Finish your weekend in style with our guide to the best entertainment, events and places to go in London this Sunday, featuring an array of fantastic ideas that show the city at its best on this day of rest.
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Venues large and small in the Bankside area, host this arts and music festival, featuring an artist-designed bumper car arena, a classroom of 20 robot pupils, a giant drop-in confessions box a slap stick sports day at Borough Market and 'Alice in Wonderland' themed pop-up opera.
Putting a spotlight on the health of the River Thames, artist Jason Bruges’ light installation will shine one of three patterns on to the Sea Containers at Mondrian London based on whether the water quality is good, average or poor according to that day’s Thames data reading. The lights will be a permanent fixture every evening from dusk until midnight, letting us know if the river’s health is improving or declining. The data will also be tweeted on via the @ThamesPulse account and a billboard will show readings on real time. The lights will be switched on for the first on March 16 at 6.30pm.The project was devised by MEC UK to help raise awareness about the condition of the Thames and to support charity Thames21 in its mission to protect London’s rivers.
Ashley Bickerton is like a friend who’s just come back from travelling around Asia for six months and literally won’t stop talking about it and showing you pictures down the pub. Except the pictures aren’t irritating iPhone photos of a beach he dropped some wicked acid on, it’s a whole goddamn body of fine art. But that’s a little unfair: it’s actually only half that bad. Because before he moved to Bali to become an eco-art hippy intent on creating art that makes me wish I didn’t have eyes, Bickerton was actually pretty brilliant. Busting out of ’80s New York alongside his buddy Jeff Koons (part of what got called the Neo Geo movement), his early work was full of simple ideas about consumerism, identity and pop culture, all executed with humour, precision and a super neat aesthetic. The ‘paintings’ from that era here jut boxily out of the walls. They’re assemblages covered in handles and sheeting, screwed in place with industrial fittings. They’re like emergency equipment from cruise ships, or massive black box recorders. One has a digital counter displaying the work’s current estimated value, another features silhouettes of toilets and the word ‘ab-strakt’, there’s even a modern update of one of his early ‘self-portraits’ through brand logos. It’s all crisp, clean and clear, covered in logos and the stench of capitalism. Other works here are massive hulking impenetrable lifeboats, a framed cowboy outfit or Armani suit at their centre. There are bomb-proof boxes of seeds
There’s something special about a tapestry, something traditional, a tangible aura of history. It’s as if the act of creating an image by slowly and meticulously weaving countless threads together is somehow more permanent, more holy, than just slapping a bunch of paint on a canvas. And that’s kind of true: tapestries have been used for centuries as ‘nomadic murals’ for royalty, movable canvases filled with symbolism and iconography. Now, Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili has gone the woven way, and is unveiling ‘The Caged Bird’s Song’ this week at the National Gallery – a huge, complex work, filled with nods to classical mythology. It Ofili first painted a watercolour image then worked closely with the Dovecot Tapestry Studio to create this vibrant, multi-layered wall rug (official art historical term for a tapestry, there), which will go on permanent display in Clothworkers’ Hall in the City once the National’s done with it. Apparently, it’s very tricky to turn a watercolour into a tapestry, but that’s not your problem, because it’s clearly much easier to look at than it was to make.
Part of the BM's 'Queer Histories' season – and tying into the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, this display takes a look at queer experiences throughout history – from the Roman emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous to Japanese drag queens.
Some paintings are like celebrities. You’ve read about them, studied them from afar, obsessed over them for years, but never actually seen them in the flesh. So when you actually come face to face with one, you get all wobbly-kneed and fluttery-eyed. That’s how some of the works in this massive David Hockney retrospective make you feel. The 80-year old Yorkshireman is a giant of twentieth-century art, a painter with an incredible eye for the iconic. But this show isn’t just some stodgy funereal look back – Hockney is still painting, and he’s still good. But the show starts, like most things, at the beginning. Hockney’s early work – chronicling his years at the Royal College of Art – positions him as a sort of pop art Francis Bacon. Fuzzy flesh-coloured figures sit on boxes of tea, or against black backgrounds flanked by Alka-Seltzer packaging. Two monstrous mouths 69 each other, their penises replaced by tubes of Colgate, a tub of Vaseline in the background. There’s a lot of love here: men clinging to each other and dancing or bonking. These works are the throbbing early rushes of youth. Where Bacon is angry and tormented, Hockney is just…horny. As you emerge from these first few rooms, you realise how important location is to Hockney’s work. Those early paintings feel like London: dark, polluted, messy. Then, Hockney sacks off Britain and the RCA, heads for California, and everything changes. In LA, Hockney found freedom, sunlight, swimming pools, heat, calm and sexual aba
Love them or loath them, there's no avoiding the selfie. As an instantaneous form of self-portraiture, they're now an integral part of image-making in the twenty-first century. This exhibition charts the selfie's evolution – from the oil self-portraits of Old Masters like Rembrandt to the modern-day posing of Kim Kardashian et al.
