House sign up to the Upgrade Yourself Newsletter 

In 2023, a new cohort of young people joins Somerset House for Upgrade Yourself: Creative Industry Placements. The placements provide paid year-long opportunities for young people aged 18-24 within Somerset House’s vibrant resident community, in creative industries ranging from marketing and events to music and publishing. As well as providing practical experience on the job, the placements offer mentoring, development and training opportunities for participants. Created to support and benefit young people who identify as belonging to communities and backgrounds that are currently underrepresented within the cultural sector, and are looking to gain access into the arts, applicants are not required to have previous experience and are paid the London Living Wage. 

Supported by Warburg Pincus, John Lyon’s Charity and D'oyly Carte Charitable Trust. 

Further Highlights & Partner Events  

3 - 5 March 2023 (Previews 1-2 March) 
General admission £25.00 / Concession £20.00 
Tickets and full pricing details available now via 

Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft & design, returns for its 19th edition at Somerset House from 3–5 March 2023. The Crafts Council-produced fair offers a unique opportunity to discover pioneering and thought-provoking artworks all made in the last five years through showcasing over 400 living artists from a line-up of close to 40 international galleries. Collect also provides a chance to hear from leading experts in the industry in a three-day talks programme at Somerset House and streamed online. 

Tickets for Collect 2023 will be available via the Somerset House website from 16 January 2023.  

Press release and images are available here and for further information please email

London Original Print Fair 
30 March – 2 April 
General admission £18.00 / Concession £12.00 
Tickets and full pricing details available now via  

London Original Print Fair returns to Somerset House for its highly anticipated 38th edition, which takes place from Thursday 30 March to Sunday 2 April 2023. Founded in 1985, London Original Print Fair is the world's longest running print fair. Championing printmaking in all of its forms, the Fair offers visitors the opportunity to explore, learn about and collect original prints, from top international dealers, publishers and studios. Showcasing a wide range of artists, styles and techniques, the Fair will feature works by the world's greatest masters, alongside new pieces by established and emerging contemporary artists, hot off the press. Visitors will have access to exclusive editions, new launches, and creative activities such as live screen-printing. Celebrating the importance of prints throughout art history, highlight artists at the fair will span across six centuries, from Dürer to Rembrandt, to Picasso and Matisse, through to works by Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Paula Rego, Bridget Riley and Tracey Emin.  

Sony World Photography Awards 2023 
14 April – 1 May 2023 
East Wing and West Wing  
General admission £15.00 / Concession £11.00 
Tickets and full pricing details available via from 9 March 

The internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards return to Somerset House this April, presenting some of the world’s best photography from the past year. Now in its 16th year, this major exhibition shows photography in all its diversity from landscape to portraiture, wildlife to fine art by leading talents from around the globe. All works are selected from the winning and shortlisted entries to the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 competition. Also on display is a special presentation by this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography, celebrated photographer Rinko Kawauchi, who will display highlights from four major series from across her career: Illuminance (2011), AILA (2004), Utatane (2001), and Ametsuchi (2013).  

Photo London  
10 – 14 May 2023 
Tickets on-sale via from 10 February

Photo London returns to Somerset House for its eighth edition from 10-14 May 2023 with legendary British photographer Martin Parr named Photo London Master of Photography 2023 and an impressive global group of exhibitors already confirmed. 

Martin Parr presents "a totally new exhibition of work of images taken in the UK, a project that I have been working on for the last 50 years!"; and the spotlight on British photography continues with the major exhibition 'From Welfare to Wellbeing: Women Photographers from the Hyman Collection’ curated by the new British Centre for Photography. 

Welcoming exhibitors from as far and wide as Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Taiwan, the UK and the USA, Photo London platforms the best of the past, present and future of photography, showing vintage and modern prints alongside works by contemporary luminaries in the main fair and up-coming talents in the Discovery section. 

London Design Biennale: ‘The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations’ 
1 - 25 June 
General admission from £25 / Early booking from £20  
Tickets on-sale now via 

London Design Biennale is a global gathering of the world’s most ambitious and imaginative designers, curators and design institutions. 

In June, the Biennale’s fourth edition will bring international, immersive and thought-provoking installations to Somerset House. Exhibitors from across the globe will address world challenges, imagine better futures and develop new ways to collaborate through the medium of design. 

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. 

Book before the end of February and save up to £5 per ticket on Mondays to Thursdays. 

National Saturday Club Summer Show 
Public dates: 17 & 18 July 2023 
Embankment Galleries

The National Saturday Club’s annual Summer Show returns to Embankment Galleries, Somerset House from 17–18 July 2023. The exhibition presents the work of more than 1,500 13–16-year-olds who have been attending free, weekly Saturday Clubs at universities, colleges and museums across the country. It will be an inspirational showcase of the creativity and innovation of the nation’s next generation. 

More from Somerset House 

The VoiceLine  
Strand Aldwych  

The VoiceLine is a new sound artwork by Somerset House Studios artist Nick Ryan, commissioned by The Northbank BID to celebrate the history of radio and the relaunching of a newly pedestrianised Strand Aldwych: a 170m-long instrument for voice, sound, music and audio storytelling. In February 2023 The VoiceLine will premiere 3 new commissioned audio works by composer Sarah Angliss, electronic artist Gavsborg and sound artist Matthew Herbert, as well as adapted works by Imogen Heap and Christian Marclay. Sarah Angliss’ piece explores the links between early radio technology and the occult, inspired by female radio enthusiasts the ‘etherists’. Jamaican musician Gavsborg, founder of dancehall collective Equiknoxx, crafts a sonic portrait of Jamaica, to be broadcast outside of the original site of the World Service. 

Historical Highlights Tours  
Tuesdays & Saturdays  
12.00, 14.00 and 15.30 (times may vary)  
One-hour tour tickets £5 available to book via  

Historical Highlights Tours invite visitors to discover Somerset House’s varied and surprising history. In a one-hour experience, knowledgeable guides will take visitors on a walk-through tour revealing the story of Somerset House over the centuries, from a royal palace, its key location on the Thames and role in the naval history of Britain, to its position as a home of cultural innovators today. Explore an unrivalled architectural gem, get exclusive access to areas hidden away from public view, and learn more about the fascinating individuals who have lived and worked behind Somerset House’s doors throughout hundreds of years.   



Step Inside, Think Outside   

As the home of cultural innovators, Somerset House is a site of origination, with a cultural programme offering alternative perspectives on the biggest issues of our time. We are a place of joy and discovery, where everyone is invited to Step Inside and Think Outside.  

From our historic site in the heart of London, we work globally across art, creativity, business, and non-profit, nurturing new talent, methods and technologies. Our resident community of creative enterprises, arts organisations, artists and makers, makes us a centre of ideas, with most of our programme home-grown.   

We sit at the meeting point of artistic and social innovation, bringing worlds and minds together to create surprising and often magical results. Our spirit of constant curiosity and counter perspective is integral to our history and key to our future.