Jubilee Arts Festival

28 May–15 June | Sotheby’s London, 34-35 New Bond Street

Within the Jubilee Season, Sotheby’s will open its doors for an Arts Festival celebrating the alchemy of British creativity and stirring its spirit in the next generation. With exhibitions and events spanning the visual, performing, and literary, we will gather figures advancing and reinterpreting Britain’s treasured cultural legacy. Beyond unique opportunities to view artworks and jewellery loaned from some of the nation's greatest private collections, we are partnering with RADA, Intelligence Squared and Fantasia Orchestra to deliver a programme of musical and dramatic performances, cultural and historical debates and talks with contemporary artists and creatives.

Daily Talks & Performances

Monday 30 May

  • 12:00 PM | In Celebration of Her Majesty The Queen
    Join Dame Joanna Lumley DBE and renowned writer and broadcaster Robert Hardman to explore the life and work of Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
  • 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM | Escaping the Canvas: RADA Immersive Performances
    Art, and its makers and subjects, will come to life with a collection of stories and readings performed by graduates of the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Tuesday 31 May

  • 1:00 PM | Expert Talk: The Monarch’s Mark: Royal Books and Manuscripts with Sotheby’s Gabriel Heaton
    Interpreting the royal books and manuscripts featured in the Power & Image exhibition as potent documents imbued with absolute power.

Wednesday 1 June

  • 11:00 AM | Imagination and Ready-Made as a New Design Rationale: Creative Salvage, London 1980s
    A panel discussion chaired by Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum, featuring Tom Dixon and Mark Brazier-Jones on their groundbreaking 1980s design practice Creative Salvage. The designers, who exhibited on the emerging underground club and gallery scene, created bespoke furniture pieces from scrap materials to restore the human touch to post-industrial design.
  • 1:00 PM | Poetry Reading with Theresa Lola
    Theresa Lola, former Young People’s Laureate for London, will read a collection of poems around the themes of memory, home and relationships.
  • 3:00 PM | On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: James Bond and the Art World with Sotheby’s Claude Piening
    Claude Piening, Senior Specialist in European Art, will discuss Bond’s and his creator Ian Fleming’s connections with the world of art.

Thursday 2 June

  • 1:00 PM | Artist Talk: A Commonwealth Queen: Oluwole Omofemi in conversation with Helen Rosslyn, Art Editor at Tatler
    A discussion on Oluwole Omofemi’s portrait of the Queen as featured on Tatler’s Jubilee edition cover, which captures both the Head of the Commonwealth and a pensive individual. The depiction references an archival photograph, captured ahead of the official visit to Nigeria in 1956, and introduces national symbols to lay claim to the figurehead as relevant and relatable.

Friday 3 June

  • 1:00 PM | Fantasia Quartet Recital
    Join some of the principal players of Fantasia Orchestra for a lunchtime programme of celebratory chamber music

Monday 6 June

  • 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM | Escaping the Canvas: RADA Immersive Performances
    Art, and its makers and subjects, will come to life with a collection of stories and readings performed by graduates of the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

  • 6:00 PM | Feeding the Eye: Michael Chow on a Lifetime of Collecting and Creating
    To coincide with ‘One Breath’ – a solo exhibition of recent works at Sotheby’s Dubai – Michael Chow joins Sotheby’s Tom Eddison in conversation on art world friendships, beginning in 1960s London, and his return after a 50-year break to painting.

Tuesday 7 June

  • 1:00 PM | Expert Talk: The Armada Portrait and the iconography of female power with Sotheby’s Julian Gascoigne
    An exploration of the invention of a new iconographic language in the imagery of Queen Elizabeth I and the symbolism embedded in the Armada Portrait to create a timeless image of female authority and power.
  • 3:00 PM | Tiaras: Ancient Format, Modern Forms
    Join jewellery designer Kiki McDonough and Sotheby’s expert Kristian Spofforth as they discuss the place of tiaras in jewellery design, from past to present.

Wednesday 8 June:

  • 3:00 PM | Expert Talk: British Art in the 1960s with John Dunbar, founder of Indica Gallery, and Sotheby’s Frances Christie 
    The legendary gallery was at the centre of the 1960s art scene, exhibiting the likes of Liliane Lijn, Boyle Family and Yoko Ono – who famously met John Lennon there in 1966.

