Four awe-inspiring art installations to visit this summer

Art heads into the great outdoors with these open air sculptures

There’s certainly never a shortage of galleries to visit in London. But, come summer, the lure of BBQs in the park and sunny beer gardens means the thought of heading indoors is less than appealing. These four open-air art installations will change all that. Awe-inspiring in their size, provocation or innovation and, significantly, absolutely free, as a smart-thinking man you’ll want to tick them all off this summer.

art installations

1. Kimchi & Chips: ‘Halo’ at Somerset House

Art and science collide in the new interactive installation at Somerset House this June. The home to institutions of art and science – the Courtauld Institute and the Royal Society, to be exact – Somerset House is the natural spot for this large-scale, futuristic sculpture that harnesses the power of the sun to create a circle of light and rainbows. Created by British-Korean artistic duo Kimchi & Chips, ‘Halo’ consists of over 100 mirrors that track the movements of the sun, water fountains, and two 4-metre-high towers and one 15-metre-long track. The mix of mist and mirrors reflect the rays of the summer sun, and redirect it to create a halo, formed entirely of sunlight, in the Somerset House courtyard. The object is to encourage visitors to consider how the potential of one of the world’s most precious natural resources can be harnessed sustainably, as well as exploring how nature and technology can be used together in positive ways.

June 8- 27, Somerset House

art installations

2. Frieze Sculpture 2018, Regent’s Park

After a phenomenally successful debut last year, when over 5 million people visited the sculpture garden in Regent’s Park, Frieze Sculpture is back. This year, it’s curated by Claire Lilley, Director of Programmes at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, who has included 25 works by internationally acclaimed artists in the garden, including Richard Woods, Rachel Feinstein and Monika Sosnowska. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Markham Nesfield’s 1866 ‘English Gardens’ in Regent’s Park, it’ll be the cultural highlight of your next park trip.

4 July-7 October, Regent’s Park

art installations

3. ‘The Mastaba’, The Serpentine

Artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude are celebrated for their ambitious sculptural works, which have shaken up the landscape in spots around the world, including in Sydney and Berlin. This summer, they’re recognised in a dedicated exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, as well as by an installation of their enormous super-sculpture, ‘The Mastaba’, in the Serpentine. The installation takes inspiration from mastabas, the benches that originated with the first ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia. The duo’s first public installation in the UK, the awe-inspiring sculpture is an impressive 20 metres in height, and is made from 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels in shades of red, white, blue and mauve. An visually impressive view for your next dip in the Serpentine Lido. 

18 June-23 September, The Serpentine

4. Heather Phillipson: ‘my name is Lettie eggsyrub’, Gloucester Road underground station

Although not strictly outdoors, this new installation by British artist Heather Phillipson in the Gloucester Road tube station is still readily accessible when you’re out and about. Commissioned by Art on the Underground, it’s a provocative take on reproduction, intensive farming and the fragility of life. It spans the length of an 80m disused platform at Gloucester Road tube station, and features four-metre-high eggs, giant whisks and TV screens, all realised in a video game-inspired CGI aesthetic. The point is probably best explained in Phillipson’s own words: ‘“my name is lettie eggsyrub’ enlarges the egg as a nucleus of conflict… We too begin as eggs. According to this logic, humans are also at the mercy of weaponised food, exposed embryos, dangling, leaking and mechanical equipment, unignorable disorder and potential revolt. Throughout, the egg recurs as a harbinger and taunt – not only as one of the most fundamental forms in reproductive systems and as representation of fertility, strength, birth and futurity, but also, crucially, (over)production, consumption, exploitation and fragility.” Your commute just got more interesting.

On show until June 2019, Gloucester Rd station