Brilliant Things to Do This August

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Fire in palermo, 40x58cm.2017tif
Seana Gavin, Fire in Palermo, 2017© The artist, courtesy of

A list of wonderful ways to spend your month, from remarkable art festivals and rural lunch series, to rousing films and refined wine drinking


Her Dark Materials, Online: Until September 22, 2021
A new online show celebrates innovations in creativity and tech by an international group of women artists, spanning Emma Talbot, Florence Hutching and Sahara Longe through Rannva Kunoy, Seana Gavin and Vinca Petersen. Titled Her Dark Materials, and curated by Philippa Adams, the show takes place in a digital rendering of a former industrial warehouse in Milton Keynes – the first of many exhibitions set to feature in the awe-inspiring virtual space. Each work on display “probes into the psychological, political and cultural issues voiced by women” at this turbulent moment in time. A brilliantly immersive experience for anyone currently stuck at home.

A Timeless Allure: The Photographic Art of George Hoyningen-Huene at Grisebach Berlin: August 28 – September 4, 2021
Berlin Photo Week arrives at the end of August, heralding the opening of multiple photography exhibitions all around the German capital. A key highlight is the first major solo show of Russian fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, known for his mastery of light and shadow, and the artful posing of his models to emulate Greek sculptures. Huene made his name in Paris in the 1920s, shooting striking compositions for French Vogue, before moving to New York, where he created many memorable fashion stories for Harper’s Bazaar. He ended up in Hollywood in the 1940s, turning his lens to stars of the silver screen thereafter.

Sommergäste: Cy Twombly at Bastian, London: August 10-28, 2021
A new exhibition at Bastian in London makes for perfect summer viewing dedicated as it is to the floral photography of fêted American artist Cy Twombly. Flowers are present throughout Twombly’s work, but his photographs remain the lesser-known aspect of his oeuvre. Nevertheless, Twombly was an avid image-maker, from his days as a student at Black Mountain College until his death in 2011, and his dreamy floral compositions serve as an excellent example of his “unique eye for nature and composition”.

Alex Gardner, Free-For-All, König Galerie Chapel, Berlin: Until August 29, 2021
A new exhibition by Los Angeles-based painter Alex Gardner is currently on display at the König Galerie Chapel in Berlin. Comprising five works, in which figures wrestle both with one another and with themselves, the stirring show sees Gardner “search for the cause of social problems and find them in moments of weakness, in which violence is countered and attacked”.

American Photography at Albertina, Vienna: August 27 – November 28, 2021
In Vienna, a forthcoming exhibition at Albertina centres on American photography from the aftermath of World War Two right up until today. Bringing together the work of Diane Arbus, Gregory Crewdson, William Eggleston, David LaChapelle, Ryan McGinley, Cindy Sherman and Alec Soth, among many other greats, the display promises to be an exciting examination of “America’s vast expanses, everyday culture, social landscapes, and urban metropolises” across the decades.

Ambrosia by Purslane, online: Until September 22, 2021
Don’t miss your chance to buy a covetable artwork, while championing a good cause. Purlane gallery’s new exhibition is raising funds for Mermaids, a charity and advocacy organisation that supports gender variant and transgender youth. It features work by 12 ascendent artists – including Cecilia Reeve, Bobbye Fermie, Eleanor Watson and Jade Ching-yuk Ng – each of whom tackle topics of “queer intimacy, isolation, loneliness or contemplation” within their practice.

EVA International, Limerick: Until August 22, 2021
In Limerick, the second phase of the 39th edition of Ireland’s biennial is currently in full swing, made up of 14 presentations by Irish and international artists. This year’s event is centred around “ideas of land and its contested values in the context of Ireland today”. It marks a welcome chance to revisit the powerful work of feminist performance artist and environmental activist, Betsy Damon. This includes her community-based initiative, Keepers of the Water, which saw Damon invite various local and international artists to create public performances and installations in China, between 1995 and 1996, in a galvanising effort to raise awareness of source water protection.

Roe Ethridge: Beach Umbrella at Gagosian New York: Until August 27, 2021
“When I arrived at the beach, it was littered with broken umbrellas and various other ‘day at the beach’ sundries,” writes photographer and frequent AnOther collaborator Roe Ethridge of the sight that sparked his new series of images, currently on display at Gagosian, New York. Employing “unorthodox visual techniques for the purpose”, Ethridge documented his findings in the manner of a future archeologist, resulting in an uncanny series of still lifes that traverse the line between the real and the artificial.

Edinburgh Art Festival 2021: Until August 29, 2021
For those in Scotland, Edinburgh Art Festival is back again, with enough exhibitions (over 35) and specially commissioned pieces on show across the capital to keep you busy all month long. Be sure to visit the new ten-screen film installation by acclaimed British filmmaker Isaac Julien at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The meditative work is what Julien terms “a staging of history seen through a contemporary lens”, and focuses on the life of Frederick Douglass, the visionary African-American orator, philosopher, intellectual, and self-liberated freedom-fighter.

Reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin: From August 22, 2021
Art and architecture fanatics, rejoice: the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is ready to be unveiled at last, following a six-year-long renovation by David Chipperfield Architects. The iconic steel and glass structure by Mies van der Rohe will open its shiny new doors on August 22 with an exhibition titled The Art of Society, featuring work by major German artists like Hannah Höch and Otto Dix, made between 1900 and 1945, plus solo displays by Alexander Calder and Rosa Barba.

