The later years of the life of Japan’s greatest artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), is the subject of a new exhibition at the British Museum. Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave features his iconic print, The Great Wave (c1831), along with works he created during the last 30 years of his life until his death at the age of 90. Around 110 works – major paintings, drawings, woodblock prints and illustrated books depicting everything from iconic land and seascapes, to deities, mythological creatures, flora and fauna, and beautiful women – will be on display with about half the artworks changed over midway through the exhibition due to conservation reasons. Alongside The Great Wave, other key works, which come from the British Museum’s own collection as well as loans from Japan, Europe and the US, include Hokusai’s print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji (published around 1831-33), a depiction of Red Shoki (the demon queller) – borrowed from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and his brush drawing manual Hokusai manga. The exhibition, which opens today, runs until 13th August in Room 35. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org. PICTURE: British Museum

The fashions of Cristóbal Balenciaga are on show at the V&A in the first ever UK exhibition to explore his work and influence. Marking the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous Paris house, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion focuses on the latter part of his career in the 1950s and 1960s, a period during which he dressed some iconic figures and introduced revolutionary shapes such as the ‘baby doll’, the tunic and the sack. More than 100 garments and 20 hats are featured with highlights including ensembles made for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, dresses and hats belonging to Sixties fashion icon Gloria Guinness and pieces worn by one of the world’s wealthiest women, Mona von Bismarck. Opens on Saturday and runs until 18th February. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/balenciaga.

British female cartoonists and comic artists are celebrated in an exhibition on now at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury. The Inking Woman features the work of more than 80 artists as it traces the evolution of British women in their role as satirists, humorists and story-tellers. Among them are Mary Darly, 18th century print seller, artist and the author of the first book on the art of caricature, Principles of Caricatura (1762), Marie Duval, an early artist for the 19th century magazine Judy, Sally Arts, Grizela and Kathryn Lamb – cartoonists for mainstream publications like Punch and Private Eye, political and joke cartoonists, strip cartoonists and caricaturists and comic artists and graphic novelists. Runs until 23rd July. Admission charge applies. See www.cartoonmuseum.org.

• An eight foot high snail will be touring The Royal Parks from the end of the month as part of The Royal Park’s Mission: Invertebrate. Funded with £600,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery, the project aims to inspire people with the “amazing story of nature’s unsung workforce” and help park managers gain better insight into the 4,100 invertebrates species which live in The Royal Parks’ 5,000 acres. The snail, which will be visiting the parks during the half-term break and summer holidays, will bring with it interactive story-telling and a range of free, creative activities. For a full itinerary of the snail’s wanderings, head to www.royalparks.org.uk/be-involved/mission-invertebrate/family-programme.

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V&A10A new tale written by Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter will be published last this year following its discovery in the Potter archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum (pictured above).

The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots, which apparently tells the story of a black cat that leads a double life, was found two years ago by Penguin Random House Children’s publisher Jo Hanks. Its publication forms part of the celebrations surrounding the 150th anniversary of Ms Potter’s birth.

The story, which Ms Hanks unearthed in three separate manuscripts in the archive, was sent to Ms Potter’s publisher in 1914 and Ms Hanks told the BBC that Ms Potter had “fully intended” to publish it but, thanks to interruptions including World War I, her marriage and illness, she never went back to it.

Ms Hanks told the BBC that “the tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter”.

“It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales. And, most excitingly, our treasured, mischievous Peter Rabbit makes an appearance – albeit older, slower and portlier!”

Artist Quentin Blake has been asked to illustrate the new book.

The V&A holds the world’s largest collection of Beatrix Potter’s drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials.  For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/beatrix-potter-collections/.

great-seal-king-john-eton-college-british-library-magna-carta-law-liberty-legacyThe largest ever exhibition related to the Magna Carta opens at the British Library in King’s Cross tomorrow to mark the 800th anniversary of the document’s sealing. Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy features two original Magna Carta manuscripts from 1215 as well as 1215 document, the Articles of the Barons (known as ‘draft’ of the Magna Carta), the Petition of Right (1628), the English Bill of Rights (1689), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). It will also display two of the most celebrated documents in American history – the Delaware copy of the Bill of Rights and Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence (both on loan from the US National Archives) –  along with UK cabinet papers from 1941 in which it was proposed an original Magna Carta manuscript from 1215 be given to the US in return for their support in World War II and artefacts including King John’s teeth, thumb bone and fragments of clothing taken from his tomb in 1797 as well as his will. The exhibition tells the story of the Magna Carta from its creation in 1215 through to its later use by people fighting for various rights and freedoms and its continuing impact on the world today. There’s also a series of interviews with politicians, historians and public figures including Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, former US President Bill Clinton and William Hague. Runs until 1st September. Admission charge applies. For more – and a digitised gallery of artifacts – visit www.bl.uk/magna-carta-exhibition. PICTURE: Great Seal of King John, 1203 © Eton College Archives on display in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy.

