The best exhibitions this week in London, from Tom of Finland to Gardening Bohemia (May 16 to 23)

Beryl Cook, Elvira’s Café, 1997 (Courtesy of the Beryl Cook Estate, John Cook 2023)
Beryl Cook, Elvira’s Café, 1997 (Courtesy of the Beryl Cook Estate, John Cook 2023)

With access to hundreds of museums and galleries a tube ride away, we Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to a fun day out. But sometimes the capital’s embarrassment of riches means it’s tricky to pick where to go.

Do you disappear into the National Gallery for an afternoon, pop by some of the independent galleries in Marylebone, explore East London’s exciting offerings, or wander around the Tate?

Look no further every week: here’s our pick of five extraordinary exhibitions to see in London right now.

Gardening Bohemia: Bloomsbury Women Outdoor

Vanessa Bell, Garden at Monk's House, Sussex, 1947 © Bradford Museums & Galleries (© Estate of Vanessa Bell. All rights reserved, DACS 2023 / Bridgeman Images)
Vanessa Bell, Garden at Monk's House, Sussex, 1947 © Bradford Museums & Galleries (© Estate of Vanessa Bell. All rights reserved, DACS 2023 / Bridgeman Images)

The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the gardens of members of the Bloomsbury set (the 20th century group of high-profile English intellectuals), Gardening Bohemia focuses on the outdoor spaces cultivated by Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell, writer Vita Sackville-West and photographer Lady Ottoline Morrell.

Garden Museum, to September 29; gardenmuseum.org.uk

Beryl Cook / Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland, Untitled, 1964 (© 1964 Tom of Finland Foundatio n)
Tom of Finland, Untitled, 1964 (© 1964 Tom of Finland Foundatio n)

The works of cultural icons Beryl Cook and Tom of Finland are displayed in the same space for the first time: the British artist’s comical scenes next to the Finnish artist’s homoerotic figures, the works playful and political. With the inclusion of archival materials, the survey explores their interconnected ideas concerning gender, sexuality, taste and class.

Studio Voltaire, to August 25; studiovoltaire.org

Monumental: Tipping The Scales of Historical Design

Joaqium Tenreiro, Credenza (Photography by David Brook, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery)
Joaqium Tenreiro, Credenza (Photography by David Brook, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery)

This group exhibition presents the works of nine pioneering designers, including Le Corbusier, Serge Mouille, Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Sergio Rodrigues and Joaquim Tenreiro, and explores questions about scale and perception.

Carpenters Workshop Gallery, to September 22; carpentersworkshopgallery.com

London Craft Week

Green Remembrance, Nicholas Rena (Courtesy of the artist and Joanna Bird at Pitzhanger Manor)
Green Remembrance, Nicholas Rena (Courtesy of the artist and Joanna Bird at Pitzhanger Manor)

There are just a few days left of London Craft Week, a jam-packed programme of events that take place across the city to celebrate global craftsmanship. Some of the city’s most prestigious institutions – from the Natural History Museum, the Barbican Centre – are running workshops, talks, fairs and exhibitions in conjunction with the festival.

Various locations, to May 19; londoncraftweek.com

Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520-1920 at Tate Britain

Ethel Walker, Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa (Photo ©Tate (Joe Humphrys))
Ethel Walker, Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa (Photo ©Tate (Joe Humphrys))

This extraordinary exhibition brings together the work of 110 professional women artists in Britain who have been forgotten by art history. A massive undertaking, and a statement of intent from Tate Britain, the Standard described the show as “strikingly powerful”.

Tate Britain, to October 13; tate.org.uk