Don't be miserable about January, there's tons of fun stuff happening throughout the New Year to enjoy. Whether you want to dine out at the best new restaurants, catch the most exciting gigs or take in the best theatre openings this month, we've got you covered for January.
And remember that it's never too early to start planning for February either.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our January 2017 highlights
Every year, Burns Night falls on January 25 (a Wednesday for 2017), giving London the perfect excuse to celebrate Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, via a lot of food, whisky and partying at some of London's best bars. From ceilidhs to whisky tasting to Burns Night meals that dabble with vegan food and street food, there's something for everyone. Here's where and how to celebrate Burns Night in London.
The Year of the Rooster is coming up and, as usual, London's celebrations for Chinese New Year 2017 will be loud, colourful and full of dragons. Here's where and how to celebrate Chinese New Year in London, from the central London parade to the best Chinatown restaurants to events further afield.
Street Feast's Shoreditch street food mecca is back for 2016. The two-storey site features 15 different food vendors space for up to 1,000 hungry visitors, with benches and floor space to settle in on as you watch the punters chatting (and, let's face it, queueing) below. Serving up the snacks you will find all-star traders such as B.O.B.'s Lobster, Kimchinary, BBQ Lab, Fundi Pizza, Yum Bun and Smokestak. The site has gained a roof for the chillier months, as well as four new bars (bringing the total to ten) which will serve everything from cans of craft beer to hot cocktails. Read about the stats, facts, figures and fun stuff behind Dinerama.
Do as the dedicated club junkies do and get yourself to the tastemaking Clerkenwell dance palace for a melting-pot of deep house, melodic techno, dubby disco, minimal grooves and a touch of bass. Residents Craig Richards and Terry Francis are joined by a stellar selection of cutting edge DJs and producers each week, throwing solid dancefloor tunes and some nice curveballs out to the crowd.
The bright lights of Canary Wharf's towers already provide quite the spectacle after dark, but the area glows even more than usual throughout January thanks to the addition of a variety of installations from international artists. Winter Lights returns in 2017 with 30 dazzling artworks, installations and interactive experiences, with many on show in the UK for the first time.
Following last winter's success, Street Feast's indoor night market Hawker House is back at this warehouse in Canada Water. Return for two levels of street food every Friday and Saturday, including Chin Chin Labs ice cream and Yum Bun's baozi, plus eight bars and Hawker House's intriguing whisky roulette.
The most famous comedy improv outfit in town perform off-the-cuff games and tomfoolery at the world famous Comedy Store twice a week. Regular Players include Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey, Andy Smart, Richard Vranch and Lee Simpson, but the line-ups change for each show. See 'dates and times' for the latest bills. Check out our guide to the Comedy Store.
In the program notes to this returning, revamped collaboration between NoFit State circus and Italian director Firenza Guidi, there’s lot of deep and meaningful talk about ‘a journey through time’ and ‘the story of the fragility of our lost selves’. That’s all guff really, because ‘Bianco’ is an out-and-out, oohs-and-aahs circus show that pushes all the right spectacular buttons, with no cheesy themes or narrative needed. The show itself is refreshingly stripped-back, with little of the pomp and bombast – clowns, ringleaders, cheap slapstick comedy – that you might normally expect from a family-friendly circus show. ‘Bianco’ shuns narrative and, apart from a small intro advising ‘Here be Dragons’ and ‘no photography please’, there is no spoken content. Instead, the performances speak for themselves in a succession of increasingly impressive, classic circus tricks, from juggling and tightrope-walking to breathtaking acrobatics and trapeze stunts. Soundtracked by an excellent live band, ‘Bianco’ opens in a fit of orchestrated chaos: stray juggling pins here, a wobbly tightrope walker there. But that rawness is endearing; it makes watching people do really difficult, knackering tricks all the more impressive. The second half delivers a more crafted drama, culminating in a superb duo rope performance using only body weight and gravity, the finale crowned by a snowstorm, a nod to Bianco’s festive context. The energy of the endearingly shambolic opening, however, is what Bia
