This Week in London – Open House London; ‘After Dark’ at the London Transport Museum; and, Korky Paul at the Heath Robinson…

St Leonards Court Air Raid Shelter in Sheen. PICTURE: Courtesy of Open House London

Open House London kicks off this weekend and this year is being billed as a nine day ‘festival’ of the city’s architecture and urban landscapes. This year’s programme features “hidden gems” such as a World War II air raid shelter designed to appear like an old dovecote or garden storeroom in East Sheen (pictured right) and the UK’s only Brutalist Quaker Meeting House in Blackheath as well as buildings deemed at risk from demolition such as the soon to be vacated City Hall and Notting Hill’s landmark Trellick Tower. The programme also features five of London’s outstanding housing estates in a bid to celebrate those estates which helped support positive wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s also a number of important projects from some of the black, Asian and ethnic minority designers as well as annual programme favourites like 10 Downing Street, the HM Treasury building, and various churches across the metropolis. For the full programme of events (most of which are free but some of which have to be rebooked), check out https://open-city.org.uk/open-house.

• The first in a new series of ‘After Dark’ events kicks off at the London Transport Museum on Friday night. The nights, which run from 6,30pm to 9pm, come with a variety of themes starting with a night themed around the museum’s ‘Hidden London’ tours of ‘ghost’ stations and other secret sites across the Capital’s transport network. As well as the chance to explore the museum’s galleries free from crowds and enjoy the thematic fun, guests can also visit a pop-up bar featuring the museum’s signature red Routemaster cocktail. For full details of the events, head to www.ltmuseum.co.uk/news/new-season-after-dark-evening-events-kick-september.

The work of award-winning illustrator Korky Paul will be on display at the Heath Robinson Museum on Saturday. Korky Paul’s Magic of Illustration (with a Flying Visit from Winnie and Wilbur) is the first solo exhibition of his original work which includes such characters as Winnie the Witch, The Fish Who Could Wish, Professor Puffendorf and Sir Scallywag. The exhibition will provide an insight into Korky Paul’s process of illustrating and preparing illustrations by drawing on his archive of drawings and other material relating to the development of the illustrations of each book and its publication. Korky Paul, whose work “often clearly shows the influence of Heath Robinson’s humorous drawings” according to the museum, has sold over 10 million of books worldwide in more than 35 languages. Runs until 9th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org.

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This Week in London – National Maritime Museum, London Transport Museum reopen; and, Picasso at BASTIAN gallery…

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich opens its doors this Monday, 7th September. Those who visit in the first week will be able to see all the winning images in the ‘Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ competition.Entry is free but tickets must be booked in advance. For more, see www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum.

• Other reopenings include the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden which also throws back its doors on Monday. Along with displays including historic vehicles and iconic posters, the reopening includes the ‘Hidden London’ exhibition revealing London’s ‘abandoned’ Underground stations. Tickets must be booked in advance. Admission charges apply. For more, see www.ltmuseum.co.uk.

Picasso’s Cannes’ studio has been recreated in an immersive experience  at the BASTIAN gallery in Mayfair. Atelier Picasso is an installation-style exhibition and features furniture, sculptures, ceramics, drawings and prints. Highlights include portraits of the artist taken by his friend André Villers, ceramic works such as Wood Owl (1969) and Carreau Visage d’Homme (1965), lithograph and linocut posters and books including Gallieri Jorgen Expose Le Lithographies de L’atelier Mourlot (1984), and the masterpiece Minotaure caressing une dormeuse from the artist’s Vollard Suite. Admission is free. For more, see www.bastian-gallery.com. PICTURE: Courtesy of Luke Andrew Walker.

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This Week in London – Collecting COVID…

Have an item that shows how your life has changed since the arrival of the novel coronavirus in London in January? 

The Museum of London is seeking to build a collection of objects and first-hand experiences related to the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to ensure future generations of Londoners will be able to learn about and understand this extraordinary period in the city’s history.

The museum, which already holds collections related to disease outbreaks such as the 1889 -1893 and 1918 flu pandemics, is looking for both physical and digital objects related to three main themes – how the physical spaces in the city have been transformed, the effects on key and home workers, and how children and young people are reacting to and coping with the changes now that many schools are closed.

