Votes for Women
To commemorate the centenary of the first women winning the right to vote, the Museum of London has a new display this month highlighting the untold stories of women in the Suffragette movement. Votes for Women opens on 2 February and remains on display all year to mark such an important change to our society.
The Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918. The Museum of London has drawn upon its unique Suffragette collection, the largest in the world relating to the militant campaign, to highlight the material and visual legacy of the Suffragette story and its impact on society and politics between 1903 and 1914.
The women featured include Emily ‘Kitty’ Willoughby Marshall, who was arrested six times and imprisoned in Holloway three times for militant actions. And Janie Terrero who was imprisoned in Holloway for four months for window smashing. During her imprisonment she went on hunger strike twice and was forcibly fed until released a few days before the end of her sentence.
The display is of highly personal and iconic objects including Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal. And there is a newly commissioned film installation highlighting the individual commitment and courage of the lesser known Suffragette women.
Pancake Day Races
Shrove Tuesday is on 13 February and it’s flipping good fun as London has Pancake Day races to watch.
The Parliamentary Pancake Race is outside the Houses of Parliament at 10am and you can see racing MPs with plenty of photo opportunities. The Livery Companies Pancake Race (see below) is at Guildhall Yard in the City of London. It’s usually at lunchtime but I see it’s The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers’ diary for 11am. And then near City Hall, close to the London Bridge Hotel, there’s The Flipping Marvellous Pancake Day Race at 2pm.
Tower of London
Nightwatchers is an immersive night-time experience at the Tower of London on selected dates in February.
Enter the shadowy world of state surveillance where messages and phone calls lead participants around one of history’s most notorious prisons. Consider this an induction into the art of covert investigation, but in a climate of global insecurity, who watches the watchers?
There’s also a gun salute at the Tower of London on 6 February at 1pm to mark The Queen’s Accession Day.
Charles I: King and Collector
Charles I: King and Collector is on at the Royal Academy of Arts from 27 January to 15 April.
During his reign, Charles I (1600-1649) acquired and commissioned exceptional masterpieces from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, including works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Holbein, Titian and Mantegna, amongst others.
Charles I was executed in 1649 and just months later the collection was offered for sale and dispersed across Europe. Although many works were retrieved by Charles II during the Restoration, others now form the core of collections such as the Musée du Louvre and the Museo Nacional del Prado.
This exhibition reunites around 150 of the most important works for the first time since the seventeenth century, providing an unprecedented opportunity to experience the collection that changed the appreciation of art in England.
It partners wonderfully with the Charles II: Art & Power exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery that we featured last month.
Why not get the Thames Clipper boat service to Greenwich and see this kitsch classic at the Royal Observatory Greenwich? Featuring a soundtrack by Queen, Flash Gordon is being screened in the Peter Harrison Planetarium on 17 February.
Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow) captures three puny earthlings when they crash land on his planet, but little does he realise that he is dealing with sport superstar and Earth’s hero: Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones).
After the screening, the presenting astronomer will try to make sense of Ming the Merciless’ power to cause chaos on Earth before announcing the winners of the best cosplay competition. Yes, dressing up is encouraged.
An Evening with the Stars
Also at Royal Observatory Greenwich, An Evening with the Stars is a popular after-dark experience. It includes a show in London’s only public planetarium and the chance to look through the gigantic Great Equatorial Telescope at what the night sky has to offer. Plus, you can also spend some time on the Greenwich Meridian with a hot drink, an amazing view and astronomers on hand to answer all your space-related questions. This month there are events on 2 and 3 February with two sessions each evening.
If you want to treat a loved one there’s also the Valentine’s An Evening with the Stars on 9 and 14 February (again two sessions each evening). The planetarium show is about the romantic sights the night sky has to offer before you set off to enjoy a glass of bubbly whilst standing on the historic Greenwich Meridian with someone special.
If you like the ideas of visiting ‘Hidden London’ the London Transport Museum have some interesting events including this opportunity to visit one of eight deep-level shelters that exist across London.
Visitors on the atmospheric Clapham South station guided tour can explore a dark and rarely seen network of underground passages. Opened to the public for sheltering in July 1944, Clapham South deep-level shelter has over a mile of subterranean passageways that reveal the extraordinary stories of those who sheltered here, from Londoners seeking refuge during the Second World War, to Caribbean migrants arriving on the Empire Windrush, as well as thrifty visitors to the Festival of Britain.
Tours are available 7 to 23 February, 28 February to 4 March and 14 to 23 March (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
Or stay underground longer for a Subterranean Screening in the shelter and watch a bespoke Second World War film reel. It includes first-hand oral histories and footage from people that actually sheltered here during the V-weapon raids and throughout the end of the war, Ministry of Information propaganda films, cartoons and newsreel clips of the day. The screenings are available 31 January to 4 February and 7 to 11 March.
Chinese New Year
Welcome The Year of the Dog on Sunday 18 February with the London Chinese New Year celebrations.
It’s the biggest event in the Chinese calendar and we have a lively parade along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue in the morning. Then from midday, there is free entertainment in Trafalgar Square and, of course, delicious food in Chinatown. There’s a finale with fireworks in the early evening.
Move over Edinburgh Festival. Now in its sixth year, Vault Festival is on in Waterloo with a cultural fiesta of music, theatre, comedy and more. As before, it has taken over the tunnels of the subterranean art-hub The Vaults, as well as expanding into the nearby Network Theatre and Waterloo East Theatre.
This year it’s on for eight weeks (instead of six) from 24 January to 18 March. Over three hundred new shows explode across the festival with new venues, new bars, new food and plenty of surprises. Vault 2018 intends to be the biggest, fairest platform in London for artists to present innovative, daring work.
T-Shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion
On at The Fashion and Textile Museum from 9 February, T-Shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion provides a unique insight into the historical and cultural influence of the most ubiquitous, affordable and popular garment of the last 100 years.
Since its earliest incarnation at the start of the 20th century, the t-shirt has served as a means to broadcast social, musical and political passions. The exhibition features significant pieces from the archives of artists, designers and collectors.
Highlights include rare surviving pieces from the 1970s, by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, era-defining designs from the archives of Katharine Hamnett and contemporary reimaginings from Dior, Moschino and Henry Holland.
Today the t-shirt continues to be recreated with the advent of each new technology and political message, remaining an advert for social change, a canvas for artistic expression and a defining element of costume for almost every trend and subculture imaginable.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for February too.
Tate Modern has a landmark exhibition next month with the first solo exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso. Opening on 8 March, Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932, a time so pivotal in Picasso’s life and work that it has been called his ‘year of wonders’. More than 100 outstanding paintings, sculptures and works on paper demonstrate his prolific and restlessly inventive character. They strip away common myths to reveal the man and the artist in his full complexity and richness.
From 26 February to 12 May, Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at the National Theatre in Macbeth. Shakespeare’s most intense and terrifying tragedy is directed by Rufus Norris 25 years after his last Shakespeare production.
From 26 March, the world’s longest-running American musical, Chicago, returns to London’s West End after over 5 years away. Following a successful UK and international tour, Chicago will be on at the Phoenix Theatre.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as AboutLondonLaura.