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Friday, 15 November 2013

My top London exhibitions for Autumn-Winter 2013

If you're in the market for some great exhibitions this winter, London is the place to be. Here’s a look at some of my favourites.

The Cheapside Hoard: London’s lost jewels

Museum of London to April 27 2014. Admission £10

A dramatically lit exhibition of late 16th and early 17th century jewels and gemstones, found hidden under a floor in nearby Cheapside in 1912 and displayed together for the first time in over a century. Lots of bling, with contemporary portraits showing how they would have been worn. Left is a cameo of Elizabeth 1, c. Museum of London. No bags allowed in you need a £1 coin for a locker before going through security.
(See my previous post for a more detailed look.)

Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in ancient Colombia

British Museum, to March 23, 2014. Admission £10
Another blockbuster, which looks beyond the legend of El Dorado, sometimes imagined as a lost city of gold, sometimes as a man covered in powdered gold. It shines a spotlight on the varied cultures which existed across the region before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. It makes the point that gold was not valued as a currency, but had great symbolic meaning, and was seen as giving divine power to the elite. There are more than 300 stunning objects, many reflecting the natural world, such as golden masks of jaguars, bats and frogs. Others use textiles, feathers, stones and ceramics. Some have come from the Museo del Oro in Bogota and are being displayed in the UK for the first time, while others are from the British Museum’s collection. (Some were featured in the Gold of El Dorado exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1978.)
More details at

Paul Klee: Making Visible

Tate Modern, to March 9 2014. Admission £15

There are plenty of the bold blocks of colour that characterise many of Klee’s paintings, but as this exhibition shows, he was constantly experimenting and trying new forms of expression, both representational and abstract. There are delicate line drawings, watercolours, oils, even some sorties into pointillism. They’re hung in the order in which they were created, thanks to his meticulous recording and cataloguing, so you can see how he developed different themes and moved from one idea to another. Be aware that it’s a large exhibition – 17 rooms, covering his whole career.

Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain.

British Library, to March 14 2014. Admission £9, under 18s free.
A fascinating glimpse of a society not dissimilar to our own. Unprecedented economic, social and cultural changes in Britain under the Hanoverian kings meant the Georgians enjoyed leisure activities such as shopping for luxuries, reading fashion magazines, gardening, picnics and sightseeing. They loved balls and assemblies, visited new museums and galleries, followed the fortunes of celebrities and went to the pantomime. This exhibition shines a spotlight on the years between 1714 and 1830, with books, paintings, letters and costumes. A bonus is a recreation of a Georgian garden (left) which you can see for free in the Library forecourt. And if you want to discover more about this era, the exhibition guide includes a walking tour that takes in some of London’s finest Georgian museums – all within a short distance of the British Library.
More at

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith
Design Museum to March 9 2014. Admission £11.85.

Sir Paul Smith’s career in fashion spans more than 40 years. This exhibition takes you on a journey from the minuscule first shop he opened in Nottingham in the global reach of his empire today. On the way, you see a recreation of his Aladdin’s cave of an office in Covent Garden, London, examples of his many design projects (including one of his beloved striped Minis), some of the  paintings and objects which have inspired his work, and a personal selection of clothes from his archive (below). 

A fascinating look at the creative process of this British fashion legend.  Further information: