• The almost month-long London Design Biennale kicks off at Somerset House today under the theme of ‘The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations’. The fourth edition of the biennale is artistically directed by the Nieuwe Instituut – the Dutch national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture – and takes over the entirety of Somerset House. Among the exhibits is the India pavilion (pictured above) featuring a multi-sensory evocation of the essence of a contemporary Indian city chowk – an open market at the junction of streets – through the visual metaphor of a charpai – a traditional woven daybed, Malta’s large-scale ‘village-square’ installation that merges traditional city planning with the Phoenician-Maltese tradition of fabric production and dyeing of the multiple colours of Phoenician purple, the Ukrainian Pavilion which features am interior construction symbolising the country’s industrial, natural resource, and creative richness and a series of external projects which tell stories about new design collaborations in times of crisis for Ukraine and the vital role of design in creating new progressive connections. There’s also the chance to see the Ai-Da Robot, the world’s first humanoid robot artist, which will make history by showing her unique ability to design objects. Running alongside is the EUREKA exhibition which will share design-led innovation from leading research centres. Runs until 25th June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/london-design-biennale-eureka-2023.
• A new exhibition highlighting the flora and fauna of London’s canals has opened at the London Canal Museum in King’s Cross. Many of the canals were derelict by the end of the 20th century but have received a new lease of life in recent times as leisure destinations. These days, they provide a “highway” for fauna including birds, fish and mammals to move in and out of the capital, some of which is showcased in this new display. Entry with general admission and for an extra fee, guided narrowboat trips along The Regent’s Canal are available on selected days. For more, see www.canalmuseum.org.uk.
• Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, a suffragette, daughter of the last Maharajah of the Punjab, and god-daughter to Queen Victoria, has been commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. The plaque marks Faraday House in Hampton Court, granted to the princess and her sisters as a grace and favour apartment by Queen Victoria. Also known as ‘Apartment 41’, the property – which was named after scientist Michael Faraday – was home to Princess Sophia for more than 40 years and her base when she was campaigning for women’s suffrage. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.
• The ‘Polar Silk Road’ – a channel opened up thanks to melting Arctic Sea ice – is the subject of a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum. Gregor Sailer: The Polar Silk Road features 67 photographs taken by acclaimed Austrian artist and photographer Gregor Sailer showcasing manmade structures – from isolated research centres to Icelandic geothermal power stations – captured across four countries in the Arctic circle. There’s also a short film discussing the impacts of the climate crisis. The exhibition is free to visit. For more, see www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/the-polar-silk-road.html.
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