Do you love nothing more than rolling with your homies? Then head down to Bump's wooden-floored roller disco that's popping up at the Southbank Centre for another year. Skates are included in the ticket price (though pros are welcome to bring their own), and there'll be a line-up of special club nights taking place in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays for which tickets can be booked in advance. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Time Run is a bit more involved than your average escape game. You’re not just locked into a room with mates so that you can engage in frantic puzzle solving against the clock. It’s also an immersive experience.An immersive experience that’s a bit like a Victorian ‘Back To The Future’. From the moment you step in, you’ll be greeted by an actor who explains that you’re about to go time travelling to find mystical artefacts that are intrinsic to the world’s stability. You’re shuttled through a series of astonishingly impressive sets designed to recreate different historical periods. And, as you puzzle solve, projections deliver you messages from your supposed mentor, Luna Fox: a sort of hybrid of Phileas Fogg and Doc Emmett Brown. There are two games: the Lance of Longinus and recent opening The Celestial Chain. The first of which is utterly fantastic: the varied puzzles are thoroughly fun, and the sheer size and attention to detail in the sets is staggering. Less good is The Celestial Chain, however, which – unlike basically every other escape game in existence – doesn’t let you solve puzzles to unlock the next part of your challenge. Instead, it sends you into a series of rooms, imposing a 15-minute time limit for each one. If you don’t solve your puzzle in that limit, too bad: you’re booted into the next one. And, frankly, it’s frequently frustrating - just as you’re getting to grips with something, you’re forced to abandon it. Nonetheless, in terms of escape game
The beatboxer extraordinaire and festival favourite brings his seemingly physically impossible vocal talents to this outdoor gig. He not long ago invented a new bit of software, the Beardytron 5000, to loop, sample and manipulate his hip hop, D&B and electro mouth-beats with even more precision and flexibility, and he’ll be showing it off tonight.
Having built a cult following for its smokehouse meats, street food supremo Smokestak has done the decent thing, opening up a restaurant proper. So forget the start-of-year diet for just a moment, as there's delicious, slow-smoked meaty goodness to be savoured, in the forms of brisket, pork and beef rib. Just don't boast too loudly about your meal to your vegan pals afterwards.
It's London! It's January! It's mime time! But the 40-year-old London International Mime Festival – the longest running of its kind – has a lot more up its sleeves than clowning and whiteface. Go for everything from spectacular circus and mask theatre to manga-inspired dance and taxidermy animal puppetry. This year's festival runs from January 9–February 4 2017 with shows in venues across London. Here's our guide to the astounding shows on offer at the London International Mime Festival 2017.
The giant citywide exhibition makes a welcome return for a second year – and it's doubled in size. In a nutshell: 21 incredible contemporary galleries from as far afield as New York, Berlin and São Paulo will take up month-long residence at 15 of London's best young galleries. It's essentially Match.com for the international gallery scene. The preview weekend is on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 January. Opening times will vary from space to space throughout Condo's run, so best to look at the website for details.
The theme for the 2017 Magical Lantern Festival is the Silk Road, allowing visitors to follow a mini-trail featuring over 50 dazzling illuminations. These include the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, plus colourful scenes from India, Asia, the Middle East and the tale of Aladdin featuring a giant lantern genie. There'll also be a virtual reality area, an ice rink, a pop-up ice bar made entirely of ice and plenty of street food stalls.
This series of life-drawing classes is a right hoot. Instead of humans acting as models, participants are tasked with sketching a different live animal each time. Past creatures have included donkeys, owls, snakes, bats and reptiles, with founder Jennie Webber working alongside animal sanctuaries and organisations to organise the events, donating money from ticket sales to help fund conservation and protection projects.
January can be a miserable month, but watching Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone waltzing, flying towards the stars and unleashing lots of Hollywood musical magic is guaranteed to make things a lot less miserable. Damien Chazelle's inventive and stylish film is simply a joy to watch, and should make the hearts of even the most hardened romance-cynics melt just a little, even in frosty January.
The menu here is comprised of a series of ‘bowls’, each of which is colourful enough to resemble a rainbow. They can be customised with tofu and rammed full of colourful vegetables. Owner and head chef King Cook has Laotian heritage, which is reflected in his cooking. There are lots of Southeast Asian flavours here, with his mum’s green curry and the yoga fire bowl (chilies married to coconuts) standout favourites. For under a tenner you get a healthy, genuinely satisfying, rainbow in a bowl. This isn’t rabbit food, it’s unicorn fare.
All the creative cocktails at this City bar are fun originals on a weekly-changing menu. On our visit, a Vive La France! with cognac, orange curaçao, lime and ‘pineapple fizz’ was an effervescent and impressive choice, bright yellow and just as bold on the tongue. Or try a Highland Sweet Tea with whisky.
Free events in January
Holy, moly it's a miracle! We've found a free yoga class open to all abilities with mats provided and no advanced booking needed. Yogis will even be served tea and coffee following the class, meaning they'll be heading off to work feeling new levels of heavenly. The early morning sessions take place in St Stephen's Church in Westminster. Donations welcome.
