This Week in London – The ‘Concert of Antient Music’ recalled; National Portrait Gallery announces reopening date; and, Heath Robinson’s Shakespeare illustrations…

The Foundling Museum. PICTURE: dvdbramhall/Flickr (licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The 18th and 19th century concert series – ‘Concert of Antient Music’ – is explored in a new display at the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury. Located in the Handel Gallery, Music for the King: The Concert of Antient Music looks at the story behind the establishment of this concert series which were held at various locations in London annually from 1776 to 1848 and which only featured works composed at least 20 years prior. The concerts attracted patronage from the likes of King George III and members of the nobility – in fact, the King was such an admirer of Handel’s music that he instructed an extra concert – a performance of Handel’s Messiah – be given annually for the benefit of the Royal Society of Musicians. The display includes portraits of composers including Handel, Geminiani and Corelli as well as those of singers and other performers along with the index of performances and payment records for performers, letters, tickets and programmes of the concerts. Admission charge applies. Runs until 8th October. For more, see https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/event/music-for-the-king-the-concert-of-antient-music/.

The National Portrait Gallery has announced it will reopen its doors for the first time since 2020 on 22nd June this year. The reopening will follow a major redevelopment project, ‘Inspiring People’, which includes a comprehensive redisplay of the gallery’s collection, spanning from the Tudor period to today, as well as the restoration of Grade I-listed buildings and historic features. The new design – the work of Jamie Fobert Architects working in partnership with Purcell – will incorporate the Blavatnik Wing, the entire first floor encompassing nine galleries, which will explore society and culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It will also see the return of the gallery’s East Wing to public use as the Weston Wing, restore original gallery spaces and create new retail and catering facilities.

On Now: Heath Robinson’s Shakespeare Illustrations. This exhibition at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner features Robinson’s illustrations from works including Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1902), Twelfth Night (1908) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1914) as well as some of the illustrations he created for a never published complete works of Shakespeare commissioned by the publishing house of Jonathan Cape. The exhibition can be seen until 19th March. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org/whats-on/heath-robinsons-shakespeare-illustrations/.

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A Moment in London’s History – The first Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree…

The Trafalgar Square tree in 2019. PICTURE: SHansche/iStockphoto.
The 1947 Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. PICTURE: Open Government Licence/National Archives.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.

The native spruce has been a gift from the people of the city of Oslo – the capital of Norway – to the people of Britain since 1947, presented as a thank you for the support given Norway during World War II.

Special permission had to be given for the 40 foot high tree to be illuminated. The Ministry of Fuel decided to do so on the basis that “the lighting will not be for business purposes: the tree is classed as ‘a charitable gift’ – a goodwill gift to cheer London.”

A sizeable crowd gathered to witness the lights being turned on.

Among the official party was the Ambassador of Norway. He told the crowd that the tradition of a Norwegian Christmas Tree in London started when King Haakon VII was residing in London during World War II.

The ambassador said that each year during the king’s residency, the Norwegian Navy undertook an operation to bring a tree from Norway for the King so he could celebrate Christmas “looking on a Christmas tree grown on Norwegian soil”.

In 2016, UCL academic Ingrid A Medby described the annual presenting of the tree as a “diplomatic gesture”, “a token of gratitude” and a “symbol of geopolitical ties”.

This year’s 21 metre-high tree had its 500 lights illuminated on 1st December (the tree is traditionally lit on the first Thursday in December), It had been chopped down on 19th November in the Nordmarka forests near Oslo and travelled 1,000 miles by land and sea to reach Trafalgar Square.

This Week in London – Newly restored ‘Nativity’ back on display for Christmas; Tutankhamun 100 years on; and, ‘Museum of the Moon’ at Greenwich…

Following a restoration, early Renaissance artist Piero Della Francesca’s The Nativity has gone on display in The National Gallery in time for Christmas. The painting, created circa 1470, had been in the possession of Piero’s family until it came to London in the 1860s. Then in a poor condition, it was acquired by The National Gallery in 1874. It has now been restored by the gallery’s senior restorer Jill Dunkerton with panel work by Britta New in a process which has shed new light on the painting. This includes the understanding that while it was previously framed and displayed as an altarpiece, instead the work is now believed to have been a very grand, domestic painting which Piero may even have painted for himself. To complement this new interpretation, the gallery has been able to acquire a carved walnut frame, of almost exactly the correct dimensions, date and probable origin. You can see a video of the conservation process below. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

• Marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt in November, 1922, the British Museum has opened a new display looking at the way the ancient Egyptian pharaoh was viewed, both by his contemporaries and by people today. The free Asahi Shimbun Display Tutankhamun Reimagined features artwork by contemporary Egyptian graffiti artist Ahmed Nofal alongside a statue of Tutankhamun which was discovered before his tomb was even found. Accompanying the display is a trail through the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery (Room 4) in which visitors can learn more about Tutankhamun and his times. Can be seen until 29th January. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

Artist Luke Jerram – of Gaia fame – is returning to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich next week with his artwork Museum of the Moon. The large scale installation, which will hang in the Painted Hall, features NASA imagery of the lunar surface. Visitors are invited to lean back on daybeds to experience the installation which is accompanied by a surround sound composition by BAFTA-winning composer Dan Jones. Runs from Tuesday, 13th December, to 2nd February. Admission charge applies. For more, see https://ornc.org/whats-on/museum-of-the-moon/.

