Spring arrives this month and, as ever, we’ve got lots of recommendations on new ways to enjoy your time in London.
Why not watch a Pancake Day Race on Tuesday 5 March 2019? My favourite is in Guildhall Yard in the City of London where the different guilds compete while wearing their full regalia. Or head to Trafalgar Square for the St Patrick’s Day Festival on Sunday 17 March 2019. There are performances on stage by Irish acts, plus craft stalls and traditional and modern Irish food on offer too. And end the month by celebrating mum as it’s Mother’s Day on 31 March 2019.
National Portrait Gallery
I mentioned this last month as I’m really looking forward to it. Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 7 March 2019. The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work never exhibited before. The focus remains squarely on one of his most engaging subjects – people. The exhibition examines national identity today, both in the UK and abroad with Parr’s wry observations of Britishness.
The exhibition includes Parr’s long term study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the obscure rituals and ceremonies of British life.
As well as ordinary people, the exhibition also reveals a selection of portraits of renowned personalities, most of which have never been exhibited before. These include British fashion legends Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith, contemporary artists Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry (see image below) and world-renowned football player Pelé.
Other new works reveal the quirks of leisure activities today, a subject Parr has explored since the 1980s. Parr photographs trips to the beach, tennis tournaments – from Wimbledon to the US Open – and a day at the races, to reveal the eccentricities of everyday life.
And finally, the exhibition features the unforgettable self-portraits Parr has made throughout his career. For over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The resulting Autoportraits raise questions about portraiture and the business of portrait photography, showcasing a range of fascinating and often humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.
The Albert Memorial tours start again in March and then happen regularly for the rest of the year. It’s always the first Sunday of the month so Sunday 3 March 2019 is the date needed. There are tours at 2pm and 3pm.
The Albert Memorial is a monument to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s Consort. It faces the Royal Albert Hall on the edge of Kensington Gardens. Joining a tour is the only way to get inside the railings and see the statue and friezes up close so it’s definitely recommended.
It’s a 45-minute tour with a knowledgeable guide who explains the history and the restoration to bring the memorial back to full glory. (It didn’t use to gleam as it does now!) I took a tour last year and really enjoyed it. The guide had so much information to share my tip would be to go on the 3pm tour as I was on the earlier one and the guide had to stop us asking questions as she needed to start the next tour.
You don’t need to book in advance. You can just turn up and wait by the railings at the front of the memorial to meet the guide.
Science Gallery London
A few minutes walk from London Bridge Hotel, the next exhibition at Science Gallery London is Spare Parts. It’s open from 28 February to 12 May 2019 and questions the nature of the human body and the science, ethics and technology that enable its repair or alteration.
As this is part of King’s College London, the exhibition explores the latest research – including pioneering new studies from King’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine – into the engineering of body parts at a cellular, tissue, organ or limb level, while investigating whether ‘spare parts’ can exist outside of the biological body to be shared or exchanged in the future.
The season will ask whether our bodies can be a sum of independent parts with the possibility of being regenerated, enhanced, donated or altered by choice or destiny. It will also delve into the emotional and psychological aspects of living with an organic or engineered organ or limb. Artists and scientists will scrutinise the experience of being ill, or less able, while celebrating the human ability to cultivate resilience and celebrate difference asking: Does living with a spare part induce a feeling of strangeness and redundancy? Or does it lead to an unexpected sense of wellbeing and self-worth?
So, after reading all that, I think this might be a bit of a ‘Marmite’ exhibition as you’re either going to love it or hate it. It’s certainly going to raise questions and that’s generally a good thing.
Celebrating 150 years of our beloved and unique tea clipper, BBC Singers are returning to the Sammy Ofer Gallery with a second concert for Cutty Sark 150 on 8 March 2019.
Following a fantastic concert with conductor James Morgan and jazz trumpeter Tom Gardner to celebrate the Cutty Sark’s 149th birthday in November 2018, BBC Singers return with another cultural blend of music to kickstart Cutty Sark Theatre’s programme for 2019’s Cutty Sark 150 celebrations.
Opening on 8 March 2019, the Royal Academy of Arts is presenting The Renaissance Nude, an exhibition examining the origins of the nude and how it inspired some of the most renowned masterpieces of the western canon. Bringing together works by artists such as Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dürer and Cranach, the exhibition examines a dynamic visual tradition that permanently altered the character and values of European art.
