We’ve got unusual tours, new photographic exhibitions, theatre recommendations and more this month.
Tour London’s First Skyscraper
Join Transport for London experts and enthusiasts for an exclusive tour inside London’s first skyscraper, 55 Broadway.
Considered radical and offensive when unveiled in 1929, this Grade I listed structure is now a marvel of Art Deco London. The tour gives you elite access to London Underground’s iconic former headquarters and a new perspective on the capital city as you journey up 14 storeys (mostly by lift) of beautifully detailed offices, grand meeting rooms and stunning rooftop views.
Tours are available on 9 & 10 June and 23 & 24 June 2018 (plus dates in July and August too).
Opening on 22 June 2018 at the Barbican Art Gallery, Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing is the first UK retrospective of one of the most influential female photographers of the 20th century.
Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) was an activist, feminist and environmentalist. She used her camera as a political tool to critique themes of injustice, inequality, migration and displacement that bear great resonance with today’s world. A prime example is her most iconic image the Migrant Mother (1936), seen below.
The show also features rarely seen photographs of the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War and several post-war series documenting the changing face of the social and physical landscape of 1950s America. There are also collaborations with fellow photographers Ansel Adams and Pirkle Jones documenting the changing face of the social and physical landscape of 1950s America.
Also opening on 22 June 2018 at the Barbican Art Gallery is Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds. This is the first major UK solo exhibition of the British contemporary photographer whose poetic gaze explores the fragile nature of our landscape and society.
Winship’s oeuvre captures the ‘transition between myth and the individual’, revealing deeply intimate photographs that often appear to avoid specific contexts or any immediate political significance.
The exhibition brings together an outstanding selection of more than 150 photographs, many never been seen before in the UK.
Ann Van den Broek
Also at the Barbican Centre, but this time free to see in The Curve, Ann Van den Broek: Loops of Behaviour is on from 8 to 17 June 2018.
Dutch-Flemish dance company WArd/waRD, founded by dancer and choreographer Ann Van den Broek have created a ten-day performance installation for the first time in the UK. Informed by the work undertaken during her Barbican residency in 2017 and following her participation in Doug Aitken’s Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening in the Barbican Art Gallery in 2015, this exhibition continues Van den Broek’s research into the concept of a ‘total experience’ whereby visitors can experience live performance, spoken word, sound and video projections.
Celebrate summer in the city at Zoo Nights – ZSL London Zoo’s after-hours adventure on every Friday in June. This is just for the grown-ups with guided tours on the Birds and the Bees and Zooniversity Challenge, an interactive quiz to test your animal knowledge. And new for 2018, yoga lovers can practise their downward African hunting dog, flamingo or elephant pose with ZSL’s Wild Yoga sessions.
Feeding time is not just for the animals as the Zoo’s World Food Market has treats on offer from London’s finest food vendors, including Indian nibbles, Mexican snacks and delicious desserts.
Then you can embark on a self-guided tour of the Zoo before the sun goes down, where you’ll see the Zoo’s magnificent animals and take in a packed programme of feeds and talks.
As the sun finally sets, there’s some chilled-out music and live acrobatics in the open-air Light Lounge – providing an idyllic end to what promises to be a unique evening.
The first exhibition dedicated to the celebrated Irish designer, Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum on 25 May. Her stylised graphic patterns are innovative, influential and instantly recognisable.
Inspired by the upbeat exuberance of the 1960s, a love of Irish and Scandinavian architecture and mid-century design, Orla Kiely has grown from humble beginnings in the 1990s, to become a global phenomenon.
Presented thematically, the exhibition explores all aspects of Orla’s creative output, from lifestyle and fashion ranges to use of colour and detail and the geometry of pattern. It draws on an archive of over 20 years of work, offering visitors unparalleled insight into her methods and concepts, exploring sketches, mood boards, samples and a range of making techniques.
The exhibition charts the growth and success of Orla Kiely from her first collection of hats presented at London Fashion Week in 1994, through the advent of the iconic Orla Kiely bag in the mid-nineties to her freelance work for department stores, undertaken from her kitchen table in 1998. Her most recent collections of homeware and fashion are showcased alongside her film collaborations with artists including Mercedes Hellwein and Gia Coppola.