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This Week in London – Bonfire Night; Treason at The National Archives; two Turner’s return after 100+ years; and, science fiction at the Science Museum…

A previous Bonfire Night in London. PICTURE: teo73/iStockphoto

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November…” It’s Bonfire Night this Saturday night and fireworks displays will be held across London with key displays at Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park and Wimbledon Park. Rather than list them all here, Visit London has put together a handy guide which you’ll find here.

A section of the Treason Act. PICTURE: Courtesy of The National Archives (Open Government Licence)

What did the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, the establishment of the Church of England, the creation of the United States of America and the extension of UK voting rights have to do with acts of treason? Treason: People, Power & Plot, a new exhibition at The National Archives in Kew, examines the role treason has played across the span of 700 years of history. On display will be the original Treason Act, passed in 1352 during the reign of King Edward III (pictured), and the Monteagle Letter – which suggested the recipient should not attend parliament on 5th November, 1605 (effectively tipping them off about the Gunpowder Plot) as well as Guy Fawkes’ confession, a document containing the charges levelled against King Henry VIII’s ill fated wife, Anne Boleyn, and the United States’ Declaration of Independence. Accompanying the display will be a range of online and on-site events. The free exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until 6th April. For more, see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/treason/.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) The Harbor of Dieppe, 1826 oil on canvas 68 3/8 in. x 88 3/4 in. (173.67 cm x 225.43 cm) Henry Clay Frick Bequest. Accession number: 1914.1.122

Two ground-breaking JMW Turner paintings – Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile and Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening – have returned to the UK for the first time in more than 100 years as part of a new exhibition at The National Gallery. The Turner on Tour exhibition looks at the artist’s life-long fascination with ports and harbours and highlights the regular sketching tours he took within Europe that were central to his fame as an artist-traveller, as well as his “radical approach to colour, light and brushwork”. The two paintings, which have not been since in the UK since 1911, were exhibited in New York in 1914 at the Knoedler Gallery. They were subsequently acquired by the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick and have remained in the United States ever since but are now being generously lent by The Frick Collection. Can be seen until 19th February in Room 46. Admission is free. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.

On Now: Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination. This exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington features more than 70 objects and uncovers connections between significant scientific innovations and celebrated science fiction works. On display is classic literature that has inspired new understandings of the world as well as set-pieces and props from iconic films and TV – everything from a Lieutenant Uhura costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to the Dalek from Doctor Who and a Darth Vader helmet created for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. There are also contemporary artworks from across the globe that explore alternative futures for humanity. The exhibition is accompanied by an events programme. Runs until 4th May. Admission charges apply. For more, see sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-fiction.

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This Week in London – London’s history of executions; myth-making around Alexander the Great; and, Édouard Manet’s ‘Eva Gonzalès’ examined…

Charles I vest, Executions 2022 © Museum of London

• The history of public executions in London – spanning a period of some 700 years – is the subject of a landmark new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in West India Quay. Executions explores how capital punishment became embedded in the city’s landscape – from the first recorded public execution in 1196 to the last in 1868 – and looks at the rarely told and often tragic human stories behind them. Items on display include an intricately woven silk vest said to have been worn by King Charles I at his execution outside the Banqueting House (pictured), a 300-year-old bedsheet embroidered with a love note in human hair and personal items which once belonged to prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. Visitors can also stand in front of the Newgate Prison door, marking the last steps for prisoners heading to the scaffold, and see a dramatic recreation of the Tyburn “Triple Tree” gallows. Visitors will also learn about the 200 offences that became punishable by death and the spectacle and rituals of execution days as well as what led celebrity criminals to the gallows. Admission charge applies. Runs until 16th April next year. For more, see https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/exhibitions/executions.

Marble head of Alexander © Museum of Classical Archaelogy

The first exhibition exploring the rich history of story-telling around one of the most famous figures of the ancient world – Alexander the Great – opens at the British Library tomorrow. Alexander the Great: The Making of a Myth features almost 140 exhibits from 25 countries including astrological clay tablets, ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts as well as comics, films and video games. It reveals how Alexander’s character has been adapted and appropriated by different cultures and religions, with conflicting interpretations. Runs until 19th February. Admission charge applies. A season of in-person and online events accompanies the exhibition. For more, see www.bl.uk/events/alexander-the-great-the-making-of-a-myth.

