Category Archives: art

Art exhibitions, sculptures and street art.

The giant Earth sculpture ‘Gaia’ is returning to the Painted Hall

Luke Jerram’s installation returns to the Old Royal Naval College in May 2021.

Gaia installation at Old Royal Naval College

Luke Jerram’s art installation Gaia returns to the Old Royal Naval College in the summer
© Colin B Mackenzie

The summer will kick off in Greenwich with the return of Luke Jerram’s stunning art installation ‘Gaia’. The recreation of Planet Earth will be suspended at the Old Royal Naval College from 30 May 2021 for one month. The exact scale replica of our planet is internally lit and created using 120dpi NASA imagery. Measuring seven metres in diameter, making it 1.8million times smaller than Earth, the sculpture will be on show in the Painted Hall.

Visitors will be able to stand back and gaze at the slowly rotating piece while listening to a surround-sound composition by composer Dan Jones. Jerram aims to give us an idea of astronauts’ vista of the Earth when travelling through Space.

During the month-long display, there will be a series of late night openings every Friday. Visitors will also be able to enjoy food and drink, as well as check out the Baroque and contemporary art at the hall.

  • Gaia is on display from 30 May – 1 July 2021. At the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest stations: Greenwich, Cutty Sark or Maze Hill. Late night openings on Fridays 5.30pm-10pm. For more information, visit the ORNC website. For late night opening tickets, visit this link.
  • This article was originally published in December 2020, but updated in April 2021 to reflect the new dates following the cancellation of the original January 2021 launch due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

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White Hart Dock | Boat sculptures pay tribute to a lost riverside hub

Today, wooden boat structures give a clue to the hidden dock, which has existed in some form for centuries.

White Hart Dock in Vauxhall, London

The art installation and benches at White Hart Dock in Vauxhall

The River Thames has always been the life blood of London, but before the rise of motor vehicles, it was a dominant way to travel. The river was a hub of industry and transport, with factories, wharf, docks and stairs lining its quaysides. As our demands on the river changed in the latter half of the 20th century, the volume of wharfs and docks has dramatically shrunk.

White Hart Dock slipway

The slipway is hidden behind brick walls and leads to tunnels (left) leading towards the Thames

One remaining dock that has managed to survive is White Hart Dock in Vauxhall. With a road separating the dock from the Thames, it would be easy to miss it if you walked past. However, today there are modern boat sculptures giving a clue to what lurks behind. Situated at the junction of the Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road, there has been a dock or slipway at the site since the 14th or 15th century. On a 1767 map, White Hart Stairs are marked just a short distance south from the famous Horse Ferry embarkation, an ancient river crossing. At the time, Black Prince Road was named Lambeth Butts and led from White Hart Stairs to Kennington Palace (which existed from 12th to 16th century). By the early 19th century, the riverside end of Lambeth Butts had become Broad Street, with White Hart Stairs a popular drop off for water transport.

In 1868, the Albert Embankment was constructed by London’s Metropolitan Board of Works, creating a riverside road and walkway and allowing for the construction of piers for the many large-scale industrial premises, along with improving flood defences for the regularly flooded Lambeth. Prior to construction, White Hart Dock was a draw dock, but was rebuilt facing south. With the main road in between the dock and the Thames, boats would have to pass at an angle at low tide to access it (see a 1872 photo of the newly-built Albert Embankment with the tunnel leading to the dock). Around the same time, many other inland docks were built for Lambeth and Vauxhall factories, including the Royal Doulton potteries. It is believed the White Hart Dock served the Lambeth and Salamanca soap works, although was deemed for public use.

To those disembarking at White Hart Dock in the mid 1800s, one of the first things they would see was the enticing Crowley’s Alton Ale Wharf. The pub chain was run by the Alton Brewery, founded by a Quaker family from Alton, Hampshire. The Crowleys were early pioneers of the traditional pub lunch, offering a glass of ale and a sandwich for 4 pence. Charles Dickens had commented on the popularity of Crowley’s Ale Houses throughout England. Their signature offering grew so famous, the Crowleys had to take out an advert warning Londoners that the Ale Wharf at Vauxhall was their only genuine London branch, accusing rivals of opening “ale and sandwich” venues. (Check out a 1869 photo of the Crowley’s Alton Ale Wharf overlooking White Hart Dock).

