• London’s Chinatown will come alive this Sunday to mark the Year of the Dog. The biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia feature a parade – which kicks off at 10am with a dragon and lion dance in Charing Cross Road before making its way through Chinatown where between noon and 6pm people get up close to lion dances, take selfies with Chinese zodiac animals and enjoy traditional Chinese food. Festivities in Trafalgar Square, meanwhile, kick off at 11am with the Lions’ Eye-Dotting Ceremony at noon while there’s entertainment including live performances, family-friendly entertainments and martial arts displays at a series of West End locations including Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue between noon and 5pm. For more, check out the Visit London guide. Meanwhile the Museum of London Docklands is also celebrating the Year of the Dog with a range of free cultural events on Friday (the actual date of the New Year) including everything from ribbon dancing classes to taekwondo taster lessons, calligraphy and a spectacular dragon dance. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands. PICTURE: Paul (licensed under CC BY 2.0)
• The works of one of Canada’s greatest modernist painters, David Milne (1882-1953), have gone on show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. David Milne: Modern Painting follows Milne’s career chronologically, charting his development as an artist as he moves from New York to the war ravaged landscapes of Europe and back to the fields and open skies of North America. Highlights include Fifth Avenue, Easter Sunday (1912), the watercolour Bishop’s Pond (1916), Montreal Crater, Vimy Ridge (1919) – one of his most famous war paintings, White, the Waterfall (1921) and Summer Colours (1936). Runs until 7th May. Admission charges apply. For more, see www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk.
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A scene from Chinese New Year celebrations heralding the Year of the Rooster held in central London last weekend. PICTURE: Garry Knight/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
• A major exhibition of the works of John Singer Sargent has opened at the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square this week. Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends – which has been organised in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – brings together a collection of the artist’s intimate and informal portraits of his friends including Robert Louis Stevenson, Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin. Sargent (1856-1925), born the son of an American doctor in Florence, studied in Italy and France before scandal led him to move to England where he established himself as the country’s leading portrait painter. He made several visits to the US during his career, painting portraits as well as decorative paintings for public buildings including the Boston Public Library and Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition runs until 25th May. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.npg.org.uk. PICTURE: Courtesy of the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio
• It’s Chinese New Year and the celebrations kick off in London’s Chinatown in Soho this Sunday. The day starts with a parade at 10am which runs from Duncannon Street to Shaftesbury Avenue featuring floats and Chinese lion and dragon teams. It will be followed by a free programme of events in Trafalgar Square which, starting at noon, include music, dance, acrobatics and martial arts. Other events are taking place at a range of locations across the West End. For more information, check out www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/chinese-new-year-2015.
• Ever wondered how your appetite is shaped by food? A new free exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington, Cravings: Can Your Food Control You? explores how the brain, ‘gut brain’ and bacteria influence our diets. Along with personal stories and objects as well as the use of science and tech to present the display, those who attend the exhibition will also be able to take part in a ground-breaking neurogastronomy experiment to explore how our senses influence appetite (the experiment is also available online – follow the link below). There’s also a digital quiz where you can consider the ethical challenges that cravings, appetite control and food regulations pose. Runs until January next year. For more, see www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/cravings.
• The history of the Foundling Hospital’s Boy’s Band is the subject of a display at the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury. Foundlings at War: Military Bands is part of a series of exhibits supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund exploring the hospital’s links with the military. The Boy’s Band was established in 1847 and boys who joined increasingly went on to serve in the military. Runs until 10th May. For more, see www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk.
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• Chinese New Year celebrations will go off with a bang in Chinatown in the West End this Saturday. The festivities, which are the largest outside Asia, will include a lion dance, fireworks, and a variety of performers – all gathered to herald the start of the Year of the Snake. The celebrations will kick off with a parade which will leave Trafalgar Square at 10am and end at Rupert Street in Chinatown at 11am. At 12pm, dignitaries will gather in Trafalgar Square for the Dotting of the Eye ceremony which will bring the dragons and lions to life and performances will the take place until 5.30pm. At 5.55pm a fireworks display will mark the end of the day’s celebrations. For more, see www.chinatownlondon.org/page/chinese-new-year-2013/378.
