Love London

Sculpture in the City

I love sculpture and just to prove it, I see that the last time I posted something about London it was also about a sculpture event. I’m hoping that 2021 may be more fruitful for London outings, even if many of you are in reality desperate to leave London!

Now for Sculpture in the City... the is the 10th annual sculpture exhibition that takes place in the heart of the square mile. It comprises an eclectic mix of sculptures so everyone should find something to pique their interest.

I haven’t yet been to the newly opened Eatly right outside Liverpool Street station but I have it on good recommendation (Liora) that it is an essential stop if you are in the City. It is an Italian food emporium – shopping, restaurants, bars and even pasta making classes.

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Mayfair sculpture trail

We may have missed the Mayfair Art weekend but happily the sculpture trail established as part of the weekend will be available until the end of October.

The area has some permanent sculptures on display, such as Lawrence Holofcener’s bronze sculpture of Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill sitting on a bench on Bond Street. Until 31 October, 13 temporary sculptures have been installed for the sculpture trail.

You can follow and listen to a curated tour via the Smartify app/site.

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Talks for foodies

The British Library has rescheduled its season of Food themed talks to take place online, starting 14 September. Each talk is £5 and can be booked here.

The first talk in the series is the chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talking about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing with award-winning food writer Bee Wilson. My particular interest is the talk on 21 September in which Claudia Roden and historian Simon Schama will draw from their research and personal experience to discuss the history, evolution and culture of Jewish food. I had booked to attend this event back in May, it was of course cancelled so I was quite excited to be able to re-book. Do look through the whole season as there are some great talks in the series,

Separately, I also spotted, and booked for, Stephen Fry in conversation at the British Library on 1 October.

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Theatre at home

So we’re all stuck at home but many of our favourite theatres are making sure we can still have access to great entertainment. Some are free, others make a small charge. If you can afford to though, I encourage you to make a donation each time you watch. We do after all want all these theatres to re-open once they are able to.

This is just a small selection here. Feel free to message in if you know of any others that are worth checking out.

National Theatre are releasing a new show for viewing each Thursday, available to watch for 1 week on their You Tube channel. One Man & Two Govnors is first up, this Thursday 2 April

Hampstead Theatre have announced three shows to be streamed across three consecutive weeks. Wild is the first one available

Royal Court Theatre are showing Cyprus Avenue until 26 April. This hard hitting black comedy Cyprus Avenue tells the story of a man struggling with the past and terrified of the future. Eric Miller (Stephen Rea) is a Belfast Loyalist. He is experiencing a psychotic episode and mistakes his five-week old granddaughter for Gerry Adams. Generations of sectarian trauma convince him that his cultural heritage is under siege. He must act.

Original Theatre online are showing plays such as Art and The Croft.

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The Charterhouse

If you have ever walked around the Farringdon/Smithfield area you may well have walked round or through Charterhouse Square. The square is has The Charterhouse on one side of it. whose history dates back to 1348. The Charterhouse’s first served as a monastery to the Carthusian monks, giving its name to nearby Carthusian Street; it continues through to the present day serving as an almshouse to ‘brothers’.

The Charterhouse opened to the public in 2017 offering a range of tours in which you will not only learn about the fascinating history but will also see some stunning and very well-maintained interiors. The tours start from £12 and are available Tuesday to Saturday. My personal recommendation is to take one of the tours led by one of the Brothers (not a monk but someone who lives in the on-site almshouses). These are a little more expensive (and longer) but are well worth it for a more personalised tour. That said, if you are short of time or like many I know j can only take in so much information, then the shorter tour is I am sure still very worthwhile.

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British Library food season

11am tomorrow booking opens for the British Library’s series of talks and events as part of their now annual food season.

The season runs from 2 April through to end of May and features a number of favourites from the world of cooking such as Ken Hom, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Claudia Roden. Some events will also include tasters from restaurants such as Dishoom and Honey & Co.