Charles Dickens: Man of Science
A new exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum aims to overturn a long-held belief that Britain’s greatest novelist had no interest in science. Charles Dickens: Man of Science, on until 11 November 2018, investigates and reveals Dickens’s deep and influential interest in medicine, chemistry, geology, the energy of the Earth and the ability of science to drive change, cure disease, clean the city, clear the atmosphere and inspire the imagination.
His place as the most well-connected man in Victorian England led to friendships with the great scientists of the day; he shared a club with Charles Darwin, holidayed with chemist Jane Marcet, mixed with botanist Jane Loudon, sociologist Harriet Martineau and geologist Roderick Murchison, published the Royal Institution’s Michael Faraday and wrote an important obituary of Mary Anning, which brought the woman who discovered the ichthyosaur and plesiosaurus to the attention of the public.
At the same time, Dickens’s own works were admired by anatomist Richard Owen, mathematician Ada Lovelace (who asked Dickens to read Dombey and Son to her on her deathbed) and, notably, Florence Nightingale, who prescribed his novels to sick soldiers as treatment-by-reading.
Through their friend, great scientists had access to the biggest literary audience and marketplace ever seen at that point, whilst in turn Dickens was inspired by the new discoveries of his friends. Dickens relished the scientific power this offered him and did his best to bring his favourite sciences and most pressing issues to huge audiences.
My Name is Lucy Barton
You can see a movie star making their London debut at the Bridge Theatre this month. From 2 to 23 June 2018, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning Laura Linney is starring in a new adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton. Linney’s film credits include The Truman Show and her most recent TV work was the excellent Ozark for Netflix.
Unsteady after an operation, Lucy Barton wakes to find her mother sitting at the foot of her bed. She hasn’t seen her in years, and her visit brings back to Lucy her desperate rural childhood and her escape to New York. As she begins to find herself as a writer, she is still gripped by the urgent complexities of family life.
This haunting dramatic monologue, adapted by Rona Munro from the 2016 New York Times best-selling short novel, is directed by Richard Eyre and designed by Bob Crowley.
Polly Stenham has updated Strindberg’s tragedy Miss Julie to contemporary London. On at the National Theatre from 31 May 2018, Julie is wild, newly single and throws a late night party. Upstairs, the party is dying but still Julie dances. Downstairs, Jean and Kristin clean up the celebration while they listen and wait. Crossing the threshold, Julie initiates a power game with Jean that descends into a savage fight for survival.
Fuelled by social division, Strindberg’s masterpiece remains shocking and fiercely relevant in this new adaptation.
Carrie Cracknell directs Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) as Julie. There are hundreds of tickets available for every performance at £15.
Uncover the mathematics behind De Morgan’s exquisite work at Sublime Symmetry, a free exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery until 28 October 2018.
Over his career William De Morgan revolutionised the field of ceramic design. He reinvented lusterware and studied and perfected Middle Eastern designs. Yet despite, in his time, being best known as an author, De Morgan was a talented potter and possessed great mathematical aptitude which he applied to his work.
William De Morgan was undoubtedly the most intriguing and inventive ceramic designer of the late Victorian period. His conjuring of fantastical beasts to wrap themselves around the contours of ceramic hollowware and his manipulation of fanciful flora and fauna to meander across tile panels fascinated his contemporaries and still captivates today.
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 June too.
On Saturday 7 July 2018 from 6pm to 6am, Art Night will transform the Thames riverbank with new commissions, one-off artist projects and premieres by 12 internationally renowned artists for London’s largest free contemporary arts festival.
Art Night 2018’s trail is its most ambitious yet, running along the Thames from Southbank Centre through Nine Elms to Battersea. The festival is curated by Hayward Gallery, to celebrate the renowned institution’s reopening and to coincide with its 50-year anniversary.
At the Bridge Theatre, Alan Bennett’s new play Allelujah! will run for 12 weeks from 11 July. As sharp as The History Boys and as funny as The Lady in the Van, it will mark the tenth collaboration between Bennett and Hytner.
And the National Theatre River Stage is back from 13 July with an exciting and eclectic mix of weekend takeovers. There’s something for everyone including live music, dance, DJs, family workshops, club nights and theatre – and it’s all free.
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.