London May 2013: Events, Exhibitions And Best Things To Do

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, May 10, 2013

At the Royal Air Force Museum, Dambusters 70th Anniversary Exhibition commemorates the historic campaign and the men of 617 Squadron with a series of events, some of which are free. These include a Dambusters Display, showing artefacts from the Dambusters Raid not normally on view to the public (May 13-17); a Dambusters Night on May 17 featuring film screenings, 1940s music and the opportunity to try on an authentic period uniform; and a special edition of the Hendon Model Show dedicated to the men of 617 Squadron.

The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace hosts In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion from May 10 to October 6. The exhibition traces the changing styles of the 16th and 17th centuries and the spread of fashions through the royal courts of Europe. Paintings, drawings and prints from the Royal Collection, among them works by Sir Anthony van Dyck, Hans Holbein the Younger and Rembrandt, will go on display alongside rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories.

The British Library’s new exhibition is Propaganda: Power and Persuasion . The first show of its kind, it examines how different states have used propaganda during the 20th and 21st century, both at times of peace and in war. Posters, films, cartoons and textbooks will all be used to display the various ways leaderships have sought to influence their people. It runs from May 17 to September 17.

Always hugely popular, the Chelsea Flower Show is set to make more impact than ever this year as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Repeat visitors will again see an impressive selection of show gardens and bountiful displays, but a special photography exhibition showing pictures from shows of the past 100 years will be just one of the components that make this year’s event such a special occasion.

Another anniversary is being celebrated by the Museum of London Docklands, which is 10 years old this year. It marks the occasion with the opening of Estuary (May 17 – October 27). The exhibition brings together the work of 12 artists who have been inspired by the outer limits of the Thames. Film, photography and printmaking are among the formats used by the dozen contemporary artists, across a range of works that seek to highlight the diversity of activity this stretch of the Thames supports and sustains.

The weather may still be variable, but Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre continues regardless. The 2013 season opens on May 16 with To Kill a Mockingbird. The enduringly popular 1960 novel is adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. It will be performed until June 15.

There’s another reason to visit the Southbank Centre this month, with the launch of its Festival of Neighbourhood. The summer-long event (taking place from now until September 8) will see the Southbank Centre converted partially into a giant urban garden, hosting nine large-scale allotments on its grounds. These sites, created from reclaimed wood and windows, can be adopted by different groups and volunteers are being asked to participate in the project by constructing window boxes, tending gardens and so on. Other events forming part of the festival include the showing of lumberjacks-inspired circus show Timber! and the creation of temporary art installations across the centre. To find out more, or register your interest as a volunteer, see the festival microsite .

Clerkenwell Design Week this year takes place from May 21-23 (so not quite a week after all) and again sees scores of local design-based businesses and studios join forces to celebrate and showcase Clerkenwell’s creative communities. Anyone with an interest in design can participate in events, which include workshops, presentations, product launches and debates.

The Saatchi Gallery hosts an unusually short exhibition this month: Festival des Métiers – A free-to-attend rendezvous with Hermès craftspeople. From May 21-27, the event will showcase 10 different Hermès crafts at the gallery, with the fashion company’s craftspeople working in situ at the exhibition just as they would in their workshops in France. Fans of the brand can expect to see its silk ties being printed as they watch and can observe watches, ties and jewellery being constructed over the course of the week.