Having been to previous events at the British Library, I can happily recommend this series. Each event is in the region of £16. The full list of events and booking details are available via this link.

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Tour Angels Costumes

Following on from my post about the back stage tours offered by the National Theatre, my next recommendation is a tour of Angels Costumes. Angels is one of the largest (if not the largest) and well-known costume suppliers to theatre and film productions and offers tours of its warehouse in West Hendon.

The tour lasts approximately two hours and costs £20. It is a fascinating business, ranging from the creation of customised costumes for films such as Rocket Man to curating period outfits for series such as The Crown drawn from the 8 miles worth of clothes hanging in the warehouse.

If you like film or theatre, you should definitely put this one on your list. Be warned, booking is low-tech, you will have to email them for their list of upcoming tours. The website has all the details you need.

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Backstage at the National Theatre

For anyone who is a fan of the National Theatre on the South Bank I highly recommend booking on to one of the theatre’s backstage tours. When I went a few months ago with two friends we lucked out by being the only three people that had booked that particular time slot. However, I imagine it to still be a great experience, even with a full tour of 20 participants.

Go on the tour to hear some great facts, such as why the building is so plain compared to the traditional West End theatres, see some tricks of the props department and see the sets of one or two of the current productions. There are a few other tours as well as the Backstage tour which I imagine are equally good.

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It’s been an arty week

I’ve seen two lovely but different exhibitions this week, both in small galleries – the first was the work of Tullio Crali (1910 – 2000), an Italian Futurist at the Estorick Gallery in Islington. As well as being an introduction to a painter that I had not previously heard of, the exhibition notes gave me a greater insight into the Futurist movement. Crali’s particular interest was Aeropainting. If I’m allowed a moment to be shallow, from a purely aesthetic perspective the paintings were a pleasure to look at. The exhibition is on until 11 April.

As the exhibition is relatively small and while in Islington we also did a walk around the lovely squares in Islington which I also recommend.

The second was at the House of Illustration in Granary Square. This was of a Polish Jewish émigré, George Him (1933 – 1954). Him was a graphic designer who used humour to convey messages in wartime propaganda posters for the Ministries of Food and Information. He also had a successful career working for corporate brands such as Schweppes and The Times. What really struck me was how the messages and art still felt contemporary and relevant. The exhibition is on until 10 May.

There is a charge for both these exhibitions but membership to the Art Fund gets you half price. I’m a big fan of the Art Fund card. Although it doesn’t come with the benefits of a single gallery membership (no booking, no queuing, free entry to all exhibitions etc), it does give you half price entry to exhibitions at most of London’s major galleries (except the RA) and sometimes even gets you in for free. The scheme and therefore the benefits are also nationwide.

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Enjoy art without the crowds, for free

Not a month goes by when there is not a big art blockbuster on – Picasso, Van Gogh, Hockney, Gormley etc. As an alternative to shelling out approximately £18 a ticket and being squashed into the gallery among hundreds of others, I put forward to you some other alternatives.

Commercial art galleries: These art galleries can be found in all sorts of nooks and crannies. All genres of art are covered off – contemporary, sculpture, old masters etc. No need to be nervous here about browsing without an intent to buy, staff in these places are always friendly, welcoming and happy to chat about whichever artist is being exhibited. Head to Bond Street Station or Green Park and just take a wander round.

Auction houses: A few days before an auction the lots are on view to the public. Christies, Bonhams and Sotheby’s all have regular sales of art that you might not get to see anywhere else.

Permanent collections in the big galleries: While I’m putting forward alternatives to the paid for exhibitions at the big name galleries, don’t forget they have some fabulous free art in their permanent collections. You really don’t have to wait for a Van Gogh exhibition to see the Sunflowers in the National Gallery or to for a Dali exhibition to see Metamorphosis.

Local & community art galleries: Leave central London but not too far and you will find galleries such as the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Camden Arts Centre and Gasworks in Vauxhall. 

For a fairly comprehensive list of exhibitions on take a look at the New Exhibitions site.