Like those in existing pandemic-related collections – such as the dress Queen Victoria wore to mourn the loss of her grandson to influenza in 1892 (pictured – right) or an 1832 cholera notice issued for St Katharine Docks (pictured – top), the COVID-19-related objects will serve as a reminder of the suffering people are experiencing but also tell the story of the pandemic’s effect on society and culture.

“Londoners, like millions of people around the world, have to find ways of coping with the new life the epidemic has imposed,” says Beatrice Behlen, senior curator at the Museum of London.

“This is a major moment in the capital’s history and we want to collect a range of objects, from clothing to hairclippers, from diaries to memes that reflect the physical and emotional response of Londoners to COVID-19. The Museum of London always strives to tell the story of London and its people. We feel it is imperative to capture this time for future generations, to help us understand how this city dealt with an extraordinary situation.“

Individuals and organisations who would like to donate objects should get in touch via social media @MuseumofLondon or email enquiry@museumoflondon.org.uk.

PICTURES: Top – Printed cholera notice issued by the Secretary of St Katharine Dock Company; Right – Dress ensemble, 1892. Worn by Queen Victoria when in mourning for her grandson, the Duke of Clarence, who died in the flu pandemic in 1893. (© Museum of London)

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LondonLife – Scientific achievement celebrated in new Quentin Blake wall at the Science Museum

A new work by acclaimed illustrator Sir Quentin Blake has gone on show in the Science Museum in South Kensington. The work, which hangs on the external walls of Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery, features five panels featuring some 20 women and men from the world of science of technology including the “enchantress of numbers”, mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815-1852 – pictured right; her ‘analytical machine’ is below), polymath Jagadis Chandra Bose (1858-1937) – the first scientist to use a semiconductor to detect radio waves, Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) – pictured with his ground-breaking spinning machine, and pilot Amy Johnson (1903-1942) – pictured alongside the De Havilland Gipsy Moth in which she made the first solo flight from Britain to Australia. London-born Blake, who had his first cartoons published in Punch when just 16-years-old, is most famous for his illustrations in children’s books including in works by Roald Dahl and David Walliams. For more on the Science Museum, head to www.sciencemuseum.org.uk.

This Week in London – London and the slave trade; a rare VC; and, Sir Elton John’s photo collection…

royal-african-company• London’s role in the slave trade during the 17th and 18th centuries is the subject of a new display opening at the Museum of London Docklands tomorrow. Called The Royal African, it tells the story of the Royal African Company, founded as a joint venture between the Duke of York (the future King James II) and leading London merchants in 1672 (the coat-of-arms of which is pictured), through looking in-depth at the life of William Sessarakoo. An African prince, Sessarakoo grew up in a Royal African Company fort at Annamaboe in modern Ghana but when his father sent him to London to be educated, he was tricked and instead sold into slavery in Barbados. He spent four years as a slave until he was freed by members of the Royal African Company who wanted to retain good relations with his father and subsequently brought him to London. The display is being housed in the museum’s London, Sugar & Slavery Gallery and can be seen until 4th June next year. Entry is free. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands. PICTURE: © Museum of London.

• A rare Victoria Cross found on the foreshore of the River Thames has gone on show at the Museum of London in the City. Mystery surrounds the medal which was given for actions at the Battle of Inkerman during the Crimean War. While a number of medals were awarded for actions in the battle, only two have a location recorded as unknown. The first is that awarded to Scottish Private John McDermond from the 47th (the Lancashire) Regiment for saving the life of Lt Col O’Grady Hall who had been injured and surrounded by the enemy which leading a charge against a Russian column while the second is that awarded to Irish Private John Byrne of the 68th (Durham) Light Infantry who rescued a wounded comrade under fire. On show alongside the medal is a record book which details the engraving on each VC issued between 18554 and 1927, the original medal design from the jewellers Hancocks and a modern copy of a VC. The medal, which was found and then reported by Tobias Neto, is on show until 15th December. For more, see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london.

Sir Elton John’s collection of modernist photography is the subject of an exhibition which opened at the Tate Modern in South Bank earlier this month. The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection features more than 150 works from more than 60 artists including Man Ray, André Kertész, Berenice Abbot, Alexandr Rodchenko and Edward Steichen. Among the subjects show in the images are Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. The exhibition runs until 7th May. For more, see www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern.

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