The first gallery exhibition devoted to the Duke of Wellington opens at the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square today. Marking the 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington: Triumphs, Politics, and Passions explores Wellington’s political and military career as well as his personal life. Highlights include Goya’s 1812 portrait of Wellington following his entry into Madrid (later modified to recognise further battle honours and awards), and Thomas Lawrence’s famous portrait painted in 1815, the same year as the Battle of Waterloo (the painting, which normally hangs in Apsley House, was used as the basis of the design of the £5 British note from 1971 to 1991). The exhibition of 59 portraits and other works also includes rarely seen works loaned by Wellington’s family include a John Hoppner portrait of the duke as a young soldier and a daguerreotype portrait taken by Antoine Claudet for Wellington’s 75th birthday in 1844. Runs until 7th June. Admission is free. For more, see www.npg.org.uk or for more on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, see www.waterloo200.org.

An exhibition celebrating the works of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen opens at the V&A in South Kensington on Saturday. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty presents his works in 10 sections which focus on everything from McQueen’s roots in London, his “skilful subversion of traditional tailoring practices”, his fascination with the animal world and his longstanding interest in Eastern cultures. At the centre of the exhibition is The Cabinet of Curiosities, a display showcasing more than 100 garments and accessories and shown with film footage from his many catwalk presentations. The exhibition runs until 2nd August. Admission charge applies but you’ll have to be quick – the exhibition has already set the record for the most ever advance sales for an exhibition at the museum. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty.

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He-can-no-longer-at-theA “ground-breaking” exhibition of works of 18th and 19th century Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya opens to the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House today. Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album brings together the previously widely scattered pages of one of the artist’s most celebrated private albums in the first exhibition to ever recompile one of them. The album – which features themes of witchcraft, dreams and nightmares and has been reconstructed into its original sequence – is thought to have been made between 1819-23, a period during which Goya completed the murals known as the Black Paintings. Runs until 25th May. Admission charges applies. For more, see www.courtauld.ac.uk/goya. PICTURE: © The Courtauld Gallery (He can no longer at the age of 98, c. 1819-23, J. Paul Getty Museum).

The ‘Wolsey Angels’ have been “saved for the nation” after a campaign to acquire them by the V&A. The museum has reported that more than £87,000 was raised in a national public appeal – around £33,000 of which was raised via donations and through the purchase of badges at the South Kensington premises – which, along with grants including a £2 million National Heritage Memorial Fund grant and a £500,000 Art Fund grant, will be used to acquire the four bronze angels which were originally designed for the tomb of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, chief advisor to King Henry VIII. The four bronze angels, which have been in display at the V&A, will now undergo conservation treatment before going back on display. For more on the history of the angels, see our earlier post here. For more information on the V&A, see www.vam.ac.uk.

Closing Soon – A Victorian Obsession: The Pérez Simón collection at Leighton House Museum. This exhibition at the former Holland Park of Lord Leighton presents more than 50 rarely exhibited paintings by leading Victorian artists including Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse, Edward Pointer, John Strudwick and John William Godward as well as six pictures by Leighton himself and the highlight, Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s The Roses of Heliogabalus. Runs until 29th March. Admission charge applies. See www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/museums/leightonhousemuseum/avictorianobsession.aspx for more.

The role of objects as tools of social change will be explored at a new exhibition opening at the V&A on Saturday. Disobedient Objects will feature everything from Chilean folk art textiles that document political violence and a graffiti-writing robot to defaced currency, giant inflatable cobblestones thrown during demonstrations in Barcelona and a video game about the making of mobile phones. Spanning the period from the 1970s to today, it aims to illustrate how political activism has driven creativity with most of the objects on display made by amateurs. Many of the exhibits have been loaned from activist groups around the world. The free exhibition runs at the South Kensington museum until 1st February. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/disobedientobjects.

A new exhibition of three large scale works in oil by artist Hughie O’Donoghue has opened in the Westminster Abbey Chapter House. The three works featured in The Measure of All Things exhibition are a reflection on both world wars and influenced by his father’s service in the British Army, his own visits to battlefields and a photo album he found in France depicting a young woman’s holidays in the north of that country in 1903-04. The exhibition, part of the abbey’s efforts to mark the centenary of the start of World War I, is open until 30th November. Admittance with general abbey admission. For more, see www.westminster-abbey.org.

Reality and fiction come together in a new photographic exhibition which opened at the Science Museum in South Kensington this week. Stranger Than Fiction is the first major UK exhibition by Catalan artist Joan Fontcuberta and is a collaboration between the Science Museum and the National Media Museum in Bradford. The second show to be held in the Science Museum’s Media Space gallery, it features some of Fontcuberta’s best known works including photography, film, dioramas and scientific reports presented through six independent narratives which combine the real and imagined. Runs until 9th November after which it will move to the National Media Museum in Bradford. For more, see www.sciencemuseum.org.uk.

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The life of literary icon Virginia Woolf is being celebrated in a new exhibition which opens at the National Portrait Gallery today. Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision explores her life as novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure and features more than 100 works including portraits of Woolf by Bloomsbury Group contemporaries like her sister Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry as well as photographs by Beresford, Ray Man and Beck and McGregor who photographed the intellectual for Vogue. The display also includes works depicting her friends, family and literary peers and archival materials such as extracts from her personal diaries, books printed by Hogarth Press which she founded with husband Leonard Woolf and letters including one written to her sister shortly before her suicide in 1941. Runs until 26th October. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.

