The Best Art, Theatre and Exhibitions to See This August

By Harriet Noble |
3rd August 2018

As the sunny days continue, the culture scene in London is positively overflowing with exhibitions that are about as welcome as a punchy glass of Pimms after a sticky commute home on the tube. There’s bags of al fresco fun too, with open air productions of Wind in the Willows, King Arthur and The Wizard of Oz, not to mention the fabulous Serpentine Park Nights.

Welcome to our collection of the best exhibitions to see in London this August.

The Great British Seaside

What: Brits on the beach

Why: Ever-evolving fashions and social change sit happily next to the constants -fish and chips, deck chairs, ice cream and dodgy weather. This major photography exhibition celebrates Britain’s love affair with the the seaside over the last six decades. From Brighton to Blackpool, British traditions and eccentricities are on display in this endearing collection of images showing how we do a proper day out at the beach.
Throughout August until Sunday 30th September

Where: National Maritime Museum, Park Row, SE10 9NF


The Wind in the Willows

What: Messing about on the river

Why: Join Mole, Toad and the gang for a beautiful open air production of the classic Wind in the Willows. While you’re there, explore the beautiful grounds and have a cuppa and a slice of cake at the onsite cafe.
Tuesday 21st August 2018 – Friday 24th August 2018

Where: Chiswick House and Gardens, Conservatory Yard, Chiswick, W4 2QN


Lee Bul: Crashing

What: A journey of utopian exploration

Why: Acclaimed contemporary artist Lee Bul is taking over the whole of Hayward Gallery with  118 of her works from the late 1980s to the present day.

Along with her celebrated Cyborg, Monster and Anagram series, Lee Bul’s art brings us futuristic landscapes, 20th century history and philosophy, while drawing on personal experiences of growing up in South Korea and all in her trademark imaginative and provocative style.
Until Sunday 19th August

Where: Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, Southbank SE1 8XX



Exit the King

What: Long live the king!

Why: “Why was I born if it wasn’t forever?” askes King Berenger, in Eugene Ionesco’s 1962   tragi-comedy about a 400 year old man who is dying. And who better to exude wonky humour and intense pathos in equal measure than Rhys Ifans? The stellar cast also includes Indira Varma, Adrian Scarborough, Amy Morgan, Debra Gillett, Derek Griffiths.

Throughout August until Sunday 6th October

Where: Olivier Theatre, Lambeth, SE1 9PX


Serpentine Park Nights

What: Night time fun

Why: Over the course of selected summer Friday nights, Frida Escobedo’s Mexican and British design at the pavilion will play host to an array of art, fashion, music, film and performance. August offers us an intimate gig from Kamasi Washington, who recently played the Coachella festival in the US, and New York fashion label TELFAR, who will be debuting their Spring Summer 2019 line with a live choir as an accompaniment. Not a bad way to spend a London summer’s evening.

Where: Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, London


King Arthur/ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

What: Free open air plays

Why: Free open air theatre is returning to London’s amphitheatre, The Scoop, allowing Londoners the opportunity to sit by the Thames and enjoy some top notch drama without spending a penny. This summer, action packed King Arthur and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz will be performed. No tickets – just turn up.
Wednesday 8th August – Sunday 2nd September

Where: The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2DB


DC Exhibition: Dawn of the Super Heroes at The O2

What: Heroes and villains

Why: If super heroes and super villains are your bag, this is the exhibition for you. The DC Exhibition: Dawn of Super Heroes exhibition offers fans the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most iconic comic characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Joker. Costumes, original comic pages, props harking back to the early days of DC universe in the 1930s to the present day. Kidzcoolit gave the exhibition ‘191 stars out of 5 stars.’ Enough said.
Throughout August until Sunday 9th September.

Where: The O2 Arena, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0DX


Cindy Sherman photography

What: Photographic portraits

Why: Themes of identity, gender and role-play are at the centre of Cindy sherman’s photography, and film and television are often the worlds in which she explores these themes. For her latest exhibition, the artist imagines herself as a cast of ‘grandes dames’ from the Golden Age of 1920s Hollywood cinema, posing for what seem to be formal publicity shots. Behind the stoicism of the painted faces, busy garb and coiffed hairdos, lies poignant vulnerability.
Throughout August until Saturday 1st September

Where: Spruth Magers Gallery, 7 Grafton Street, Mayfair, W1S 4EJ


We Were There: Meet Veterans and Eyewitnesses

What: Memories of war

Why: This summer the Imperial war museum has an extraordinary exhibition in which people will have the opportunity to talk with war veterans and eyewitnesses, including those who lived through the Second World War and the Cold War. Hear the personal stories of conflict and how the war impacted their lives.
Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout 30 August, 11am-1pm

Where: Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ.



What: Yuppies galore

Why: Looking back at the 80s can often be a squeamish experience. None more so than in this absorbing time capsule of an exhibition which takes us behind the scenes into the privileged world of Oxbridge balls, society parties during the decadent decade, now know as the Tatler years.

Photographer Dafydd Jones said: “I had access to what felt like a secret world. It was a subject that had been written about and dramatised but I don’t think any photographers had ever tackled before. There was a change going on. Someone described it as a ‘last hurrah’ of the upper classes.”
Friday 3rd August – Saturday 8th September

Dafydd Jones: The Last Hurrah is available for acquisition at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. For sales enquiries contact their Print Sales Gallery.

Where: 16 – 18 Ramillies Street, Mayfair, W1F 7LW


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