The exhibitions you must see this October

Published 30 September 2020

From one of the world’s most formidable women artists to the relationship between humans and trees: October is packed with fantastic exhibitions to add to your diary.

This month we’re celebrating a range of artists, designers and creatives from across the globe and across disciplines.

There’s a particular focus on women artists, and the exhibitions featured span diverse themes, from imagined myths and our relationship to trees, to our four-legged companions and the legacy of dub reggae.

Rebel 17th-century painter Artemisia leads the pack at the National Gallery, joined by some remarkable contemporary artists such as Toyin Ojih Odutola, who brings her style of visual storytelling to the Barbican in an imagined ancient myth where women rule.

Meanwhile in Surrey, you can take a closer look at the beautiful relationship between humans and dogs through David Remfry’s charming portraits; and at the Hayward Gallery, it’s your last chance to get back to nature with Among the Trees, where falling leaves are the perfect thing to get you in the mood for autumn.

There’s much more besides; remember, most of our must-sees are free or 50% off with a National Art Pass, and you can explore our full listings for more exhibitions near you.

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Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, c1615–18 © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art


50% off exhibitions

Defying expectations of women artists in the 17th century, Artemisia Gentileschi was truly exceptional, and remains one of the greatest visual storytellers of her time. Most poignant in this exhibition, which includes some of her best-known works, are her depictions of women removed from the male gaze – celebrated for their strength and courage, as survivors rather than victims. And, you can gain insight into the life of this formidable artist herself, through her evocative self-portraits that accompany her other works.

Christina Ramberg, Probed Cinch (1971)

The Making of Husbands: Christina Ramberg in Dialogue

Free to all
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Christina Ramberg’s elegant, erotic and sinister paintings explore the body in relation to its surroundings – shaped by restricting corsets, bandages and haircuts – and how this impacts the way we behave. In this exhibition her surrealist-inspired work is placed alongside that of her contemporaries, exploring themes of gender, identity and the body in a wider context, and demonstrating the influence that her experimental style and fragmented figures have had on artists working today.

To See and To Know; Future Lovers from A  Countervailing Theory (2019) © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Toyin Ojih Odutola - A Countervailing Theory

Free to all

In her first exhibition in the UK, the visceral works of Toyin Ojih Odutola depict an imagined myth where women are in power. Working like a poet or a novelist, Ojih Odutola uses drawing as storytelling, taking inspiration from themes of ancient history, pop culture and contemporary politics. The show plays with the idea of presenting art in episodes or chapters, and demonstrates the artist’s skill in working with pastel and charcoal.

Nikki Nichols and Wallis, Duchess of Pugs  2007-14  David Remfry Graphite and watercolour on Paper 68.5 X 153cm

We Think the World of You: People and Dogs Drawn Together

50% off exhibitions
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An artist whose subjects have included the likes of Alan Cumming, Susan Sarandon and Ethan Hawke posing with their beloved pets, David Remfry has long been drawn to depicting our canine companions, examining the beautiful relationships between humans and their dogs. This charming, light-hearted exhibition brings together a series of pencil and watercolour sketches, many completed by the artist during his time at New York’s famous Chelsea Hotel.

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree... #2, 2011 © Myoung Ho Lee

Among the Trees

50% off exhibitions

The perfect exhibition to kick off the autumn season, it’s your last chance to see the mesmerising Among the Trees at the Hayward Gallery. Examining tree culture, our relationship to these majestic natural giants, and the impact of global warming and deforestation on the natural world, the exhibition is packed with mixed-media art from international artists, spanning sculpture, video, photography, installation and painting. The show includes pieces from the 1960s – the decade that saw the start of the modern environmental movement – to the present day.

Mary Quant by Vic Singh, c.1961. Courtesy of a Private Collection.

Mid-Century Modern: Art & Design from Conran to Quant

50% off exhibitions

Redefining the concept of youth and the established order in post-war Britain, a radical group of architects, designers, photographers and artists became the pioneers of the lasting mid-century modern movement. This exhibition charts the influence that mid-century modern had on furniture, fashion, lighting and ceramics, exploring the legacy of revolutionary artists including Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and Terence Conran.

Channel One Sound System at Notting Hill Carnival 2019

Dub London: Bassline of a City

Free to all

Charting the far-reaching influence of dub reggae, Dub London: Bassline of a City immerses you in the world of dub, starting with its roots in Jamaican reggae and exploring how it’s shaped London communities over the last 50 years. Looking at dub’s influence on other genres of music such as drum and bass, mainstream pop and even punk, the Museum of London celebrates dub as a cultural phenomenon.

Designs for Midland Hotel, Morecombe, Oliver Hill & John Dean Monroe Harvey Drawing, 1932

Art Deco by the Sea

50% off exhibitions

The Art Deco movement played an integral part in the reshaping of Britain’s seaside towns in a new age of mass tourism, modernising and restyling new and existing resorts for the modern traveller. This exhibition dives into that heritage, celebrating iconic landmarks such as hotels, apartment blocks, piers and cinemas, charting how Art Deco became the style synonymous with leisure and entertainment. Indulge in a last taste of summer with this exhibition celebrating the great British seaside.

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