Visit London Blog » art exhibitions Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s On in London This Weekend: 22-24 June 2012 Thu, 21 Jun 2012 10:30:44 +0000

From outdoor musicals to adult face-painting and a very expensive Scotch egg, there’s plenty of excitement to be found in London this weekend. Here are our recommended things to do.

West End Live

Fans of musicals should pay a visit to Trafalgar Square this weekend for West End Live, a huge free festival on Saturday and Sunday afternoons which celebrates London’s West End shows from Phantom of the Opera to Wicked. For the first time ever this year, the line-up includes performances from every single West End musical currently playing. 23 – 24 Jun

Taste of London

Forty of London’s best restaurants will dish up feasts as part of Taste of London, the capital’s fine dining festival which is returning to Regent’s Park. There is also a boutique food market, delicious demonstrations from top chefs like Jason Atherton and Michel Roux Jr, a masterclass in matching champagne to the scent of flowers and the chance to win the world’s most expensive Scotch egg – priced at a mere £500. 21 – 24 Jun

BP Portrait Award

Young New York artist Aleah Chapin has won the renowned portrait-painting award with a nude picture of her family friend. The artwork, titled Auntie is on show at the free exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, alongside 54 other finalist portraits which were whittled down from 2,187 entries. Until 23 Sept

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival is an outdoor arts extravaganza that will bring theatre, dance and eccentricity to spots around Greenwich like the Cutty Sark Gardens and Greenwich Market. Don’t miss Prometheus Awakes on Friday night – a spectacular retelling of the Greek myth featuring an enormous glowing puppet at the National Maritime Museum. Another highlight this weekend is the recreation of the 19th century Greenwich Fair, which includes a show inside a 30ft pig and gravity-defying piano. 21 – 30 Jun

Zoo Lates

See the animals but leave the kids at home: ZSL London Zoo is offering grown-up fun by opening its doors after hours every Friday in June and July for Zoo Lates. A silent disco, street food, music, comedy and cabaret performances transform the zoo into a festival – and you can even turn into a creature with costumes and face-painting (we all know we’re tempted when the kids get it done). Over 18s only. Fridays until 27 Jul

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The Brilliant and the Dark at The Women's Library Sat, 25 Sep 2010 09:00:32 +0000 Images from the original performance at the Royal Albert Hall Ellen Southern and singers Ellen Southern and singers Female choir, Gaggle, performing The Brilliant and the Dark Female choir, Gaggle, performing The Brilliant and the Dark Female choir, Gaggle, performing The Brilliant and the Dark Female choir, Gaggle, performing The Brilliant and the Dark The audience at The Women's Library Audience members on the balcony of The Women's Library

On Thursday night I went to The Women’s Library in East London to see an incredible performance of The Brilliant and the Dark, a vocal composition originally performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969.

The piece, which tells stories from women’s history through the eyes of war workers, crusaders’ wives and witch hunters, was re-interpreted by female choir, Gaggle. It was preceded by a hushed and intimate arrangement lead by vocalist Ellen Southern.

I spoke to Ben White, who had initiated the project together with fellow artist Eileen Simpson.

“It started when we were invited to take part in an exhibition at the Library called Out of the Archives,” he said. “We found the piece in the library’s collection and we united with Gaggle to re-enact it. The costumes were created based on photographs of the original performance.”

Ben and Eileen are the founders of Open Music Archive, a project which aims to source and distribute out-of-copyright music.

In order to use and remix elements from The Brilliant and the Dark however, the duo had to negotiate with the copyright owners. They created a video of the remixed piece with the choir, which they exhibited in the exhibition. But for the live event they wanted to re-interpret the piece again.

“The idea is that it is different each time,” said Ben. “It is never fixed or finished.”

Out of the Archives runs until the 2nd October 2010 at The Women’s Library

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Treasures from Budapest arrive at London’s Royal Academy of Arts Tue, 21 Sep 2010 14:30:50 +0000

The Royal Academy’s Treasures from Budapest: European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele opens on Saturday and I went along for a sneak preview.

The stunning exhibition is composed of work from one of the finest art collections in Central Europe, The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, along with loans from the Hungarian National Gallery. Many of the pieces were collected by the Esterházy family, who’s various generations developed the collected works.

The tremendous breath of work includes religious painting, mythological work, landscapes and contemporary masterpieces. Among the 200 works are paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Claude Monet, Egon Schiele, Rembrandt and Pablo Picasso, covering treasures from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Standing in front of a wall which sees Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bridge at Argenteuil, and Monet’s Three Fishing Boats next to Hungarian artist Mihály Munkácsy’s Dusty Road II, curator Professor David Ekserdijan said:

“The relationships between artists most of us are very familiar with, such as Monet, Renoir, [Eduoard] Manet and [Camille] Pissarro, and the Hungarian artists will prove very fascinating for everybody.”

This statement sums the exhibition up to a tee. It’s a captivating mix of work by the Old Masters, latter-day European greats, and Hungarian artists who have incorporated the styles of these artists into their own work. For example, you only need to glance at Munkácsy’s Dusty Road II to see the J.M.W. Turner influences.