The 52nd City of London Festival enters its final week today with numerous music, dance, spoken word and theatre events – many of them free – still on offer across the City. Events this week include a concert focusing on the history of the instrument known as the recorder and that of the office of Recorder of London (as St Sepulchre with Newgate tonight; tickets required), a showcase of musical talent from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (at St Stephen Walbrook at 1.05pm next Tuesday; free), and, the Cart Marking Ceremony, in which vehicles process into Guildhall Yard where they are marked with a red hot iron by the Master Carmen and Lord Mayor (next Wednesday at 10.30am, free). For the full program of events, see www.colf.org. This year’s festival also features the placement of “street guitars” at 12 locations across the Square Mile where you can turn up and have a strum – for locations, see www.colf.org/streetguitars.

A new gallery of items you might find in your own home has opened at the V&A. Gallery 74 now features items collected as a result of the museum’s “rapid response collecting” approach which sees them acquiring new objects relating to contemporary events and movements in architecture and design. Among the objects on display are a soft toy from IKEA, a pair of jeans from Primark (acquired soon after the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in which 1129 workers were killed – the factory made clothes for a number of western brands including Primark), and the world’s first 3D printed gun, the Liberator, which was designed by Texas law student Cody Wilson. Entry is free. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.

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Jack-the-Ripper,-Illustrated-Police-News,-1888-(c)-British-Library-BoardThe UK’s largest ever exhibition on comics opens at the British Library tomorrow. Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK examines the history of the comic book in the UK – from 19th century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper to 1970s titles like 2000AD and Action and more recent works – and examines how they have been used to explore confronting subjects like violence, sexuality and drugs. Among the highlights is a specially commissioned work by Tank Girl and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett and works by the likes of Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe). Admission charge applies (and due to the graphic nature of some exhibits, the Library has issued a parental guidance warning for under 16s). Runs until 19th August. For more, see www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/comics-unmasked/index.html. PICTURE: Jack the Ripper’s victims, Illustrated Police News, 1888 © British Library Board.

The history of the white wedding dress goes under scrutiny at the V&A with its Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 exhibition opening on Saturday. The display includes more than 80 extravagant outfits from the museum’s collection – they include the Anna Valentine embroidered silk coat worn by The Duchess of Cornwall for the blessing of her marriage to The Prince of Wales in 2005, a purple Vivienne Westwood dress chosen by Dita von Teese for her wedding in 2005 and Dior outfits worn by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale on their wedding day in 2000. Some of the earliest examples in the chronological display including a silk satin court dress from 1775 and a ‘polonaise’ style brocade gown with straw bergere hat dating from 1780 lent by Chertsey Museum. The exhibition will also explore the growth of the wedding industry and the increasing media focus on wedding fashions. Admission charge applies. Runs until 15th March. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.

The golden era of Italian film during the 1950s and 1960s and the birth of celebrity culture – did you know the term paparazzi was coined in the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita? – are the subject of a new exhibition which opened at The Estorick Collection this week. The Years of La Dolce Vita features 80 photographs from the period depicting Italian movie stars and the Hollywood “royalty” like John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Lauren Bacall and Liz Taylor who were working in Italy at the time. Juxtaposed against Marcello Geppetti’s images of this “real-life dolce vita” are behind-the-scenes shots from the set of La Dolce Vita taken by cameraman Arturo Zavattini. Runs until 29th June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.estorickcollection.com.

The first British exhibition to explore the role of architecture in the Italian Renaissance opened at the National Gallery this week. Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting looks at the works of Italian masters such as Duccio, Botticelli and Crivelli with highlights including Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Judgment of Solomon – on display in London for the first time in 30 years – and Andrea del Verrochio’s The Ruskin Madonna. Five short films also form part of the display. Entry to the exhibition in the Sunley Room is free. Runs until September 21. For more information, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

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Jane-Asher

Time is running out for your entry into Cakespeare – the V&A’s competition to find the best Shakespeare-themed cake as part of the institution’s celebration of the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. The competition, which closes on 4th May, was launched earlier this month with an almost 15 kilogram cake created by Jane Asher Party Cakes (actress Jane Asher and the cake are pictured). A fruitcake, it features the playwright at work with a writing table and feature quill made from icing while a scroll lists the 36 plays in Shakespeare’s First Folio (which is on show in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries). To enter the competition, design, bake and decorate your cake celebrating Shakespeare and then upload an image of it to social media, tagged #Cakespeare. Oh, and the winner – selected by Asher and Geoff Marsh, director or the V&A’s department of theatre and performance – will receive a weekend for two in Stratford-upon-Avon complete with tickets to see the Royal Shakespeare Company. The V&A’s Shakespeare Festival runs until 4th May. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. So enjoy your Shakespeare – and your cake…might be a way to take your mind off London’s transport woes! PICTURE: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Historic Royal Palaces are offering you the chance to meet King George I and explore the world in which he lived at his former real-life home of  Hampton Court Palace this Easter weekend. A re-enactment marking the 300th anniversary of his accession will have the new Hanoverian king arrive by royal barge on the River Thames and will also include courtiers taking part in a “stately dance”, the King’s troupe of Hanoverian horses performing a “horse ballet” and a Georgian Army encampment with soldiers involved in firing displays. Visitors to the palace will also be able to see a new re-presentation of the Queen’s State Apartments which explores who the Hanoverians were, how they came to rule and their many and bitter family feuds. Runs from tomorrow (18th April) to 21st April. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/.

