St Paul’s Cathedral
For three nights this month, St Paul’s Cathedral will be illuminated with projections of the building’s history in honour of the men and women who risked their lives to save the Cathedral during the Second World War. Putting themselves in the path of bombs, the daring members of St Paul’s Watch ensured the survival of a masterpiece that became a symbol of resilience.
Where Light Falls takes place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 25-27 October 2019, 6pm-10pm, as part of City of London’s Fantastic Feats festival. It is inspired by What Remains, a jointly curated Historic England and Imperial War Museum exhibition focusing on the deliberate destruction of cultural places, the objects and stories that bring them to life and the rebuilding of culture that follows. What Remains is at IWM London until 5 January 2020.
Costume at the National Theatre is a free exhibition in the Wolfson Gallery from 3 October 2019 until March 2020.
The National Theatre’s Costume department sources, constructs, alters, repairs, organises and maintains costumes for over 20 new productions on the South Bank each year. Meanwhile, the Costume Hire department circulates costumes from its stock of 70,000 to films, photoshoots and other theatre productions. This team of 46 can produce everything from muddy uniforms to giant caterpillars; dress an actor in a corset in under 60 seconds; and strive to ensure things look as good on the final performance as they did on the first. This new exhibition invites you into their world.
Featuring costumes from productions including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, War Horse, Follies and Antony and Cleopatra, the exhibition visits each stage of the production process; from design to construction, sourcing and alterations, to dressing, repairs and laundering.
From 23 October 2019 at the Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre, there is a major retrospective exhibition devoted to the work of celebrated British artist Bridget Riley. Spanning 70 years of the artist’s career, it will be the largest exhibition of her work in the UK for 16 years.
This exhibition is organised by the National Galleries of Scotland in partnership with the Hayward Gallery and in close collaboration with the artist. The exhibition places particular emphasis on the origins of Riley’s perceptual paintings, and will trace pivotal, decisive moments in her acclaimed career. It features early representational paintings, iconic black-and-white paintings of the 1960s, expansive canvases in colour, recent wall paintings as well as studies and preparatory material.
Alongside her best known canvases, the exhibition also includes the only three dimensional work that the artist ever realised, Continuum (1963), as well as new wall paintings made specially for the Hayward Gallery. Spanning seven dacades of Riley’s work, the exhibition offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience powerful and engaging works by one of the most important artists of our time.
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Gauguin Portraits (7 October 2019 – 26 January 2020) at the National Gallery, shows how the French artist, famous for his paintings of French Polynesia, revolutionised the portrait. Although he was fully aware of the Western portrait tradition, Gauguin was rarely interested in exploring his sitters’ social standing, personality, or family background, which had been among the main reasons for painting portraits in the past.
Featuring over fifty works, the exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings many of which have rarely been seen together. This landmark exhibition of major loans from museums and private collections throughout the world shows how Gauguin used portraits primarily to express himself and his ideas about art.
The exhibition shows how the artist – inspired by his time spent in Brittany and French Polynesia from the mid-1880s to the end of his life in 1903 – became fascinated by societies that to him seemed closer to nature. With their folk-tale heritage and spirituality, these communities appeared to him to be far removed from the industrialisation of Paris. With his use of intense colour and his interest in non-Western subject matter, his approach had a far-reaching influence on artists throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
National Portrait Gallery
Opening on 17 October 2019, The National Portrait Gallery is staging the first-ever major exhibition to focus on the untold story of the women of Pre-Raphaelite art. 160 years after the first pictures were exhibited by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1849, Pre-Raphaelite Sisters explores the overlooked contribution of twelve women who contributed to the movement in different ways.
Featuring new discoveries and unseen works from public and private collections across the world, the exhibition reveals the women behind the pictures and their creative roles in Pre-Raphaelite’s successive phases between 1850 and 1900. Women, such as Joanna Wells (nee Boyce), a Pre-Raphaelite artist in her own right whose work has been largely omitted from the history of the movement, together with Marie Spartali Stillman and Evelyn de Morgan, whose art also shaped the development of Pre-Raphaelitism alongside their male counterparts. Previously unseen works including The First Meeting of Petrarch and Laura by Spartali Stillman, will be on public display for the first time alongside works such as Thou Bird of God by Wells, which hasn’t been exhibited for over 25 years.
The next Tate Modern Hyundai Commission is unveiled on 2 October 2019. Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall has hosted some of the world’s most memorable and acclaimed large-scale works of art, enjoyed by audiences of millions each year. The way artists have responded to this vast, former industrial space has transformed public perceptions of contemporary art.
The artist with the honour of creating the latest site-specific work is Kara Walker. She is renowned for her candid explorations of race, gender, sexuality and violence, from drawings, prints, murals, shadow puppets and projections to large-scale sculptural installations. She is best known for her use of black cut-paper silhouetted figures, referencing the history of slavery and the antebellum South in the US through provocative and elaborate installations.
Also opening at Tate Modern this month, a major exhibition of the work of visionary Korean artist Nam June Paik opens on 17 October 2019. Renowned for his pioneering use of emerging technologies, Paik’s innovative yet playfully entertaining work remains an inspiration for artists, musicians and performers across the globe.
London Film Festival
The BFI London Film Festival is on from 2 to 13 October 2019 with 345 films to choose from. Films are on at 12 central London venues each with an atmosphere and buzz all of its own. The social hub at BFI Southbank has free events and Embankment Garden Cinema is a state of the art pop-up venue.
LFF is your chance to discover the Oscar winners of the future, the most thrilling new talent from across the globe and beautifully restored treasures from the BFI archives. All features are being shown in the UK for the first – and sometimes the only – time. And each year hundreds of leading directors, writers and actors are on stage to introduce their films and take part in audience Q&As.
EDIT: October Plenty will be on Sunday 20 October at a new venue this year: Walnut Tree Walk, Lambeth SE11 6DN
This autumn harvest celebration is presented by the Lions Part theatre company. It mixes ancient seasonal customs and theatre. The fun starts on Bankside near Shakespeare’s Globe then the procession winds its way to Borough Market where there is dancing, performances of plays and seasonal fare including cider. At the end, the Corn Queene is dismantled and her many component parts are flung to the crowd.
October Plenty celebrates the bounty of autumn with traditional figures such as the Hobby Horse and Berry Man – the autumnal incarnation of the green man complete with an apple tree. This year’s date was yet to be confirmed at the time of writing but it happens every year come rain or shine so we know it will be going ahead.
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 October too.
I’m not going to focus on it this month but Christmas events start in London from November. We’ll look at those and more in the next blog post.
More events to note next month include Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh opening at Saatchi Gallery on 2 November 2019. This is the largest collection of King Tutankhamun’s treasures ever to travel out of Egypt. Over 150 original artefacts from the Golden Pharaoh’s tomb will go on display including a gilded wooden bed, an ornate gilded shrine, Tutankhamun’s lotus-shaped wishing cup and his gold-inlaid canopic coffinette.
On 23 November 2019, the V&A will open an exhibition looking at the car as the driving force that accelerated the pace of the 20th century. Cars: Accelerating the Modern World will bring together a wide-ranging selection of cars that have never been on display in the UK, each telling a specific story about their impact on the world. This includes the first production car in existence, an autonomous flying car, a converted low-rider, and a 1950s concept car.
And on Saturday 9 November 2019, it is the annual Lord Mayor’s Show. Since 1215 every newly-elected Lord Mayor of the City of London has to travel through the streets to swear loyalty to the Crown. This is a classic piece of British pageantry. Do note, there is no firework finale this year.
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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