Highlights of the exhibition include the striking Peter Paul Rubens’ Mucius Scaevola before Lars Porsena, Schiele’s erotic Two Women Embracing, and detailed chalk sketches by Leonardo da Vinci. Arguably the greatest work, however, is Raphael’s Esterházy Madonna, a stunning example of Renaissance painting at its finest.

Treasures from Budapest: European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele opens on Saturday until 12 Dec.

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Eadweard Muybridge: A Peculiar Pioneer Mon, 20 Sep 2010 11:00:54 +0000

Tate Britain’s new exhibition of 19th Century photographs by Eadweard Muybridge left me thinking not just about the power of his images (which laid the foundations for cinema) but also about Muybridge’s strange personality.

Among prints of the American wilderness, stunning panoramas of early San Francisco, and pioneering stop-frame photos of animals and people in motion, there are portraits of Muybridge staring out with a severe expression from behind his wiry facial hair, and slumped moodily against a giant redwood tree.

It must have taken an obsessive personality to venture out into the wilderness and set up darkrooms in caves and mountain tops (he had to process the photos immediately after taking them in those days). Muybridge was also a canny self-promoter, changing his name various times. The spelling “Eadweard” was inspired by a Saxon King.

But halfway through the exhibition a shocking fact about his identity comes to light: he was a murderer. In 1874, on discovering that his son was not in fact his own, he killed his wife’s lover, Harry Larkyns. The following year he was tried but acquitted on the basis that the killing was “justifiable”.

If he had been jailed for the crime, none of his most amazing, groundbreaking works would be sitting in the Tate today, but you can’t help but get a sinister feeling when you look into his eyes.

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain until 16th January 2011. Entry £10, concessions £8.50

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Bruce Denny Sculpture Unveiled at St Paul’s Cathedral in London Fri, 17 Sep 2010 15:18:39 +0000 Bruce Denny and his sculpture The Conversion of St Paul Bruce Denny and The Conversion of St Paul. Photo By: Jonny Payne Bruce Denny: The Conversion of St Paul. Photo By: Jonny Payne Bruce Denny: The Conversion of St Paul. Photo By: Jonny Payne Bruce Denny: The Conversion of St Paul Bruce Denny: The Conversion of St Paul. Photo By: Jonny Payne

I witnessed the impressive new sculpture by Bruce Denny being lifted into place at St Paul’s today – and what a fantastic addition it makes to London’s iconic cathedral.

Bruce Denny only took up sculpture four years ago, but his stock has risen dramatically having already exhibited at illustrious spaces such as the Mayfair Gallery and the Albemarle Gallery soon after putting his first collection together.

I caught up with Denny at the unveiling of his new sculpture, The Conversion of St Paul, which is part of the Images of St Paul’s in the 21st Century exhibition, celebrating the 300th anniversary of Christopher Wren’s building.

The Suffolk-born artist said:  “I had some pieces in the HSBC private bank in Mayfair, which was the launching pad for this. The people who were running the exhibition at the cathedral saw the pieces and invited me to participate in this, so the reaction to my work has been incredible.”

Denny is among more than 60 artists featured in the three-month exhibition, and he’s thrilled to showcase his work at the cathedral.

“I’m the only sculptor to be selected in this exhibition, all the rest are painters”, he said. “Firstly it’s exciting to be the only sculptor, and secondly it’s exciting to have the opportunity to create such an amazing piece in such a fantastic position in the cathedral.”

The sculpture shows the moment Paul was blinded by the light from Jesus – an important moment in the bible – which has been documented in various paintings, but often with Paul already on the ground.

Denny said: “I thought it would be really good to be able to capture the point he was actually struck by the light – in sculpture it’s great to have something that’s really dynamic and exciting.”

Denny’s style is contemporary but with a classical twist, and he believes London also has that mix, so it is therefore the perfect place to exhibit his work.

“I personally really love the combination of classical and contemporary, and you see it everywhere in London – especially in the City”, he said. “You’ve got all these incredible new buildings going up in glass, and St Paul’s just sits so well amongst that.”

Images of St Paul’s in the 21st Century takes place in the crypt at St Paul’s from 21 September until 15 October. Bruce Denny’s sculpture is positioned in the South Churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral until 7 Jan 2011.

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Great Britain in London: Rehung Romantics at Tate Britain Fri, 20 Aug 2010 09:00:26 +0000

Last week, Tate Britain re-opened its Clore Galleries following a major re-hang of its Romantics collection.

We couldn’t think of a better showcase for Great Britain in our World In London series than this stunning collection, featuring more than 170 paintings exploring British romantic art.

JMW Turner, John Constable, William Blake and Samuel Palmer are among the greats whose work is on display and entry is completely free.

You can even see a few romantic representations of London as I spotted a painting of Greenwich Park by Turner and of Hampstead Heath by Constable.

Romantics at Tate Britain until 31 December 2012

Do you have any other suggestions for seeing something classically British in London? Add your thoughts to the comments below.

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Camille Silvy Launch at London’s National Portrait Gallery Wed, 14 Jul 2010 14:00:28 +0000

This morning I made the short hop across London to attend the National Portrait Gallery’s preview of pioneering photographer Camille Silvy’s work.