The 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth is being celebrated with a week of events at the Guildhall Library next week. Kicking off on Tuesday, 22nd April, and running until Friday, 25th April, events include talks – with subjects including ‘Shakespeare’s London Theatreland’ and ‘Imaging Shakespeare’s Indoor Theatre’, and a six hour complete reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets with readers including actor Damian Lewis, author Alan Hollinghurst and Lord Mayor of City of London Fiona Woolf as well as Shakespeare-themed walks around the City and Southwark, and the free Shakespeare in Print exhibition at the Library. For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/archives-and-city-history/guildhall-library/Pages/default.aspx. Meanwhile, the V&A is also holding a Shakespeare Festival, kicking off next Monday and running until 4th May. Highlights of the festival include screenings of some of the best theatre productions of Shakespeare in the last 20 years, live performances by actors and musicians and a series of debates and talks including the “interactive lecture” Marchpane to Mutton – A Taste of Shakespeare’s Time by food historian and artists Tasha Marks. There’s also a competition – Cakespeare – in which the public are invited to design, bake and decorate a Shakespeare-themed cake and share an image of it on social media (#Cakespeare) by 4th May with the winner to receive a weekend for two to Stratford-upon-Avon and tickets to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The festival is being complemented by a display in the Theatre and Performance Galleries, Shakespeare: Greatest Living Playwright which features the First Folio as its centrepiece. Admission is free. See www.vam.ac.uk for more.

It might be two days ahead of the official saint’s day, but the Feast of St George will be celebrated in Trafalgar Square this Bank Holiday Monday with a banquet and guests including a five metre high interactive dragon. The festivities, hosted by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, will also include an English Farmers’ Market featuring 20 stalls, a kid’s marquee and traditional wooden garden games, harlequins on stilts, swing boats and circus lessons for children, a bandstand located in front of Nelson’s Column and a 12 foot tall Maypole. Runs from noon to 6pm. For more, see www.london.gov.uk/feast.

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QEOP• The UK’s tallest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, will be open to the public in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – described as the “biggest new park to open in Europe in 150 years” – in London’s east from this weekend. While the northern part of the 560 acre park, the Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley VeloPark and Aquatics Centre have been open to the public since July last year, from Saturday visitors will be able to visit the southern part of the park featuring the 114.5 metre high sculpture. Features in the southern part of the park include a new tree-lined promenade with giant globes, interactive water fountains, an adventure playground and four themed walking trails focusing on the 2012 Games, nature and biodiversity, education, and art and culture. Visitors who head to the top of ArcelorMittal Orbit will be able to view across 20 miles of London from a 76 or 80 metre high platform (admission charges apply – £15 adults/£7 children/£40 for a family of four – and, be warned, you may need to book) while at the base of the sculpture is a cafe and event space. The opening weekend will see a host of special events including a parade of children, an aerial acrobatic performance, choirs, bands, dancers, poets, circus performers and story tellers and ‘try out’ sports and fitness sessions. There’s more yet to come with the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre opening to the public in June and the Olympic Stadium reopening for the 2015 Rugby World Cup next year. For more on the park, see www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk and for tickets to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, see http://arcelormittalorbit.com.

The printed works of William Shakespeare are the focus of a new exhibition which opened at the Guildhall Library in the city this week. Shakespeare in Print explores the library’s Shakespearean works and looks at how they were produced. Among the treasures on display will be a First Folio, the first collected edition of his plays, contemporary writers quartos and later editions of the Bard’s plays and poetry. This free exhibition is running until 29th May. The library will be hosting a series of Shakespeare-related events in the week of 22nd to 25th April to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth. For more, head here.

Italian fashion from 1945 until today is the subject of the V&A’s spring exhibition opening on Saturday. The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 will feature 100 ensembles and accessories by leading Italian fashion houses including Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Versace as well as creations from the “next generation of talent” including Giambattista Valli and Fausto Puglisi and will also showcase the creativity of less well remembered figures such as Sorelle Fontana and Walter Albini. As well as charting the shifting international perception of Italian style, the display will also highlight techniques and materials used in the creation of Italian fashion with a digital map visualising the industry. Runs until 27th July. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.

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Armchair_for_Devonshire_House_ca._1733-40__Devonshire_Collection_Chatsworth._Reproduced_by_permission_of_Chatsworth_Settlement_Trustees._Photography_by_Bruce_WhiteThe life and work of William Kent, the leading architect and designer of early Georgian Britain, is the subject of a new exhibition opening at the V&A on Saturday. William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain covers the period 1709 to 1748 which coincides with the accession of the first Hanoverian King George I. the tercentenary of which is being celebrated this year. The display features more than 200 examples of Kent’s work – from architectural drawings for buildings such as the Treasury (1732-37) and Horse Guards (1745-59), to gilt furniture designed for Houghton Hall (1725-25) and Chiswick House (1745-38), landscape designs for Rousham (1738-41) and Stowe (c 1728-40 and c 1746-47) as well as paintings and illustrated books. The exhibition, the result of a collaboration between the Bard Graduate Center, New York City, and the V&A,  features newly commissioned documentary films and will have a section focusing on designs Kent created for the Hanovarian Royal family including those he produced for a Royal Barge for Frederick, the Prince of Wales (1732) and a library for Queen Caroline at St James’ Palace (1736-37). Runs until 13th July. Admission charge applies. See www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Armchair for Devonshire House ca. 1733-40, © Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

