London Exhibitions 2021


Looking forward to a brighter 2021, and dreaming of open galleries and enthralling shows, I have collected some of the best exhibitions hoping to open this year.
All of these include textiles in various ways – from garments and pattern, to interiors and photography.
If not physically open, let’s hope that these exhibitions will be available online in some form:

Zanele Muholi
Tate Modern, 5 November 2020 – 31 May 2021
Zanele Muholi Calls herself a visual activist – one who focuses on South Africa’s gay, trans, intersex and queer communities. The LBGTQIA+ communities still remain a target in South Africa, despite equality being promised in 1996. The photographs are intense, with the sitters gaze being an important aspect. The images also contain characteristic textiles, hair pieces, garments and make up.


Jean Dubuffet
Barbican Art Gallery, 11 Feb – 23 May 2021
This will be a retrospective exhibition of Dubuffet’s work showing his tireless experimentation. Butterfly assemblages, enamel paintings, colourful canvases and lithographs will be among the type of work shown. He is famously the founder of Art Brut movement and his work rallies against conventional standards of beauty.


Epic Iran
V&A, 13 Feb – 30 Aug
This exhibition will explore 5,000 years of art – from 3,000 BCE to the present day. Art and culture will be shown through 300 objects, which includes sculpture, textiles, carpets, film and photography. This is a landmark exhibition on one of the greatest civilisations in history. Knowing the V&A’s past shows, this will surely be a remarkable display.


Chintz: Cotton in Bloom
Fashion and Textile Museum, 12 March – 15 August 2021
The Fashion and Textile Museum spans hundreds of years and miles with this exhibition that explores Chintz fabric. This material bears multicoloured patterns and designs that became sensations throughout 18th century England and Europe. Some 150 examples of this textile will be on show, from Japanese dresses to wall hangings and sun hats.


Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
V&A, from 27 March 2021
This immersive and theatrical exhibition takes you down the rabbit hole into a magical new world. It is the most comprehensive exhibition ever held on Alice and Wonderland. It looks at the huge impact Lewis Caroll’s story has had in the history of art, fashion, design performance and more. Salvador Dali, Walt Disney, Tim Walker and Vivienne Westwood are among those included.


Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Rooms
Tate Modern, 29 March 2021 – 27 March 2022
The Infinity Rooms are immersive installations of endless reflections. Kusama is famous for her obsessive and repetitive dots. Her work uses a variety of media such as painting, sculpture, drawing and performance. There has never been a Kusama exhibition of this size before in the Uk, so it’s not to be missed.


Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture
Fashion and Textile Museum, 3 September 2021 – 1 January 2022
Beautiful People explores fabulous examples from Chelsea’s iconic boutiques that sparked a 1960’s fashion revolution. Creative exploration led designers to sell radical clothing to counterculture youth. The flamboyant ‘flower power’ style emerged with an explosion of colour and pattern. Styles from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimmy Hendrix will be displayed alongside garments from iconic boutiques like the ‘Kings Road shop Granny Takes a Trip’.


Impressionist Decorations: the Birth of Modern Decor
National Gallery, 11 Sept 2021 – 9 Jan 2022
This is the first ever exhibition dedicated to the Impressionist’s impact on the decorative arts. These painters sought to bring the outdoors inside and turned their eye for landscapes into objects that could decorate the home. Interior elements such as panels, painted doors, tapestries, ceramics and paintings will be shown. Impressionists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Manet and Cezanne are included.

Lubaina Himid
Tate Modern, 24 Nov – 22 May 2022
The 2017 Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid exhibits on a large scale, showing recent work and highlights from her career. Himid is known for her approaches on painting and social engagement. Her long career has contributed to the British Black arts movement and recognising women’s creativity. Taking inspiration from the Himid’s interest in theatre, this exhibition will unfold a series of scenes designed to put visitors both on the stage and backstage.

Not being afraid to voice my opinion

  • Name: Nicolle Knapová
  • Occupation: Poet/aspiring novelist
  • University Degree: Currently finishing up my master degree in Creative writing and publishing
  • Favourite artist: Halsey/ Taylor Swift
  • Favourite colour: Baby blue
  • Favourite sound: Rain

Hi MyBest, Zine! I am Nicolle and I am a poet and a writer from the Czech Republic. Being an artist to me means not being afraid to voice my opinion. Being an artist to me means being able to share stories with people around the world. It enables me to express my feelings which is really important to me.  I love writing about topics such as mental health problems, forbidden love and New York (particularly Brooklyn). One of the biggest things that influences and inspires me the most is music. It doesn’t matter if it is Chopin or The Paper Kites. The one artist that inspires me and influences my work the most is without doubt Halsey. We are both Libras and she is someone I truly look up to. I have been listening to her ever since she released her debut album Badlands. It was love at first sight. When it comes to literature, a big influence for me is Murakami. I devoured his book Afterdark in a couple of days and left me in awe. It really left a mark on me.  I love creating playlists on Spotify. I made one for my debut novel that I want to publish in the next two years. It works as a soundtrack and every time I listen to it I can imagine the story unravel in front of me. But sometimes a really beautiful photo can inspire me just as perfectly.  I am currently hard at work writing my debut poetry collection Aftermath which I want to publish late this year. It is a very personal collection of my teen and young adult life- relationships, family, friendships, unfulfilled expectations and my mental health struggles.

