From Divas to Dead Cats: The Summer Shows top creatives recommend this season

Looking for a top up of creative inspiration this summer? Here's where to go

By Avnie Bansal

From "making sense" of twelve middle finger paintings on a wall to stepping inside Pink Floyd's iconic album - creativity is kicking this summer.

But if you're after a little top up to your inspiration bucket, what are the best summer exhibitions to make time for this season? Some of our favourite creatives share where they are going for a creative recharge. Read on and you might just end up taking a trip to Newcastle or Paris.

Chaka Sobhani, Global CCO, Leo Burnett Worldwide

"Diva" at the V&A

I'm a big fan of the fabulous and flamboyant so what could be better than a celebration of the most iconic performers of diva culture, both male and female, from opera to film, stage to music. Suggest a glass of Bolly to accompany.

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition

A classic and must-see every year. Over 1000 pieces curated (by the painter David Remfry this year) under the theme of "only connect", get ready to see everyone from Tracey Emin to a piece from Joe Lycett. Doesn't get more eclectic and interesting.

"Hardcore" @ Sadie Cole's HQ, Soho

Forget PG rated and go see something way more Hardcore with literal blood, sweat and a lot more spilled everywhere. Not for the faint-hearted but definitely for the open-minded. 

Ai Weiwei "Making Sense" @ the Design Museum

One to get in quick before it finishes at the end of July but what an opportunity to see the work, old and new, of one of the world's most famous and brilliant dissident artists. Serious and thought-provoking and one that stays in the head and heart for life. 

Slackwater by Holly Hendry @ The Artists Garden above Temple Station 

Love when artists use interesting spaces that make you discover something new in our bloody brilliant city. Can't wait to see this piece of urban sculpture in a place that so regularly champions the work of innovative female artists. 

David Wigglesworth, Executive Creative Director, Grey London

Blink 182 // U.K. Tour

Most essential cultural event of the summer? Surely it has to be the Blink 182 reunion tour. We all need to see the Tom, Mark, and Travis show. Who knows when we’ll next see these miscreants playing together in London again? Time to don the spiked belt, fat-tongued Etnies, carpenter jeans, and a black Atticus tee tight enough to scupper my breathing.

Aunty Donna // The Magical Dead Cat Tour

Surrealist comedy kings from Melbourne are a must-see. In the absence of being able to see Nathan Fielder or Tim Robinson in any capacity over here, they will certainly fit the comedy bill.


Basquiat x Warhol. Painting Four Hands // Foundation Louis Vuitton Paris.

Paris kinda counts as London imo. Quick train from St Pan that is well worth taking for this show. The Foundation Louis Vuitton is an awesome building itself, but the collaboration between these greats is a must-see. It’s mind-blowing witnessing the amount of work they managed to create together in such a short space of time. Also heartbreaking seeing Basquiat’s triptych tribute ‘Gravestone’ in person.

Tim Riley, Creative Partner and Head Of Copy, AMV BBDO

Evelyn Hofer @ The Photographers Gallery

A hard-bitten motorcycle cop photographed beneath cherry blossom. A cool, slender young man posed on his cool and slender racing bike near the Queensborough Bridge. Three ladies in their colourful Sunday best against an equally colourful Harlem church front. A little girl on tiptoe as she strains to reach the handlebars of her mother's bicycle, in bright red socks and a lilac jumper, against a green fence in 1960s Dublin. These are just some of the extraordinary photographs taken by Evelyn Hofer, the subject of a new retrospective at the Photographers Gallery. Hofer, who died in 2009, is yet another female artist who was overlooked and under-rated during her lifetime. Belatedly, though, her work is getting the recognition and acclaim it deserves. Born in Germany but an adopted American, she could make something as humdrum and everyday as an empty booth in a Little Italy restaurant, or even New York’s tangled highways, look painterly. Beauty, her work seems to say, is something we can find anywhere - if we’re prepared to look.

