5 amazing art shows to see this May

5 amazing art shows to see this May

28 Apr 2023

Delve deep in Middlesbrough, see Hogarth in Derby and find out which Cambridge college is a must-stop for pottery lovers in our exhibition highlights for the month 

William Hogarth, The March of the Guards to Finchley, 1749–50. © The Foundling Museum, London

1. Hogarth takes Derby

It’s not too late to catch some of the world-renowned paintings by William Hogarth (1679-1764) during their display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery for Hogarth’s Britons: Succession, Patriotism and the Jacobite Rebellion. Works like the one above have particular resonance for the host city, as it shows troops in London preparing to defend the capital after learning that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite invasion had reached Derby. Typically for Hogarth, the scene is crowded with incident, is riotously entertaining and divided on moral lines between the more patriotic English soldiers and their debauched and disloyal brothers-in-arms. The show includes more than 40 works from the master satirist, plus contemporary fine and decorative arts to help illuminate his turbulent times.

Until 4 June 


Part of the Bell Collection. Photo: GH Bell

2. Potted treasures

Pop into the porter’s lodge at the University of Cambridge’s Clare Hall this spring to catch an inaugural display of 20th-century pottery from the Bell Collection. The collection, which numbers over 300 works in total, was gifted to the college by two of its associates – avid ceramics collectors Professor GH Bell and Mrs KM Bell. From an iron-speckled celadon porcelain jug by Bernard Leach and a dish with delicate grass motif by Shōji Hamada to tin-glazed stoneware coffee pots by Marianne de Trey and burnished earthenware by Gabriele Koch, the works on show demonstrate the sheer variety of form, function and technique by masters in the medium of studio pottery.

Ongoing, with rotating displays


Grace Pailthorpe, Salempics, 1936–37. MIMA, Middlesbrough Collection

3. Deep and meaningful 

The team at MIMA in Middlesbrough has assembled a diverse bunch of collaborators to help curate its latest exhibition, Deep Horizons, including Time Team presenter Sir Tony Robinson, artists Fiona Crisp and Liliane Lijn, particle physicist Professor Chamkaur Ghag and retired maritime pilot and local history enthusiast Geoff Taylor. Loosely themed around excavation, the show includes paintings, photography, ceramics, sculpture and audio work exploring time, geology, dreams and landscape, drawing on both MIMA’s own holdings and the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. Alongside artworks by British Surrealist painter Grace Pailthorpe, American visual artist Man Ray, Italian sculptor Chiara Camoni and more than 40 others you’ll find hyperlocal pieces, such as Emily Hesse’s salvaged and re-fired bricks of Middlesbrough clay.

Until 18 June


Isaac Julien, Pas de Deux with Roses (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989–2016. © Isaac Julien. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro

4. Looking for Isaac

London-born film-maker and installation artist Sir Isaac Julien gained a cult audience in 1989 with his sumptuously shot ‘docudrama’ Looking for Langston. Inspired by writer and activist Langston Hughes, a pioneer of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance in New York, the film explored queer Black identity through a fusion of poetry and image. Since then, Julien’s work has appeared everywhere, from African American Studies syllabuses to the cover of Wallpaper* magazine, and has featured guest turns from the likes of Chinese film star Maggie Cheung. Tate Britain’s new show, Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me, progresses from the early experimental works to his 2022 film Once Again... (Statues Never Die), which sees the artist exploring another key Harlem Renaissance figure, critic Alain Locke, and the latter’s relationship with art collector Albert C Barnes. 

Until 20 August 


Anne Redpath, The Pink Table, 1948. The Fleming Collection © The Artist’s Estate

5. Life in colour  

Experimental in both colour palette and composition, this oil by Anne Redpath (1895–1965) is characteristic of the vividly hued still lifes, interior scenes and landscapes for which the Galashiels-born artist is best known. Redpath herself connected her use of colour to her father’s work as a tweed designer in the Scottish Borders. ‘I do with a spot of red or yellow in a harmony of grey, what my father did in his tweed,’ she wrote. The forthcoming show,Anne Redpath and her Circleat The Granary Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed brings together works from across her career, including her more abstract, expressionistic later paintings, with selected pieces by her fellows among the ‘Edinburgh School’.

20 May–5 November


For more must-visit shows, see The Arts Society Magazine, available exclusively to members and supporters of The Arts Society (to join, see theartssociety.org/member-benefits). And for our online monthly 5 amazing art shows to see, sign up at theartssociety.org/signup

About the Author

Claire Sargent

A freelance editor and writer with a keen interest in culture and conservation


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