Life is more interesting when the carpet doesn’t match the curtains. And blocking out the light in the top floor flat of Raven Row are dark drapes created by artist Martine Syms, decorated in kaleidoscopic motifs of arses and underwear. Behind it, a 360-degree video installation plays out an improvised monologue inspired by Syms’s great aunt. It all takes place in a residential flat reminiscent of a 1965 ‘Coronation Street’ set, where patterned wallpaper and leafy floor designs scream at one another through muddy shades of brown and green. The space is rarely accessible to the public, but the doors have been flung open for ‘56 Artillery Lane’, an exhibition with a feminist gaze that swallows the idea of ‘home’, digests it, and projectile vomits the concept across Raven Row’s five floors in conflicting forms, featuring installations from 14 different artists. Start in this musty tower and work your way down the Huguenot building, allowing yourself to stumble into video art like ‘Poison the Cure’ by Jenna Bliss, an oblique 25-minute look at birth control trials on Puerto Rican women. Relive a 1974 feminist squat exhibition ‘A Woman’s Place’ by SLAG (South London Art Group) using a well-researched, print magazine for the audience to keep, and find physical paintings from SLAG member Kate Walker just around the corner. It doesn’t always come off (cue the inclusion of a dowdy Stanley Spencer painting, which rests beside copper painted furniture, oxidized with piss) but the incong
Fear, paranoia, anger, poverty, conservatism, unemployment. Sound familiar? 1930s America bears a worrying resemblance to 2017 America: a bubbling cauldron of toxic ingredients, an angry, disenfranchised population, crushed by failure and trying desperately to pull themselves out of the mire. The triggers were the 1929 Wall Street crash, the Great Depression that followed, and the devastating drought that decimated the American farming industry. Suddenly, rural America was being abandoned en masse for the cities. The paintings in the opening room here are filled with the hope of urbanity. A young black couple heading for evening out in Harlem; muscular workers pointing to bright city lights; people gyrating in dance competitions. There are gigantic hulking machines and drunken sailors lolling about on shore leave. But the cracks are starting to show: disenchanted black workers, exhausted union leaders. Edward Hopper’s crisp, minimal, iconic works are full of dark sadness. A solitary man struggling at a gas pump; a woman, tense and forlorn, hiding in the corner of a cinema. Not all the paintings here are good, let alone great, but what a story: the American Dream was leaving people lost in a nightmarish abyss. So it’s no wonder that the ruralists came along. This group of artists longed for America’s pioneer past, when men were men, fields were fertile and women all looked like sad Dutch potatoes. The traditionalism captured here by Paul Sample and Thomas Hart Benton is so
Improv gets a bad rap in this country, but anyone who dismisses the genre clearly hasn't seen Austentatious. This highly impressive troupe perform a completely improvised Jane Austen novel, complete with period dress and cello accompaniment, with marvellous results. Made up of Andrew Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Graham Dickson and Rachel Parris, they're all hugely talented performers, able to keep the gag rate high and the made-up story rolicking along. Tremendous fun.
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100 Wardour St Restaurant & Club
With prices per square foot in Soho reaching ever more ludicrous heights, the D&D restaurant group (owners of 26 other prime spots in London) has turned its cavernous holding on Wardour Street into a high-end restaurant/bar/lounge/music club aimed squarely at well-heeled media types. No one’s going to miss mock-Cuban venue Floridita that was here before, though this big-but-slightly-bland replacement feels like a slightly missed opportunity to do something really exciting. After all, the site was once home to London’s rock ’n’ roll mecca, the Marquee Club. The basement area, now 100 Wardour’s ‘Restaurant & Club’, still has a stage for live music. It was loungey jazz on our visit, though the programme stretches to pop and electro (all unknown artists). The extensive menu has an intercontinental flavour, from decent robata-grilled skewers (baby octopus, grilled corn-on-the-cob) to a crisp-skinned salmon with sweet harissa potatoes that was downright delicious. The kitchen puts care into the little things: top marks for a side of pak choi garnished with subtle lemon and chilli. As the eye-popping champagne list suggests, this a place for belt-busting, diet-destroying client dinners. There was only one veggie option, but a gamut of calorie-stacked desserts. It’s all proficient, polished and pleasant, if a bit old-fashioned. And though there are plenty of places in Soho that are more cutting-edge than this, not many of them serve dinner right through to 2am. 100 Wardour Street:
Venue says: “2 courses for £25 or 3 for £30 with wine plus live jazz & pop classics courtesy of The Juke Joints, plus Soho Six cocktails all evening!”