The Londoness

Born in Paris.

Made in London.

Teller of London Tales.

Londoness Loves May 2022

Last updated on May 11th, 2022

May is a see-saw of a month: hot and fiery in parts and wet and wild in others. The parks are starting to groan with sun-worshippers, the pubs are spilling out onto pavements, and I’ve even seen the odd sandal make an appearance (albeit paired up with a backup brolly). May isn’t just about bank holidays, wisteria hysteria and rhododendron rapture. London has a real spring in its step. Here’s a roundup of some of the best cultural things to do in London this May 2022 – including some free events too.

Art and Exhibition in London this May

what to do in London in May

Edvard Munch, Evening on Karl Johan, 1892, KODE Bergen Art Museum, The Rasmus Meyer Collection

A major group of works by Edvard Munch will be shown in the UK for the first time in a new exhibition at The Courtauld. Edvard Munch. Masterpieces from Bergen will bring together 18 seminal paintings by Munch from KODE Bergen Art Museum, Norway, home to one of the most important Munch collections in the world. It’s the first time the paintings have been shown together as a group outside Scandinavia.

Edvard Munch | Courtauld Gallery | Adult £18 – 20 | Book tickets.

Tate Britain will present the first major survey of Cornelia Parker’s works this month. One of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, Parker is responsible for some of the most unique and unforgettable artworks of the past thirty years. Driven by curiosity, Parker transforms seemingly everyday objects into extraordinary works of art. Through visual allusions and metaphors, Parker’s works explore contemporary issues such as violence, human rights and environmental disaster. The exhibition will bring together over 90 artworks spanning immersive installations, sculptures, film, photography and drawing.

Cornelia Parker | Tate Britain | 19 May to 16 October | Adults: £16 | Book tickets.

The first major exhibition to explore female spiritual beings in world belief and mythological traditions around the globe opens at the British Museum. Bringing together ancient sculpture, sacred artifacts and contemporary art from six continents, this exhibition explores the diversity of ways in which femininity has been perceived across the globe, from the ancient world to today. It explores the embodiment of feminine power in deities, goddesses, demons, saints and other spiritual beings, associated with diverse areas of human experience, from wisdom, passion and nature, to war, mercy and justice.

Feminine Power: the divine to the demonic | British Museum | 19 May to 25 September | £17 | Book tickets.

Things to do in London this May

Danish artist Thomas Dambo brings a brand- new work to Kew. Constructed using reclaimed and recycled timber, Trolls (Matt and Helen) uses two giant mythological figures to tell a timely tale about humanity’s relationship with the natural world, particularly around the issue of food waste.

Kew Gardens is hosting a brand-new summer programme, Food Forever, exploring the future of food, and the impact which our day-to-day eating habits have on the world around us. As well as a host of large-scale art installations, screenings and talks, Food Forever will also feature contributions from pioneering scientists at Kew who are working hard to research the importance of sustainable food production and consumption with partner organisations all over the world. In addition, the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will host acclaimed Australian artist Pip & Pop, presenting When Flowers Dream, a wonderfully vibrant exhibition which focuses on ideas of food insecurity and future foods.

Food Forever | Kew Gardens | 21 May to 18 September |inc. with entry to the gardens | Book tickets.

Exciting news: the Florence Nightingale Museum re-opens this month after a two-year closure, and with it, the exhibition Nightingale in 200 Objects, People & Places. The exhibition includes 200 items, stories and places that reveal the character of a true pioneer of nursing and hospital standards. The exhibition is free with a museum ticket.

Florence Nightingale Museum | Re-opens 12 May | Book entry.

A new exhibition is opening at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is the first exhibition to explore the enigmatic motif of the ‘woman in the window:’ Reframed: The Woman in the Window features artworks from ancient civilisations to present day, with together over 50 works by artists including Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, David Hockney, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans and Rachel Whiteread. It will reveal how artists have long used the motif to elicit a particular kind of response ranging from empathy to voyeurism.

Reframed | Dulwich Picture Gallery | Adults: £16.50 (under 18s free) | Book tickets.

