Art, Clothing and Wildlife: 4 New London Exhibitions

These four new exhibitions in London showcase visual arts, from larger-than-life beasts to intricate fabric design and more.

Step away from fine art shows for a moment. These four new exhibitions in London showcase myriad visual arts, from larger-than-life beasts to intricate fabric design. And did we mention the Iron Lady's clothes?

Power Dressing

Whether it’s Jackie Kennedy’s oversized sunglasses or Lady Gaga’s revealing outfits, the clothing that women have chosen to wear throughout history have played an important part in their public persona. Garments have historically been a symbol of status—just look at Margaret Thatcher’s power suits with a fondness for the Conservative blue. It’s fitting that the exhibition Women, Fashion, Power (from 29 Oct) at the Design Museum has been co-curated by another strong woman: Zaha Hadid, the eminent architect behind the London Aquatics Centre. The exhibition covers a broad spectrum and looks at women in politics, culture, business and fashion, and includes clothes, photos and archive video footage. Look out for items belonging to designers Vivienne Westwood and Joan Burstein CBE, gallery owner Pearl Lam (below) and, of course, The Iron Lady. 

Gallery owner Pearl Lam
Sassy style of gallery owner Pearl Lam (©William Louey)

Winning Wildlife

Today everyone is a photographer, from taking pictures on their phone to uploading them on to Instagram. At the Natural History Museum, however, you get the chance to appreciate some arresting pictures from the natural world. Now in its 50th year, Wildlife Photographer Of The Year (from 24th Oct) is a competition open to professional and amateur photographers, which aims to capture the beauty of our planet’s wildlife. It also considers nature’s fragility and addresses how photography can help to preserve it. Last year’s winner was Greg du Toit with his shot of elephants (below); this year’s winner (yet to be announced) can enjoy a £10,000 prize. 

2013 winning entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Essence of Elephants, the 2013 winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year (©Greg du Toit/NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Yaer)

Master Morris

Designer, artist, writer and political activist – William Morris was something of a renaissance man. National Portrait Gallery salutes him with Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris And His Legacy, 1860-1960 (from 16 Oct). To highlight his influence on society, the exhibition gathers portraits, textiles, banners, jewellery and books. As a part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Morris and his ‘brothers’ formed the ‘art for the people’ movement, which aimed to make good art and design accessible. This also touches on his socialist principles, and the 1951 Festival Of Britain, which aimed to raise the spirits of Britons after the war.

Wallpaper design by artist William Morris, London
Intricate wallpaper design by artist and social activist William Morris (©V&A Museum)

A True Artist

Most people know the name Steve McQueen as the famous late actor who looked effortlessly cool on the back of a motorcycle in The Great Escape. However, there’s another Steve McQueen who is famous, but for very different reasons. Most recently, McQueen directed the critically-acclaimed Shame and Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave, but before that he was a Turner Prize-winning artist. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first exhibition, Steve McQueen at the Thomas Dane Gallery (from 14 Oct) takes a look at his new work, Ashes. As images and sound work together, the show promises to be a true sensory experience. 

Film producer Steve McQueen
See early photographs by film director Steve McQueen. (©Thierry Bal)