Timbers in the shape of bows crown the dock

The dock’s decline began in the 20th century as industry started to move away from the river. During World War II, the dock was used as an Emergency Water Supply, with the letters EWS still visible today on a sign from the period. In 1960, the local council Lambeth sought parliamentary powers to close White Hart Dock as it hadn’t been used by commercial vehicles for many years. However, the closure was never realised, but the dock continued to lay unused.

After decades of neglect and uselessness, in 2004 Berkeley Homes purchased the land adjacent to the dock for development of a luxury apartment block. It was agreed, the surrounding environment should be enhanced, including White Hart Dock. A public art panel was established and the public invited to give feedback on six shortlisted proposals for the space. Sheffield artists Handspring Design won the commission with their ornamental boat-themed sculptures in 2009. Made of sustainably sourced, FSC English oak, the dock is now crowned by bow-like arches, with boat shaped benches facing the river. The dock itself is enclosed by high brick walls, with flood gates at one end. Peering over the walls you can see the slipway and under road tunnels leading to the river.

  • White Hart Dock, junction of Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road, Vauxhall, SE1 7SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. To find out more about the artwork, visit the White Hart Dock website.

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‘Remembering a Brave New World’ lights up Tate Britain

The light installation by Chila Kumari Singh Burman is on display until the end of February 2021.

remembering a brave new world by Chila Kumari Singh Burman

‘Remembering a Brave New World’ by Chila Kumari Singh Burman on the façade of the Tate Britain

On the façade of the Tate Britain this winter is something a bit different from the typical festive lights. The front steps and portico of the neo-classical building have been lit up with a striking art installation. ‘Remembering a Brave New World’ by Chila Kumari Singh Burman was unveiled in November 2020 to coincide with Diwali, the festival of light. The collection of neon text and imagery is inspired by Hindu mythology, Bollywood, radical feminism, political activism and Burman’s childhood memories. Among the symbols and shapes on display include Hindu deities Lakshmi, Ganesh, Jhansi, and Kali. The pediment is lit up with inspirational and positive words, including love, shine, light, aim, dream and truth, while an ice cream van is perched on the steps.

  • ‘Remembering a Brave New World’ is on display until 28 February 2021. Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 4RG. Nearest station: Pimlico. For more information, visit the Tate website.

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‘Traditionally untraditional’ Christmas lights up King’s Cross with three spectacular trees

A trio of alternative Christmas trees are on display until the new year.

The Terrarium Tree © John Sturrock

The Terrarium Tree in Coal Drops Yard is one of King’s Cross’ Christmas installations
© John Sturrock

As we’re just a month away from Christmas, it’s time for London’s sights to be transformed with festive lights. Offering something different from the typical spruces are three alternative Christmas trees for the ‘traditionally untraditional’ Christmas at King’s Cross. After such an unusual year, why not take a different approach to festive decorations?

Unveiled on 23 November and on show until the new year are three different interpretation of the traditional Christmas tree. All the light installations have been dotted throughout the 67 acres of open space in King’s Cross so spectators can safely enjoy them while socially distancing.

The Electric Nemeton Tree in Granary Square has been designed by local architecture practice Sam Jacob Studio. The 36ft high tree is a futuristic metal construction inspired by the origins of the Christmas tree tradition. Surrounded by water fountains, the structure can be admired from the side and below.

The Terrarium Tree in Coal Drops Yard has been created by the Botanical Boys. The 28ft tree is comprised of 70 terrariums containing miniature gardens and 168 mirror baubles. Following the close of the festive period, the terrariums will be rehomed in the new year.

The People’s Tree at Battle Bridge Place is a multi-coloured, interactive tree. The lights are powered by people with censors picking up vibrations from nearby footprints or people’s movements. The dynamic light installation is located just moments from the popular IFO (Identified Flying Object), aka ‘the birdcage’.