A new City Visitor Trail has been unveiled by the City of London, taking visitors on a 90 minute self-guided tour of some of the City’s main attractions (or longer if you want to linger in some of the places on the itinerary). The trail – a map of which can be picked up from the City Information Centre – goes past iconic buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, Mansion House, Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge as well as lesser-known sites. As well as the main route, there’s also five specially themed routes – ‘Law and literature’, ‘London stories, London people’, ‘Culture Vulture’, ‘Skyscrapers and culture’, and ‘Market mile’ – and a City Children’s Trail, provided in partnership with Open City, which features three self-guided routes aimed at kids. As well as the map, the City has released an app – the City Visitor Trail app – which provides a commentary at some of the city’s main attractions which can either by read or listened to as it’s read by people closely associated with the locations (available for both iPhone and Android). For more, follow this link.

The works of the 16th century Venetian artist known as Veronese (real name Paolo Caliari) are being celebrated in a new exhibition, Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery. More than 50 of his works are featured in the display including two altarpieces never before seen outside Italy: The Martyrdom of Saint George (about 1565) from the church of San Giorgio in Braida, Verona, and The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (1565-70) from the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice. Others include early works like The Supper at Emmaus (about 1565), the beautiful Portrait of a Gentleman (c 1555) and the artist’s last autograph work, the altarpiece for the high altar of San Pantalon in Venice (1587). Runs until 15th June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

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First up, apologies that we were unable to launch our new Wednesday series yesterday due to some technical difficulties (stayed tuned for next week). And now, on with the news…

Sarah_Bernhardt_by_Lafayette_Ltd_1899_c__Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London__William Shakespeare’s influence on successive generations of theatrical performance is the subject of a new exhibition at the V&A to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth on 23rd April. Shakespeare: Greatest Living Playwright centres on the Bard’s First Folio which, published in 1623, contains 36 plays including 18 works – Macbeth, The Tempest and Twelfth Night among them – which would be unknown without it. The display includes interviews, archive footage and photography and objects from the V&A collections as well as an audio-visual presentation by Fifty Nine Productions featuring interviews with contemporary theatre practitioners such as actors, directors and designers. Objects on display include a skull used by Sarah Bernhardt when playing Hamlet in 1899, an embroidered handkerchief used by Ellen Terry when playing Desdemona in 1881 at the Lyceum Theatre, and a pair of red boots worn by actor-manager Henry Irving in an 1887 production of Richard III. Runs in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries until 21st September. Admission is free. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, 1899, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

A skeletal horse and a giant hand giving a thumbs up will adorn the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square during 2015-16. Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse is derived from an etching by painter George Stubbs and, while being a comment on the equestrian statue of King William IV which was intended for the plinth, also features an electronic ribbon displaying a live ticker of the London Stock Exchange on its front leg. Meanwhile David Shrigley’s Really Good is a 10 metre high hand giving a thumbs up – sending a positive message to those who see it. For more, see www.london.gov.uk/priorities/arts-culture/fourth-plinth.

The impact of the car on England’s landscape and the listed buildings of motoring history are the focus of a new exhibition in Wellington Arch. Carscapes: How the Motor Car Reshaped England features archive photographs, historic advertising, cartoons and motoring magazines as well as a 1930s traffic light, a petrol pump and other accessories and memorabilia. Wellington Arch, which is managed by English Heritage, is a fitting location for the exhibition – it was moved to its current position due to increasing traffic back in 1883. Admission charge apply. For more, see www.english-heritage.co.uk.

A new exhibition exploring some of the true and not-so-true stories inspired by and produced in London opens at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden tomorrow. London Stories features the best entries from The Serco Prize for Illustration 2014 with more than 50 works of art on display depicting a well-known or obscure London narrative. The short-listed illustrations tackle everything from ghost buses to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show of 1887, a Pearly King and Queen, Lenin’s ‘Love letter to London’ and an escaped monkey jazz band. There’s also a host of musical and literary references – everything from Mary Poppins to Sweeney Todd and Oranges and Lemons. Tomorrow there will be a late opening of the exhibition complete with cash bar, DJ and story-telling for adults as well as the chance to create your own London story with illustration workshops and a photo-booth. Organised by London Transport Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators, it runs until 6th April. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.ltmuseum.co.uk.

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A new exhibition looking at the London that might have been opened at Wellington Arch near Hyde Park Corner yesterday. Almost Lost: London’s Buildings Loved and Loathed uses digital technology to look at how several redevelopment proposals – including a 1950s conceptual scheme for a giant conservatory supporting tower blocks over Soho and a 1960s plan to redevelop Whitehall which including demolishing most of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings around Parliament Square – would have changed the face of the city. The exhibition also looks at how the latest developments in digital mapping can be used in the future and features ‘Pigeon-Sim’ which provides a bird’s-eye view of the city’s buildings with an interactive flight through a 3D photorealistic model of the city. The exhibition runs until 2nd February. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wellington-arch/.

