Science Gallery London

The new Science Gallery London

London has so many  museums and galleries, from the world famous ones such as British Museum and Natural History Museum, V&A and National Gallery through to fascinating smaller and niche ones such Sir John Soane’s, Denis Severs, The Fan Museum and the Museum of Brands and Packaging – and so many more….     However, we do love a new opening so we were excited to hear that after a couple of years of preparations, the Science Gallery was finally ready to visit.

Science Gallery London

The gallery is  flagship project for Kings College, part of the University of London (where my father studied many moons ago!) aiming to bring visitors into the building, to connect people with the content and really help them engage with it. They have mediators wandering around to explain and help visitors understand and interact with all the exhibits and get to know what the artists are saying through their work.

The Science Gallery has launched with a great exhibition called Hooked,  exploring addiction and recovery and they are rightly proud that it is free to enter!

Hooked explores a wide range of addictions, some of which are rather close to home as it goes into the world of smart phones and how ubiquitous machines are now and how battery strength can be a major anxiety!  They look at sugar, slot machines,  consumerism, gambling through to more dangerous and illegal addictions when the joy turns to harm and there is no sense of choice. They look at what is termed the  ‘gift of desperation’ to horrors of withdrawal and the pain that leads to recovery.

Big unknowns are explored – why are some people addicted and not others. Big moral questions around crime versus society’s problems.   There are no answers, but the impacts are reflected here.   The work is a mix of commissions and work which artist have agreed to show here and the media used is mixed from sculpture to video to photography to installation.

Here are a few of the pieces that caught my attention.

One of the most striking pieces is 2 large video panels representing our relationship with our mobile phones.   The panels represent phones and speak to us, shocking us with reminders of the closeness of our dependency on these machines which provide the answers to all our questions.  We don’t know the long term impact of smart phone and addiction to life online is but Kings’ researchers are investigating this so watch this space….

Science Gallery, London

Video phone panel

Science Gallery, London

Video phone panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To get the full effect of Yole Quintero’s piece try this link to a short video I’ve called ‘Listen to your phone’ to see and hear her rather creepy words about the love affair between phone and user!  Listen to your phone!  

A room called Sisyphus, examines our endless search to power our machines and our anxieties when the levels drop – I’m sure we can all relate to that one!  Just one image gives us the beginnings of battery worry….

Science Gallery, London

by Esmeralda Kosmotopoulos

What about the compulsion to ‘like’ everything?  Why do we and what does it mean if we don’t? Jonah Brucker-Cohen double bluffs us to not like but is the temptation to push the big pink button going to be too much – 142 people so far have had to push….

Science Gallery, London

The simple pleasures of life have their own addictions, even sugar  gives us a rush and Atelier 010’s Sugar Rush both references this and our consumer driven cravings in their installation that is designed to fail. It is made of sugar and has tea poured over it to destroy it and crash the crockery to the floor  in a dramatic gesture. 

This arresting image by Olivia Locher explores how cravings can lead to both pleasure and pain as the delicious ice lolly is covered with map pins as it seems  you can’t have one without the other.

The section looking at Free Will explores our levels of choice over addiction.  Within that was a beautiful piece Called the Divorce Index and Curtain of Broken Dreams where a film plays behind a curtain made up of  cheap wedding rings.  Natasha Caruana is reflecting on why coastline towns in Britain have the highest divorce rates.  Science Gallery, London

We watched a powerful film,  introduced to us by Dryden Goodwin and Mr Gee, set in young offenders institution which explores the effects of drugs.  The group of offenders had been involved in drug related crime and the films followed their involvement in a poetry and drama project to explore the sensory and emotional effect of drugs .  The work was a stunning and unsettling insight into a world beyond my own.

The section on the painful path to recovery is  told  by people in recovery themselves through video, not easy viewing but an important par to the exhibition’s story. 

The gallery is just by London Bridge, across from the Shard and is part of Kings College on the wonderfully named street Great Maze Pond.  The interior is very modern which feels strange when you look out through the windows at the grade ll listed surroundings of the original Guys Hospital that forms the rest of the building.  but it works well.

Science Gallery, London

Interior of the Science Gallery

A great new addition to London’s museums and a bold topic to tackle as their first show, some fun, some thought provoking, some sadness and worth a look.  There is of course a great shop and a good looking cafe!

Check out their website  https://london.sciencegallery.com/   for information about opening hours, location and any new exhibitions.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Modern Couples opens at London’s Barbican Gallery

It’s been a mammoth undertaking!  This was the introduction from Jane Alison, the co-curator  of the Barbican’s new exhibition, Modern Couples, which explores how all the relationships featured in the exhibition have changed art and how society viewed these relationships.  This is not art  seen as it so often is through the lens of the single male genius but instead it opens up our thinking about what emerges from collaborations between couples and it makes a particular point of putting the women first in each couple (where there is a man/woman couple) making her the lead,  not the muse or supporter.   A refreshing viewpoint,  which feels very much in tune with  our times.

