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5 Things To Do This September by Phoebe Fraser: London Design Festival | Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity | London Coffee Festival | RA Summer Exhibition | A Clay Sermon

5 Things To Do This September by Phoebe Fraser: London Design Festival | Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity | London Coffee Festival | RA Summer Exhibition | A Clay Sermon

The London Design Festival  18 – 26 September 2021

This year’s London Design Festival ties together the challenge of climate change and sustainability with a celebration of diversity, specifically offering opportunities to young and marginalised people. The Festival once again transforms the capital’s landmarks, neighbourhoods and cultural institutions with a series of public installations, exhibitions and special events that aim to bring people together as London continues to reopen. (Main image: Seth and Akil Scafe-Smith from RESOLVE Collective)

RESOLVE Collective Photo: Artemis Tabrizi

Spread across London, this year’s Design Festival provides an inventive enquiry of design and enables audiences to rediscover the entire city, playing a central role in London’s economic recovery. 

A pavilion constructed from the world’s lowest carbon footprint aluminium, a real-time growing couture gown worn by an artist robot, a holographic dance performance and the V&A’s first Friday Late this year, featuring DJ sets, live performances, talks and installations with the aim of providing a platform for young designers, will all star as part of the V&A’s programming, running from 18th until 26th of September.

With its range of outdoor and indoor exhibitions located in a variety of London Boroughs as well as online, many aspects of this year’s Festival are accessible to all, whether you are actively social-distancing, unable to travel far, or even shielding at home. 

Follow this link for more information: https://www.londondesignfestival.com/ 

The London Coffee Festival 2021

Photo: The London Coffee Festival

23 – 26 September 2021

After a decade of celebrations for London’s bustling and vibrant coffee scene, London Coffee Festival returns this week for its 10th anniversary. Promising to be an unmissable event for discerning coffee lovers and those working on the coffee scene, the festival features over 250 artisan coffee and gourmet food stalls, tastings and demonstrations from world-class baristas, interactive workshops, street food, coffee-based cocktails, live music, DJs, art exhibitions and more. 

The high-stakes Coffee Masters competition returns with the chance to bag a £5000 prize: 12 contestants, 7 rounds, but only 1 can be crowned the Coffee Master!

Latte Art Live is back with some of the best baristas giving masterclasses…find out what it takes to be a Latte Art champion!

True Artisan Café spends another year celebrating independent coffee visionaries; La Marzocco’s rotating coffee shop brings together local coffee communities and allows them to share innovative ideas whilst creating drinks exclusively for festival guests.

La Marzocco have chosen their top 10 South East ‘Barista Hero’ Nominations and now it’s up to you to vote for who you think is most deserving of the £1000 prize. Head here to find out more about the competition and cast your vote.

For more information and tickets: https://www.londoncoffeefestival.com/Tickets/Sessions 

The Royal Academy Summer Show

22 September 2021 – 2 January 2022

Curated by Yinka Shonibare RA, this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy is a unique celebration of contemporary art and architecture; focusing on the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’ in order to celebrate the joy of creating art.

Shonibare says how this year’s show “will celebrate the transformative powers of the magical in art and transcend the Western canon which formed the foundations of the Royal Academy, seeking to restore value to marginalised practices as equally valid forms of enlightenment.” 

The exhibition is anchored to a special dedication to the self-taught American artist Bill Traylor (1853 – 1949) who was born into slavery and only began to draw his recollections and observations in 1939. 

Invited artists this year include Michael Armitage, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Ellen Gallagher, Rita Keegan, Jade Montserrat, Magdalene Odundo, Faith Ringgold and Betye Saar. New work for the exhibition will be shown by Alvaro Barrington, Angela de la Cruz, Hew Locke, Cassi Namoda, and Lawrence Lemaoana, who has created a large-scale textile kanga.

One of the founding principles of the Royal Academy of Arts was to “mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit.” Works from all over the world are judged democratically and the final selection is made during the eight-day hang in the galleries. 

This year the Royal Academy received over 15,000 entries, of which around 1200 works, in a range of media, will go on display. This open, inclusive and democratic show supports the artistic community, art education and provides a display of creativity and joy for the public. 

For more information and tickets: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/summer-exhibition-2021 

Various artworks at this year’s Summer Show image credit: Phoebe Fraser

Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity Exhibition at Lychee One Gallery

Image of Loretta Pettway Bennett’s Human’s Jeans at Lychee One Photo: Loretta Pettway Bennet and Alison Jacques gallery

16 September – 30 October 2021

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This group exhibition is not one to miss! Co-curated by Enam Gbewonyo and Marcelle Joseph, the exhibition features the work of an inspiring roster of eleven international artists and designers, cross-generational in scope and working across a myriad of material-based practices that interweave the processes of tactile making with the complex intersectional frameworks of race, gender, sexuality and class today. 

Whilst the works in this exhibition provide an immediate sensory connection, there are other stories buried deeper, metaphysically, within their layered materiality. The artists fashion new languages through their mastery of materials. There are those for whom the used clothing and material of others tells the story of the whole. For some, their materials are the vehicle with which mythology and prehistoric cultures are reimagined. For others, it is the simple joy of finding new freedom in old ways of mark making. And others still, a visceral exploration of the historical and present-day effects of abuses of power on the Global South and its diaspora. 

Enam Gbewonyo writes, 

“As artists, to create by hand is vital. In truth, it is vital to all. It is how we make sense of the world and our place in it. Yet we live in a world reliant on mass production, whose skewed values have manufactured a materialistic consumerist society. The bedrock of capitalism! In their very act of employing historically indigenous crafts, the artists in this exhibition challenge this way of life. These are acts of rebellion and resistance.”

For more information and tickets: http://lycheeone.com/wp/exhibitions/ 

Whitechapel gallery 

Portrait of Theaster Gates, courtesy of the artist Photo: Chris Strong

29 September 2021- 9 January 2022

A Clay Sermon is an exposition of the significance of clay, its material and spiritual legacies. Bringing together research, ideas, process and production, this exhibition surveys works by Gates across two decades- from his early hand-thrown pots to his large-scale Afro-Mingei sculptures. It explores craft, labour, performance and racial identity; the use of clay in building communities of knowledge, its role in colonialism and global trade and the ceremonial and ritual use of ceramics.

London galleries collaborate with artist Theaster Gates on a multi-venue presentation dedicated to claywork. Exhibiting at the V&A and the Serpentine, the Whitechapel Gallery will lead the show, where Gates’s transformation of clay – from a geological substance into utilitarian and artistic material – stands as a powerful metaphor for his socially-engaged work and wider artistic practice. Featuring ceramic objects, sculptures, installations, film and studio materials from the past two decades, this in-depth exploration from the critically acclaimed artist considers the material and spiritual legacies of clay. 

Consider clay as both a new and ancient artist material that can be shaped, fired, broken and reborn. ‘As a potter’ according to Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, ‘you can learn how to shape the world’. Clay and religion are foundational to Gates’ artistic practice who has received international acclaim for his community and cultural interventions in Black space, particularly on the South Side of Chicago. As a youth, Gates joined the New Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church choir and, subsequently, studied urban planning, theology and ceramics. 

For more information and tickets: https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/theaster-gates-a-clay-sermon/ 

by Phoebe Fraser

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