The Brit list: the best of the UK this September
Mini-skirts, movie nights and The Mayflower – here’s the best of Britain for September 2020 and beyond.
Plan before you travel, as most events need booking in advance
What: Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy Where: The Box When: Opens 29 September
It’s 400 years since English Puritans set sail for the New World, and this significant exhibition (featuring artwork by Kehinde Wiley, pictured top) promises to turn history on its head by actually involving Native Americans in its curation. A story of survival, ingenuity and conflict is told through objects, images and ideas that represent the lives of both the pioneers and the peoples they displaced. It’s the perfect op to check out The Box, Plymouth’s new £45m multi-disciplinary cultural space.
What: Nick Knight: Roses From My Garden Where: Waddesdon Manor When: Until 1 November
Renowned British fashion photographer and music videographer Nick Knight has clearly been cultivating his garden. More used to shooting the likes of Lady Gaga and Kanye West, he’s turned his hand to rendering bloomy roses digitally in immense, painterly images that owe more to Brueghel than Björk. Inhale their artistry at the Coach Gallery at Waddesdon Manor.
What: Mary Quant Where: V&A Dundee When: Until 17 January 2021
Raising hemlines and (eyebrows), fashion doyenne Dame Mary put the swing into post-war Britain by defying gender and racial stereotypes and embracing primary colours, paint-box make-up and PVC. This playful, joyous show, a transfer from London’s V&A, includes original garments, accessories, photography and adverts bearing the hallmark daisy logo that launched a thousand mini-skirts.
Newcastle upon Tyne
What: Ronan Keating Where: Virgin Money Unity Arena When: 11 September
‘The UK’s first dedicated socially distanced music venue’ has set up stall in Gosforth Park with an impressive roster of comics and musicians. Attendees forgo the mosh pit in favour of personal viewing platforms. Simply park your car, collect your pre-ordered food and drink on arrival and be guided to your fiefdom to make some noise with the lovely Ronan (and other artists on other dates).
Visit the Royal
What: A Prince’s Treasure Where: Royal Pavilion When: Until autumn 2021
The future George IV (AKA ‘Prinny’) indulged his exuberant tastes in his Royal Pavilion home, and 120 exotic decorative pieces that once belonged there have been returned on loan from Buckingham Palace. Colossal porcelain pagodas, spectacular vases and extravagant clocks, including the Kylin clock guarded by turquoise ‘dogs of Fo’, bring additional swagger to an already unfeasibly lavish collection.
What: Don McCullin Where: TATE Liverpool When: 16 September–9 May 2021
The veteran British photographer’s iconic images of war and injustice come to Liverpool after a lauded run at Tate Britain, with bonus pictures depicting life and industry in the north during the 1960s and 1970s. Engrossing and often harrowing, the black-and-white stills are accompanied by personal ‘memorabilia’, such as the Nikon camera that took a bullet for McCullin in Cambodia. It’s sometimes hard to view, but it’s impossible to look away.
What: ENO Drive & Live: La Bohème Where: Alexandra Palace When: 19-27 September
Puccini’s heart-wrenching opera is performed live on a raised stage by the orchestra and chorus of the English National Opera. Natalya Romaniw and Sinéad Campbell-Wallace share the role of Mimì, while David Butt-Philip and David Junghoon Kim alternate as Rodolfo. The carless can book an Uber Box or roll up on a bike, though you might wobble on the way home – we defy you not to weep when ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ floats out over the wireless sound system.
What: @thedrivein Where: Bristol Airport When: 9-13 September
The touring cinema experience comes to Bristol for six shows, serving up 1980s classics and 2010s blockbusters with a side order of stand-up comedy, car karaoke and silent discos. The concept may be retro, but the audio-visuals are top-notch, with the sound broadcast straight to your car’s radio. Choose from Grease, Joker or A Star is Born, drive up, grab your pre-ordered food from a roller waiter and recline your seat as the fun unfolds.
What: Out of Stores Where: Titanic Belfast When: Until end of autumn
Shipyard Harland and Wolff was one of Belfast’s biggest employers and this absorbing exhibition spreads out the tools of the trade that enabled an army of workers to build the Titanic and other superliners in the early 20th century. Artefacts include a giant industrial sewing machine, spare portholes and, poignantly, bamboo stretchers used to transport injured workers.
What: Wordsworth 250 Where: Dove Cottage When: Until December
This year-long celebration in honour of the poet’s 250th birthday includes the opening of the newly reimagined Dove Cottage at Grasmere. The former home of the great Romantic is nestled in the heart of the spectacular Lake District. The modernised and expanded museum next door, filled with manuscripts, books and art, will open in spring 2021.
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