And yes, it is mammoth – take a look at this photo which lists all the couples featured, over 40 in all, and you’ll get an idea of the scope and scale of the exhibition.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Spread over 2 floors, laid out in easy to digest rooms, I enjoyed  exploring the rooms about couples I was familiar with and being introduced to new couples and  also to couples I had not known to be couples at all.

There are  wonderfully detailed explanatory panels for each couple,  alongside art works by each and added items to bring their personal relationship to life: love letters, gifts,  quotes, photos, even household items.

The highlights are the big names:  Frida Kahlo and Diego RIvera; Dora Maar and Picasso; Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; and Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson all of which I’m featuring but also Lee Miller and Man Ray, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry, and the list goes on….

We’ve seen so much of Frida  Kahlo  lately with her recent exhibition at the V&A that her work and life now feels much more familiar than his.  We have works by them both, photos and inevitably quotes by Frida.   The rarely seen Little Deer was a treat, alluding as ever to Frida’s pain, physical pain and the pain of her love of Diego.

The Little Deer, Frida Kahlo

 

Modern Couples, Barbican

Les Vases Communicants Diego Rivera

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dora Maar and Picasso’s panel explains her influence on his work as a surrealist photographer rather than a passive muse, indeed through her photography he become her muse.  I loved this photo of the 2 of them on the beach which was fun to see alongside the paintings and sketches, as it brought them to life for me a couple.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin have several works in the exhibition but I loved the 2 heads they made of each other

Modern Couples, Barbican

Camille by Auguste

Modern Couples, Barbican

Auguste by Camille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson have a room in which there is a panel to Ben and his wife which  emphasises the complex nature of coupledom the exhibition celebrates.  We see the intertwining of Hepworth and Nicholson’s work in large cabinets and although Nicholson once claimed ‘Barbara and I are the same’ they separated and followed their own creative paths.

Modern Couples, Barbican Modern Couples, Barbican

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also was taken by:  Georgia O’Keeffe whose work I love and Alfred Stieglitz:  by Frederico Garcia Lorca and Salvador Dali who I had not seen as a couple;  by Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst.

I’ve been to Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico so her work always speaks loudly to me and it was good to see her make an appearance here as she is so little shown in the UK.  We see photos of her taken by Alfred and one stunning painting of hers, full of light and colour which shines out in the darkened upper floor of this gallery.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Red, Yellow and Black Streak

Modern Couples, Barbican

Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz 1918 (V&A)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lorca and Dali were close friends, sparring partners, inspirations to each other and who knows what else – no matter.  They certainly influenced each others work and were prolific letter writers, expressing strong views about their art, life and also how much they missed each other.  We see excerpts from these letter as well as photos of the pairs giving insights into how dear the friendship was, alongside their art.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Dali and Lorca in amusement park1925

Modern Couples, Barbican

Dali and Lorca 1927

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the couples’ stories were of extraordinary creativity and periods of great happiness but not necessarily long-lasting.  Those battling convention had difficult times, including  Nancy Cunard the heiress whose relationship with a black musician, Henry Crowder, led to her being disinherited and ending up in poverty but writing and doing important work for racial integration. One  tragic tale was that of Leonora Carrington  whose love of the German Max Ernst was thwarted by the outbreak of WW2 and his internment.  She was a  painter who had a brief period of ‘paradise’ as she called it but his removal from her life led to her mental breakdown and brutal treatment in a  Spanish asylum.  However, later on she managed to resume her creative live in Mexico, without Max who had married Peggy Guggenheim!  I was not familiar with her work or life so all this was a new and interesting discovery

Modern Couples, Barbican

Bird Superior, Portrait of Max Ernst 1939 by Leonora Carrington

One touching and unexpected couple was Emilie Floge and Gustav Klimt. She ran her how couture house and they worked together, inspiring each other  but in a platonic way, and it was rather lovely to see he had designed her business and invitation cards.

Modern Couples, Barbican

Business card and invitation design by Klimt for Floge’s business

There is a great deal to explore in this Modern Couples exhibition, you would need a good couple of hours to really do it justice and so I’ve just given you a few tasters here to get you started. It’s a great idea for and exhibition and well executed and do take the time to read the panels about the couples as there is so much amazing information on each couple and the historical and social context they were living through.

To find out more about Modern Couples, opening times and ticket prices,  and the Barbican Gallery here: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2018/event/modern-couples-art-intimacy-and-the-avant-garde

Full disclosure:  as is customary in the travel and tourism industry I was offered a complementary ticket to Modern Couples for the purposes of this review. This has not influenced my views of the exhibition.

What’s on in London this autumn and winter 2018

I’ve been looking through all kinds of listings to pick out some good stuff for you for the next 3 months of what’s on  in London. Scroll through the various categories to find  what floats your boat: special events, theatre, art galleries, shopping, fashion and markets, museums and exhibitions, foodie things, parks gardens and royal palaces, sport and music!

SPECIAL EVENTS

OCTOBER  This is a big month for film and art with major events for both creative industries. The 62nd London Film Festival is a showcase for Hollywood stars and block buster films and yet still finds space for first time directors and documentaries.  Frieze Art Fair brings the art world to London and takes up residence in Regents Park showcases top galleries and there is a whole range of other shows around London offering some pieces at more affordable prices.

