The UK capital is one of the top cities in the world for galleries, museums, and art-focussed events, and these are eight of the best art events in London this October.
October is a time where art really comes to life in London, as creatives across the city prove their global influence through exhibitions, fairs and festivals. These are London’s top art events you won’t want to miss this October.
Frieze and Frieze Masters London
Frieze is an annual contemporary art fair touring New York, Los Angeles and Seoul, but London is its original home. The aim of the fair is to house the authoritative and avant-garde artists of our time and to enjoy their art in its true physical form. This year, Frieze London celebrates its 20th anniversary ensuring exciting collaborations to celebrate the UK’s cultural landscape. On the 2023 programme is an artist-to-artist panel, the Frieze Artist Award, Frieze Viewing Room, and an Artists’ Film Programme. Running alongside Frieze in Regent’s Park, is Frieze Masters. Where Frieze focuses on art made post-2000s, Frieze Masters delves into the history of art and examines the relationship between the old and the new. To accompany the exhibition this year is the Art Fund Curators Programme, championing art curators from underrepresented backgrounds. Frieze Masters is also launching Modern Women, exploring art through history spanning first wave feminism in Europe (1880-1980) to second-wave feminism in the 1970s.
Bloomsbury Art Festival is taking art outside of the galleries and showrooms with its area-wide programme of over 100 events including theatre, music, exhibitions, tours and talks. Each designed to celebrate the rich, creative past and present of Bloomsbury’s streets, events include a street food and flower market on Store Street, new wave theatre performances, and even a musical renditions of the histories of 49 Great Ormond Street (the oldest house in Bloomsbury). This year’s festival theme is GROW, and focuses on emerging (as well as established) artists, designers, comedians, photographers and musicians, making it a great way to discover and appreciate new talent on the streets of London.
If you need a reason to indulge in the rich history and luxury of King’s Road and The Duke of York Square this October then StART Fair has you covered. Taking over all three floors of the iconic West London institution, StART fair returns to the Saatchi Gallery to celebrate a decade of showcasing the very best of global, contemporary art. Exhibition highlights include Korean artist Doowon Lee’s graphic-style art infusing urban objects with primitive settings. However, the contemporary art exhibition also includes hints of the past. The “Paint it Black” presentation from The Art Hound showcases rock ‘n’ roll icons including photographer Scarlet Page – daughter of Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist. Additionally, Ian Brennan’s portrait of Sue Tilley (a muse of Berlin-born, twentieth-century figurative artist Lucien Freud) will be on sale for £1 million, in a tongue-in-cheek display after Tilley has been quoted saying she won’t be painted nude again for less than this impressive sum.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
1-54 Art Fair is a contemporary, international event exhibiting art from Africa and its diaspora. With annual residencies in London, Marrakech and New York as well as pop-up fairs in Paris with a total of over 60 international galleries participating, this year the 1-54 is hosting its flagship fair in the historic Somerset House. Sourcing its title from the 54 countries in Africa, the fair celebrates the work of over 170 artists, shepherding a strong female presence in the art sphere. Featured this year is Moroccan Amine El Gotaibi’s courtyard installation, Illuminate the Light, exploring light as a physical medium through a sculpture that also seeks to represent the diversity of the African continent through its asymmetrical structures. Around London, 1-54 Art Fair is also hosting Transatlantic Connections: Caribbean Narratives in Contemporary Art at Christie’s as well as artist showrooms including Ken Nwadaiogbu’s Fragments of Reality exploring the experience of Black immigrants in the UK, and 93-year-old Susan Weil’s abstract expressionist Breaking Glass.
The Other Art Fair
The Other Art Fair brings joyful and experimental creatives to London every year; art for fun, art for brightening up a space, and art for exploration is all on offer here. Housed in the impressive bricked building The Truman Brewery – once home to London’s largest brewery and now a large networking space – the fair promises to fill every corner with new and established eclectic artists. To look out for this year is guest partner Gods Own Junkyard celebrating 70 years of the brand fashioning neon signs for films that defined the 1950s and 1970s. The impressive portfolio spans signs for Ronnie Scott’s infamous jazz bar, Bar Italia and movies including Beetlejuice, Bladerunner and Eyes Wide Shut. Alongside the exhibition there will be a pop-up shop selling light boxes, stage door lights and cinema signs. Immerse yourself in the neon sensations of Soho in the 70s with a drink from Gods Own Junkyard’s cocktail bar while admiring the glowing creations.
Women In Art Fair
Making its debut this year, the Women in Art Fair is transporting art celebrating and examining the female experience to the forefront of London’s view. It is a celebration of art by women – that’s run and curated by women – to combat the gender imbalance in the industry, fusing art styles from figurative to textiles and sculpture to print, all created by women spanning the twentieth and twenty-first century. The fair will occupy all three spaces at Mall Galleries, with the West Gallery housing a booth-style art fair, the East Gallery showing a curated exhibition, and the North Gallery displaying an exhibition of work by artists selected via an open call. In the East Gallery, the exhibition curated by artist and writer Rowena Easton is centred around the concept of Unnatural Women, where the likes of Jean Cooke and Alice Kettle visually converse on the conventions and limitations of ‘naturality’.
The only UK art show dedicated exclusively to contemporary design, PAD is returning to London’s Berkley Square for its 15th anniversary this year. Showcasing the work of 62 international exhibitors, PAD stimulates an intellectual gathering of art, where those who appreciate it and those who wish to devour it unite to explore the evolution of design. This year, there will be striking new commissions of international interior designers who create bespoke pieces for refined settings, as well as contemporary ceramic experts and twentieth-century modernist designers. In addition to these larger items of conceptual art, PAD will showcase collectable jewellery by eight leading contemporary and high jewellery artists based in Italy, Greece, and Japan, among others.
Glenfiddich x Ryoichi Kurokawa Time Reimagined
A ginormous mirrored cube is arriving outside King’s Cross to house three of Osaka-born, Berlin-based artist Ryoichi Kurokawa’s sensory artworks in an immersive experience packed with lights, moving pictures and sound. The three pieces are a colourful and abstract visualisation of Scotch whiskey brand Glenfiddich’s 30, 40, and 50 year old, rare varieties. The immersive experience will be open for four days (12-15 October) before moving to Sweeties, The Standard’s top floor cocktail bar clad with disco balls and DJs. Here, the exhibition can be enjoyed alongside a limited edition menu of cocktails curated by The Standard’s drinks expert, Zoe Burgess. Kurokawa’s unique London exhibit offers the perfect excuse to spend a crisp autumn night tucked away in one of London’s of-the-moment hotels, feeling the warmth of the whiskey.
Lead image: Trevor Stuurman, Tongoro beauty 5, 2022, Ilford Crystal Gloss Giclee, 84.1 x 56.1 cm. Courtesy of THK Gallery
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