What's on in London:contemporary art events at Tate Britain, Houses of Parliament, Serpentine Galleries and Camden Arts Centre

In a new series, we bring you the pick of the summer’s most intriguing contemporary art events and trends.

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Houses of Parliament

Until September 1
Another London find this summer, and one which could truly only exist in the capital, is The Ethics of Dust created by Jorge Otero-Pailos at the Houses of Parliament.

Pre-booking is necessary, though tickets are free, but prepare to marvel at the concept, and the way the space has been used. It is surprisingly moving, as thousands of years of dust removed from the walls has been embedded in a latex sheet suspended from Westminster Hall’s 28-metre-high hammerbeam roof.

The particles of dust, soot and dirt were gently lifted from the walls during the sensitive cleaning of the Unesco World Heritage Site. The work lets us question both history and our place in the world, and ask: What truly remains?

Artangel, the company behind it, really does work with the idea of “extraordinary art, unexpected places”.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Until September 11
Etel Adnan’s show, The Weight of the World, at the Serpentine Sackler is simply a riot of colour, and bound to lift the spirits.

(©Tristan Fewings / Getty)

As the Lebanese-born artist says: “Colour is the sign of the existence of life. I feel like believing, being in a state of pure belief, of affirmation. I exist because I see colours.”

Paintings, drawings, tapestries, film and leporellos — written, accordion-like sketchbooks — are all on view. Her writings express her abhorrence of war, while her art celebrates pure beauty. Download the Serpentine’s newly launched mobile tour to view the show, and wander back to the main gallery via the temporary summerhouses in Hyde Park.

Once back at the Serpentine, stop for an ice cream or coffee in this year’s pavilion, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (and yes, it does look like a zipper), and end with a visit to the Serpentine shop.

Serpentine Galleries shop

When people say it’s too expensive to collect contemporary art, they simply don’t know about the new Yoko Ono piece quietly on sale at the Serpentine reception desk. 

(©Serpentine Galleries)

Ono — whose work is much better than you want it to be — has created a small piece: a bean, in a tin, and as the beanshoot grows, the word “love” appears on the bean itself. This is art for your home, for £20. Called Grow Love with Me, it is exactly what we need in these troubled times.

Camden Arts Centre

Until September 18
An insider secret for lovers of contemporary art has to be the garden at Camden Arts Centre. An oasis of calm off Finchley Road, there’s an open-air café that opens until 9pm on Wednesdays, and this summer you’ll sit under the golden canopy of Anya Gallaccio’s work, entitled: I will walk down to the end with you if you will come all the way down with me…

(Courtesy of Yinka Shonibare MBE and Stephen Friedman Gallery)

Gallaccio’s ethereal installation is part of fashion designer Duro Olowu’s choice for the centre’s summer show, Making and Unmaking. With more than 70 artists including Yinka Shonibare — whose works include Bad School Boy, 2014, right — Louise Bourgeois and Irving Penn, this is an extraordinary exploration of the rhythm of the making and unmaking of art, as well as the constant struggle towards creating a political, social and sexual identity.

A reading/listening list accompanies the show, and it’s as diverse as the artists exhibited — recommendations run from Grace Jones and Billie Holliday to William Thackeray and Puccini.

Tate Britain

Until October 9
Art is supposed to enrich, delight, soothe a battered soul and help us to face another day. Tall order, I know, but one of the great pleasures of London is that this kind of art is readily available, often with free admission, if you know where to look.

(©Pablo Bronstein)

Pablo Bronstein’s work at Tate Britain is an unexpected joy. Three classically trained dancers strut through the Duveen Galleries at regular intervals throughout the day, and quite simply “strike a pose” as they dance, right.

Accompanied by Baroque music and wearing oversize pearls, the dancers seem to both mimic the art on view and gently make fun of it. The whole performance is both hugely entertaining and oddly compelling.

It’s also a quick and easy way to introduce children to the idea of “art” in general, and then to take the Tate to Tate boat downriver and end up at either Maltby Street Market  — for those who have had enough art for the day — or the new Raqib Shaw exhibition at White Cube in Bermondsey, for those who haven’t.


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