Have you heard of ASMR? You’re not alone if you haven’t as neither had I. A new exhibition at the Design Museum will shed light on the culture, community, and creativity of the ASMR movement, through works by Björk and Bob Ross, a performative installation by Tobias Bradford, an interactive commission by Marc Teyssier, and works by YouTubers. I will try to decipher what this is all about when I pop along to the press view – but I think it’s about how sounds can bring about calm and joy (such as the turning of a crinkly old book). I’m intrigued.

Weird Sensation Feels Good | Design Museum | 13 May to October 14 | £9.50 | Book tickets.

Fairs in London this May

Things to do in London this MayFavoured haunt of the interior design crowd and in-the-know style lovers, The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair is back in London’s Battersea Park. Some 150 dealers will be offering a stunning variety of one-off antiques and period design, and works of art from all periods to the contemporary.

Decorative Arts Fair | 4 to 8 May | £5-20 | Book tickets

Photo London is back at Somerset House with the world’s leading galleries and photographers showcasing their latest works.

Photo London | 12 to 15 May | Adult: £29  Book tickets

London Original Print Fair moving to Somerset House for its 37th edition. Visitors can explore Old Masters, modern and contemporary prints on display and for sale from over 40 renowned galleries. Highlights this year include prints by Picasso, Rembrandt and Canaletto, early engravings by Dürer, and works by Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon and Lucian Frued.

London Priginal Print Fair | 26 to 29 May | Somerset House | £18 | Book tickets

Opera and Classical Music in London this May

Mark Ravenhill, Co-Artistic Director of The King’s Head Theatre in Islington, is directing a contemporary queer reinvention of Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme in a new version which relocates the story to contemporary London. I’m heading up there early in May so check out my Instagram page for a review.

La Boheme | King’s Head Theatre | On until 28 May | | Tickets from £10 | Book tickets.

Things to do in London this May

Image: Marcin Mazur

In a show of solidarity, Wigmore Hall is presenting a fundraising concert at the beautiful Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Central London. In addition to supporting aid partners such as the British Red Cross and CAFOD with proceeds from the ticket sales, the concert is also the first major fundraising event for the newly launched Ukrainian Welcome Centre.

Wigmore Hall Fundraising Concert | Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral | £40 | Book tickets.

On 12 May, choral ensemble The Tallis Scholars will perform the UK premiere of sun-centered by Pulitzer Prizewinner David Lang, one of America’s most-performed composers. The work was commissioned for The Tallis Scholars as a companion piece for Brumel’s monumental 12-voice Earthquake Mass written in the 16th century.

Tallis Scholars | St Martin in the Fields | 12 May | Book tickets.

The London Festival of Baroque Music is back for a 38th year in its home at St John’s Smith Square. Enjoy music from Gabrieli, The Choir of Westminster Abbey and Southbank Sinfonia Baroque as you travel around the Venetian waters.

London Festival of Baroque Music | 13 to 21 May | Book tickets

Violinist Lucy Melvin will be performing at St Giles Church, Camberwell for one day only. The programme includes E Major Partita from Bach, the Sonata by Prokofiev and Wendy Hiscocks’ Caprice. All proceeds from this event will go towards the Chamber Players Scholarship fund for string players attending Chamber Players 2022.

Lucy Melvin | St Giles Church Camberwell | £10 | Book tickets.

Tamsin Greig and vocal super-group I Fagiolini are coming to St Martin’s to combine poetry and music, as they explore The Waste Land, TS Eliot’s poem that defined a century.

Tamsin Greig & I Fagiolini | St Martin’s in the Fields | 19 May | Book tickets.

Theatre and Stage in London this May

what's on in London this May 2022Six-time Academy Award nominated and two-time Golden Globe winning actress Amy Adams will make her West End debut in a new revival of Tennessee Williams’s celebrated memory play, The Glass Menagerie. Award-winning director Jeremy Herrin’s bold new staging explores the fragility and fallibility of memory. Adams takes on the role of one of Williams’s most iconic matriarchs, Amanda Wingfield, a former Southern Belle living precariously with her two children.