• Portraits of the Euro 2020 England men’s football squad and its manager, Gareth Southgate, will be shown at the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery from today. The free exhibition, This is England, features the most successful men’s national team – finalists in Euro 2020 – since the winners of the World Cup in 1966, from Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham to Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling. The paintings are the work of artist Matt Small and were commissioned by the FA and exhibited at the St George training ground during the Euro 2020 finals. The paintings can be seen until 19th February. For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/events/this-is-england.

Edouard Manet, ‘Eva Gonzalès’, 1870

Édouard Manet’s 1870 portrait of Eva Gonzalès is the subject of a new exhibition at The National Gallery opening on Friday. The painting was considered by the early 20th century to be the most famous modern French painting in the UK and Ireland. The exhibition, the first in a new series of ‘Discover’ exhibitions to be staged in the Sunley Room with the aim of exploring well-known paintings in the collection through a contemporary lens, examines the lifelong artistic dialogue and the complexities of the friendship and mentorship between Manet and Gonzalès, his only formal pupil. It also looks at the broader context of female self portraits from the 18th to early 20th centuries, alongside portraits of women artists by male friends, husbands, and teachers The free exhibition includes works by Eva Gonzalès, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Stevens and Laura Knight. Runs until 15th January. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/discover-manet-eva-gonzalès.

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This Week in London – Cezanne at the Tate; Freud at The National Gallery; Diwali on the Square; and; a new Blue Plaque…

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-6)/Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift of Helen Tyson Madeira, 1977.

A “once-in-a-generation” exhibition of Paul Cezanne’s paintings, watercolours and drawings opened at the Tate Modern this week. The EY Exhibition: Cezanne features around 80 works including key examples of his iconic still life paintings, Provençale landscapes, portraits and bather scenes. There are also more than 20 works which have never been seen in the UK before including The Basket of Apples (c1893, from the The Art Institute of Chicago), Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-06, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Still Life with Milk Pot, Melon, and Sugar Bowl (1900-06, from a private collection). The display traces Cezanne’s (1839-1906) artistic development and also examines the relationships which were central to his life, particularly that with his wife Marie-Hortense Fiquet and their son Paul, immortalised in paintings such as Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair (c1877) and Portrait of the Artist’s Son (1881-2). Admission charge applies. Runs until 12th March. For more, see www.tate.org.uk.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Roses, (1947-8)/Oil on canvas; 105.5 x 74.5 cm
Courtesy of the British Council Collection
© The Lucian Freud Archive. All Rights Reserved 2022/ Bridgeman Images

A landmark exhibition to make the centenary of the birth of 20th century artist Lucian Freud (1922-2011) has opened at The National Gallery. The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives is the most significant survey of his paintings in a decade and brings together output from across his seven decade career, everything from early works such as Girl with Roses (1940s) to Two Children (Self-Portrait) (1960s) and famous late works such as The Brigadier (2003–4). The display also shows how Freud positioned himself in the tradition of court painters such as Rubens or Velázquez through works such as HM Queen Elizabeth II (2001). Can be seen in the First Floor Galleries until 22nd January. Admission charge applies but in response to the cost of living crisis, the gallery is allowing visitors on Friday nights to pay as much as or little as they like. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/the-credit-suisse-exhibition-lucian-freud-new-perspectives.

Diwali on the Square will take place at Trafalgar Square this Sunday. The free annual family-friendly event will open with 200 colourfully dressed dancers in the main square followed by performances from artists drawn from London’s Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities. From 1pm to 7pm, there will also be a host of activities including Neasden Temple’s Diwali Festival Experience, dance workshops, yoga and meditation, sari and turban tying, comedy, a children’s zone, and, henna and face painting. Meanwhile, an array of South Asian food stalls will be serving up delicious traditional and fusion, vegan and vegetarian cuisine.  For full details, head here.

Lawyer Hersch Lauterpacht, who played a key role in prosecuting the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials and whose belief that states should be held accountable for crimes against their own people led to lasting change in international law, has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. Born in what is now Ukraine, Lauterpacht moved to London in 1923, originally to study at the LSE and lived with his family at 103 Walm Lane in Cricklewood for 10 years (it was here that his son Elihu – who went on to be a prominent lawyer himself – was born in 1928 and where Lauterpacht was living when he was naturalised as a British citizen in 1931). For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

Nicholas Lyons was elected as the 694th Lord Mayor of the City of London last week. He succeeds current Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny and will take office on 11th November for a one-year term.  The annual Lord Mayor’s Show takes place on 12th November, which will be followed by the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 28th November at Guildhall where the Prime Minister will deliver a keynote speech.

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LondonLife – ‘Antelope’ debuts on The Fourth Plinth…

Samson Kambalu’s Antelope was unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth last week. The sculpture – the 14th commission since the Fourth Plinth programme began – depicts the restaged of a photograph taken of Baptist preacher and educator John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley which was taken in 1914 in Nyasayland (now Malawi) at the opening of Chilembwe’s new Baptist church.