Jala Wahid: Cry Me a Waterfall at Two Queens, Leicester: Until August 28, 2021
Now on view at Two Queens in Leicester, don’t miss the newly commissioned moving image work by Kurdish-British artist Jala Wahid. The captivating piece takes the shape of an extended music video, starring the singer Amal Saeed Kurda, and seeks to examine “the long-distance relationship between a person of diaspora and the disputed region of Kurdistan, which has been denied status as an independent sovereign nation for over a century”.

Do This In Memory of Us by Retro Africa at Lehmann Maupin, New York: Until August 17, 2021
This summer, Lehmann Maupin’s 536 West 22nd Street gallery in New York is hosting a must-see exhibition by Nigerian gallery Retro Africa. Titled Do This in Memory of Us, it brings together the work of Nigerian-American artist and writer Victor Ehikhamenor, reflecting upon his childhood in the Nigerian village of Udomi-Uwessan and his studio practice in the US; that of Congolese painter Chéri Samba, revealing his perception of “the social, political, economic, and cultural realities of the Democratic Republic of Congo”; and African-American artist Nate Lewis – an investigation of history through patterns, textures, and rhythm.


August brings with it a whole host of tempting new movie offerings. There’s Janicza Bravo’s much-anticipated odyssey Zola, based on a viral Twitter thread posted by a Detroit waitress in 2015, detailing her truly wild weekend in Tampa, Florida. Hypnotic drama The Fever, by Brazilian artist Maya Da-Rin, is the story of a 45-year-old widower living in the Amazon, who is struck down by a strange fever as his daughter prepares to leave home. Maria Schrader’s romantic tragi-comedy I’m Your Man follows Alma, a scientist at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, who agrees to spend three transformative weeks with a humanoid robot, tailored to her own personality, in return for research funding.

Egyptian director Ayten Amin’s Souad zooms in on two teenage sisters, based in a Nile Delta city, in a masterful contemplation of the clash between religious conservatism and the rise of social media. Then there’s Sian Heder’s rousing drama CODA, which finds 17-year-old Ruby, the only hearing member of a deaf family, torn between pursuing her love of music and a heartfelt desire to help her family as their fishing business struggles. And Michael Sarnosk’s brilliantly offbeat tale, Pig, which sees Nicolas Cage take on the role of a reclusive truffle hunter, who returns to the city of Portland in search of his stolen pig.

This month’s most compelling documentaries include Hogir Hirori’s Sabaya, which follows a group of agents as they enter the most dangerous camp in the Middle East in an attempt to free the Yazidi women and girls being held prisoner there by Isis as sex slaves. While WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, by Jed Rothstein, takes a deep dive into the epic rise and fall of the titular American company, and the cultish frat-boy culture nurtured by its “hippie-messianic leader” Adam Neumann. Finally, there’s Paris Calligrammes, a wonderful trip back in time with German artist and filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger, who recalls her days as a painter in 1960s Paris.

Food & Drink

There is no shortage of exciting new culinary escapades to embark upon this month. Margent Farm in Cambridgeshire is hosting a lunch series on its verdant grounds on August 5 and 6, in collaboration with SSAW collective. Lulu Cox, the former sous chef at Rochelle Canteen, will be taking the helm in the kitchen, delivering a seasonal vegetarian menu set to tantalise the taste buds.

For simple but delicious Mediterranean fare, made using the best of seasonal British ingredients, look no further than The Engine Rooms. The newly opened Highgate restaurant is headed up by chef James Harrison and offers a menu centred around delicious fish and vegetables (and plenty of pizza). As its name suggests, the restaurant also caters to car lovers – a pleasing plethora of vintage vehicles enlivens the space – courtesy of its owner, classic car dealer, Paul Michaels.

Music connoisseurs can indulge multiple senses at Decimo, the tenth-floor restaurant of The Standard hotel, London. Following on from collaborations with the likes of Dev Hynes and Kamaal Williams, this new series blends jazz and electronic MPC beat-making with an equally soulful menu created by Pete Sanchez-Iglesias and inspired by his love of Mexico. Chistorra tacos, flame-cooked seafood and Mezcal cocktails complement invigorating live music and a touch of wanderlust.

In Margate, meanwhile, the team behind Brawn on Columbia Road has just opened its new restaurant Sargasso. Described as “an intimate bolthole tucked away on the Harbour Arm”, Sargasso’s menu revolves around seafood and vegetables, taking its cues from European coastal cuisine. Expect to taste squid, friggitelli peppers, chickpeas and mojo verde; smoked eel, gooseberries, bacon and watercress; crab and girolle spaghetti and much, much more. As at Brawn, a regular programming of great music, and guest broadcasting, will feature too.

In De Beauvoir, Hector’s, a new bottleshop and wine bar has arrived to tempt wine afficionados with its multifarious offerings, inspired by “the cave à mangers of Paris and drinking holes of San Sebastian”. Coffee and baked goods will be served throughout the day, while night time brings with it a short, regularly changing selection of wines (available by the glass), alongside a cellar list of unusual and rare vintages.

Last but not least, there’s Sucre, a new restaurant from revered Buenos Aires chef Fernando Trocca, located on Great Marlborough Street in Soho. Trocca’s cooking style “combines traditional Latin American open fire techniques with a broad palette of international influences” (think: Carlingford oysters and smoked tomato granita; scallop tiradito, jalapeño, horseradish and soy; and Iberico pork matambre). Buen provecho!