Spen the evening with Marie Mulvey-Roberts and Fiona Robinson as they discuss the work and legacy of Angela Carter in light of their recent book Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter. The book brings together art and literature and explores Carter’s recurring themes of feminism, sexuality and fantasy through historically significant art works.
The Southbank Centre Winter Festival returns and along with its array of festive shows and performances they will also be celebrating the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. NoFit State will be bringing contemporary circus to the stage with 'Bianco' performed above, behind and around the audience (Nov 23- Jan 22), plus Christmas will get a rock 'n' roll makeover thanks to the 'Million Dollar Quartet' musical packed with tunes by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis (Dec 17-Jan 2). The annual Christmas market will be back and better than ever, and Bump Roller Disco will be offering family-friendly skating and club nights. Find out more with our guide to the Southbank Centre Winter Festival
Grab your pooch and whisk them around the city in the first ever bus tour for dogs. Created by More Than Doggyssentials, this tour lets owners and their furry friends cruise through the capital, while making some strategic stop-offs at some of London's best parks and city-centre dog walking spots. Along the way, onboard commentary will lift the lid on London’s canine history. The route will begin at Lambeth Bridge (North Side). Reserve a spot for you and your dog here.
Cider cocktails made to order (hot, cold, and some made with Rekorderlig's new spiced plum cider), fire pits, Swedish food and a photo booth make the Cider Lodge a neat riverside drinking hole on the Southbank this Christmas. Skål! See more our highlights at the Southbank Centre Winter Festival
The bright lights of Canary Wharf's towers already provide quite the spectacle after dark, but the area glows even more than usual throughout January thanks to the addition of a variety of installations from international artists. Winter Lights returns in 2017 with 30 dazzling artworks, installations and interactive experiences, with many on show in the UK for the first time. Highlights include a live graffiti weekend with work crafted from light (Jan 19-21) and 'Angels of Freedom' which sees five giant wings created by Merav Etan and Gaston Zahr that allow visitors to transform into angels using photography and social media. Visit the Winter Lights website for more information and to see the full programme.
Welcome in the 'Year of the Rooster' at this massive Chinese New Year celebration which will fill most of the West End with music, acrobatics, activities and pyrotechnics. A grand parade featuring lion dance teams will set off from Trafalgar Square, weaving its way up to the buzzing heart of Chinatown. On Wardour Street and Gerrard Street you’ll find craft stalls, Chinese food stands and more traditional dance, plus a stage on Shaftesbury Avenue will host local up-and-coming talent. Families should head to Charing Cross Road where there’ll be musical performances and martial arts displays as well as crafts and workshops. The party will kick off at 10am, with performances ranging from comedy to acrobatics. Naturally the 100-odd restaurants, bars and cafés in the area will be celebrating too, with special menus and their own events on offer, though the event is usually extremely popular so expect to queue for your noodles. You can practise your Cantonese while you wait. Altogether now: Kung Hei Fat Choy! See our guide to Chinese New Year in London
Fancy starting the year by trying something new? Join the West End Musical Choir and sing songs from your favourite musicals, while exploring your voice, building your musical repertoire and meeting new Londoners. No experience is required, there is no need to read sheet music and it’s all free.
Join Women Worldwide Active’s festival to celebrate the courage, grit and achievement of women across the world. The not for profit organization launched last year to help empower women affected by extremely life-changing situations through creativity, personal development and community projects. BBC Introducing star Yasmin Kadi headlines the festival at Pop Brixton and there’ll be even more entertainment from artists Riyaad Sayed and Phattlady, poet Dorothy Oger and author Kavitha Chahel.
Immerse yourself in the world of Resident Evil to mark the game’s latest release. The Experience recreates the Baker family house in the heart of London’s East End. For 45-minutes you and a partner must complete a special assignment set by The Sewer Gators - a paranormal TV production team whose crew have disappeared. Collect hints and solve puzzles to find the truth about the missing crew. Tickets are first-come first-serve for each day’s event. You must come in a pair.
Are astronauts fundamentally changed as people by their experiences in space? How does prolonged weightlessness affect the body? These are just some of the questions being discussed at this conference held in the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema. Talks will focus on the culinary, ethical, medical, psychological, and sensory effects of space and pioneering chef Heston Blumenthal’s will speak about creating space food for Tim Peak.