  • The King’s Cross’ ‘Untraditional’ Christmas is on show now until 4 January 2021. Installations on show at Coal Drops Yard, Battle Bridge Place and Granary Square, King’s Cross, NC1. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.

 

Find out what’s on in London in December 2020 here.

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Winterfest returns to Wembley | Light installations bring joy for the festive season

Wembley Park are hosting a collection of light installations from November 2020.

Wembley Park – Winterfest 2020

Winterfest returns to Wembley Park this autumn

UPDATE: Winterfest and the ‘Reflections of the Future’ installation has been postponed until November 2021 due to the latest Covid-19 lockdown. However, the LED Christmas tree and other illuminations and digital artworks will still be on display.

As the pandemic continues to change our lives, it will undoubtedly be a different winter this year. With indoor and large activities restricted, we are looking to the great outdoors for our entertainment. One such alfresco event set to light up the dark wintry nights is Winterfest 2020.

Following the inaugural event in 2019, the free, immersive light festival is returning to Wembley Park on 26 November 2020. The theme for this year is ‘United in Light’ and hopes to bring joy to the local community and visitors over the festive period.

Among the pieces on show will be the new ‘Reflections of the Future’, a 100 metre long corridor of lights and mirrors, which alters perception of distance and space. The tallest LED Christmas tree in London returns following last year, adorned with a new digital art commission. The walk-through tree stands tall at 25 metres and features 100,000 LED light display. Along with other light installations, there will also be an outdoor photography exhibition in Arena Square during December.

  • Winterfest runs from 26 November 2020 – 17 January 2021. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. Installations will be on from 12pm-10pm daily. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

Find out what’s on in London in November 2020 here.

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New artwork inspiring hope unveiled at King’s Cross

Famous authors have teamed up with local schoolchildren to create a positive artwork to inspire during these uncertain times.

Children from King’s Cross Academy created a display wall inspired by ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ by Oliver Jeffers

A new art exhibit by London schoolchildren has been unveiled in King’s Cross. ‘Words For The World’ shares hope for the planet and reflections on the pandemic through art and words. The 180ft piece was created by pupils at the King’s Cross Academy, along with authors including Oliver Jeffers and Konnie Huq.

The project is part of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s national campaign, #CLPEWordsForTheWorld in partnership with King’s Cross and HarperCollins Children’s Books. The campaign was part of the recovery curriculum as children returned to school in September following months of lockdown. Inspired by Jeffers’ 2017 illustrated book, ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth’, children were asked to share their thoughts on the planet and their feelings about the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking part in the campaign were 374 pupils from local primary school, the King’s Cross Academy.

The new artwork comprises 300 entries from the Academy, alongside contributions from Jeffers, former Blue Peter presenter and children’s author Huq, author and activist Hiba Noor Khan, and poet and children’s writer Tony Mitton. The piece is on display at Lewis Cubitt Square until the end of the year and shares positive thoughts as we continue to adapt to these uncertain times.

  • Words to the World exhibition is on display from 8 October – 31 December 2020. At Lewis Cubitt Square, 11 Stable Street, King’s Cross, N1C 4BT. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.

Find out what’s on in London in December 2020 here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in October 2020

St Augustine church tower autumn © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

Although lockdown rules are constantly in flux and subject to change, London’s attractions, exhibitions and festivals have been gradually returning (albeit adapted to be Covid-19 safe as the pandemic continues). While physical events are continuing in adapted ways and for smaller attendees, many festivals are going online this year so you can experience the fun from the safety of your home. This month, there is Black History Month and Halloween, so expect to see many events inspired by these annual celebrations. October has plenty of boozy events on, including a month-long London Cocktail Week, Oktoberfest, Rum Week and The Whisky Show. Half-term is taking place towards the end of the month, so no doubt parents will be looking for some safe activities to entertain the kids.

Events, dates and rules are subject to change or last-minute cancellations, so always make sure you keep up to date with the relevant websites to avoid disappointment. Many events require or suggest booking in advance as they have reduced and limited availability.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

Look out for the computer symbol 💻 for online events.

