UK Art Exhibitions: July 2024

July is here and we’re ready for a summer of fantastic art!

Whether you’re looking for artistic inspiration, or something to fill some time during the school holidays, here is our selection of six of the best UK art exhibitions in July 2024…


Barbie: The Exhibition - Design Museum
5 July to 23 February 2025

1984 Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie. © Mattel, Inc

If you long for heady days of Barbiemania then the Design Museum’s latest offering will give you a nice little fix of hot pink. Launched to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the Barbie brand, the exhibition explores the story of the beloved doll via a design lens that incorporates fashion, furniture, architecture and vehicle design. Barbie: The Exhibition brings together over 250 objects including a rare first edition of Number 1 Barbie (the very first to be released by Mattel in 1959), 1985’s Day to Night Barbie (the best-selling Barbie of all time), and the first black, Hispanic and Asian dolls to bear the Barbie name. Of course, Barbie’s beau will be making an appearance via six-decades of Ken dolls.

For a homage to Barbie that lasts a little longer, check out Hannah Shillito artworks inspired by Barbie.


Alison Lapper: Lost in Parys – Worthing Museum
June 22nd - September 29th 2024


Worthing’s own Alison Lapper has opened an intimate new art exhibition, Lost in Parys, exploring her personal journey of grief since the untimely death of her son. In a new rare and unfiltered body of work, Lapper examines human suffering, a mother’s unconditional love, and how powerful creativity is as a beacon of hope.

Alongside Lapper’s work, the exhibition features Marc Quinn artworks, and photographs by Rankin, both of which explore Lapper’s experience and how it has changed her as a mother and an artist.

This Worthing art exhibition marks the latest collaboration between Lapper and Quinn. The most notable was Quinn’s statue, Alison Lapper Pregnant,  captured while Lapper was pregnant with her son, Parys. The sculpture was featured at Venice Biennale and sat on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth from 2005-2007.  


Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award 2024 - National Portrait Gallery
11 July – 27 October 2024

 Portrait of Fatima by Jamie Coreth, 2019 © Jamie Coreth


Head to the National Portrait Gallery in July to experience the very best in painted contemporary portraits. The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award started over 40 years ago, and is one of the most prestigious open entry competitions in the world. This year, a panel of judges that include artist, Barbara Walker, and the Talk Art Podcast’s Russell Tovey, have selected 50 pieces for this UK art exhibition from thousands of entries, submitted by artists from over 100 countries.


Gavin Jantjes: To be Free! A Retrospective (1970 – 2023) - Whitechapel Gallery
12 June to 1 September 2024

Image courtesy of Gavin Jantjes

Head to the Whitechapel Gallery to check out a retrospective of the work of South Africa-born, London-based artist, Gavin Jantjes – a painter, printmaker, writer and curator whose work explores representations of Africa and migrants with African roots. Gavin Jantjes: To be Free! A Retrospective (1970 – 2023) is a timely exhibition exploring how the artist’s anti-apartheid activism led to him being censored and politically-exiled, and the subsequent impact this had on his life and artistic oeuvre. This thoughtful retrospective is one of July's best art exhibitions in London. It encompasses the entire gallery and is presented in a series of chapters, each focusing on key evolutions in Jantjes’ multi-disciplinary practice.  

The Lore of LOVERBOY
- Somerset House
8 June to 1 September


Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, SS 2021 collection. Photographed by Tim Walker

Step into the mind of Glaswegian designer, illustrator, stylist and radical creative, Charles Jeffrey at The Lore of LOVERBOY – a maximalist, immersive London exhibition celebrating 10 years of the punk-inspired, gender-fluid fashion house. Jeffrey was one of the first residents at Somerset House Studios, so the exhibition marks a fun and triumphant return to where it all began. The exhibition features archival artefacts, clothing and newly-commissioned works, all providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a label loved by the likes of Harry Styles and Tilda Swinton.  


Art of the Selfie – National Museum of Cardiff

16 March 2024 to 26 January 2025


Head to the National Museum of Cardiff for Art of the Selfie - their fun exploration of whether the self-portrait counts as the original selfie. This fantastic exhibition considers how artists across the centuries have turned to self-portraiture to explore their identities and express themselves to the world. The show features self-portraits from the likes of Francis Bacon, Rembrandt and Bedwyr Williams, but the undeniable highlight is Van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist (1887), which is on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.


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