Deep red drapes, gold walls and wooden floors will take your right back to 1920s New York - the setting for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. MinaLima has designed every element of graphic art and graphic prop design for the upcoming film, and is now exhibiting 40 original graphic art prints from it at their Soho gallery.
Rewind the clock back to your childhood at the Science Museum's monthly Late. With the help of an immersive VR experience visitors can experience the hand-eye coordination challenges faced by infants, race toy cars by using the conductivity of their own bodies, compete in a voice activated game of Pong and pull some silly moves in an intergalactic silent disco.
No tickets to The Cursed Child? No problem. See sketches by graphic designers MinaLima who've helped produce graphic props for J K Rowling's upcoming feature film - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. From The Marauder's Map to Harry's Acceptance Letter to The Daily Prophet, see fantastical bits from Rowling's creations in this Soho pop-up.
Join House of Vans’ monthly skate night for four-hours of non-stop shredding. Resident DJ Pembroke & guest DJ Landshark will spin hip hop and dub all night and fried chicken and beer is on offer from in-tunnel café The Wall. There's also a special cinema screening of Andy Evans' latest release Just In Time.
Spend the evening listening to discussion, poetry and lectures from Poet Miguel Cullen, journalist Ian Thomson, author of The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica, and writer Colin Grant, author of Bageye at the Wheel, an autobiographical work exploring Black British identity in the 1970s.
Art exhibitions this January
Jennifer Guidi’s art is proof that you should never discourage your kids from finger-painting, it could turn into a whole career. She makes these big works by covering coloured canvases with thick layers of cement-like sand, then digging her fingers in to create spiralling indentations, all emanating from a single spot. Guidi might use tools, but it’s the tactile nature of the work that comes across. The opening room is all black paintings, the dark sand gouged away to reveal little lines of colour. Upstairs the sand is purple, yellow and pink instead – going from the first room into this one feels like going from the night to the dawn. The final piece in the basement is bright yellow – full noon. Guidi’s work is elemental and old fashioned – totally and purely decorative – but something about that feels almost refreshing, like waking up to a new day...or something. @eddyfrankel
The Guerrilla Girls are some of the art world’s most creative complainers, and for over 30 years now, they have been handing America’s galleries their arses on a platter. For their show at the Whitechapel Gallery, they’ve turned their attentions to Europe. This entire exhibition is based on a survey they sent out to 400 art institutions across 29 countries on the continent. In it, they demand stats for their representation of female artists, those who are gender non-conforming and artists of colour. Spoiler: it doesn’t go well. As the Guerrilla Girls announce on a banner on the front of the Whitechapel building, ‘only one quarter’ of those contacted responded (disappointingly, the Serpentine and the Saatchi Gallery were among the no-shows). The completed questionnaires are pasted onto the gallery wall, filled with the urgently scrawled handwriting of gallery directors. Put your contacts in, because there’s a whole lot of reading required for this show. Colourful posters pull out some of the best responses; when asked if it was the first time they’d collected such stats, Manchester Art Gallery replied: ‘No, we talk about these issues a lot’ – but the Guerrillas point out that their collection is still ‘80 percent male and 85 percent white’. The average representation of women artists was a pathetic 22 percent. One of the few glimmers of hope was Poland, where that figure was 28 percent and all but one of the responding galleries had a female director. Informative as all
The Modern Lovers have a song that goes ‘Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole’. Which is surprising, because the way Pablo treated women you’d imagine that he got called a lot worse than that. Really, this show should be called ‘Picasso, Old Lech’, because his portraits tell a story of a man who didn’t just love women, but consumed them, used them, abused them and then chucked ’em aside. But we’ll get to that. The first work you see here is a bold early self-portrait of the artist with his palette, his shirt rendered as a slab of off-white, his youthful features full of strength. Another room finds young Pablo in Paris, lost in a world of art, friends and partying. There’s an incredibly grotesque image of his friend Gustave Coquiot in a swirl of dancers and a genuinely stunning Blue Period portrait of Sebastia Junyer i Vidal. Then Picasso heads into cubism, thanks in part to the model Fernande Olivier, who features in so many of his works. Portraits of her and one absolute stunner depicting the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler find Picasso on the path to greatness. You then walk through a corridor of Picasso’s caricatures – which are interesting more than brilliant – and a room of almost totally unflattering portraits of his first wife Olga. But don’t be surprised that a lot of the paintings here far from good. Picasso created a lot of work, and any show of his is bound to include a good fistful of guff. The last room – the show's biggest and best – is where e