  • 30 September – 8 October : London Craft Week

Week long event celebrating British and international designers, makers, brands and galleries. Various events (physical and virtual) on around town, including art tours, talks, fairs, installations, walking tours, demonstrations, open studios, craft trails, wine flights and more. For more information, visit the London Craft Week website. 💻

  • 1 – 11 October : Kensington & Chelsea Art Week

A celebration of culture in the exclusive Zone 1 neighbourhoods, including exhibitions, workshops, talks, public art displays and more. At various venues in the district, including The Muse Gallery, Museum of Brands, Goldfinger Factory, Serena Morton Gallery. Find out more on the Art Week website.

  • 1 – 31 October : London Cocktail Week

This year’s ‘week’ is extended to a whole month to give London’s bar scene a much-needed boost. Hundreds of bars across the capital will be taking part, offering £6 special LCW cocktail week concoctions for those with a wristband. There will also be self-guided bar crawls, masterclasses, bar takeovers, pop-ups and cocktail dinners. Sadly, the cocktail village won’t be open this year due to the pandemic. Tickets: £15 (valid for entire month). For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website.

  • 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival

Support London’s amazing restaurant industry by sitting down to a fine meal or foodie experience. Enjoy small-scale in-restaurant experiences, Chef’s tables, feasts-at-home, drinks masterclasses, tasting menus and foodie masterclasses. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website. 💻

  • 1 – 31 October : Mayfair Sculpture Trail

Existing Mayfair artworks will be joined by new installations for one month only. Walk along the iconic streets of Mayfair and spot creations by Lawrence Holofcener, Henry Moore, Antony Gormley, Patrick O’Reilly and Manolo Valder, among others. You can also download accompany audio commentary on Smartify. Free. For more information, visit the Mayfair Art Weekend website. 🐻

  • 2 – 9 October : Whisky Show – Virtual Show

This year’s whisky event is going online, bringing together whisky connoisseurs with the distillers of their favourite and yet-to-be-discovered brands. You can order tasting packs in advance to taste with the virtual tasting sessions, as well as attend workshops, demos, talks and meet the brands. Tickets: £20. For more information, visit the Whisky Show website. 💻

  • 2 October – 31 January 2021 : Dub London – Bassline of a City

A new exhibition explores dub reggae and its influence on the capital. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Free entry, but book a time slot in advance. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, Barbican, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest stations: Moorgate or Barbican. For more information, visit the Museum of London website.

  • 2 October – 31 January 2021 : The Murder Express

Enjoy an immersive fine dining experience on board a 19th century train carriage. Enjoy a four-course meal cooked by a Masterchef finalist, while sipping on cocktails and watching a murder mystery unfold. Times vary. Tickets: From £60. Located at 63 Pedley Street, E1 5FB. Nearest stations: Bethnal Green, Shoreditch High Street or Whitechapel. For more information, visit Funicular Productions. Check out Metro Girl’s post for details.

  • 3 – 4 October : Fun Palaces Weekend

Fun for the family through online and in-person experiences, artworks and workshops exploring arts, science, craft, technology, heritage and sports. At libraries and other venues. For more information, visit the Fun Palaces Weekend website. 🐻💻

  • 3, 10, 17 and 24 October : The Official Camden Oktoberfest

Celebrate Oktoberfest in a socially-distanced festival of beers on Saturdays in October. Featuring live music, DJs, German meat and plenty of beer. Entry in timed sessions (12pm-4.30pm or 5.30pm-10pm). Tickets: From £20.00. Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, NW1 8BP. Nearest station: Camden Town. For more information, visit the Camden Oktoberfest website. Read the rest of this entry

THE END finally lands on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth

Heather Phillipson’s sculpture of whipped cream is the 13th commission on the Fourth Plinth.

The End Heather Phillipson © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

THE END by Heather Phillipson on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square

The latest artwork to adorn the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square was at last unveiled on 30 July 2020. Artist Heather Phillipson‘s THE END is the 13th project to take its place in the central London setting since the programme began in 1998. The unveiling was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown and replaces the previous piece, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz.

