The work of internationally renowned artist Christo, The London Mastaba floats serenely on Hyde Park’s Serpentine, despite the reported ruffled feathers of some swimmers upset over its installation in their pool.

The floating sculpture, which takes up about one per cent of the lake’s surface, is Christo’s first public sculpture created for show in the UK.

Made up of 7,506 multi-coloured and stacked barrels reaching 20 metres high, the sculpture sits on a floating platform of high-density polyethylene cubes which has been anchored into place.

The artwork’s installation coincides with an exhibition of the work of Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude’s at the nearby Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens.

Christo & Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018 features sculptures, drawings, collages and photographs spanning more than 60 years and, according to Christo will provide “important context” for The London Mastaba.

The exhibition can be seen at the gallery until 9th September. Meanwhile, the sculpture will be floating on the Serpentine, weather permitting, until 23rd September.

And finally, the Serpentine Gallery’s annual temporary pavilion – this year the work of Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, of Taller de Arquitectura – can be seen until 7th October at the Kensington Gardens’ gallery. For more information on all three projects, see www.serpentinegalleries.org.

PICTURES: Top – The London Mastaba (pinn/licensed under CC BY-NC-ND-2.0); Right – Christo, The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake), Collage 2018: 43.1 x 55.9, Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, colour photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map, technical data, mylar and tape, Photo: André Grossmann © Christo 2018; Below – Serpentine Pavilion 2018, designed by Frida Escobedo, Serpentine Gallery, London © Frida Escobedo, Taller de Arquitectura, Photography © 2018 Iwan Baan

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SerpentineThe month-long London Festival of Architecture is underway with this year’s theme ‘Work in Progress’. Highlights of this year’s programme – which includes 220 exhibitions, installations, talks and tours – include a discussion at this year’s Serpentine Gallery (pictured) by architects SelgasCano, access to development sites including Olympic Park, Goodman’s Fields, and Nine Elms, a London Transport Museum tour of London’s first skyscraper, an installation exploring the role of coffee shop as workspace by the Not to Scale Collective, and a Routemaster tour of the West End. For more, including a downloadable PDF of the programme, see www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org.

A series of  26 ‘sestudes’ – texts exactly 62 words long – are being displayed along with the objects that inspired them in a new exhibition, 26 Pairs of Eyes, at The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury. The sestudes have been written by the likes of former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion in a bid cast new light on the objects, which are all from the museum’s collection and which range from a pencil which once belonged to Hospital Secretary John Brownlow to George Frideric Handel’s will. The display, which opens today, is on show until 6th September. Meanwhile the museum is also hosting another exhibition, Lines of Beauty, which explores the tradition of decorative plasterwork including the restored Rococo splendour of the hospital’s Court Room (donated by William Wilton in the 1740s and saved when the Foundling Hospital building was demolished in the 1920s). Admission charges apply. For more, see www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk.

A new portrait of the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has been unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. The work of Sean Henry, the painted bronze sculpture depicts a two-thirds life size Berners-Lee carrying the leather rucksack in which he keeps his laptop. It was commissioned to mark Sir Tim’s 60th birthday and is the gallery’s first commissioned portrait sculpture for seven years. On display in Room 40. Admission is free. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.

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Serpentine-Sackler-Gallery

 

Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Zada Hadid, the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery opened to the public in Kensington Gardens on Saturday. Located just a few minutes walk from the Serpentine Gallery on the north side of the Serpentine Bridge, the 900 square metre premises is partly located in a renovated Grade II*-listed building, The Magazine (built in 1805 as a gunpowder store and used by the military until 1963), as well as in a curvaceous modern extension to the north and west. The new gallery, which also features a ‘social space’ and restaurant, is named after Dr Mortimer and Dame Theresa Sackler, whose foundation provided the largest donation for the project – the largest single gift donated to the Serpentine Gallery in its 43-year history. The opening exhibition, Today We Reboot The Planet, features the large scale sculptural work of Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas. The exhibition runs until 10th November. For more, see www.serpentinegallery.orgPICTURES: Serpentine Sackler Gallery, © 2013 Luke Hayes

Serpentine-Sackler-Galllery2

The 12th in the Serpentine Gallery’s annual architecture series, this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Kensington Gardens has been designed  by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the design team behind for the Beijing National Stadium, star of the 2008 Olympic Games and commonly known as the “bird’s nest”. Twelve columns – each of which represents one of the 12 annual pavilions created so far (including this one) – support a floating platform roof standing 1.5 metres off the ground. The interior is clad in cork and the pavilion designed to “inspire visitors to look beneath the surface of the park as well as back in time across the ghosts of the earlier structures”. Open until 14th October. For more information, see www.serpentinegallery.orgPICTURE: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei © Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. IMAGE –  © 2012 Iwan Baan.

Where is it? #23…

March 30, 2012

The latest in the series in which we ask you to identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of. If you think you can identify this picture, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!

Well done to Jameson Tucker and Sean Dennis, both of whom identified this correctly as the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The gallery, which features modern and contemporary art, was created in 1970 and is housed in a tea pavilion which dates from the 1930s. Every summer since the year 2000, the Serpentine – named for the body of water which, strictly speaking, just runs through Hyde Park (although the section in Kensington Gardens is also often referred to in the same way) – has had a different temporary pavilion, designed by a leading architect, set up outside.

The Serpentine Gallery is to be expanded this year with the creation of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in The Magazine building in the gardens. Located only a short distance from the existing gallery, the new premises is being designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and is named after Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler, whose foundation made the project possible through the largest single donation ever received by the Serpentine Gallery.