Silvy was one of the early founders of 19th century photography across a number of disciplines. The French artist’s work in photo manipulation also helped to set the standard for modern-day artists.

I was immediately impressed by the depth of the exhibition, which is the first ever retrospective exhibition of the photographer’s work.

The display includes Silvy’s stunning work in rural scenes, fashion portraits and snapshots of everyday Victorian life, but also artefacts such as the dress Alice Silvy wore in one of his portraits.

Arguably the most striking example of Silvy’s work is the tranquil river landscape entitled River Scene.  In this picture, Silvy used different negatives to capture the view, one for the sky and one for the landscape.

The Studies on Light series of three photos including Sun, Twilight and Fog, are also noteworthy. In Twilight – the most alluring – a man is buying his newspaper from a young boy in a deserted street, while a blurred object lurks in the dimming light, creating a mystical aura.

Blurring, the use of multiple negatives, and the burning-in method used in River Scene are just a few examples of Silvy’s pioneering techniques.

Make sure you don’t miss Silvy’s Daybooks, already part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. These include fantastic examples of early fashion photography beginning in 1867 with Miss Valpy.

Camille Silvy at the National Portrait Gallery opens tomorrow until 24 October.

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Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts Tue, 06 Jul 2010 14:30:28 +0000

John Singer Sargent is one of the late-nineteenth century’s most celebrated portrait painters, but little was known of his earlier work in seascapes and coastal scenes – until now.

Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts provides a fascinating look at Sargent’s early work and his early stages of development as an artist.

During his youth, Sargent travelled widely, and this exhibition includes work from the artist on his travels aged just 18. By the age of 20, Sargent was already producing awe-inspiring work.

His 1876 seascapes capture his transatlantic crossing perfectly, especially the turbulent Atlantic Storm and the calm and seducing Atlantic Sunset.

A year later on a trip to Brittany, the young Sargent painted stunning coastal scenes, encapsulated by En Route Pour la Pêche (Setting Out to Fish). His terrific attention to detail on the figures in this beach scene shows early signs of his focus on portraiture later in life.

An extensive collection of detailed sketches allude to Singer’s fascination with figure and form, culminating in numerous paintings of local children on a trip to Capri in 1878.

Royal Academy curator Ann Dumas said: “We’re familiar with his highly successful work as a portraitist, so it’s very interesting to discover the extraordinarily talented and precocious artist he was in his earlier years.”

See Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts from 10 July to 26 September.


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Fiona Banner creates the 2010 Duveens Commission at London’s Tate Britain Tue, 29 Jun 2010 10:00:34 +0000 Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne Duveens Commission Harrier and Jaguar by Fiona Banner. Photo By: Jonny Payne

Fiona Banner was charged with the enviable task of creating this year’s Duveens Commission at London’s Tate Britain – and she doesn’t disappoint.

During a sneak preview yesterday, I was completely blown-away as two full-scale decommissioned fighter jets filled the space in front of me.

As you enter the Tate, you cannot escape the incredible sight of a Sea Harrier jet suspended from the ceiling. The nose is positioned inches from the floor, with the wings filling the upper spaces of the gallery. Banner has painted feathers on the wings to mimic the plane’s name, and it looks like a bird strung-up by its feet, ready to be plucked.

In the North Duveens gallery a Sepecat Jaguar plane lays almost helplessly on its back, gleaming with a mirror-like finish.

Banner said: “This work is about how you react rather than a big black and white statement. For instance, that the Jaguar is polished is incredibly important because you see yourself reflected in it. You can’t detach yourself from the object. Though in some ways it’s a radical object, it’s also always a fragmented object because it’s constantly being animated by the space and whoever’s looking at it.”

Banner admits to being “seduced” by fighter planes and she has often studied these objects in her work – from drawings to Airfix models. She also produced a sculptural piece from the tail fin of a Harrier Jump Jet ten years ago. She said she was fascinated by “how something that was such a monster could be so beautiful”.

See Fiona Banner’s Duveens Commission at the Tate Britain. Until 3 Jan.

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Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine Gallery Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:00:41 +0000

Wolfgang Tillmans, the 2000 Turner Prize winner, has been a leading light in abstract photography and photo manipulation and this show is a stunning sample of his work.

The Lighter Series, in which Tillmans challenges the idea of photography as simply a two-dimensional medium, is a stunning collection of bold coloured prints with creases and crinkles transforming them into sculptural items.

Some of Tillmans’ other celebrated work is on display here, such as the simple Paper Drop, a photo of a curled image forming a tear-drop.

Among his new work is Space, Food, Religion, busy montages of images, pamphlets and journalism.

One focuses on consumerism with a photograph of graffiti stating “OBEY CONSUME DIE / THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS”. Another challenges the issues of paedophilia in the Catholic Church, the repression of homosexuality and genital mutilation.

It’s clear that Tillmans’ work continues to push boundaries in new and innovative ways.

It’s his first major exhibition in London since 2003, so don’t miss out!

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine Gallery 26 Jun-19 Sep

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