THE END’s unveiling has been a long time coming for Phillipson, whose piece was selected for the commission back in 2017. However, it’s themes around dystopia and chaos seem more apt than ever right now as the world remains drastically changed due to the ongoing pandemic.

Standing tall at nearly 31ft, the artwork conveys the focus of Trafalgar Square as a location for celebration and protest. It features a giant dollop of whipped cream, topped with a cherry, fly and a drone. The latter transmits a live feed of the square via http://www.theend.today website, giving visitors a unique perspective of the Westminster landmark through the ‘eyes’ of the artwork.

The fourth plinth was originally designed as part of a quartet by architect Sir Charles Barry when he designed Trafalgar Square in the mid 19th century. It was originally scheduled to showcase an equestrian statue of King William IV, but the plan was never realised due to austerity cuts.

  • THE END by Heather Phillipson is on display from 30 July 2020 until further notice. At the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Embankment or Leicester Square.
The End Heather Phillipson © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

The End is the 13th commission on the Fourth Plinth

Find out what’s on in London in December 2020 here.

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Step into Picasso’s studio with an immersive art experience at BASTIAN gallery

A new London exhibition features Pablo Picasso’s furniture, sculpture, ceramics, drawings and prints.

Picasso’s studio in La Californie à Cannes, © André Villers

Femme assise (Dora Maar) by Pablo Picasso, 1955

An exciting new exhibition is bringing Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Cannes studio to London for an immersive art experience. The Bastian gallery in Mayfair has delved into the Spanish artist’s huge collection of objects, including furniture, sculpture, ceramics, drawings and prints, to recreate his creative space.

Picasso moved to the south of France in 1946 and filled the surfaces and floors of his studio with source material and original works. This new exhibition, ‘Atelier Picasso’, will feature photographs of the artist in his studio by close friend André Villers.

Among the Picasso pieces on show will be the ‘Complete Set of 20 Visage plates’ from 1963, which features different sizes of plates depicting a smiling face motif. His ceramic ‘Wood Owl’ (1969) and his ceramics of female and male faces will also be displayed, including the beautiful Carreau Visage d’Homme (1965). Among his ink drawings include ‘Deux nus et têtes d’hommes’ and ‘Le Voyeur’. The artworks will be displayed alongside furniture from his famous Villa La Californie, making the visitor feel like they are stepping into the artist’s studio.

  • Atelier Picasso runs from 3 September – 12 December 2020. At BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest stations: Green Park or Bond Street. Tel: 020 3940 5009. Open: Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. For more information, visit the Bastian Gallery website.

Find out what’s on in London in November 2020 here.

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Explore the 3D art exhibition Triptych at the Ben Oakley Gallery

Contemporary artists Robert Sample, Joseph Loughborough and Bael feature in the June 2020 exhibition.

TRIPTYCH exhibition © Bael Ben Oakley Gallery

Bael is among the artists taking part in the TRIPTYCH exhibition at the Ben Oakley Gallery

Lockdown may be easing in some areas, but art lovers are still patiently waiting to return to London’s galleries. While you may not be able to visit art displays in person, the Ben Oakley Gallery have just launched a new 3D art exhibition to enjoy in lockdown.

Contemporary artists Robert Sample, Joseph Loughborough and Bael will showcase their drawings and paintings in the new exhibition, Triptych. Having launched on 12 June, the three-man exhibition is available to view in 3D, along with the new virtual reality gallery space. These three artists have very different styles, but each explores the human figure in this new exhibition.

Sample’s signature gritty style is on show, with his latest work depicting monochromatic figures in oil paint. Meanwhile, Bael focuses on stillness and simplicity with delicate lines and hints of colour. Finally, Loughborough’s dreamy work brings the viewer to another dimension.

  • The Triptych exhibition is on virtually until 28 June 2020. To book your time slot, email the gallery. For more information, please visit BenOakleyGallery.com.

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