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7 of London’s hottest exhibitions

If you’re feeling like a jaunt to London’s museums and art galleries over the Whitsun half-term here’s 7 of the must-see spring-summer exhibitions.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, V&A museum, South Kensington;  Sat May 27 – Feb 18  2018

While I can’t afford to wear Balenciaga (£350 for a pair of trainers, anyone?), I can just about cough up 12 quid to see the V&A’s new Spring exhibition. The iconic French designer first opened shop 80 years ago in Paris and shaped fashion in the late ’50s and 1960s creating the tunic, baby doll and shift dresses. Among the 100 pieces and 20 hats are ensembles worn by Ava Gardner, while the curators have used X-ray technology to explore the design details behind the fabric – such as hidden weights that make a hemline hang just so.


California, Design Museum, Kensington;  May 24 –  Oct 15

Have you been to the new Design Museum yet? It’s moved from its cramped riverside spot at Shad Thames to the old Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street – which makes for an appealing West London day out, as you can combine your culture fix with a wander in Holland Park and hitting up the shops. California’s mid-century modernism movement couldn’t be more hip but this exhibition examines the West Coast’s creativity and design legacy far beyond groovy coffee tables. Self-driving cars, iPhones, skateboards and, um, LSD all feature. What’s more, the gift shop is packed with colourful, quirky knick-knacks and it’s worth hanging around the lobby to take in the breath-taking wooden and marble atrium, designed by John Pawson.


Grayson Perry, Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park; Thurs Jun 8 – Sep 7

Grayson Perry is clearly feeling confident – his new show is called The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!To be fair, it probably will be pretty darn good, with the much-loved cultural commentator exploring how contemporary art can reach a cross-section of society – and be truly popular – rather than just a preserve of the rich. Summer is always a brilliant time to visit The Serpentine – you can bolt on a sunshine stroll around Kensington Gardens, and you also get to see the much-anticipated summer pavilion, a temporary structure just outside the gallery which is designed by a different architect each year. This time it’s the turn of Diébédo Francis Kéré, who promises a wooden structure that mimics a tree canopy.



Robots, Science Museum, South Kensington; until Sep 3 

From a 17th century automated monk to a creepily lifelike Japanese robot newsreader to – yikes – Arnie’s Terminator suit, this extraordinary exhibition examines mankind’s 500 year quest to humanize machines. It’s one that will fascinate adults and children alike. My big question is this: what happens if they all come alive after the museum closes, rise up and take over? And my second question is: where is Metal Mickey?


Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, The British Museum, Bloomsbury; Thur May 25 – August 13

Fancy something a bit different? Nineteenth century painter Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists – although (whisper it) I wasn’t at all familiar with his work. But what work it is – the above piece part of his Great Wave series of views of Mt Fuji. He’s big on landscapes and the natural world, but also depicts supernatural creatures. This is a chance to discover something new in the elegant surroundings of the British Museum.



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