Thursday 9 June

  • 1:00 PM | Sitting and Hanging: Working with Great British Artists - Art critic and Lucian Freud sitter Martin Gayford in conversation with the National Gallery’s Caroline Campbell
    Martin Gayford and Caroline Campbell, Director of Collections & Research at the National Gallery, in discussion on the nation’s great artists, using Lucian Freud’s Centenary and his magnificent portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, on loan to the much anticipated Freud exhibition at National Gallery this autumn, as a starting point to celebrate the Jubilee and British creativity.
  • 7:00 PM | Hip-hop vs Shakespeare: George the Poet and Howard Jacobson with Intelligence Squared
    In this debate that spans the centuries, Peabody Award-winning spoken word performer George the Poet and Booker Prize-winning author Howard Jacobson go head-to-head over which form of cultural expression best resonates now and forever. Do genres with a mass appeal, such as hip-hop and slam poetry, speak more to society than historical texts that require background knowledge to be fully understood? Or does the lasting appeal of Shakespeare and other great figures from the canon show that some works have a universal value that stands the test of time? Join us for this dynamic conversation, chaired by BBC broadcaster Shahidha Bari.

Friday 10 June

  • 1:00 PM | Expert Talk: Tiaras: Power, Style and Versatility with Sotheby’s Kristian Spofforth
    The rise and fall of tiaras. Inspired by Royal jewels and crowns and revered as the pinnacle of jewellery design we will look at how they have changed over the last few centuries.

Saturday 11 June

  • 3:00 PM | Landaus to Limousines: Coachbuilding Royal Vehicles
    Journalist Simon de Burton and Richard Charlesworth MVO, former Director of Royal and VIP relations at Bentley Motors, in conversation on crafting cars fit for Royals.

Sunday 12 June

  • 12:00 PM | Musical performance by the Olympia Quartet with Jeneba Kanneh-Mason
    Formed of second year undergraduates at the Royal College of Music, the group will play Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 493, and Strauss’ Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13. The Olympia quartet comprises Jeneba Kanneh-Mason (piano), Isabella Todes (violin), Joseph Lowe (viola) and Berniya Hamie (cello).

Monday 13 June

  • 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM | Escaping the Canvas: RADA Immersive Performances
    Art, and its makers and subjects, will come to life with a collection of stories and readings performed by graduates of the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
  • 1:00 PM | Pauline Boty, Pop Artist and Woman
    Join Dr Sue Tate and Sotheby's Frances Christie to learn about the only female Pop artist, who’s important 1962 painting With Love to Jean Paul Belmondo has recently re-emerged for sale.
  • 6:30 PM | Celebrating Women Artists in the City with Lubaina Himid
    Presented in partnership with NET-A-PORTER, join Turner Prize-winning artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid, writer Lauren Elkin and Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s Hannah O’Leary to celebrate women artists, with a focus on their relationship to the city, in a conversation chaired by art historian and broadcaster Carrie Scott. The event will spotlight the current touring exhibition Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City, curated by Himid from the Arts Council Collection, to explore modern city life from a female perspective.

Tuesday 14 June

  • 11:00 AM | Artist Talk: Dame Magdalene Odundo in conversation with V&A Director, Tristram Hunt
    Entitled ‘Body as Vessel’, this discussion will explore Odundo’s expressive use of clay as an artistic medium. It will set her practice within Britain’s history of ceramics and compare its approach to that of figures like Josiah Wedgwood, whom Hunt has described as 'the Steve Jobs of the eighteenth century'.

Crowning Culture: Jubilee Opening Weekend
Saturday 28 May–Sunday 29 May

Celebrating the historical significance of the Platinum Jubilee, our opening weekend of talks and debates will explore the women who have, since the Tudor period, served as custodians of our cultural legacy. The programme will include:

  • Saturday 28 May, 3:00 PM | Battle of the Queens: Elizabeth I vs Victoria with Intelligence Squared
    Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria both put their stamp on an era, but who was the greater monarch? Debated by Daisy Goodwin, writer of ITV series Victoria, and Kate Maltby, scholar of Elizabethan literature. Queen Elizabeth I will be brought to life by Greta Scacchi and Queen Victoria by Kate O’Flynn. The debate will be chaired by historian Anthony Seldon.
    View Talk
  • Sunday 29 May, 12:00 PM | The Power and the Throne: the Queen’s Relationship with her Fourteen Prime Ministers
    From Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher, historian Andrew Roberts will explore the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and her prime ministers.
  • Sunday 29 May, 3:00 PM | Building the Royal Collection
    Explore the history of royal portraiture and the Royal Collection with Dr Amanda Foreman and Desmond Shawe-Taylor, former Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures.