The Renaissance Nude explores the emergence of the nude as a prominent artistic theme in Early Modern Europe within the contexts of the revival of the antique and the rise of naturalism. The exhibition traces the broad scope of this achievement in Italy, as well as in Germany, France, and the Low Countries, arguing that important contributions to the establishment of the nude as a pivotal subject of European art can be found across the continent.
Following the incredible success of the BAFTA award-winning BBC One television series Blue Planet II, presented by Sir David Attenborough, this live concert tour brings the wonders and mysteries of the planet’s oceans and wildlife to the UK arena stage. BBC Blue Planet II – Live In Concert is at The O2 on Sunday 17 March 2019.
It presents a selection of stunning visuals from the television series, highlighting the incredible natural wonders of our blue planet in breathtaking detail, projected on a 200 square metre 4K Ultra HD LED screen. And this is accompanied by the original immersive music score performed live by a full symphony orchestra.
It should be an epic and immersive journey from icy polar seas to pulsating coral reefs, from the luminous deep sea to enormous kelp forests.
The BMW Tate Live Exhibition at Tate Modern is back from 22 to 31 March 2019. This year’s featured artist is Anne Imhof and she’s creating a new large-scale commission for the occasion. Imhof, who won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, is the first artist to occupy the full suite of Tate Modern’s Tanks with a single project. Her dynamic new installation combines music, sculpture and painting, unfolding over ten days with six nights of durational performance. It’s free during the day and there are ticketed performances in the evening.
Also at Tate Modern, is a major exhibition of the work of pioneering artist Dorothea Tanning (on until 9 June 2019). Organised in collaboration with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, it is the first large-scale exhibition of her work for 25 years and the first ever to span Tanning’s remarkable seven-decade career. Bringing together some 100 works from across the globe, the exhibition explores how she expanded the language of Surrealism. From her early enigmatic paintings to her ballet designs, uncanny stuffed textile sculptures, installations and large-scale works, it offers a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s unique internal world.
Eliza Douglas in Anne Imhof, Faust, 2017
German Pavilion, 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
© Photography: Nadine Fraczkowski. Courtesy: the artist and German Pavilion 2017
Widely recognised as the pioneers of ambient house music, British duo The Orb celebrate their 30th anniversary at the iconic Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre) on 30 March 2019. It’ll be a greatest hits set and some new music as part of Krankbrother’s Re-Textured festival, combining experimental electronic music with Brutalist and modernist architecture along with innovative lighting installations.
Born out of the London club scene and known for their innovative use of samples, The Orb attracted the attention of legendary tastemaker John Peel and went on to release the album Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, widely recognised as a masterpiece of the genre.
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 March too.
Now, this looks good. The creator of art’s most haunting and iconic face, Edvard Munch: love and angst opens at the British Museum on 11 April 2019. Discover this pioneering, subversive artist in the largest show of his prints in the UK for 45 years.
Sunday 21 April 2019 is HM The Queen’s birthday (her real one, not the official one in June) and we have gun salutes to celebrate. As these don’t happen on Sundays, the noise will be on Monday 22 April 2019.
In Hyde Park at midday the gun salute will be 41 rounds. That’s the basic 21 rounds plus an extra 20 as it’s in a royal park. Then at 1pm at the Tower of London you can hear 62 rounds. That’s the basic 21 rounds plus a further 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress, plus another 21 ‘for the City of London’. The gun salutes at the Tower of London take place along the riverside, so visible to all, but the area is cramped. Often you get a better view from Tower Bridge.
This could only be in Shoreditch. A bar made from a million LEGO bricks will appear for four nights only from 25 to 28 April 2019 (exact location not yet announced). The bar will feature sculptures made completely from building blocks as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. There will also be local DJs spinning tunes all day. Tickets are available for 90-minute slots in which you can drink, eat and play – either with LEGO itself or on the bar’s ping pong table made from 22,500 bricks. And there will be lots of prizes to be won for the best builders.
Over in South Kensington, the V&A has been given unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant‘s Archive to curate the first international retrospective on the revolutionary fashion designer in nearly 50 years. Opening on 6 April 2019, the exhibition will focus on the years between 1955 and 1975, when Quant revolutionised the high street with her subversive and playful designs for a younger generation.
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, on Instagram as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.
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