Every sensible modern human knows you have to make sure you’ve got someone who you can trust to delete your browsing history if you die. It’s just common sense. Master of nineteenth-century French sculpture Auguste Rodin didn’t think that far ahead, sadly. The result is that academics can root through his old stuff and find all sorts of kinky shit. This show, for example, pulls together a bunch of rude drawings and sculptures that Rodin never showed publicly and largely didn’t even finish. They’re based on dance and largely use one single model in just two acrobatic poses as their inspiration. After a bunch of startlingly revealing preparatory sketches, Rodin made two simple figures out of clay and had moulds made of them. The moulds were chopped up, creating a series of interchangeable torsos and limbs for him to twist, mismatch and reassemble into new impossible shapes. Pulled together in a tall glass cabinet, the resulting little sculptures look like a pristine collection of lost ancient figurines – something unearthed from more primitive times – but they’re aggressively modern. They were all made in one short bust, and you can tell. The twisting clashing shapes are whirling masses caught forever mid-spin. Legs extend too far, spines bend too much, some figures even have too many limbs. They’re adventurous and brave, almost abstract. The drawings follow the same tack. Quick, intimate portraits; legs spread, limbs stretched, studious and erotic at the same time. Thes
Wagner. Hitler. Kiefer. If you want to join the club of six-letter, ends in ‘-er’, mythology-obsessed, visionary-crackpot creator-destroyers you’ve got to think big. Really big. I’m not saying Kiefer is like those two anti-Semitic, delusional, megalomaniac pricks, just that his response to their legacy has always been to adopt their weapons: size, volume, density, humourlessness, repetition. His work is epic and totalitarian, forged out of industrial materials in art factories. And his latest show is quite something. If you’ve had the lead nicked off your porch recently, there’s a good chance it’s down at White Cube. Kiefer’s trademark material is everywhere: lining the walls, forming scrolls on which photographs are printed, splashed in huge eruptive gobs across giant canvases of ruined landscapes. The show is called ‘Walhalla’, the legendary afterlife of heroes slain in battle. Obviously Valhalla is mostly familiar to people through the ‘Ring Cycle’, and you get the sense that Kiefer isn’t wholly sold on Wagner’s take on Norse mythology, which so appealed to the Nazis. First up is a dimly lit corridor of lead hospital beds. It’s horrible: grey and dead. It speaks of the Holocaust. Of field hospitals and desperation. Of abandonment and flight. A machine gun pokes out of one bed like a skeletal leg. In another room, a bed is crushed beneath an enormous lead boulder, as lead wings droop either side. Another bed has the stalks of lead sunflowers poking out of it. A lead sh
(Note: the gallery is closed between Dec 18 and Jan 10) A digital woman emerges from a virtual desert. Her skin is the same colour and texture as the sand and rock that she’s surrounded by. She melts into the landscape and re-emerges, disappearing into it yet standing apart. For young British artist Rehana Zaman, she’s a symbol of life as an Asian woman in contemporary Britain. But it’s not all digi-weirdness. Across three screens and two floors, the desert woman scenes are cut with illustrations of neo-Nazis, screenshots from the government’s ‘Prevent’ anti-extremism website and powerfully intimate conversations between the artist and her sister as she cooks. With a thick northern accent, her sister talks about an abusive marriage, sex, skiing, about where she feels most at home. As the images of her brown hands cooking Asian food and illustrations of racists mash together, you realise that this is an emotional de-tangling of cultural identity. The symbols are spread out and dissected. Zaman is showing the complexities of identity politics, the layers that make up a person: a person who can be reduced down to a tab on an anti-radicalisation website because of her skin colour, who can be hated by bigots because of her geographic origins. This is political and relatively combative video art, something we just don’t see enough of. Yes, it’s about being a muslim Asian woman, but it works because it's also wider than that. It’s about desire and conflict, about being yoursel
