Here is Apollo’s round-up of events which will be taking place in and around the United Kingdom in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Flower displays, musical performances, paintings and royal memorabilia, make up our alternative events calendar for a month of celebrations ahead – not forgetting St Paul’s Cathedral’s Service of Thanksgiving on Friday 3 June.
‘Platinum Jubilee Celebrations’
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London
25 May–26 June
An exhibition of royal memorabilia at Sir John Soane’s Museum features objects lent by staff and the local community in response to the museum’s call-out earlier this year. Decorative glassware from the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria is on display alongside commemorative works by artists such as Laura Knight and Eric Ravilious. Other highlights include magazines and limited-edition hairclips produced for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.
Sotheby’s Jubilee Arts festival
28 May–15 June
Sotheby’s London is hosting a series of events around the Jubilee, including a talk between Joanna Lumley and the broadcaster Robert Hardman, debates, poetry workshops and an exhibition of royal portraits. Highlights include an artist talk with Oluwole Omofemi, whose vivid portrait of the Queen is modelled on an archival photograph of the monarch captured ahead of her official visit to Nigeria in 1956.
‘Crown and Conflict: Portraits of the Queen in Wartime’
Imperial War Museums, London
27 May–8 January 2023
The Imperial War Museums around the country are marking the occasion with a series of exhibitions exploring the Queen’s experience of wartime. New research into the Imperial War Museum’s photography archive is the focus of the IWM London’s exhibition titled ‘Crown and Conflict: Portraits of the Queen in Wartime’, which features 18 photographs that range from the Queen’s childhood during the Second World War to her time in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The Airspace at the IWM Duxford presents an object trail which considers British and Commonwealth aviation during the Queen’s reign, while IWM North hosts projections of film and photography from the museum’s archives.
Tower of London
1 June–18 September
More than 20 million seeds have been sown in the moat of the Tower of London in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Comprising 15 different seed mixes, the vibrant display titled Superbloom will surround the Tower with 29 species of flower, including poppies and two varieties of chrysanthemums, which have been chosen to emulate the colours of the Queen’s coronation gown. ‘Superbloom’ also marks the start of a long-term project which aims to bring biodiversity to the City of London.
Southbank Centre, London
A programme of events at the Southbank Centre features a variety of musical celebrations including a performance by the Nu Civilisation Orchestra presented by Tomorrow’s Warriors. The orchestra will perform a selection of Duke Ellington’s compositions including The Queen’s Suite, a composition which was inspired by Ellington’s meeting with the Queen in 1958. Other highlights include a performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Choral Society and the Bach Choir in the Royal Festival Hall on 4 June and an exclusive screening and discussion panel of Danny Boyle’s new series Pistol (5 June) which considers the punk revolution in Britain.
‘Emblem Design Shortlist Exhibition’
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts a display of designs for the official emblem of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, including shortlisted entries to the Jubilee Emblem design competition. The competition asked young people aged between 13 and 25 to design an emblem to signify the Queen’s 70-year reign and capture the spirit of the national festivities. The winning design by Edward Roberts was chosen by a panel of graphic designers, visual artists and design professionals, experts from the V&A, the Royal College of Art, the Design Museum, and a representative from the royal household.
‘Mary Gillick: Modelling the Queen’s portrait’
British Museum, London
2 June–31 July
An exhibition at the British Museum considers the life and work of sculptor Mary Gillick (1881–1965) who was invited to model the Queen’s head for new coinage. Released directly after her accession in 1952, the design was met with much excitement for its perceived likeness. Considering the production of the coin design itself, the exhibition explores the artistry of Gillick’s effigy and her debt to the work of Renaissance portraitists.
‘She changed how we encounter sculpture’ – remembering Phyllida Barlow (1944–2023)