It is nestled in the centre of London; with its origins going back all the way to 1547 and a current rich schedule of cultural events, Somerset House is one of my favourite places to visit in the city. I find myself there particularly a lot in the summer during the line up of Film 4 film screenings, it creates this great conversational atmosphere that bubbles across the courtyard. So I thought I’d share their August line up to help convince you of a visit.
Perfume – A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent On til 23 Sep
This is one of their main headline exhibitions and one that usually wouldn’t interest me but was drawn in by the vibrant advertising campaign. It’s a multi sensory walk through of contemporary perfume. I am such a visual person that I though I wouldn’t get in to it but I ended up really wracking my brain to guess the fragrances. There are 10 perfumes each set up in a series of rooms designed to reflect the inspirations of the scents, from a lovers bedroom to a desolate dessert. You get a card near the beginning and have to try guess the ingredients, it’s more fun as a group so take a couple of friends and test each others noses.
It starts with an overview of 20th century perfumery and ended with a laboratory set up leaving through the set aside gift shop full of perfume merchandise.
Above are just a few of the set ups from the exhibition to give you an idea of what you’ll see but depending on your sense of smell you’ll either love or not quiet get this one I think.
The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects
– On til 3rd Sep – Terrace Rooms South Wing
This one was a quick walk through but definitely deserves more of a look, a secret society set up on the Thames. Really a design exhibition revealing the extra-ordinary possibilities of everyday objects. Based of the real history of Somerset House, including when it was home to the Royal Academy. The new designers have been asked to contribute items with a real story and gives you a chance to enjoy them.
World Illustration Awards
A nice little addition to the line up and feast for the digital eye downstairs from the main courtyard galleries, there is a small dim gallery better found via the Thames side entrance. It is put together by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) with entrants from all over the world providing an insight into the very best work happening across illustration. I saw a couple of names I recognised by more that I did not, offering me a chance to take some names to follow later. This exhibition is going to be toured around later but catch it whilst your in London now.
Summer Screen Prints Exhibition – On til 23 Aug
The wonderful Print Club London are back for another year of their film poster exhibition taking inspiration from their amazing black book of artists and the Film 4 Summer Screen line up. It’s another one with its own shop to check out and just a couple rooms of prints to see but its a nice stop for film buffs, art lovers, screen printers and just general wanderers. It’s open late to Film 4 ticket holders so you can pop in before the movie starts.
I went to the opening night last week and touched base with the team enjoying a nip from the Peroni bar and chat about the movies on offer this year. There were lots of popular choices including Jaws, Moonlight, Cruel Intentions, each poster took on its own personality mirroring the artists style.
Film4 Summer Screen – 10-23 Aug
The screen went up this week too and the films opened with a bang and the appearance of one of my favourite American’s Al Gore. There are still tickets left so rush to their website to get your hands on some before the Summer is over.
The normally quiet courtyard turns in to a hub of film buffs, first dates and general lounging around. With everyone sharing together, sitting around and making great use of this stunner of a location. It truly is an iconic venue and deserves its spot as my favourite, as well as I am sure many others agree with me.
There is even more going on in the Courtauld Gallery and in Somerset House Studios, the above are just the bits I managed to see this summer. Check out either their website or their leaflet material on site to help you explore.