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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10 of London’s most curious (and historic) graves – 3. William and Agnes Loudon…

One of the more eccentric grave monuments in London, this massive triangular shaped memorial in a Pinner churchyard was erected by landscape gardener and horticultural writer John Claudius Loudon for his parents.

Located in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, the massive Grade II-listed monument is shaped like an inverted V with an arch piercing the base and features what appears to be a stone coffin stuck through it about halfway up the structure.

On one end, it bears an inscription to Scottish merchant William Loudon, who died on 29th December, 1809, and, on the other end, another to his wife Agnes, who died on 14th October, 1841.

It’s been suggested – and the words on the ornamental ironwork in the arch, ‘I Byde My Time’, are seen as supporting this theory –  that the reason for the odd design lies in the terms of a will which stipulated Loudon and his wife would only inherit a sum of money if their bodies stayed above ground.

That theory kind of falls apart, however, given that they are actually both buried below the monument. Another theory suggests the monument was deliberately designed to show that the couple were socially above – or perhaps closer to God – than the rest of those buried in the graveyard.

John Claudius Loudon, who died in 1843 – just a couple of years after the monument was erected, is buried at Kensal Green.

WHERE: St John the Baptist Church, Church Lane, Pinner (nearest Tube station is Pinner); WHEN: Reasonable hours; COST: free; WEBSITE: www.pinnerparishchurch.org.uk

PICTURE: Top – Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0/cropped); Right – Peter Reed (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0/cropped)

This Week in London – Smithfield Market celebration; Hampton Court’s annual food festival; and, Edwardian illustrators…

The 150th anniversary of the Smithfield Market will be celebrated at a street party this weekend. The Museum of London and Smithfield Market are joining in offering the free event which, reminiscent of St Bartholomew’s Fair, will feature food, music and historical re-enactments. Performers include Nadia Rose, Stealing Sheep, Girls Rock London, Gandini Juggling and Horrible Histories. Designed by Sir Horace Jones, the redesigned market – which is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, was officially opened on 24th November, 1868. Runs from 11am to 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more, see www.culturemile.london/festival/smithfield-150/.

Hampton Court Palace is hosting its annual food festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Highlights include The Kitchen theatre featuring live cookery demonstrations from top chefs and gastronomic experts including Nadiya Hussain, Melissa Hemsley, Dr Rupy Aujla, Rhiannon Lambert, Lisa Faulkner and Michel Roux, Jr and The Classroom, which will be offering hands-on masterclasses such as sourdough workshops and ‘naked cake’ decorating with the BBC Good Food Cookery Team, gin and cocktail masterclasses and kids’ cookery. There will be stalls from more than 100 food providers offering everything from oysters to sausages, sweet treats and ales as well as a bandstand with live music and activities including vintage games, shire horses and a circus school. The festival runs from 25th to 27th August. Free entry to the palace and gardens is included with the ticket. For more, see www.hrpfoodfestivals.com.

• The work of largely forgotten Edwardian female illustrators Alice Bolingbroke Woodward and Edith Farmiloe is going on show in a new exhibition at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner. Peter Pan and the Other Lost Children, which opens Saturday, has been designed around 19 of Woodward’s original watercolour drawings from the first Peter Pan and also includes seven watercolours from her drawings from a 1930s edition of Alice in Wonderland. The display, which also includes works by Farmiloe, has been timed to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918. For more, see www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org.

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Around London – Aliens at the Royal Observatory; celebrating spring at the British Library; Blue Plaques for Heal and Mendelssohn; and, Barocci at the National Gallery…

It’s alien season at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and to kick off a series of special events around all things extra-terrestrial, a new exhibition looking the history with things not of this earth opens tomorrow. Alien Revolution, which looks at man’s obsession with intelligent alien life – a trend which began in the century following Copernicus’ discovery that the earth was a planet and the sun a star, will be held in the observatory’s Astronomy Centre until August. Runs until 8th September. Admission is free. Other events include shorts courses looking at science fiction and astronomy, family events and special planetarium shows such as We Are Aliens which runs in April. For more on the events, see www.rmg.co.uk.

The British Library’s Spring Festival kicks off tomorrow with five days of film, design and fashion including the unveiling of a new artwork by fashion illustrator and artist Julie Verhoeven. Verhoeven – who has worked for fashion houses Louis Vuitton, Versace and Mulberry – will be joined by Dylan Jones, editor-in-chief of GQ, to talk about what inspires them while others among fashion’s leading names will be contributing postcards in a one night only pop-up exhibition – Late at the Library: Fashion Flashback – which will also feature talks involving Jones and illustrator Tanya Ling. The event also features a spring market held in the library’s piazza at which designers will be selling wares inspired by the library’s collection. Other events include the showing of a series of short films.  For more about the Spring Festival events, head to www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/spring-festival-2013/index.html.

Furniture designer Sir Ambrose Heal was honoured with the unveiling of an English Heritage Blue Plaque at his former home in Pinner yesterday – the date marking 120 years since he joined the family firm, Heal’s. The house – at Fives Court, Moss Lane in Pinner – was Sir Ambrose’s home from 1901-1917 during the period when he began exerting his influence over the business, having won a silver medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition for a bedroom suite. Heal was knighted in 1933 and appointed a royal designer for industry in 1939. Meanwhile, a Blue Plaque for 19th century composer Felix Mendelssohn was unveiled at 4 Hobart Place earlier this month, commemorating the house he stayed in at the height of his career during his numerous visits to London. The house was the home of the Hanoverian embassy secretary, Karl Klingemann, at the time. For more on Blue Plaques, see www.english-heritage.org.uk.

On Now: Barocci – Brilliance and Grace. This landmark exhibition at the National Gallery is the first major monographic exhibition dedicated to the art of 16th and 17th century Italian artist Frederico Barocci – pioneer of the Baroque style. Highlights include his spectacular altarpiece, The Entombment of Christ, from the coastal town of Senigallia, the Last Supper – painted for Urbino Cathedral, as well as two altar pieces from Rome – Visitation from the Chiesa Nuova and Institution of the Eucharist from Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Also included are portraits, smaller devotional paintings, Aeneas’ Flight From Troy – his only secular narrative, and more than 65 preparatory drawings, pastel studies and oil sketches. Runs until 19th May. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.