A specially commissioned Christmas tree has been unveiled at the V&A in South Kensington. The 4.75 metre high ‘Red Velvet Tree of Love’ is the work of artists Helen and Colin David and will stand in the museum’s grand entrance until 6th January. The design of the tree – which is coated in red flocking and decorated with 79 sets of hand cast antlers and 67 white, heart shaped baubles – was inspired by an 1860 HFC Rampendahl chair in the V&A’s collection which features a real antler frame and velvet upholstery. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk.

The annual Christmas Past exhibition is once again open at the Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch. Festive decorations have transformed the museum’s rooms and give an insight into how the English middle classes celebrated in times gone past. The exhibition runs until 5th January. Admission is free. Accompanying the exhibition are a series of events including an open evening celebrating an Edwardian Christmas between 5pm-8pm tonight. For more, see www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/whatson/christmas-past-2013/.

The World War II experience of Chelsea Pensioners are being commemorated in a new display in the White Space Gallery at the National Army Museum in Chelsea. The Old and the Bold is the culmination of a year long collaboration between the museum and the Royal Hospital Chelsea and features nine interviews with 14 In-Pensioners. Their accounts span iconic moments in World War II history – from D-Day to North Africa and the Falklands and are supported by items from the museum’s collection. Runs until 3rd January. Admission is free. For more, see www.nam.ac.uk.

War-Horse

Joey, the puppet horse used in the West End play War Horse, has taken up a new home at the V&A in South Kensington. Created by the Handspring Puppet Company for the National Theatre’s adaption of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, Joey appeared in more than 1,640 shows since his debut at the New London Theatre on 28th March, 2009. He will now be housed in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Gallery in a specially created display which shows how the puppet was operated on stage and features three mannequin puppeteers to illustrate the process. Joey was donated by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company who designed and created the puppets used in War Horse. War Horse, which continues its run at the New London Theatre, has been seen by more than four million people. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Joey at the V&A operated by Nicholas Hart (Head), Stuart Angell (Heart), Thomas Goodridge (Hind). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

 

Chen_Rong_Nine_DragonsChinese masterpieces are the focus of a new exhibition opening at the V&A in South Kensington on Saturday. Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900 will feature more than 70 works including some of the earliest surviving Chinese paintings and many shown in Europe for the first time. Organised chronologically in six successive periods, the works in the display range from intimate works by monks to a 14-metre long scroll painting. As well as examining the tensions between tradition and innovation, the exhibition will look at the variety of settings for which the paintings were created – from tombs and temples to banners, portable handscrolls and hanging scrolls – and the materials used. The exhibition runs until 19th January. Admission charge applies. Meanwhile, from 2nd November, celebrated Chinese artist Xu Bing will transform the museum’s John  Madejeski Garden into an “ethereal Arcadia” inspired by the Chinese fable Tao Hua Yuan (The Peach Spring Blossom) in an installation to coincide with the exhibition. Runs until 2nd March. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/chinesepainting. PICTURE: Nine Dragons (detail), Chen Rong (1244), © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A new exhibition of photography marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the second Iraq war opens today at the Imperial War Museum. Featuring the work of photographers Mike Moore, a former Fleet Street photographer who was the first press photographer to be officially embedded with the British Army, and Lee Craker, an American photographer who specialises in documentary photography, the exhibition examines the impact of the war on the Iraqi people and the US and British troops who served there.  The exhibit is the first photography show to be exhibited as part of the IWM Contemporary programme. Runs until 5th January. Meanwhile one of Britain’s leading contemporary photographers, Donovan Wylie, explores the effects of modern day military surveillance programs in a new exhibition, at the IWM, Vision as Power. The display includes five works. Runs until 21st April. Admission to both exhibitions is free. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk.

The Age of Glamour: RS Sherriffs’ Stars of Stage & Screen. This exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury features the work of Sheriffs, whose caricatures of the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Douglas Fairbanks were published in magazines including Radio Times, London Calling and The Sketch. As well as individual portraits, the works include ensemble drawings such as one featuring Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft in Romeo and Juliette. Runs until Christmas Eve. Admission charge applies. For more, check out www.cartoonmuseum.org.

The_Rosebery_Tiara_QMA_Collection._Photo_c_SothebysA pearl-drop earring worn by King Charles I at his execution in 1649, pearl tiaras worn by European nobles and a pearl necklace given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio in 1954 are among the items on display as part of a new exhibition which opened at the V&A last Saturday. The V&A and Qatar Museums Authority exhibition traces the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire to now and features more than 200 pieces of jewellery and works of art. Other items on display include ‘Queen Mary II’ pearls dating from 1662-1664, a miniature portrait of Queen Charlotte wearing pearl jewellery and a set of buttons, finely enamelled and framed with pearls, worn by George III in 1780. There’s also the Dagmar necklace given to Princess Alexandra when she married the future King Edward VII in 1863. The exhibition is part of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture. Admission charge applies. Runs until 19th January. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Lady Rosebery’s pearl and diamond tiara (1878) © Christie’s Images.

The Big Brother house – located in Elstree Studios in north London – opens to the public tomorrow and on Saturday as part of a partnership between Initial – an Endemol Company, Channel 5 and the National Trust. Some two million people tuned in to watch the final night of the show this summer leading one TV critic to describe the property as “the most important house in Britain”. The opening is being preceded by an Opening Gala featuring housemates past and present as well as celebrities – but that’s an invitation only event. Sadly, tickets for the opening are already sold out – for returns and your last chance of getting in, follow this link.

