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.
RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in London this weekend
The V&A is London’s biggest museum – and it’s about to get even larger as its new Exhibition Road Quarter opens this week. Today is you first chance to look around as the Quarter opens a free, week-long festival called Reveal. On the programme you’ll find huge sculptures, light drawings, specially commissioned music and dance pieces and an evening curated by Boiler Room.
Whoever said the Square Mile is purely the domain of bankers and stockbrokers? The seventh edition of this urban sculpture trail will bring a dose of high culture to the City from June 27. It's quite a blokey line-up this year; look out for work by shark-pickling troublemaker Damien Hirst and American schlock merchant Paul McCarthy. You'll find a handy map of the trail here.
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.
British sculptor Shawcross is the next artist to install a specially commissioned artwork on the ceiling of St Pancras's Barlow Shed, as part of the Terrace Wires programme.
Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty explores gay lives through personal testimony, cultural expression and legal reform, from the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde to the posthumous pardoning of historical homosexual offences this year. See original campaign material, journals and posters from groups the Gay Liberation Front, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and Outrage!, Sarah Waters’ notebook she used while writing 'Tipping the Velvet' and a first edition of Virginia Woolf’s 'Orlando' alongside a sound recording of Vita Sackville-West from 1954 talking about the inspiration for the book. This is the first time these items have been on display together and there'll also be a number of special events throughout the exhibition, including a panel discussion about the history of queer culture and a discussion about David Bowie's influence on LGBTQ culture. Find out more here.
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
Here’s something that will be news to no one: photography is in crisis. Shock horror! OMG etc, etc. It’s not really, of course, just bits of it. This group show of 14 artists who all use photography in their work spans 40 years, from the ’70s to now, and it looks at a paradox. For the first 150 years of its young life, photography was all rebellious: it questioned value, talent and meaning: the frameworks that traditionally defined art. Then the internet and social media and baboon selfies and Tinder happened, and photography suddenly looked its age, a ubiquitous media parent/enabler: reliable, cheap, undemanding of love. What were artists to do? The answers vary. Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff are the pre-internet old masters here. Once upon a time their work questioned the surface of the world and ideas of ‘reality’. So a grainy Sherman shot from her defining ’70s ‘Film Stills’ series seems removed from time and place and psychologically unanchored. Ruff’s enormous blown-up portrait heads are… big: they crush you with a billboard-size question of what it means to be human. Just as big and just as remote, Gursky’s bleak fractalisation of the Chicago Stock Exchange and Wall’s lightbox of a grim concrete outflow pipe above a strange, orange-flecked river both tempt you into the age-old photographic trap: it’s a photo, it must be ‘real’, mustn’t it? These are all masterful works: you should go see them. But they’re also quite sure in their differ
After its smash debut last year, art-festival extravaganza Art Night is making a return. Across 11 east London venues, 13 artists will deliver 11 separate projects – and guess what? Bar one things – Club Night at Village Underground – it's all totally free. Although you might need to register for some events, so best to head to their website for more info. There's also an app that's worth downloading, so you can work out a game plan for the night.
The pristine white spaces of the ICA have been ravaged. Stuart Middleton has torn down the ceiling, stripped the walls and ripped up the floor. Where once everything was perfect, now there is only ruins and decrepitude. He’s transformed the hallowed gallery into an abandoned factory, an empty, unused abattoir. Upstairs, a stop motion video shows a sickly dog prowling around a white room, barking and sniffing. You complete Middleton’s installation by walking through it – you’re the metaphorical art livestock, the hungry worker returning to find scraps of cultural nourishment in the old factory. You’re a participant in the grubby, filthy, cultural gallery game. At least, that’s the generous way of approaching it. But if you’d never been to the ICA before, you’d walk in and just see an empty room. A bit of a grotty one, with peeling walls and rotting wooden floors, but still just an empty room. The only way that’s explained is through a short story written by the artist – there’s no other concession made to helping you understand what this is. So you’re just stood there, coming up with narratives for why this empty room is so empty. And an empty room isn’t exactly a new conceptual conceit. The whole installation is unrewarding, and maybe even a bit silly. The thing is, for too long now the ICA has been putting on shows that are woolly, unapproachable and unappealing. They choose interesting young artists, but the results are too often completely underwhelming, too ensconced in
‘The Best Possible School’: Anna Freud, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham and the Hietzing School in 1920s Vienna
This exhibition delves into the Heitzing School, which briefly flourished in interwar Vienna as a place of free, uninhibited, non-curricular learning.
Most of us don’t get any better with age. After our twenties we just get uglier, fatter and more useless. But Katsushika Hokusai was like a seriously fine wine. He was in his early seventies when he created ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ – a work that would become one of the most iconic images in all of history, and he just got better. His whole life as an artist led to that single moment, and then the world blossomed and unfolded in front of him. The Great Wave – a woodblock image – was printed in its thousands, making a star out of lowly Hokusai. It’s a gorgeous little picture, a swirling maelstrom kaleidoscoping around the tranquil mountain as boats crash and clatter in the waves. Later on in the show, two big ceiling panels focus in on the wave. The twisting shapes and spitting foam create mini galaxies that completely overwhelm you in their abstraction. He was taking nods from western art, and in the process, he’d go on to shape the work of Van Gogh and Monet in countless ways. But it’s not all waves and water. The show takes in his prints, of course, but also his books and his one-off paintings. It’s a journey through countless mythological worlds, lush unfolding landscapes, ghost stories and scenes of everyday life. But most of all, it’s a journey through the mind of a master, desperately trying to wring every last drop of art from his brush. You just wish the museum had dimmed the lights a little bit and given the show some atmos. The final works are sad and forlor
A massive 48 work-in-progress comedy shows in just two days. All these acts are heading to the Edinburgh Fringe this August, so the likes of Foster's Best Newcomer winner Sofie Hagen, Radio X DJ John Robins and 'Mock the Week' star Angela Barnes need to workshop their new shows. The closest thing to be hooked up to an IV of funny – an intravenous quip, if you will.
Good old The Boy with Tape on His Face: living proof that you can still be incredibly funny without uttering a word. The physical comedy sensation (aka New Zealand-born stand-up Sam Wills) wowed US audiences as part of America's Got Talent. Now, The Boy is back in London in June 2017 with his predictably titled show 'Tape Face', mixing mime, props and audience interaction to create beautiful visual punchlines and truly magicial moments. This is one show that really does speak for itself.
The Iron Lady's back! And now she's hosting a quiz show. Matt Tedford's reimagined version of Maggie Thatcher as a cabaret star is an absolute riot. Expect songs, games, catchphrases and other gameshow nonsense in this hugely enjoyable show. After all, if the current Prime Minister’s going to accuse the other parties of ‘game playing’ someone might as well keep score.
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The Sherriff Centre
When The Sherriff Centre was set up in 2014 it was to originally house the local Post Office, which had closed down, but the centre has since grown. Now you can find a cafe there, along with a gift shop and a soft play area for the little ones. It's also a social enterprise that gives its profits to a charity that delivers free debt advice. Amid the stone arches of St James's you can settle down at the Sanctuary Cafe for a coffee, cake or even a beer. There's free wifi to boot! The gift shop, Icon, stocks all manner of cards, gift wrapping, toys, stationary and much more. Hullabaloo run the kids' area, which has a ball pit and play frame for ages two to ten, with a separate play area for ages up to two.
Venue says: “Now taking bookings for delightful afternoon teas and baby showers! Contact us for more info.”