LondonLife – Isaac Newton comes to life…


Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1995 statue of Isaac Newton which stands on the British Library’s piazza in King’s Cross has been granted a ‘voice’ as part of a new project called Talking Statues. Visitors who swipe their smartphones on a nearby tag will receive a call from the famous scientist – voiced by Simon Beale Russell – as part of the initiative which is being spear-headed by Sing London. It is one of 35 different statues across London and Manchester which will be brought to life by a range of public identities. Among the other statues in London which have been brought to life are Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge in Gough Square (voiced by Nicholas Parsons) and Dick Whittington’s Cat in Islington (Helen Lederer), John Wilkes in Fetter Lane (Jeremy Paxman), the Unknown Soldier at Paddington Station (Patrick Stewart) and Sherlock Holmes outside Baker Street Underground (Anthony Horowitz). The British Library and Sing London are also holding a competition to give William Shakespeare a voice by writing a monologue for the statue in the library’s entrance hall which will then be read by an as yet unannounced actor. Entries close 17th October. For more, visit

PICTURE: British Library

Around London: Talking rubbish; Conan Doyle’s lost manuscript; John Martin’s apocalypse; and, Postmodernism at the V&A…

Twenty-five talking rubbish bins will be installed in Westminster City Council area as part of a campaign to encourage people to use them more. The rubbish bins, which will look no different from normal bins, will start chatting from 13th October and will be in London for two months before embarking on a UK tour after which they may become permanent fixtures. Each bin will have a unique respond when used – from singing a part of the Hallelujah Chorus to a blast of the trombone and will be tailored to suit their location (Covent Garden’s, for example, will be operatic in nature). The talking bins, which are also being trialled in Liverpool, are being put on the streets as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Love Where You Live initiative.

A hitherto unpublished novel by Arthur Conan Doyle – creator of Sherlock Holmes – was published by the British Library this week. The Narrative of John Smith was Conan Doyle’s first novel and was written between 1883 and 1884 but the manuscript was lost on the way to the publishers. Conan Doyle rewrote it from memory but never resubmitted the work for publication. It serves as a rare insight into his creative development prior to his writing of more famous works like those featuring Holmes (the new book and an audio CD featuring Robert Lindsay, are available from the library shop). The library is also hosting an exhibition of related items in the Treasures Gallery, including one of the four notebooks that comprise the manuscript of The Narrative of John Smith, letters Conan Doyle wrote to his mother, and a “scientific and monthly magazine” he created when he was just 16. The exhibition is open until 5th January. The library is also hosting an event in which author Anthony Horowitz – commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk, which will be published in November – will talk about his work and the new novel. To be held on 27th November from 2.30pm to 4pm (admission charge applies). For more, see

On Now: John Martin: Apocalypse. The Tate Britain is hosting an exhibition featuring the works of nineteenth century British artist John Martin, in the first show dedicated to his works in more than 30 years. While something of an outsider, Martin was a key figure in the art world of his day, known for his “dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster”. The exhibition brings together some of his most famous paintings as well as previously unseen and newly restored works. Admission charge applies. Runs until 15th January. For more, see

• On Now: Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990. An “in-depth survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s”, this exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum shows how postmodernism evolved from being merely a provocative architectural movement in the 1970s through to ideas that went on to broadly influence popular culture – everything from art and film to music and fashion. The exhibition is divided into three broad chronological sections – the first focuses on architecture, the second on the “proliferation of postmodernism through design, art, music, fashion, performance, and club culture during the 1980s” and the third on the “hyper-inflated commodity culture of the 1980s”. Admission charge applies. Runs until 15th January, 2012. For more, see