WHERE: Kensington Gardens; WHEN: Daily 10am to 6pm; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.serpentinegallery.org.

On Saturday the annual Lord Mayor’s Show will crawl its way across London’s Square Mile in a three mile long procession that will involve 123 floats and 6,200 people. The show (a scene from last year’s procession is pictured) is held each year as the first public outing of the newly elected Lord Mayor – this year it’s David Wootton, the City of London’s 684th Lord Mayor, who officially takes up his new office tomorrow (11th November). Organisers have said the procession will follow its usual route despite the protestors currently encamped outside St Paul’s. Leaving Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor, at 11am, it will make its way down Cheapside to St Paul’s Cathedral, where the new Lord Mayor will be blessed, before heading onto the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Lord Mayor swears an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, and then returning to Mansion House. The the procession, the origins of which date back to 1215, will feature representatives of livery companies, educational and youth organisations, military units and other London-associated organisations and charities like St Bart’s Hospital. There will be a fireworks display at 5pm on the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo. For more information, see www.lordmayorshow.org.

• Organisers have unveiled plans for the London 2012 Festival, a 12 week nationwide cultural celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, literature, film and fashion held around next year’s Games. We’ll be providing more details in upcoming weeks and months but among the highlights in London will be a British Museum exhibition on the importance of Shakespeare as well as “pop-up” performances by actor Mark Rylance – both held as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, a musical tribute to the history of jazz at the Barbican by the London Symphony Orchestra and Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, an exhibition of the work of artist Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern and another on Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery, and ‘Poetry Parnassus’ at the Southbank Centre – the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK. The festival is the finale of the “Cultural Olympiad” – launched in 2008, it has featured a program of events inspired by the 2012 Olympics – and will see more than 10 million free events being held across the country. For more details, see www.london2012.com.

In a tradition which dates back to the late 1800s, three “poor, honest (and) young” women have been awarded a dowry by the City of London Corporation. Susan Renner-Eggleston, Elizabeth Skilton, and Jenny Furber have each received around £100 under the terms of a bequest Italian-born Pasquale Favale made to the City in 1882. Inspired by the happiness he found is his marriage to his London-born wife Eliza, Favale bequeathed 18,000 Lira to the City in 1882 and stipulated that each year a portion of the money was to be given to “three poor, honest, young women, natives of the City of London, aged 16 to 25 who had recently been or were about to be married”. To be eligible the women must have been born in the City of London or currently reside there.

• On Now: Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. Billed as the year’s blockbuster art event in London, this exhibition at the National Gallery focuses on Da Vinci’s time as a court painter in Milan in the 1480s-90s and features 60 paintings and drawings. Thanks to a collaboration between the National Gallery and the Louvre, they include two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks (it is the first time the two versions are being shown together). Other paintings include Portrait of a Musician, Saint Jerome, The Lady with an Ermine (an image of Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of Milan’s ruler at the time – Ludovico Maria Sforza, ‘Il Moro’) and Belle Ferronniere as well as a copy of Da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, by his pupil Giamopietrino. Runs until 5th February and an admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

Once the western part of King Henry VIII’s hunting ground, the 111 hectare Kensington Gardens is now primarily associated with the palace which sits at its heart.

The origins of the gardens go back to 1689 when King William III and Queen Mary II decided to make Kensington Palace (which, as we mentioned last week, was formerly known as Nottingham House) their home. Queen Mary oversaw the creation of a formal, Dutch-style garden featuring hedges and flower beds.

Queen Anne expanded the gardens after King William III’s death and commissioned landscape designers Henry Wise and George Loudon to create an English-style garden. She also ordered the construction of the Orangery which still stands to the north of the palace complex today (and houses a fine restaurant).

But it’s to Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, to whom Kensington Gardens owe its current form for it was she who in 1728, scythed off 300 acres of Hyde Park and employed Charles Bridgeman to create a new garden. His designs included damming the Westbourne stream to create the Long Water and the adjoining Serpentine in Hyde Park. He was also responsible for the creation of the Round Pond in front of the palace and, a landscape-history making move, used a ditch known as a ha-ha to separate the gardens from Hyde Park.

By the reign of King Charles II, the gardens had become fashionable for the elite to stroll in with the Broad Walk a popular promenade. But the gardens gradually fell from favour – a move exacerbated when Queen Victoria, who was born in Kensington Palace, moved to live at Buckingham Palace.

There were some changes made during the era, however. They included the creation of the ornamental Italian water gardens at the northern end of the Long Water and the Albert Memorial (see our previous story here) on the southern edge of the gardens.

Other highlights there today include the Peter Pan statue (see our earlier story on this), the Serpentine Gallery (with, in summer, a temporary pavilion), the Peter Pan-themed Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground (opened in 2000), and the Elfin Oak, a stump which originally came from Richmond Park and is carved with tiny figures of woodland animals and fairies.

There’s also a statue of Queen Victoria directly outside of Kensington Palace which, interestingly, was sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise in celebration 50 years of her reign, as well as statues of Edward Jenner, creator of the small pox vaccine, and John Hanning Speke, discoverer of the Nile.

Other facilities include a cafe and, next to the magazine, an allotment.

WHERE: Kensington Gardens (nearest tube stations are that of Queensway, Bayswater, Lancaster Gate, South Kensington, Gloucester Road and Kensington High Street); WHEN: 6am to dusk; COST: Free; WEBSITE: http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/Kensington-Gardens.aspx

PICTURE: Courtesy of Royal Parks. © Giles Barnard