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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Create odours and arouse your taste buds in this series of drop-in events and activities exploring how multi-sensory awareness enriches the way we experience art.
Political podcast Little Atoms and Waterstone's Piccadilly host a four-day festival of literature and debate. Owen Jones will join a panel with Ellie Mae O'Hagan and poet Calib Femi and you can find out how contemporary Caribbean literature is making its own rules.
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
A showreel of films opens this exhibition. One of them, ‘Unclassified Material’, features the pages of dozens upon dozens of encyclopaedias flipping across the screen at dizzying speed. It turns out to be a smart move; the sense of being overloaded with ideas and information acts as a forewarning of what you should expect in this survey of the late British conceptualist John Latham. Hard work, to say the least. At the heart of Latham’s work is something he called ‘Flat Time Theory’: a belief that if the universe is viewed in time-based rather than spatial terms, then a way could be found to unify art, science, philosophy, economics and pretty much everything. And if that sounds nigh-on unfathomable, then don’t worry: you’re not the only one. As you wander around his diverse output – painting, sculpture, text, film, performance – you get the sense of someone using anything at his disposal to send the contents of his head out into the world. There are books. Lots of books. Latham distrusted these arrogant little slabs of organised knowledge, and would chop them in half, tear them up, entomb them in plaster and even – in a 1966 ‘art action’ which cost him his teaching post at St Martins – chew them and spit them out. It’s tempting to think of him as the kind of person who might wear a tinfoil hat to keep out government radio signals and that kind of thing. But Latham was no crackpot recluse: he believed artists needed to play an active role in society, and co-founded the Arti
There’s a deceptively simple premise to this show. Documentary artist Mark Neville has taken photographs of children playing around the world. There are children playing in Helmand and the Highlands. In Pittsburgh and Kenya and the Ukraine. Some of them are playing children’s games, some are part of a much more grown-up world of organised celebrations: parades, feasts and dances. A large chunk of the photos are of north London playgrounds, which Neville documented in detail throughout 2016, and ‘Child’s Play’ is also a project to improve play condition for children in the UK and help address the growing problem of childhood mental illness. And that’s it. Only it’s not, of course. As you explore Neville’s amazing photos you explore a world in which what it means to be a child – and to play – varies wildly. A boy gravely holds a handful of sweets as two men butcher a goat behind him. He’s in Afghanistan, but seems no more distressed than three boys in eyeliner rehearsing ‘The Jungle Book’ in America’s rust belt, who glower at the camera. Throughout, the viewer is invited to question how children and their world are perceived by adults. These photos make you privy to the secret rituals of childhood but also exclude you from them. Three deaf children in a Ukrainian special school are engaged in some kind of bitterly serious debate, while a boy confronts the camera at Toffee Park Adventure Playground, EC1, festooned with a rope like a harpooner. Ultimately, this is Neville’s point
Paolozzi wanted to produce art so badly that he faked his own madness. He was stationed on a Slough football pitch with the Pioneer Corps at the time, so who can blame him? Slough’s loss was the world’s gain: without Paolozzi there would be no pop art, and no vibrant mosaics at Tottenham Court Road. The Whitechapel had a serious challenge on its hands with this retrospective: the man defies categorisation. He moved from painting to collage to textiles with the pace of a crazed polymath. And so the exhibition moves chronologically, from the rough-hewn sculptures of the 1940s through to the abstracted screenprints and public art installations of the ’80s and ’90s. He was known to be easily distracted. While working, he would flip from one image to the next, frantically trawling advertisements and magazines. In his famous ‘Bunk!’ lecture, which is part-recreated using wall projections for this show, he presented clippings of Coca-Cola adverts, ’50s pin ups and sci-fi illustrations, analysing their artistic merit. These were the founding days of pop art, when it still offered a scathing comment on consumerism, before itself becoming commodified and losing all meaning. Exploring Paolozzi’s early work is a depressing reminder of how derivative this genre has become. In the giant, colourful ‘Whitworth Tapestry’ he weaves a silhouette of Mickey Mouse, a motif now so overused in commercial art we barely bat an eyelid when we see Disney characters surrounded by penises and swastikas.
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
The leading photography competition returns to Somerset House to showcase the winning and shortlisted images selected from a staggering number of entries. You’ll see images by professionals and amateurs across a number of categories. Plus, there'll be an exhibition of work by the legendary Martin Parr, who's bagged this year's 'Outstanding Contribution to Photography' gong.
A show that brings a number of generations of artists together, all of whom explore the female body and how it can interact with surrounding space of the gallery. Which probably means you should expect a live performance or two.
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Michael Nadra Primrose Hill
A second London restaurant from chef Michael Nadra, following up on his lauded Chiswick original. This Primrose Hill version benefits from a canalside location and atmospheric dining areas - including a Grade II-listed horse tunnel, complete with cobbled floor and arched brick ceiling. There are Asian influences on a menu focused mostly on European classics. Expect, then, dishes such as steamed sea bass with prawn and chive dumplings, oriental greens, carrot and ginger purée and a lobster bisque alongside herb-crusted Cornish hake with lobster risotto, rock samphire and sea aster. A six course tasting menu can be matched with wines. Drinks don't play second fiddle here. A martini bar offers more than 20 classic and contemporary martinis, including dry, dirty and dickens. The Primrose martini combines vodka, St Germain and cranberry juice. More than 200 wines are available, with 16 available by the glass.