Jubilee Arts Festival: Family Day
Saturday 4 June, 12:00–5:00 PM

Kick start your Jubilee weekend and drop in to our free family festival, where children’s authors, artists and performers bring the historic moment to life through readings, performances and art trails. Activities include:

  • 12:00–4:00 PM | The Royal Trail
    Pick up a children’s activity sheet with puzzles on magnificent monarchs and fuzzy friends.
  • 12:30 & 3.30 PM | Two Musical Workshops with Members of Fantasia Orchestra
    An hour of fun-filled music making with members of the acclaimed Fantasia Orchestra. All instruments provided!
    Please note parental supervision is strictly necessary
  • 1:00 PM | Poetry Workshop for Older Teens with Theresa Lola
    (meet in the Central Gallery at 12.45pm)
    Entitled ‘I Come from Everywhere’, this workshop is about writing poems to spectacularly introduce us to the world. We will explore the places, cultures, music, events and other things that have individually and collectively shaped us into who we are. This workshop is aimed at 14 - 18 year olds.
  • 2:00 PM | A Reading with Michael Morpugo
    Join Michael Morpugo as he reads his new book, There Once Is A Queen, illustrated by Michael Foreman, telling the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s life beginning with planting an oak tree with her father as a child.
  • 3:00 PM | Battle of the Bears: Winnie the Pooh vs Paddington Debate with Intelligence Squared
    In this family-friendly debate, we pit two of the most beloved characters of British children’s fiction against each other. William Sieghart, author and founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, will champion Winnie-the-Pooh, the loveable 'bear of very little brain’ who will do whatever it takes to get his hands on a pot of honey. Katherine Rundell, children's book author and fellow of All Souls college, Oxford, will make the case for Paddington, the polite, often clumsy and confused orphan from darkest Peru, who usually has a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat 'in case of emergencies'. The debate will be chaired by Nicolette Jones, author and children’s book editor of The Sunday Times. Join us for an event that will appeal to bear lovers of all ages.
  • 12:00–4:00 PM | Charlie Mackesy Drawing Station
    The illustrations of artist and author Charlie Mackesy are celebrated for distilling life’s fundamental truths and pleasures. To accompany a selling exhibition of original works depicting characters from his bestselling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, children can express their creativity with colouring sheets created by Mackesy.

Friday Late: The Jubilee Edition
Friday 10 June, 6:30–9:30 PM

Join us after hours to celebrate the best of British Creativity with an evening of workshops, performances and talks including a workshop with poet Theresa Lola.
Book here

  • 7:00 PM | Poetry Workshop with Theresa Lola
    (sign in at 6:45 PM)
    We will be writing Ode poems in this workshop. An Ode is a poem that praises, glorifies, or celebrates a person, place, experience, or thing. Whether big or small, significant, random, quirky, past or present there are things we want to appreciate. Join us to write a dedicated poem and learn techniques for using words to create striking images and memorable messages.
    Book here
  • 7.30PM | David Bowie: Tony McGee in conversation with Beth Greenacre
    Booking necessary
    Join photographer Tony McGee and Beth Greenacre, David Bowie’s former curator, as they discuss the musical and collecting legacy of David Bowie.
    Book here
  • 8.00PM | A Fizzy Fanfare – Music & Wine Tasting For The Jubilee
    Booking necessary
    Incorporated into our Friday Night Late, spend this short 20 minute recital relaxing and savouring the marriage between two great art forms, music and wine. A delectable range of sparkling wines will be on show, each one paired with a live performance of a piece of music particularly relevant to both the wine, and to the Royal Family and this Jubilee. In another life, Sotheby’s Head of UK Wine Auctions George Lacey played to audiences on BBC Radio 3, on worldwide television and in York Minster; tonight you have a private audience as he takes you on a journey through world’s both vinous and musical.
    Book here

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