Chilembwe, who is shown wearing a hat in defiance of rules forbidding Africans from wearing hats in front of white people and is depicted as almost twice the size of Chorley, led an uprising in 1915 against British colonial rule, triggered by the mistreatment of refugees from Mozambique and the conscription to fight German troops during World War I. He was killed and his church destroyed by the colonial police.

Though his rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, Malawi, which gained independence in 1964, celebrates John Chilembwe Day on January 15th and the uprising is viewed as the beginning of the Malawi independence struggle.  

The artist Samson Kambalu was born in 1975 in Malawi, and is now associate professor of fine art and a lifelong fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.

“I am thrilled to have been invited to create a work for London’s most iconic public space, and to see John Chilembwe’s story elevated,” he said in a statement. “Antelope on the Fourth Plinth was ever going to be a litmus test for how much I belong to British society as an African and a cosmopolitan. Chilembwe selected himself for the Fourth Plinth, as though he waited for this moment. He died in an uprising but ends up victorious.”

This Week in London – Open House Festival; Winslow Homer at The National Gallery; and, a celebration of wood engravings…

An image from the Open House Festival 2020 PICTURE: Phineas Harper/Courtesy Open House Festival
An image from the Open House Festival 2020 PICTURE: Sophie Cunningham/Courtesy Open House Festival

The Open House Festival, a two week-long celebration of buildings and neighbourhoods in London, kicks off today. Now in its 30th year, highlights from this year’s programme include the introduction of nine “headline neighbourhoods” – among them Aldgate, Somers Town, Battersea, and the Greenwich Peninsula, each of which will feature a specially-curated programme of free events. Buildings open for tour include the Bank of England, the recently refurbished Leathersellers’ Hall, and ROOM, an inhabitable sculpture by Anthony Gormley forming part of Mayfair’s Beaumont Hotel as well as pioneering homes such as the David Adjaye-designed ‘Fog House’ in Clerkenwell, the Khan Bonshek-designed ‘Two-up Two-down House’ in Stratford, and Richard and Su Rogers’ high-tech house in Wimbledon. There are also tours of housing estates including Dawson’s Heights designed by Kate Macintosh for Lambeth and infrastructure demonstrations including the new Rolling Bridge designed by Tom Randall-Page at Cody Dock in Canning Town as well as walks, talks and other event. The festival runs until 21st September. For the full programme, see https://open-city.org.uk/open-house-festival.

Winslow Homer ‘The Gulf Stream’, 1899 (reworked by 1906)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

• The first in-depth exhibition in the UK of the work of late 19th and early 20th century American painter Winslow Homer has opened at The National Gallery. Winslow Homer: Force of Nature features more than 50 paintings and watercolours from public and private collections spanning over 40 years of the artist’s career. Highlights include his paintings from the front lines of the American Civil War such as Prisoners from the Front (1866), those depicting the lives of African Americans during the period known as Reconstruction such as A Visit from the Old Mistress and The Cotton Pickers (both 1876), paintings from his travels to England and the Caribbean such as Inside the Bar (1883), A Garden in Nassau (1885), and The Gulf Stream (1899, reworked by 1906), and works created in the final years of his life such as Driftwood (1909). The exhibition can be seen in the Ground Floor Galleries until 8th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/winslow-homer-force-of-nature

• A celebration of some of finest wood engravings of the past 100 years and those who made them opens at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner on Saturday. Scene Through Wood, which comes from the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, celebrates the founding centenary of the British Society of Wood Engravers. It traces wood engraving from its origins – objects on show include an early woodcut by Albert Dürer (1471-1528), its subsequent development by 18th and 19th century naturalist Thomas Bewick and the establishment of the SWE in 1920. Included is the work of notable 20th century artists such as Robert Gibbings, Eric Ravilious and Gertrude Hermes as well as more recent figures such as Monica Poole, Edwina Ellis, Simon Brett and Anne Desmet. Admission charge applies. Runs until 11th December. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org/whats-on/scene-through-wood/.

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LondonLife – Lonely vigil…

PICTURE: Laura Chouette/Unsplash

Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square.

Lost London – Northumberland House…

London: Northumberland House painted by Canaletto in 1752.

Among a number of mansions built between the Strand and the River Thames, the property was built for Henry Howard, first Earl of Northampton, in about 1605.

Then known as Northampton House, the Jacobean mansion at Charing Cross was built on the site of a former convent (roughly located on the corner of the modern-day Northumberland Avenue and The Strand).

The property was built around a courtyard with turrets at each corners and had a great hall and apartments for the various members of the household. It featured a four-storey high stone gateway opening onto the Strand and a large garden at the rear but it didn’t apparently reach all the way down to the river unlike many of the neighbouring properties.

The house passed to the Earls of Suffolk and then in the 1640s was sold to Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland, at the discounted price of £15,000, as part of a marriage settlement (hence the name change).