The UK’s first aircraft manufacturers – Horace, Eustace and Oswald Short – have been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque placed on their former workshop in Battersea. Unveiled this week by Jenny Body – the first female president of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the plaque can be found at the railway arches near Queen’s Circus where the brothers, who lived nearby in the Prince of Wales Mansions, worked on ballooning and first made the transition to aircraft construction. Among their firsts was the construction of the first British powered aircraft to complete a circular mile of flight and the creation of Britain’s first ever purpose-built aircraft factory (it was located on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent). For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/blue-plaques/.

On Now: Jonathan Yeo Portraits. New and previously unseen works including a six foot high portrait of controversial artist Damien Hirst and a portrait of Kevin Spacey as King Richard III feature in this exhibition running at the National Portrait Gallery. Other subjects featured in the painted works include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, model Erin O’Connor, artist Grayson Perry and actor Sierra Miller. Runs until 5th January. Admission is free. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.

Endless-Stair

Inspired by Escher’s staircase, the London Design Festival’s landmark project Endless Stair has taken up residence outside the Tate Modern overlooking the River Thames. Designed by Alex de Rijke of dRMM and Dean of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (in collaboration with AHEC, ARUP, Nüssli, Imola Legno, SEAM and Lumenpulse), the 187 step stairway is constructed from a series of giant interlocking staircases shaped from American tulipwood. The stairway will be in place until 10th October. The London Design Festival, meanwhile, kicked off on Saturday and runs until 22nd September. It features more than 300 events with the V&A once again the festival’s central hub. For more – including a full programme of events –  see www.londondesignfestival.comPICTURE: Cityscape

 

Stuart-masque-at-Banqueting-HouseThe sights and sounds of the elaborate masques of the early Stuart Court – described as a cross between a ball, an amateur theatrical, and a fancy dress party – are being recreated at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Historic Royal Palaces have joined with JB3 Creative to create an “immersive theatrical experience” for visitors to the building – one of the last surviving parts of the Palace of Whitehall – with the chance to try on costumes, learn a masque dance and witness performance rehearsals for Tempe Restored, last performed in the building in 1632. Inigo Jones will be ‘present’ as masque designer to talk about his vision for the performance. Weekends will also see musicians performing period music and on 27th July there will be a one-off evening event at the Banqueting House based on Tempe Restored. Admission charge applies. Performing for the King opens tomorrow and runs until 1st September. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/BanquetingHouse/. PICTURE: HPR/newsteam.

A new exhibition looking at how some of London’s great Georgian and Victorian buildings were lost to bombs and developers before, after and during World War II – and how people such as poet John Betjeman campaigned to save them – opened in the Quadriga Gallery at Wellington Arch near Hyde Park Corner yesterday. Pride and Prejudice: The Battle for Betjeman’s Britain features surviving fragments and rare photographs of some of the “worst heritage losses” of the mid-20th century. They include Robert Adam’s Adelphi Terrace (1768-72) near the Strand, the Pantheon entertainment rooms (1772) on Oxford Street, and Euston Arch (1837). The English Heritage exhibition runs until 15th September. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wellington-arch/.

IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) will be ‘uncovered’ in a new exhibition opening tomorrow at the National Army Museum. Unseen Enemy will tell the stories of the men and women in Afghanistan who search for, make safe and deal with the impact of the IEDs through personal interviews, images and mementoes. The exhibition has been developed with “unprecedented access” from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and will include a range of equipment used in detecting and disarming the devices, such as bombsuits and robots as well as medical equipment used to help those injured in explosions. The exhibition is free. For more, see www.nam.ac.uk.

On Now: Club to Catwalk – London Fashion in the 1980s. This exhibition at the V&A explores the “creative explosion” of London fashion during the decade and features more than 85 outfits by designers including John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett as well as accessories by designers such as Stephen Jones and Patrick Cox. While the ground floor gallery focuses on young fashion designers who found themselves on the world stage, the upper floor focuses on club wear, grouping garments worn by ‘tribes’ such as Fetish, Goth, High Camp and the New Romantics and featuring clothes such as those worn by the likes of Boy George, Adam Ant and Leigh Bowery. The exhibition also includes a display of magazines of the time. Entry charge applies. Runs until 16th February, 2014. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. Meanwhile, tomorrow (Friday) night the V&A will celebrate the 25th anniversary of designer Jenny Packham with a series of four free catwalk shows in its Raphael Gallery. Booking is essential. Head to the V&A website for details.

The President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, attending a wreath-laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday night to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone. The ceremony took place at the grave of Dr Livingstone – his body was repatriated to London following his death in Zambia in 1873 from malaria and dysentery. The Very Reverand Dr John Hall, the Dean of Westminster, said the ceremony honored a “Scot of humble origins, but clear determination and courage”. “140 years after his death, he remains respected throughout these islands, and especially in Africa, where, for 30 years, he laboured to spread the Gospel, to explore the land’s secrets, and to map what he discovered,” he said. “Treating all people as his equals, he worked to abolish the slave trade in Africa.” Livingstone conducted several expeditions into the interior of Africa – while they included a failed attempt to find the source of the Nile, he is credited with documenting numerous geographical features including Victoria Falls (he named it after Queen Victoria) and Lake Malawi. Celebrated as a hero of the Victorian age, his meeting with Henry Stanley in October 1871 – Stanley had been sent to find him after he had lost contact with the outside world – gave rise to the expression “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” (though whether he actually said the phrase remains a matter of debate).