A World In Common at Tate Modern

Coming right up to date, A World In Common at Tate Modern brings together thirty-nine contemporary African photographers. There’s plenty to be inspired by here, too. Not just in what these photographers do with the medium, but in the lives they document. Best of all, it’s on until January, so you have plenty of time to visit if you can’t make it during the summer.

Caroline Pay, Chief Creative Officer, Dentsu Creative

Taking full advantage of having members of our team spread far and wide - here are some top tips from our Creatives up and down the country:


Yayoi Kusama’s You, Me and the Balloons

Held at the Brand new Aviva studios in Enterprise City, journey through Kusama's psychedelic creations - many over 10m tall - including giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes, and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres.

(Dentsu has recently partnered with the International Factory to be a part of bringing music, dance, performance, theatre, exhibitions, and gaming to Manchester.)


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Obviously we’d suggest the Edinburgh Fringe throughout most of August – which takes over the city for a month with both up-and-coming unknown artists and long-time well-loved comedians. From the obscure to political satire there is something for everyone.

Also heartily recommend:

Grayson Perry | Smash Hits @ National (Royal Scottish Academy)

The Biggest exhibition of Grayson Perry’s work, often dealing with difficult and complex ideas. Perry makes these issues accessible for all in an often funny way, taking on politics, religion, sexuality, and class.


The Dark Side of the Moon: September Planetarium Shows

Coming back to Newcastle in September from its sell-out in June – Pink Floyd's iconic album Dark Side of the Moon is 50 this year and you can experience the music and the visuals in Newcastle’s Life planetarium.


Young Artists Summer Show (age 4-19!) at Royal Academy, London

Now in its fifth year, the Young Artists’ Summer Show is a free, open submission exhibition for students aged 4–19 studying in the UK. It is a celebration of the imagination and creativity of young artists.

Anslem Kiefer at White Cube, Bermondsey 

The artist’s new paintings, sculptures and installations respond to (that is, struggle with and transform) James Joyce’s novel of 1939. Concrete, copper, glass vitrines, unreadable books made of lead, Joycean inscriptions everywhere. It is as if language itself has become a material, a sculptural medium.

Mondrian and Hilma AF Klint Review, Tate Modern

A unique chance to discover the visionary work of the Swedish and The Dutch painter. Although they never met, af Klint and Mondrian both invented their own languages of abstract art rooted in nature. At the heart of both of their artistic journeys was a shared desire to understand the forces behind life on earth.

Ant Nelson & Mike Sutherland, ECDs, adam&eveDDB

From time to time, creatives can lack inspiration or lose motivation. Like your creative juices have been hit with a hose pipe ban. But thankfully, there’s a smorgasbord of inspiring exhibitions that will help get your creative engine firing on all cylinders again. Here are a few that we’ll be visiting this summer.

The Burnt City, Punch Drunk

The first one is from the clever folks at Punch Drunk, who are back with another offering called ‘The Burnt City’ - a show, experience, and exhibition all rolled into one. We’ve been to this already and although we struggled to follow the storyline clearly, the production values blew us away. The attention to detail and the entire immersive experience were like nothing else we’ve seen before. Definitely worth checking out.

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms @ the Tate Modern.

We’ve all seen the breathtaking pictures doing the rounds online, but here’s your chance to see the rooms IRL and they don’t disappoint.

In a slightly similar vein to the Infinity Mirror Rooms, we’re also keen to see the ‘Spaces in Between’ exhibition at the Outernet. Once again, we’ve seen lots of videos of this amazing, new space and we can’t wait to experience it ourselves.

Art Of Banksy

We’re big Banksy fans, so we’re especially looking forward to this one. The ‘Art Of Banksy’ promises over 110 pieces of work from the mysterious artist as well as some that have never been publicly displayed before. 

War of The Worlds immersive VR

And last but not least, the Martians are back! The War of The Worlds immersive VR experience has piqued our interest ever since it first opened in 2019. We missed it the first and second time round so we can’t wait to see how they bring an old story to life with new tech.


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