Various improvements were made over the years – including relocating the principal living rooms from the Strand side of the building to that facing onto the gardens and adding extra wings which protruded into the gardens.

In the 1770s, Robert Adam was commissioned to redecorate the state rooms on the garden front – the ‘Glass Drawing Room’ at Northumberland House was one of his most celebrated interiors. Shortly after this, part of the Strand front had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1780.

Northumberland House on the Strand, shortly before it was demolished in 1874. PICTURE: London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty

By the mid-19th century, the mansions on The Strand had all been demolished and the Metropolitan Board of Works wished to acquire Northumberland House to construct a road across the site connecting The Strand to the Embankment.

The Duke of Northumberland resisted but after a fire substantially damaged the property, he agreed to sell which he did for £500,000 in 1874. The house was subsequently demolished and Northumberland Avenue built across the site.

A remnant from the property – a stone lion, known as the ‘Percy Lion’ – was taken from the property by the Duke in 1874 and placed atop Syon House, the Duke’s seat in London’s west. An archway from the property, designed by William Kent, is now the principal entrance to the Bromley by Bow Centre.

This Week in London – Young V&A marks 150 years; West End LIVE; and, Hackney’s Ayah’s Home commemorated…

Young V&A creative Story Telling session. PICTURE: Courtesy of Young V&A

The V&A is celebrating 150 years since the opening of the Bethnal Green Museum (now known as the Young V&A) with the launch of a year long celebration on Friday. The museum, which opened in 1872 as the first ever museum in east London, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment and is scheduled to reopen in summer, 2023, as a new national museum dedicated to children to the age of 14. To mark the 150th – and a year until Young V&A’s opening – the museum has launched a year-long ‘Reinvent Festival’ with the first event – an online summit called Sparking Creative Futures headlined by children’s author, Ed Vere, and live-illustrated by Beano’s youngest ever artist, Zoom Rockman – on Friday. On Sunday, Young V&A will celebrate its birthday with families at Rich Mix’s ‘Everyone a Maker’ event with free, fun activities. Further events will be held over the year including pop ups at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Great Get Together on 23rd July featuring large-scale, creative construction and making sessions for children and families using playful building materials by Hackney-based architect Emilie Quene. For more (including the full programme of events), see www.vam.ac.uk/blog/museum-life/reinvent-festival-young-va-summer-family-events.

Europe’s biggest free musical theatre festival – West End LIVE – will transform Trafalgar Square into an open-air theatre this weekend. A joint production by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre, the event will feature hundreds of performers, creatives and production staff, showcasing the best the West End has to offer. No tickets are required for the free event. For more, head to www.westendlive.co.uk.

An English Heritage Blue Plaque has been unveiled on a house in Hackney, commemorating the hundreds of stranded and sometimes abandoned South and East Asian nannies, known as ayahs, who sheltered there in the early 20th century. The Ayah’s Home at 26 King Edward’s Road housed around 100 women a year between 1900 and 1921 after which the home moved to another address nearby. The ayahs were women who served the British in India and other colonies as children’s nannies, nursemaids and ladies’ maids and who were sometimes required to care for babies, children and their sea-sick mothers on the long sea voyage from the colonies to England but who were generally not expected to serve the families once they arrived, instead either contracted to wait until needed for the return journey or take a passage home. The Hackney shelter, which also welcomed ‘amahs’ – nursemaids of East Asian origin, appears to have been the only one of its kind in Britain for almost the whole of its existence. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

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This Week in London – Disney’s French influence; Eid in the Square; and, Sir Isaiah Berlin’s Blue Plaque…

Beauty and the Beast, 1991, Peter J Hall, Concept art, gouache, marker and ink on paper © Disney

• The connection between Disney’s animated films and French 18th-century art is explored in an exhibition at the Wallace Collection. Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts, which is being held in collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, features more than 120 examples of production artwork and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and the Walt Disney Archives alongside approximately 30 18th-century artworks. The latter include Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s much-loved painting, The Swing (c1767), which provided inspiration for Disney films including Beauty and the Beast (1991), Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013) and which is being showcased for the first time since its recent conservation. The exhibition, which was previously at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, can be seen until 16th October. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.wallacecollection.org.

• Eid in the Square returns to Trafalgar Square this Saturday for the first time since 2019. The day, held from noon to 6pm to mark the celebration that follows the end of Ramadan, features Islamic inspired art, culture and comedy on the main stage alongside a feast of food stalls from across the world. Performers include Baha Yetkin Sufi Ensemble, Nafees Ifran & Qalandar Qawwali Band, Dur Dur Band, Star Children’s Choir, spoken word poet Hussain Manawer, comedy sketch show favourites, ‘The Halalians’, Alif New Beginnings, and award-winning music producer Naughty Boy who will present his Naughty Boy Kitchen pop-up serving signature dishes fusing his British upbringing and Pakistani heritage. Other family-friendly activities being held on the day including calligraphy, storytelling, mehndi, face painting, and drama and poetry workshops, as well as a variety of sports activities including Muslim Girls Fencing and Sisterhood FC.