I don’t really have a specific work routine! All I can tell you is that my creativity really comes to life around 10 PM when I want to sleep but my brain just doesn’t want to hear it.  I did spend the whole summer writing my dissertation- three chapters of the above mentioned novel and it was quite intense to write every day. My inspiration really does come in flares. But my writing process always involves coffee and music. I just can’t imagine doing it without it. Oh, and a candle and preferably a rainy morning.

What made me want to be an artist goes back to elementary school when I started writing little snippets of stories. I didn’t have many talents back then but writing was always something that I was praised for and therefore it stuck with me. The very first proper story that I wrote was about two cats that traveled to Egypt only for the one of them to be mistaken for Nefertiti. It was such a fun thing to do and to think I was only 10! Back then I only wrote in Czech which changed when I started high school. I tried writing in Czech but to be honest it just doesn’t sound as natural anymore. I find it insane but it is what it is! I used to be bullied and writing was to me a great way to express how I felt and it was a way to escape the reality. I love being a storyteller and I really hope I will one day be able to do this as a full-time job.

Reigning in the magpie tendencies

I had a bit of time off in the last month in Italy, which allowed me to take stock and think more clearly about what I was doing to enable my career change. In my previous column, I was pouring over creative job descriptions, looking at the skills required and what I needed to upskill in. In Italy, I looked at copywriting websites, found copywriting podcasts, did bitesize SEO courses, and finished off copywriting work for two clients. I was busy, and enjoyed it, but frankly, I feel like I need a good month off to make a dent in my career move. I’ve been building up my portfolio and upskilling, but it seems a bit organic, piecemeal and lacking in an actual plan.

I remember two images that were shared in my career change course that I feel justify my randomness and how I’m feeling. One showed points A and B with a direct line from A to B. The tutor said that people think a career change is a simple process or step. The other was an absolute mess of squiggles and swirls from A to B. This is career change she said. Ha! She is so right.

And so, I am pondering the following:

  • Do I go part-time in my current career and build my copywriting work on the side or apply directly to a perm or freelance copywriting role?
  • Do I try to find a job back in a communications agency, an environment I loved with variety, creativity and real teamwork?
  • How do I update my LinkedIn profile or re-write my CV if I don’t know what I am aiming for, and crucially not alert my current company?
  • Do I move to a four day week at work to give me the time to do more thinking and action things and limit the amount of ‘other career’ work that is eating up my free time?
  • I am planning to move closer to Bristol early next year and currently have job alerts set up for the local area to me now and Bristol. If I find a role close to me and I move next year, how will that work? Or I might find a position in Bristol before I move? Should I even be looking?!
  • The timing. COVID-19 timing. With so many people being made redundant, should I thank my lucky stars that I have a role and sit tight?
  • How do I carve out time to do relevant courses or training?

So many variables! And these fly around my mind regularly. What do I do first? What’s necessary? I must gain some semblance of control, rein in my thoughts and stop flitting between things like a magpie attracted by the next shiny thing.

On my flight back from Italy, I decided to act. I looked back through all the notes I had made, the interviews with people, websites I needed to look at, margin scrawls, starred sentences and got stuck into pulling out what I thought was important and put them into a list. I don’t know about you, but a list makes me feel calm, organised, and able to think clearly. A step closer to having some control because I am a control freak. With everything all clearly laid out on a page, it was easy for me to step back and look at what was essential and would help me further my progress. My list went into double digits which could have felt overwhelming, so I wanted to be quite tough on what could wait based on how much impact it had on my progress.

Instantly I could see what I needed to do. If I want to apply for a job on one of the many job alerts I have set up, I must have an up-to-date CV and one that reflects the portfolio work I have been doing – priority number one.

Priority number two; tweak my LinkedIn profile. I have some positive testimonials from the portfolio work I have done that I should share and could help me reposition myself to start connecting with more people in the areas that interest me. My profile summary must be more in line with my passions, the work I have done and am looking to do if I am to attract a different network.

Priority number three; continue to understand SEO. I started a great little course called SEO Nibbles from an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, in Italy, and I still have one more ‘nibble’ to do. I also want to find the time to listen to her copywriting podcasts. (COVID-19 has meant my usual podcast listening time, on ‘my commute to work’ has been taken away from me. I don’t have time to listen to a podcast between my bedroom and office!) I also managed to spend time with my sister, who shared hints and tips from what she had learnt about SEO as part of her job and kindly gave me some good material to read and use. Thanks, sis!

And that’s all I am prioritising for now. I can cope with things in threes, and so long as the ‘Do CV’, ‘Tweak LinkedIn profile’ and ‘Do SEO course’ post-it notes remain on my office wall, I won’t look at the list again. I need to focus, and I have time. I need to recognise this. I don’t have to do everything by the end of next week, and realistically I can’t. (My first headline idea for this month’s column was originally going to be ‘I want to be a salsa dancer, now!’ because that’s I how I feel. I’m an impatient person.) I’m lucky to have a job and a partner who gives me space to catch up on things like writing this column and ticking off my priorities, and I have some control back. Career change takes time, as simple as that.

By next month’s column, I will have an up-to-date CV!