London’s best art and cultural exhibitions – January 2020


Find the abundance of art and cultural activities floating around London overwhelming?

Want to experience the less conventional side of London that you don’t always see in tube adverts, and build upon your SOAS course knowledge with some related and insightful activities? 

Start the year right by checking out some fascinating exhibitions around SOAS and London this month!


W.E.B Du Bois: Charting Black Lives (House of Illustration)

A bit off the beaten track, but the House of Illustration is no less important than any of its contemporaries. Situated in Kings Cross, House of Illustration is the UK’s centre for illustration and graphic art. 

The intellectual and activist W.E.B Du Bois is one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. Co-Founder of the NAACP, revered writer, sociologist, and civil rights activist, little is known about the body of infographics he created to challenge pseudo-scientific racism – until now.

Alongside his works are reproductions by Mona Chalabi, Data Editor at the Guardian, with her work demonstrating the continuing relevance of the visual ways he represented data in society today.  

Ticket prices: Concessions £5, Adult £8 

Duration: Ends March 2020


Homeland Under My Nails – Mohammad Omar Khalil (The Mosaic Rooms)

Located in Earl’s Court, The Mosaic Rooms are just a few stops away from SOAS on the Piccadilly line. Dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary culture from the Arab world and beyond, Mosaic Rooms never fails to disappoint in providing interesting art exhibitions and events – all for free!

Homeland Under My Nails is the first major UK exhibition of the remarkable Sudanese artist Mohammad Omar Khalil. Trained in both Sudan and Italy, Khalil’s connections between continents can be seen through North African, Sudanese, and Moroccan influences. Khalil’s work is seen as a symbolic contribution to the Arab modernist movement and in international modernism, with themes of self-portraiture, international sensibility, Sudan, and the colour black having prominence in this exhibition. 

Ticket prices: FREE!

Duration: 21/01/2020 – 25/04/2020


Forgotten Victims: The Nazi Genocide of the Roma and Sinti (The Wiener Holocaust Library)

Less than a minute’s walk from SOAS is the Wiener Holocaust Library, an expansive and vital archive documenting the Holocaust and Nazi era. 

Referred to as the ‘Forgotten Holocaust’, the genocide against the Roma and Sinti communities of Europe by the Nazis and their collaborators is rarely spoken about. Discrimination against these communities in Europe continues to this day, with the injustice they faced during WW2 and now still failing to get recognition. 

Using eye-witness accounts, photographs, documents and books, this exhibition uses material collection from the Wiener Holocaust Library to bring highlight the Nazi persecution faced by the Roma and Sinti communities, prior to, during and after the Second World War. 

Ticket prices: FREE!

Duration: 30/10/19 – 11/03/20


Inspired by the East – How the Islamic world influenced Western art (British Museum)

Formerly known as one of the largest collections of human history, art, and culture from all over the world – also informally known as one of the largest collections of stolen history, art, and culture from all over the world – the British Museum is just round the corner from SOAS.  

It’s not everyday that one of the largest and wealthiest institutions in the West acknowledges the great influences of the Islamic world on Western art.  Organised with the Arts Museum of Malaysia, the exhibition looks at the 15th century onwards, using objects, art, and textiles to demonstrate the Islamic influence on Western art and culture. All topped with the works of four female current artists from the Middle East and North Africa.

With contributions from all over the Western and Islamic worlds, a trip to this exhibition may be a great place to apply all the knowledge from your courses and essays on Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ whilst you walk through the institution and exhibition with a critical eye. 

Ticket prices: Concessions/Students £12, Adults £14 and Under-16s free

Duration: 10/10/2020 – 26/01/2020


Radical Figures – Painting in the New Millennium (Whitechapel Gallery)

Situated in East End, the Whitechapel Gallery features international contemporary art, reflecting London’s cultural landscape. 

Showcasing the ways in which a new generation of artists use painting to depict social issues, this exhibition challenges canonical notions of art through a diverse body of work.  

Touching on themes such as gender and sexuality, society and politics, race and image, the work of these ten artists contradicts the stereotypical idea of a ‘painting’ using varied digital methods to create politically motivated work. 

Artists hail from diverse backgrounds including Iran, Uganda, and Germany in this monumental exhibition. 

Ticket prices: Concessions £7.50, Adults £9.50

Duration: 06/02/2020 – 10/05/2020

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