World renowned philosopher and historian of ideas, Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at his former Holland Park home. Berlin lived at 33 Upper Addison Gardens for nearly six-and-a-half years while attending St Paul’s School, then located in Hammersmith – a period he later referred to as “my golden childhood”. The house, which was purchased by his timber merchant father, was the family’s first permanent home in the UK following their arrival from Latvia. Berlin was also commemorated this week with a plaque on another of his former homes, this one in Hampstead. The Heath and Hampstead Society plaque was placed on the property at number 49 Hollycroft Avenue which was where Berlin’s family moved in October, 1928. While he left for Oxford University that same month, he spent much time there during his university vacations. Oxford was Berlin’s main base for the rest of his life. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

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This Week in London – Ukraine’s culture on show; spotlight on the news; St George’s Day; and, London Transport’s posters at the Depot…

Easter egg, a dove of peace, Ukraine, 1970-1980. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

• A free display on the cultural heritage of Ukraine has opened at the British Museum. Located in the museum’s ‘Collecting the world’ gallery, Ukraine: Culture in crisis features objects drawn from the museum’s collection including a 5,500-year-old painted storage jar, hand-coloured lithographs of a man and a woman in Ukrainian dress dating from about 1813, and, an Easter egg decorated with the dove of peace (pictured) dating from between 1970 and 1980. There are also objects from the Greek colony of Olbia established on the Black Sea between 600 and 300 BC including a black glazed, fluted amphora from southern Italy dating from between 300 and 250BC. For more, head to www.britishmuseum.org. To learn more about the protection of cultural heritage in Ukraine visit icom-poland.mini.icom.museum/icom-poland-appeal-help-us-help-ukraine.

The earliest surviving printed news report in Britain of the 1513 Battle of Flodden and an original BBC radio script of the D-Day landings are among exhibits at the British Library’s first major exhibition putting a spotlight on the role news plays in our society. Other exhibits on show at Breaking the News, which opens on Friday, include smashed hard drives used by The Guardian to store Edward Snowden’s hard files. The display explores what makes an event news and the meaning of a free press as well as the ethics involved in making the news, news objectivity and how the way we encounter news has evolved over five centuries of news publication in Britain. Runs until 21st August. Admission charge applies. For more, head to www.bl.uk/events/breaking-the-news.

St George’s Day celebrations return to Trafalgar Square this Saturday. The free family event, which runs from noon until 6pm, will feature live music by the likes of string quartet Bowjangles, hoedown collective Cut A Shine, brass band Das Brass and folk headliner James Riley & the Rooftop Assembly. There will also be appearances from St George with his Dragon, Divine stilt walkers and the Pearly Kings and Queens as well as a range of food stalls. Other family-oriented activities including The Knights Training School, the Storytorium, a dragon Selfie station, face painting, upcycled arts and crafts, and a games area.

The art and poster stores at the London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton Town will be open to the public this weekend. The Art of the Poster Open Days, which run from today until Sunday, will give the public the chance to view some of the more than 30,000 posters in the depot’s collection and hear from expert guides about how posters have characterised London and its transport over the past century. There will also be talks from artists, curators and historians and visitors have the chance to design their own posters in creative workshops as well as, on Saturday and Sunday, riding the London Transport Miniature Railway. Timed tickets must be booked in advance. Admission charges apply. For bookings, head to www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/depot/art-poster.

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This Week in London – Japanese works at the Queen’s Gallery; Raphael at The National Gallery; Food Season at the British Library; and, Enid Marx’s Blue Plaque…

Itaya Hiroharu, folding screen paintings, 1860. Sent to Queen Victoria by Shōgun Tokugawa Iemochi, 1860.

A first-of-its-kind exhibition featuring the Royal Collection’s Japanese works of art opens at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, tomorrow. Japan: Courts and Culture, features more than 150 works including rare porcelain, samurai armour, woodcut prints, embroidered screens and a range of diplomatic gifts sent during the reigns of monarchs ranging from King James I to Queen Elizabeth II. Among the highlights are a pair of folding screens sent to Queen Victoria in 1860 from the Japanese Shōgun Tokugawa Iemochi which will go on public display for the first time since they arrived at the British court 162 years ago. The screen paintings, which depict the changing seasons, were not thought to have survived but in recent years research has revealed the two screens were the work of Itaya Hiroharu, one of the artists likely to have worked on Queen Victoria’s gifts. Also included in gift was a set of lacquer furniture, spears inlaid with glittering mother of pearl, and swords made by leading court swordsmiths – all of which will also be on display. Admission charge applies. Runs until 26 February, 2023. For more, see www.rct.uk.

