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
Get up close and personal with the luxury French watchmakers Cartier at 'Cartier in Motion'. There are over 170 exhibits to ogle at alongside rare insights into the research and work of the designers at Cartier, through extracts from material found in the Cartier Archives. While your immersed in the story of Cartier watch-smithery and the invention of the modern wristwatch, you might just learn something about upheavals in art, architecture, travel and lifestyles in the 20th century too. See here for more information.
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.
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.
Humans are so messy. We’re a seething, seven billion-strong mass of neuroses. Most of us just try to get along with living, but some people actively confront that mess. Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing are two of them. Born seventy years apart, the French surrealist and the British Turner Prize-winner are united by an obsession with the knotty, tangled turmoil of identity. This small but neat show puts their work side by side, creating a world of masks, masquerades, fakery and empowerment through art. Born Lucy Schwob, Claude Cahun was a surrealist who took on a gender-neutral name and created a body of work that in turn cast her as an effeminate strongman, then a young boy, then transforming into a masculine figure in a corduroy coat before metamorphosing into a shaven-headed character beyond gender. Cahun’s bulbous head, sharp nose and vertiginously angular features turned her into some proto-cyborg androgyne – the first genderless post-human, a future-being living beyond the constraints of society, all captured in ghostly sepia. Later work finds her covered in masks, as a severed head in a bell jar, or naked in the sea, constantly flipping between masculine, feminine and everything in between. Wearing’s art echoes Cahun’s, but is filled with a longing and sadness all its own. Masks play a big role here too; Wearing takes portraits of herself as her mother and father, as artists she admires, as herself at three years old, and as herself right now, all in eerie prosthetic
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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The Orange Public House & Hotel
This smart gastropub with rooms is a perfect match for this exclusive corner of Pimlico, and attracts a well-heeled crowd. If the ground-floor bar and dining room is packed out, make your way to the quieter first floor. The decor has a deliberately weathered look (think distressed walls, ‘aged’ wooden tables and flooring, vintage French travel posters) – the effect is appealing if a little forced. British ingredients have pride of place on the menu, so you’ll find Bath Pig chorizo, Anglesey farmed sea bass and Cornish new potatoes. Yellow, red and pink heritage beetroots with salsify and a dollop of goat’s curd resembled a summer garden on a plate. Wood-fired pizza with creative toppings are a speciality; Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella was used to good effect alongside confit yellowfin tuna, prawns, capers and tomato. Translucent (line-caught) cod atop chewy puy lentils and creamy mash was stirred into life by a velvety Madeira jus. Desserts (the likes of coffee panna cotta and sticky toffee pud) all cost £7. To drink, there are cocktails, fresh fruit juices, more than a dozen wines by the glass, and Adnams and Meantime beers on tap. Service is breezy. The Orange is part of the Cubitt House Group of upmarket gastropubs in swanky parts of town: not far away, in Belgravia, is the Thomas Cubitt, and there’s also the Grazing Goat (also a hotel) in Marylebone.
Venue says: “We are welcoming spring with our wonderfully tasty spring menu.”