NOVEMBER The week of the 5th sees firework displays all over town as we mark Guy Fawkes Night when a group tried but failed, luckily, to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.  It’s a great month for jazz fans when the London Jazz Festival brings top names to London’s famous night spots like Ronnie Scott’s. As winter is chilling the temperatures, you’ll see ice rinks opening all over town at great venues such as the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum. The Lord Mayor’s Show will delight the crowds with a parade around the streets of the City as it has since 1215!

DECEMBER The build up to Christmas is in full flow with all the famous lights decorating the streets of London with their best festive look. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park offers a fun fair and a large Christmas market offering something for all the family. Look out for the famous, tall Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, an annual present from the people of Norway in memory of Britain’s help during the 2nd World War where carols are sung each evening – a magical sound to put you in a festive mood.

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Azzedine Alaia Design Museum

Glorious dresses from Azzedine Alaia at the Design Museum

So often displays of dresses are a disappointment as the  mannequins used do not do the designs justice and the dresses end up looking limp and the best idea of the real glory of the frock comes only from an old photo of a celeb wearing it. Not the case here!  These dresses by Azzedine Alaia shine and stun you as soon as you enter the room and stay with you when you leave.

Azzedine Alaia Design Museum

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Buckingham Palace

Prince and Patron at Buckingham Palace

Each summer Buckingham Palace opens its doors to the public while the Queen is away on her holidays.  You can tour the palace and see its richly decorated state  rooms and extraordinary art gallery.  But there is more!  A special exhibition accompanies the opening of the rooms and as it’s Prince Charles’ s 70th birthday this year, he gets to chose his favourite pieces of art  to put on display in an exhibition entitled Prince and Patron.

Entering Buckingham Palace is always a treat and they even laid out a red carpet for visitors to walk up!

Buckingham Palace

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The Painted Hall, Greenwich.

The Painted Hall in Greenwich is a wonderful sight at any time but during their restoration project you can climb a huge scaffolding and see the artwork close up.   There’s a massive conservation project going on before the hall reopens in full splendour next year.

What is the Painted Hall? They certainly didn’t spend too much time thinking up the name!  The enormous hall is covered in an array of extraordinary art work.  Dating from 1694, the hall was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, the finest architects of their day, the paintings were added between 1707 and 1726 by Sir James Thornhill.  If that name sounds familiar it’s because he painted the interior of the dome at St Paul’s cathedral and  this major commission pre-dates St Paul’s so the Painted Hall was a huge boost to his career.   He was paid £1 per square yard for the wall work and £3 for the ceilings and as the whole lot came in at a whopping 40,000 square feet, which would have added up to a  reasonable sum – £6,685 apparently. The  21st century restoration is costing £10.5 million so let’s hope this work  lasts the 100 years their are banking on!  The tour costs are going towards this as well as a great deal of fundraising.

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Ice cream van

What’s on in London summer 2018

I send out a newsletter to subscribers with a preview of some of the great stuff on in London over the next 3 months but blog readers are able to enjoy it too. So here it is and I’m  happy to take any questions about anything featured.

IT’S YOUR LONDON NEWSLETTER FOR SUMMER 2018.

Here’s your Summer 2018 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed (or other things you’ve heard about) send me an email (sue@itsyourlondon.co.uk) and I’ll get right back to you.

Have a look at Sue’s blog on the website (www.itsyourlondon.co.uk) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 4000+ followers for the latest news and I’m on Instagram as @sueinlondon for some lovely photos.

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Serpentine Pavilion 2018

The Serpentine Pavilion 2018

The arrival of the Serpentine Pavilion each year is a sure sign that the London summer has started and yesterday I enjoyed the 2018 pavilion on a perfect June day in London.

Now in its 18th year, each Pavilion is strikingly different from every predecessor and the 2018 version is another delight. The architect is Frida Escobeda from Mexico City is the youngest person to be given this annual commission and only the second woman after the late Zaha Hadid, who was the first back in 2000 .  Frida said she was very surprised to be asked to take on this commission however she has proved more than worthy of this award as her work is a wonderful addition to the list of great Pavilions. She talked of the challenge of designing a temporary structure that would be in its site specific location for just 4 months and the would go on to an unknown location in a private collection.  I’d not realised Pavilions have a second life and it made me wonder where previous ones have ended up.

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

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National Portrait Gallery

Rebel Women at the National Portrait Gallery

I’m really familiar with the National Portrait Gallery, London, or so I thought until I was invited to preview their Rebel Women Trail.  Much to my shame and amusement I found a section of the gallery which had escaped me so I am very pleased to highlight it in this blog post.

The Rebel Women Trail is a brilliant way to highlight the number of portraits of women in the permanent collection, perhaps often overlooked.  The portraits in the trail were chosen by a select group of women featuring: Gillian Wearing; Miranda Hart; Liv LIttle; Sara Pascoe; and, Ali Smith.

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