Raphael, The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari (‘The Ansidei Madonna’) (1505), © The National Gallery, London

• Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, one of the first-ever exhibitions to explore the complete career of this giant of the Italian Renaissance opens at The National Gallery on Saturday. The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael, which was supposed to be held in 2020 and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, features more than 90 exhibits. They include a rare gathering of Raphael’s paintings of the Virgin and Child including Ansidei Madonna (The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari) (1505), two bronze roundels – The Incredulity of Saint Thomas and The Descent into Limbo – from Santa Maria della Pace which have never previously exhibited outside Italy and which are attributed to Cesarino Rossetti after designs by Raphael, and a room devoted to Raphael’s frescoes for Pope Julius II’s private apartments. There are also several of his original print designs, an survey of ancient Rome he undertook for Pope Leo X, tapestry designs including Saint Paul Preaching at Athens (workshop of, or on behalf of, Pieter van Aelst, active about 1490–1533, after design by Raphael, about 1517–19), and portraiture from his final years including Portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1518) and Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1519). Admission charge applies. Runs until 31st July. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/the-credit-suisse-exhibition-raphael.

• The British Library’s Food Season kicks off today with almost two months of online and in-person events inspired by the cookbooks, recipes and culinary stories in the collection. Highlights include chef Ainsley Harriott talking about his life and career with food-writer Melissa Thompson, food-writer Maunika Gowardan celebrating India’s breadth of food cultures with chefs and food-writers including Ravinder Bhogal, Romy Gill, Kavi Thakrar and Farokh Talati, chef and broadcaster Andi Oliver discussing Jessica B Harris’ 50- year career examining the history and meaning of food for the African diaspora, and psychologist Kimberley Wilson chairing a discussion about the food prisoners are fed inside British correctional institutions and if it impacts rehabilitation. Now in its fifth year, the 2022 Food Season is supported by KitchenAid. For the full programme of events, head to www.bl.uk/events/food-season.

Textile designer Enid Marx – famous for her seat fabric designs on the London Underground – has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. The plaque was unveiled this week at her former home at 39 Thornhill Road where she lived and worked for more than 30 years. Marx, who shared the house with her partner, Margaret Lambert, and friends Eleanor Breuning and Grace Lambert (Breuning continues to live at the house today), had a purpose-built studio in the back garden which remains in similar condition to when she left it almost 25 years ago. Alongside her work for the London Underground, Marx also is known for her design of postage stamps marking the start of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign in 1953. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.

London Pub Signs – The Admiralty…

PICTURE: Ewan Munro (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

With a claim to be the most central pub in London, this Trafalgar Square pub takes its name from its proximity to…well, all things naval.

This includes Trafalgar Square itself, of course, and its centrepiece of Nelson’s Column (commemorating the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson) as well as the the location of Admiralty Arch behind the building and the Old Admiralty Building just down Whitehall.

The Grade II-listed Italianate building, which was designed by FW Porter and dates from 1871, has only been a pub since 2014 when it was acquired by Fullers.

It was originally constructed for the Union Bank and later became a branch of the National Westminster Bank. In 2005, the building became home to Scottish restaurant Albannach before becoming a pub almost 10 years later.

Fittingly, the pub – officially located at 66 Trafalgar Square – features an interior inspired by HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.

It was opened on 23rd October, 2014, just two days after Trafalgar Day by former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West of Spithead and Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny. A magnum of beer was reportedly ceremonially smashed on the pub’s exterior in keeping with naval tradition.

For more, see www.admiraltytrafalgar.co.uk.

This Week in London – Anne Boleyn’s heraldic badge at Hampton Court; and, St Patrick’s Day parade returns…

Queen Anne Boleyn’s carved heraldic badge. PICTURE: Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.

Five hundred years after Queen Anne Boleyn is recorded as first appearing before her future husband, King Henry VIII, her carved heraldic badge has gone on show at Hampton Court Palace. The blackened oak carving, which features a crowned falcon atop a tree stump flowering with Tudor roses, was discovered by antiques expert Paul Fitzsimmons. While it had been covered in centuries of soot, grime and wax, conservation saw the removal of a layer of black paint to reveal the original colouring of white, gold and red. Subsequent research revealed the carving’s similarity to the 43 surviving falcon badges with the ‘frieze’ above the windows and hammer beams in the palace’s Great Hall, leading researchers to believe that the carving is an element of the room’s original Tudor scheme. Records show one Michael Joyner was paid to create carvings of the King’s and Queen’s badges. Following Boleyn’s downfall and Henry VIII’s subsequent marriage to Jane Seymour, craftsmen were paid to overpaint the former Queen’s white falcons in black, severing their association with her. Boleyn, who first appeared before Henry playing the role of Perseverance in a court masque, first started using the white falcon as her device around the time she was created Marquess of Pembroke, shortly before her public marriage to Henry in 1533. After her marriage and coronation, new imperial falcon badge was created, featuring the crown and sceptre. The badge can be seen in the Great Hall (included in general admission). For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/.