A landmark exhibition on the career of David Bowie opens at the V&A on Saturday. David Bowie is features more than 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, costumes, photographs, films, Bowie’s instruments and album artwork selected by the V&A’s theatre and performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. The exhibition takes an in-depth look at Bowie’s music and how it and his “radical individualism” has influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design and contemporary culture. Among the more than 60 costumes on display will be a Ziggy Stardust bodysuit (1972) and costumes made for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries. This exhibition, which is sponsored by Gucci and Sennheiser,  runs until 11th August. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk/davidbowieis.

Homeland star Damian Lewis has received the Freedom of the City of London in a ceremony at Guildhall on Tuesday in recognition of his “outstanding achievements in acting”. Lewis, who graduated from the City of London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1993, has appeared in The Forsyte Saga, US mini-series Band of Brothers and, of course, in Homeland. Interestingly, his maternal grandfather, Sir Ian Bowater, was Lord Mayor of the City of London from 1938 to 1939. For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.au.

Work is underway on the first of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s, “pocket parks”. The size of a tennis court, the pocket parks are set to “reinvent some of London’s forgotten nooks and crannies”. Among the first will be an edible park featuring vegetable, herbs, fruit trees and hops located on ‘dead space’ behind a Stockwell bus stop (the hops will be sold to the Brixton Beer Cooperative). All 100 of the pocket parks will be finished by March 2015 at a cost of £2 million. For more, see www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/greening-london/parks-green-spaces/pocket-parks.

It’s the chance to try a new sport for the first time in a day of free games and activities which will be held at the Queen Mother Sports Centre in Vauxhall Bridge Road on Saturday. From 10am to 3pm, visitors will be able to try a range of different sporting activities including football, basketball and swimming with athletes and coaches on hand to offer advice. For more, see www.westminster.gov.uk.

Water_potA new exhibition opens at the V&A in South Kensington this Saturday which charts the development of cultural trade and diplomacy between Britain and Russia from the founding of the Muscovy Company in 1555 until the end of King Charles II’s reign in 1685. Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars reveals the “majesty and pageantry” of the royal courts of both countries – from that of King Henry VIII to King Charles II in Britain and from that of Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV) to the early Romanovs in Russia. The display features more than 150 objects including heraldry and processional armour,  furnishings, clothing, jewellery and portraiture including paintings and miniatures painted by court artists. Highlights include a rarely viewed portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, the Barbor Jewel – a pendant set with an onyx cameo of the queen; a hand-colored map of ‘Muscovy’ dating from 1570, and literature including Shakespeare’s First Folio as well as a showcase of British and French silver given to the Tsars by British merchants and kept in the Kremlin. The 20 pieces include the Dolphin Basin, made by Christiaen van Vianen – said to be a favoured silversmith of King Charles I and II – in 1635. The exhibition marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. Admission charge applies. Runs from Saturday, 9th March, until 14th July. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Water pot (1604-05), Historic collectino of the Armoury, © The Moscow Kremlin Museums.

The life and work of Sir Michael Caine – who turns 80 this month – is the focus of a new free exhibition at the Museum of London. Michael Caine, which opens tomorrow, features photographs including some never exhibited before as well as iconic portraits by the likes of David Bailey and Terry O’Neill as well as a selection of audio and film clips from movies such as Alfie, The Italian Job, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and Educating Rita. The exhibition follows Sir Michael’s life from “Cockney rebel, through to Hollywood legend and inspirational Londoner” and looks at how the city influenced his life and career. Runs until 14th July. To coincide with the exhibition, the Museum of London Docklands is running Caine on Screen, a selection of free films which can been voted for by the public (see our earlier post here). The schedule of films will be announced after 14th March. For voting details and more information, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

A bullet-pierced military tunic worn during the Indian Mutiny in the mid 19th century has been donated to the National Army Museum in Chelsea. The tunic, worn by Lieutenant Campbell Clark, of the 2nd Bengal European Fusiliers, at Cawnpore in 1857. The lieutenant was ambushed by rebels Indian infantry and shot at point-blank range. Despite being grievously wounded (the musket ball had passed through his stomach and remained in the wound), he survived the injury and the military hospital he was taken to and went on to have a long career, rising to the rank of colonel. He died in 1896 in Sussex. The tunic was donated to the museum by Clark’s great-great-nephew, John Gordon Clark. For more, see www.nam.ac.uk.

On Now: George Catlin: American Indian Portraits. Opening today, this exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is the first major exhibition of the American artist’s works to be held in Europe since the 1840s and has been designed to demonstrate to the viewer how Catlin constructed a particular view of Native Americans in the minds of his audiences. Catlin made five trips into the western United States in the 1830s before the Native American peoples had been subsumed into the United States and, inspired by those trips, went on to create an Indian Gallery which featured 500 portraits, pictures and indigenous artefacts. He subsequently toured with the gallery in both the US and Europe. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington. Runs until 23rd June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.npg.org.uk.