Looks like Jeff Koons is feeling festive. His show of new work at Paris gallerist Almine Rech’s new space is filled with adorably Christmassy blue baubles. He’s plonked a bunch of them in front of some painfully faithful recreations of Old Master paintings, and even set one balancing on top of a Duchamp-esque wine rack. It seems silly at first, even a little stupid, but it’s actually a pretty good trick. The baubles act as mirrored balls, reflecting the viewer back at themselves. There you are, stroking your chin and looking all clever while considering a Titian, gazing at a Poussin or perving over Boucher’s reclining nude. It makes you the most important part of the artwork, a necessary player. It makes you consider how you’re looking at the art, and why. Yes, it’s over the top and gaudy and ludicrous – of course it is, it’s Koons – but there’s more to him than surface nonsense. The show is completed by two big, intensely shiny ballerina sculptures. They’re striking, and use the same reflective trick as the baubles do, but on a bigger scale. None of these are great Koons works, but they are good, semi-clean, holiday fun. Merry Koonsmas. @eddyfrankel
A papier-mâché sculpture keeps guard as you enter Mai-Thu Perret’s show, a blood red machine gun at her side. Masks hang from thick black sheets above a disembodied woman’s head. ‘Zone’ takes inspiration from an avant-garde French novel about a society run by a tribe of warrior lesbian women and also forms part of a story by Perret about a remote commune of women in the desert. The room here feels like it could be a space in that commune: a guard keeping watch, a tall wicker totem acting as a symbol of female power and strength, the walls lined with decorative tile and clay sculptures. In the centre of the space, a massive bubbling tiled bed could be a massage table, or maybe it’s from a morgue. You feel like you’ve entered an inner sanctum, a quiet place of refuge for warriors. The clay works on the wall are pretty – some full of finger marks, others still and blank. Perret is playing with classic modern art and dadaist forms, making you see them as part of the artistic production of her violent fictional sisterhood. The show’s a trip: anger and violence hidden under a veneer of calm, considered artistic expression. You feel like if you get caught in here you’re going to get your nuts cuts off. If you’re nutless, you might just be safe. @eddyfrankel
Ceramics might be enjoying a kind of hipsterish resurgence in art right now, but it's never been taken particularly seriously as a means of expression. Certainly not in the avant-garde scene of early-’60s Los Angeles. Regardless, it was here that Ken Price made his name. Going against the prevailing trends of the time, he avoided making anything big, cerebral and monumental in favour of the small, hand-crafted and almost wilfully cheerful. The ceramics on display here span half a century, and fall into two broad categories. There are the formal pieces: speckled, blobby, amorphous and weirdly sentient-looking. In many of them, sections appear to be lopped off, revealing a brightly coloured ‘flesh’ beneath. Then there are the functional pieces: jugs, cups and plates, some decorated with snails, others with palm trees. No, seriously. And no, they look awesome. They drove critics spare, who, in an era of conceptual purity, were appalled by art that had one foot in the world of – shock horror – craft. Alongside these are dozens upon dozens of Price’s drawings and watercolours. Lots are tight, graphic, all-American scenes – highways, factories, beach houses, buxom women – depicted in lurid acid-trip colours. They reveal an instinct for impeccable design, one in thrall to Japanese art. More thrilling are the pictures where the ceramics themselves make an appearance. These occasionally reach surreal heights, like the drawing of a turtle swimming through the ocean with a teacup fix
A commission by artist Yinka Shonibare, produced by Up Projects for the Royal Opera House. Titled 'Globe Head Ballerina', the work is inspired by a famous photograph of ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Shonibare's sculpture depicts a life-size ballerina, modelled on Melissa Hamilton, a soloist with the Royal Ballet. Encased in a giant 'snow globe', the figure, whose head is a replica Victorian globe, rotates slowly. Her tutu is made of fabrics that are synonymous with Shonibare's work and his exploration of the ambiguities of heritage and identity; originally manufactured by the Dutch for sale in the Indonesian market, the fabrics have become a symbol of African identity, having eventually been sold to the colonies in West Africa. The work is displayed on the exterior of the building overlooking Russell Street and will remain in place for five years.
Thirty-four years ago, photographer David Bailey released his book 'NW1': a series of images of Camden and Primrose Hill, where he had lived for decades. At that time, the area was in a state of crumbling disrepair – hard to imagine for those who know this swanky location now. To tie in with the book's re-printing, publishers HENI are holding an exhibitions of these poignant images form yesteryear.
