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7 RCA Alumni exhibitions you can see as UK lockdown eases

To celebrate the UK opening up again, we’ve collated these highlight exhibitions opening from this week, all featuring extraordinary work by RCA alumni – perfect for a dose of inspiration.

Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch 
The Loneliness of the Soul

Tracey Emin (MA Painting, 1989) has had a lifelong love of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, and chose eighteen of his watercolours and oils as the starting point for this exhibition, before deciding which of her latest works (25 in total) would accompany them. The result is a breathtaking interaction between two boundary-breaking artists across three centuries, exploring pain, heartbreak and loneliness. 

From 18 May, Royal Academy of Arts, London 

Liverpool Biennial 2021: The Stomach and the Port

The 11th edition of Liverpool Biennial explores the body or self as a fluid organism that is continuously shaped by its environment. Featuring over fifty artists and collectives, including RCA alumni Jadé Fadojutimi (MA Painting, 2017) and Evan Ifekoya of Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S). You can see Fadojutimi’s series of large-scale oil paintings in which she explores complex emotional landscapes and identities at Bluecoat, whilst B.O.S.S present a newly commissioned audio-visual installation at FACT Liverpool which builds upon their 2019 film A Collective Hum.  

From 19 May, various venues, Liverpool

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020

This annual open submission exhibition offers a preview of some of the most exciting practices of the next generation of artists across a variety of disciplines. Many of the 36 artists selected to showcase have recently graced us at the RCA including Nicole Coson (MA Painting, 2020), Gabriella Davies (MA Contemporary Art Practice, 2019), Anne Carney Raines (MA Painting, 2021), Kirsty Sim (MA Photography, 2021) and Ashleigh Williams (MA Contemporary Art Practice, 2021). 

From 19 May, South London Gallery, London

Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life 

This major retrospective celebrates 10 years since the gallery was launched in Barbara Hepworth’s memory. It offers a rare chance to see a vast collection of her work, from early carvings in the 1920s (around the time she was a sculpture student here at the RCA) to iconic bronze and stone sculptures from her later career. The show reveals how Hepworth’s wide sphere of interests from music to space exploration, politics and religion, and events in her personal life shaped her work.

From 21 May, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire 

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 

Throughout his illustrious career, David Hockney (MA Painting, 1963) has continued to innovate across techniques and mediums. At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Hockney captured spring as it unfolded from his home in Normandy, creating colourful digital paintings on his iPad. He produced 116 new and optimistic works in celebration of the natural world, now on show at the RA – and you can also see a selection on a billboard in Picadilly Circus throughout May, presented by Circa. 

From 23 May, Royal Academy of Arts, London

The Power of Material: From Virtual to Physical

Covid-19 brought unimaginable challenges for all our students in 2020, including the Ceramics & Glass MA who had to abandon unfired work on their benches. This exhibition is a testament to their resilience, and charts their journey from new virtual mediums of expression, to this range of new physical sculptures and artworks shown at the Design Museum. The showcase also features a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ created by our class of 2021 students and recent work by RCA research staff. 

From 23 July, Design Museum, London 

Lubaina Himid

The Turner Prize winning artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid studied at the RCA in the 1980s, and has been a pivotal part of the British Black Arts movement. This large-scale exhibition takes inspiration from her love of theatre, unfolding in a sequence of scenes that place visitors at the heart of the story. Himid is known for her innovative approaches to painting and social engagement; in her work she seeks to make space for the expression and recognition of Black experience and women’s creativity. This exhibition will showcase recent works alongside some of her best known pieces. 

From 25 November, Tate Modern, London 

If you’re a current student, make the most of ticket discounts, available at most major galleries and museums. 

All information correct at time of publishing. Please check the relevant organisation's website before planning a visit.