St Patricks’ Day will be marked in London this weekend for the first time in three years with a parade through central London and festivities in Trafalgar Square. The annual parade of Irish marching bands and dancers will start at Green Park at noon on Sunday and wind its way through the streets to Whitehall. Trafalgar Square, meanwhile, will play host to a line-up of Irish talent from noon to 6pm on Sunday with family-friendly concerts, storytelling, children’s films and youth performances, as well community choirs, schools, dance troupes and children’s workshops featuring camogie games, medal-making and face painting as well as a food and drinks stalls. For the full programme, head to www.london.gov.uk/st-patricks.

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LondonLife – Protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…

PICTURES: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

Demonstrations in support of Ukraine have taken place in numerous places in London since Russia launched its invasion on 24th February, including in Trafalgar Square.

LondonLife: Trafalgar Square fountain by night…

PICTURE: Matthew Browne/Unsplash

One of two fountains in Trafalgar Square, this one commemorates Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Beatty, and unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester along with its counterpart commemorating Admoral Earl Jellicoe in 1948. Busts of both admirals can be see in the north wall. The fountain’s bronze sculpture and its counterpart were designed by Sir Charles Wheeler.

This Week in London – ‘The Blue Boy’ returns; Heath Robinson’s children’s stories; and, architectural wonders…

‘The Blue Boy’, Thomas Gainsborough PICTURE: © Courtesy of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California

A century after it last appeared in the UK, Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy returns to the National Gallery off Trafalgar Square from next Wednesday. The showing of the painting, which left for the United States in 1921 after it was purchased by rail and property businessman Henry E Huntington, marks the first (and possibly the last) time it has ever been lent out since that date. The full-length portrait, which was created in 1770 by Gainsborough during a period he spent in Bath, can usually be found at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The painting is being shown alongside four other works that, among other things, demonstrate Gainsborough’s interest in Flemish artist Sir Anthony van Dyck’s work from 100 years earlier. They include Van Dyck’s George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lord Francis Villiers (1635) and Lord John Stuart and his Brother, Lord Bernard Stuart (about 1638) as Gainsborough’s works Elizabeth and Mary Linley (about 1772) and Mrs Siddons (1785). The display can be seen for free in Room 46 from 25th January until 15th May. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.

An exhibition showcasing artwork from Heath Robinson’s children’s stories opened at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner last Saturday. Heath Robinson’s Children’s Stories features works from books including The Adventures of Uncle Lubin (1902), The Child’s Arabian Nights (1903), Bill the Minder (1912) and Peter Quip in Search of a Friend (1922). Entry is included in general admission charge. Runs until 15th May. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org.

Shortlisted and winning entries from The Architecture Drawing Prize 2020 and 2021 have gone on show at Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The competition, run in partnership with Make Architects and the World Architecture Festival, is now in its fifth year with awards made across three categories – digital, hand-drawn and hybrid. Entry is free (pre booking required). Runs until 20th February. For more, see www.soane.org/exhibitions/architecture-drawing-prize-2021.

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This Week in London – The ‘RRS Sir David Attenborough’ at Greenwich; the Amazon explored at the Science Museum; and, Christmas at The National Gallery…

The RRS Sir David Attenborough in Liverpool. PICTURE: By Phil Nash from Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 & GFDL.

Find out what it’s like to live and work in the Earth’s polar extremes at Greenwich from today. The three day ‘Ice World Festival’ centres on the British Antarctic Survey’s vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is visiting Greenwich before beginning its first mission to the Antarctic. Visitors will also be able to meet real polar scientists and explorers and see the Boaty McBoatface submersible as well as treasures from the National Maritime Museum’s polar collection including relics from HMS Erebus and Terror and items belonging to Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton. While the ship can be seen from the dockside, a limited number of tickets are available for walk-up visitors to the festival (advanced booking tickets have sold out). Runs from today until 30th October. Admission is free. For more information, head here.

More than 200 images – captured by Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado over seven years – explore the rich diversity of the Amazon in an exhibition at the Science Museum. Amazônia provides a close-up look at one of the most unique environments on the planet through Salgado’s eyes, including panoramic scenery and the Indigenous peoples of the region (Salgado spent time with 12 different Indigenous groups over his period in the Amazon). Runs until March next year. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/amazonia.

Father Christmas with return to The National Gallery for selected dates in November and December. The gallery’s Christmas experience will provide children with the chance to have their photo taken with Santa in his grotto, listen to an elven story in the winter forest set and receive a special token which they can exchange for a gift at the Elven Sorting Office. Meanwhile, Hendrick Avercamp’s painting A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle (about 1608–9) will be enlarged and reproduced on a canvas to provide a scenic backdrop for the activities. Admission charge applies. Bookings are now open. For more, head to www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/meet-father-christmas.

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