Being an architect must be so frustrating. At every turn, your artistic vision gets constrained by town planners, clients and engineers. Even the laws of physics stop you in your tracks. Visionary architectural nutcase Zaha Hadid, who died in March 2016 at 65, must have felt that frustration more than most. Her twisting, undulating buildings – including the London Aquatics Centre and the Serpentine’s own Magazine restaurant – pushed engineers, and her clients, to their limits. She wanted more than was physically feasible, abstraction brought to life, structures that exist outside of the realms of possibility. In her drawings and paintings though, there were no limits. The result is a collection of nearly abstract visions of impossible future cities. There are recognisable elements – buildings, streets, mountains – but they’re pulled apart, deconstructed, stretched and twisted: horizons bend, walls wobble. The earlier paintings are the most realistic. They look like your standard architectural imagery at first, but odd elements pop out: rooms on their sides, walls that intersect at multiple angles. But as the show goes on, the naturalism disappears, until the paintings are almost completely impossible abstractions. There’s even a virtual reality element that places you in the middle of four of the works, their angular shapes flowing around you. The Russian avant-garde is the biggest influence, Malevich’s constructivism especially, but she wanted something more than pure ae
Turns out, seeing faces staring back at you from inanimate objects isn’t a sign that you’re losing your mind, it’s just proof that your brain is working. It’s called pareidolia: the phenomenon of seeing familiar patterns where none exist, and it looks like British artist Peter Liversidge sees faces pretty much everywhere. Actually, not quite, because Liversidge doesn’t see a bunch of different faces in the objects and images collected here, just a single one, over and over again: a blank, emotionless meh, the neutral, no-reaction emoji. It’s glaring at you in neon form as you walk in and it’s painted in black over images of tropical islands ripped out of magazines. The two dotted eyes and slitted mouth peer out from hung Persian carpets, they’re stamped into chunks of Styrofoam, cardboard, wood and bits of litter on the main wall. It’s like some kind of ethnographic trash collection. But where once these kind of ultra-simple marks may have recalled tribal masks, or primitive cave painting-likedepictions of the human face, they now scream with a different, emotionless, symbolism: the blank empty nothingness of an emoji. The Persian rugs say it best. Here are three artefacts that are imbued with the history of their craft, marked by the thousands of feet that have walked on them, and all that history has been obscured, washed away and paved over. Before, there was a story, now there’s just a face, an empty stare. It feels like Liversidge is laying bare the barren, detached
One of the sculptures here looks like a barbecued Predator. If that’s not enough to make you go see Pakistani-born, USA-based artist Huma Bhabha’s show then this whole art criticism thing is pointless. Her three cork sculptures here flirt with the modernism of Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi, the spirituality of totem poles and the aesthetic futurism of sci-fi. They stink too, the whole gallery smells of burnt cork. They’re heady works, imposing, sensory and clever but silly and humorous at the same time. In the other gallery space a withered figure in a T-shirt is nailed to a board. Collaged images seem to show monsters rising from the depths, fuelled by marijuana. What’s neat about the show is that it looks like yet another collection of bland-o modernist sculpture and collage, but Bhabha doesn’t care: she fills these works with her influences, the things around her, the things that make her laugh. They look old-fashioned, but they’re totally current. It’ll also make you want to know what barbecued Predator tastes like. @eddyfrankel
Now in its fifty-second year, the renowned and celebrated annual wildlife photography competition and exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet, captured by professional and amateur photographers. And FYI, all wannabe animal-snappers out there: next year's competition will be open for entries from October 24 and will close on December 15. Please note that last entry to the exhibition is daily at 5.15pm.
When he’s not writing pop songs about wind-proof candles or knitting himself new wigs, Sir Elton John is a serious collector of modernist photography. No, honestly, he’s been buying the stuff for years, and his collection is world famous. This show features just a little slice out of his 8,000-strong hoard. Some images are grouped thematically, others hung in the same way they are in his office. There are portraits by fashion great Irving Penn, groundbreaking compositions from André Kertesz, surreal experimentations from Josef Breitenbach, innovations from Man Ray: hold me closer, tiny art lover, because this really is a staggering collection of some of the most important photography of the early twentieth-century. Photography wasn’t new when these images were being made. But modernism was, and that was an excuse to tear everything apart. It’s the ‘radical’ bit that works best in this show, when photographers were pushing the medium to extreme conclusions, testing its limits. The work of Man Ray or Breitenbach or Edward Steichen feels genuinely exciting, like scientists discovering new cures to a disease; a disease called boring art. It’s the wild stuff – the rayograms, photomontages and solarised images – that’s the real gold here: Margaret de Patta transforming an ice cube tray and some marbles into an abstract cityscape, Herbert Bayer chopping a chunk out of his own arm, Man Ray shattering a portrait of Max Ernst. There’s compositional experimentation too: extreme persp
Details of Parreno's commission for Tate Modern's vast Turbine Hall space have been pretty damn vague. But we should definitely expect something grand, ambitious and dazzling. Quite possibly with bio-reactors, helium canisters and ventriloquism. Read our full guide to Tate Modern's Hyundai Commission: Philippe Parreno
Nightlife in London this January
The beatboxer extraordinaire and festival favourite brings his seemingly physically impossible vocal talents to this outdoor gig. He not long ago invented a new bit of software, the Beardytron 5000, to loop, sample and manipulate his hip hop, D&B and electro mouth-beats with even more precision and flexibility, and he’ll be showing it off tonight.