• Like orchids? Want to escape the gloom of winter? Kew Gardens are celebrating the exotic plant with a dazzling display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Thousands of orchids will be on show as part of ‘Orchids at Kew’ and the plants will be used to recreate the giant waterlily flower, Victoria amazonica, which can normally be seen in the conservatory in the summer months. There are special behind the scenes tours, food and an adult education course for the truly interested. Charges apply. Opening on Saturday, 9th February, the display can be seen until 3rd March. For more, see www.kew.org.
• The late artist Lucian Freud has donated a treasured portrait – Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot’s L’Italienne ou La Femme à la Manche Jaune (The Italian Woman, or Woman with Yellow Sleeve) – to the nation in gratitude for the welcome his family received when they arrived as refugees from Berlin. The Corot has been allocated to the National Gallery by the Arts Council England and was done under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows people to transfer works of art into public ownership instead of paying inheritance tax. The painting – which was last seen in a show at the Louvre, Paris, in 1962, and was previously owned by Hollywood Golden Age star Edward G. Robinson – is on display on Room 41 of the gallery. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.
• On Now: Man Ray Portraits. The first museum exhibition to focus on the photographic portraiture of the 20th century artist Man Ray, this display at the National Portrait Gallery features more than 150 vintage prints taken between 1916 and 1968. Subjects include everyone from Catherine Deneuve and Ava Gardner to Salvador Dali and Aldous Huxley. The majority of works have never been exhibited in the UK before. Runs until 27th May. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.
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• The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has launched five month-long festival looking at the East India Company and the mark it’s left on London and the world. The festival, which was launched late last month as a new gallery, Traders: The East India Company and Asia, opened its doors at museum, features musical performances, film screenings, games, discussions, story-telling and debates surrounding the company and its legacy as well as ‘curry and a pint’ nights and tea parties. Also included are two days of celebrations marking Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, on 12th November, and Chinese New Year on 18th February. For more on the events and the museum, see www.nmm.ac.uk.
• London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton is holding a family open weekend this Saturday and Sunday with ‘make and take’ workshops, object handling sessions and rides on the open air miniature railway and life-sized heritage vehicles. Among those on hand to answer all your questions will be London’s Emergency Response Unit. Open between 11am and 5pm both days (last admission 4pm). An admission charge applies. To book or to find out more information, see www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/events.
• On Now: Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter of Moonlight. The first major show of Grimshaw’s work for more than 30 years, this exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery includes more than 60 paintings from his earliest Pre-Raphaelite inspired landscapes to the Impressionist style seascapes of his last years along with drawings, manuscripts and photographs on loan from public and private collections and descendants of the artist. Grimshaw (1836-1893) was a popular Victorian artist known for his evocative scenes of the urban environment at night and for his landscapes. Runs until 15th January (admission charge applies). There is also a special late viewing (the gallery’s first) on 21st October. For more on the exhibition, see www.guildhallartgallery.cityoflondon.gov.uk/gag/.
• London will celebrate Chinese New Year this Sunday as it once again hosts the largest celebrations outside of Asia attracting some 250,000 people from around the globe. The event programme, which celebrates 2011 as the Year of the Rabbit, kicks off at 11am on the main stage in Trafalgar Square with firecrackers at noon, a Lion and Dragon performance at 1.10pm and dance and song during the afternoon culminating in a finale just before 6pm. There will also be a stage in Shaftesbury Avenue with performances throughout the day. Roads in the area will be closed for the event.
• You no longer have to be in London to walk through the galleries of the Tate Britain or the National Gallery. Both institutions are among 17 around the world taking part in the Google Art Project which allows web surfers to virtually “walk” around the museum using the organisation’s Street View technology and turn 360 degrees to view the artworks in situ on the walls. The project also allows viewers to look through images of more than 1,000 artworks and, in addition, each institution has selected one artwork which then captured in “super high resolution” and then placed on line (Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors‘ for the National Gallery, Chris Ofili’s No Woman, No Cry for the Tate). See www.googleartproject.com for more.
• Cyclists have ridden the distance to the moon and back 13 times – 10 million kilometres – since the launch of Mayor Boris Johnson’s cycle scheme. Transport for London released figures this week showing riders have made more than 2.5 million journeys on the “Boris bikes” since the scheme was launched six months ago. The TfL has announced plans to expand the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme to new areas of east London including all of the Borough of Tower Hamlets, North Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Bow, Canary Wharf, Mile End and Poplar by spring 2012. Almost 110,000 people are now signed up to the scheme. www.tfl.gov.uk.
• The youngest Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain is to be granted the Freedom of the City of London in a special ceremony next month. Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in a front line squadron during the battle.