The Glass Menagerie | 23 May to 27 August |  | Book tickets

Cultural things to do this May

The company of the Lincoln Center Production of My Fair Lady (image: Joan Marcus)

My Fair Lady needs no introduction, but what’s exciting about this production is that Vanessa Redgrave stars in it! Bartlett Sher’s glorious multi award-winning production of Lerner & Loewe’s much-loved production will be the first major West End revival of the show for 21 years.

My Fair Lady | London Coliseum | Tickets from £20 | Book tickets.

Operation Mincemeat RiversideYou may have read the books about Operation Mincemeat, the screwball undercover plan to thwart Hitler’s invasion of Sicily in 1943. You may have been to see the film with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden. But over in Hammersmith, the Riverside Studios has its own version of Operation Mincemeat, and this one is silly, witty and hilariously funny. It’s a jolly musical with a cast of five who do a bit of clever gender-swapping and who know how to belt out a good tune. Some of the numbers even reminded me of Hamilton with a touch of Mel Brooks.

Operation Mincemeat | Riverside Studios | Tickets: £35 | Book tickets.

Out of Towners

chawton house sports exhibition

Did Jane Austen play sport? Chawton House’s latest exhibition, A Costume of Sport, explores the typical physical exercises enjoyed by women in the Regency period, and what they wore whilst doing it. From playing cricket in high collars and top hats to swimming in full-length, flannel dresses, costume was slow to adapt to the demands of physical exercise. This exhibition displays sporting outfits from the Regency until the early twentieth century, using costumes, paintings, equipment and fashion plates.

A Costume of Sport | Chawton House | inc with admission to the house: £10 | Book tickets.

Free things to this May in London

Where to start with the incredible Platinum Jubilee lineup at Sotheby’s? There is so much going on and it’s all free. Coinciding with some fascinating exhibitions, Sotheby’s London will also open its doors to a series of events, from daily dramatic readings and talks, to musical performances, family events and book launches. The incredible lineup of talks includes guests Joanna Lumley, Daisy Goodwin and Amanda Foreman. It’s all here.

Free things to do in London this MayDippy the Dinosaur is back at the Natural History Museum! The nation’s favourite dinosaur is back for a limited time as part of his four-year UK tour. Book your free ticket here.

Join Fulham Palace for a free family green meet event as they celebrate all things eco-friendly and sustainable. With a small business market, speciality talks, tours and demonstrations, discover how you can become more eco-friendly in your day to day life. Enjoy live music performances while you picnic on the main lawn and enter the raffle for a chance to win prizes — all proceeds will go towards bringing a flock of chickens to the Palace! Book your free ticket here.

Cancer Revolution; Science, innovation and hope at the Science Museum is the world’s first major object-rich exhibition to reveal the past, present and future of how cancer is prevented, detected and treated. On display will be never-before seen objects, cutting edge treatment and research, new artist commissions and installations, interactive exhibits and a breadth of personal stories. Book your free ticket here.

free things to do in LondonThe Bank of England has re-opened after a two year-Covid hiatus with a temporary exhibition, Slavery and the Bank, drawing on new research undertaken by specialist staff from the Bank’s Museum and Archive. It uses a series of objects from the Museum collection to explore the historic connections between the Bank of England, the business of the City of London and transatlantic slavery. Highlights from the museum and its exhibitions can also  be viewed online at Google Arts and Culture, and via the Smartify app.

For centuries, Londoners have been fascinated by royal ceremony, not least Sir John Soane. This month, the Sir John Soane’s Museum will celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a display of royal memorabilia commemorating coronations and jubilees, from cups and plates to hairpins and bunting. These objects, lent by staff and the local community, show how the British public, from Soane’s time to our own, have participated in royal events through collecting souvenirs and memorabilia.

It’s your last chance to see Gainsborough’s magnificent Blue Boy at the National Gallery. It will be heading back over the Atlantic on May 15.

Cover image: Holden Luntz Gallery Frank Horvat Givenchy Hat (Photo London)


A London arts and culture blog featuring articles about art, theatre, opera, dance, music and design.

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