Beloved Brit jazz vocal star Ian Shaw (who’s a gifted narrator with jaw-dropping technique) sets up home in Soho for a week long residency performing with a different guest each night – including Claire Martin, leather-lunged Sarah Jane Morris, trumpeter and master arranger Guy Barker and the effervescent Liane Carroll. Pick any night to hear superb vocal jazz presented by a witty and charming host.
Legendary octogenarian saxophonist Rollins is the last surviving hero of hard bop and is still in fine shape. His seminal album ‘Saxophone Colossus’ is brought to life here as part of the new Milestones series, reimagining an iconic jazz album every Monday for 12 weeks.
The musical brains behind ace indie night Feeling Gloomy have come up with a new party. Burn Down The Disco will take the baton from the popular Old School Indie party at the end of September, showcasing the same great indie tunes as OSI, but also with tons of lovely soul, synth pop, ska and vintage rock 'n' roll mixed in. Think anything from Depeche Mode to The Specials to Chuck Berry to Pulp. OSI founder Carl Hill says this new night will allow him to open things up a bit and play a wider range of great music, all of which is definitely fine by us. But don't worry – BDTD will still thrive off the same fun-filled atmosphere as OSI, and certainly won't take itself too seriously. There'll be sweets given out on the door, dance competitions, colouring sheets, confetti and a weekly 'rubbish ballon drop'. Farewell, Old School Indie. Now let's all go and get drunk and jump around the dancefloor at Burn Down The Disco.
Wayne Coyne's veteran psychedelic pop nutjobs make a welcome return to London, dropping tracks from their 30-year career. Be prepared for unbridled joie de vivre and onstage antics, and bring someone to hug for 'Do You Realize?' (the official rock song of Oklahoma, fact fans).
Sean O'Hagan and his Llamas have been mixing classic, Beach Boys harmonies, symphonic melodies, Jimmy Webb song structures, Burt Bacharach-inspired arrangements and leftfield electronica for years now, creating a big, vibrant opus of timeless textures and pretty meanderings.
The Gavin Bryars Ensemble plays a set to include instrumental pieces by Bryars, as well as vocal works performed by his daughter Orlanda Bryars's vocal group, Sonant Ensemble. The pieces reflects the haunting acoustic of the space, using only voices and strings. The programme ranges from early music to contemporary works by Bryars, including a duet for father and daughter and a new work written for the two ensembles.
Stunning jazz vocalist and violinist Alice Zawadzki continues to impress and beguile with her enigmatic performances and captivating storytelling abilities. Here she joins pianist Phil Peskett and bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado to showcase her latest project. She’s one to watch as her star continues to rise.
Kenny Anderson, the last King (Creosote) of Scotland, returns with more of the delicate, forlorn but dryly witty folk for which he's become known. He has released a prodigious number of excellent albums and CDRs over the last few years, but he's at his best when he's got an audience to play to.
The wonderfully woozy and grizzled New York alt country combo get poetically folky in the headline slot. The Brothers' live show is always worth catching, adding playful electronica to a rootsy, backwoods sound and sometimes incorporating a few trad folk ballads alongside their own songs.
Finnish composer Jimi Tenor – who’s been performing for over 20 years – takes to the stage for a solo show in the Dalston club, bringing his latest project ‘Saxcentric’ with him. Inspired by experimental rock, electronic, jazz and psychedelic soul, his work is unashamedly distinctive and avant garde – he’ll fit right in at Cafe Oto.
Still led by Stephen Lawrie, The Telescopes – space cadets and onetime fairly serious early-’90s contenders – are best known for their post-Valentines fuzz-pop and classic EP, 'The Pefect Needle'. Their live performances are often a total shambles by normal standards, with Lawrie staggering around wrapping audience members in his microphone lead, but a rotating cast of talented musicians, a triple-guitar line-up and an ear-splitting, thoroughly visceral wall of noise make them a must-see.
The mighty masters of morbid rock return for what will, apparently, be their last ever tour. Sabbath bear the responsibility for some of the most monstrous riffs ever created. Minus drummer Bill Ward, the current line-up is the same one that came together in Birmingham in 1968: Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler playing towering guitar lines at ear-splitting volumes, plus Ozzy Osbourne's crazed screams and zombie-like jerks. Raise the horns as one of rock's greatest groups bid a deafening farewell.