Exhibition Review : Van Gogh and Britain at Tate Britain from 27 March to 11 August 2019


Tate Britain presents a major exhibition about Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The exhibition entitled Van Gogh and Britain explores Van Gogh’s relationship with British art, literature and culture and how Van Gogh’s work inspired British artists like Walter Sickert, Frank Brangwyn, Matthew Smith, Jacob Epstein, David Bomberg and Francis Bacon.

The exhibition includes over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections around the world which is the largest group of Van Gogh paintings shown in the UK for nearly a decade. Van Gogh and Britain is the first exhibition of the artist’s work at Tate in over 70 years, when a blockbuster show in 1947 attracted record-breaking crowds. The exhibition was a phenomenon in London and went on to tour to Birmingham and Glasgow.

Some of the highlights include Self-Portrait 1889, L’Arlésienne 1890, Starry Night on the Rhône 1888, Shoes 1886 and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery in London. The exhibition also features late works including two painted by Van Gogh in the Saint-Paul asylum, At Eternity’s Gate 1890 and Prisoners Exercising 1890.

Van Gogh spent time in London between 1873 and 1876 and explored British culture during his stay. He admired works by John Constable and John Everett Millais and enjoyed British writers like William Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti and especially Charles Dickens. Despite this influence, his only image of London is the remarkable Prisoners Exercising, from Gustave Doré’s print of Newgate Prison.

The period in London was to influence Van Gogh in other way, his unrequited love for this landlady’s daughter led to change of character from relatively carefree to someone obsessed with religion. Dore’s work and Dickens played a major role in his development as an artist especially regarding subject matter. He wrote that ‘My whole life is aimed at making the things from everyday life that Dickens describes and these artists draw’.

The self portraits created during the 1880s show a man driven to capture the world around him with landscapes like Wheatfield Arles 1888, Autumn Landscape at Dusk Nuenen 1885, Avenue of Poplars in Autumn Nuenen 1884 and Olive Trees, St Remy 1889.

He also began to paint workers including Miners in the Snow Cuesmes 1880 and Loom with Weaver Nuenen 1884.

The Sorrowing old man 1890 gives some indication of the time when Van Gogh is descending into mental illness and ultimately his suicide.

Although Van Gogh died in relative obscurity, the Van Gogh exhibition of 1947 began to illustrate that people and artists attitudes were changing. The art works brightened up post war Britain when people were looking for a new beginning after the tragedy of the war. Modern British artists like Matthew Smith, Christopher Wood and David Bomberg saw new possibilities with their art and Francis Bacon saw himself like Van Gogh, the embattled, misunderstood artist, an art outsider.

This fascinating exhibition is a reminder of the often cruel twist of fate that befall artists. Van Gogh commits suicide because of his lack of success and recognition. Over 100 years later, Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the world and his paintings sell for millions. This exhibition provides the opportunity to understand the role that Britain played in that transformation. The influence of Dore and Dickens were considerable but it is the remarkable intensity and dynamism of some of the paintings that generally appeal to a modern audience. The exhibition of 1947 was a turning point for the appreciation of Van Gogh in the UK, this exhibition confirms his status as one of the great artists.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain website here

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Review: Superstars of Gymnastics at the O2 Arena – 23 March 2019

Photo – Jamie McPhilimey/Matchroom Multi Sport

Gymnastics has enjoyed a massive growth in the UK since the London 2012 Olympics and British gymnastic success in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Therefore it was not surprising that large crowds made their way to the O2 Arena for the Superstars of Gymnastics event.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Two of the major attractions of the event was the American superstar Simone Biles and British Olympic hero Max Whitlock. They were joined by Rio gold medalist Fabian Hambüchen of Germany, triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ellie Black of Canada, double Olympic silver medallist Marcel Nguyen, three-time World Champion Oksana Chusovitine, four-time World Cup medallist Elisabeth Seitz, six-time Dutch national champion Casimir Schmidt and Jamaican international Danusia Francis.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

British favourites, James Hall, Danny Purvis, Dom Cunningham, Courtney Tulloch, Sam Oldham, Jay Thompson and Halle Hilton were also among the competitors.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Unlike the usual gymnastic events, Superstars of Gymnastics includes a series of innovations that increases the excitement for the gymnasts and the audience. Routines will be judged by the all-star panel, who will also provide feedback. Each apparatus will have its own leaderboard with a winner per piece to be determined by the highest combined score. Athletes will have the freedom to devise and perform their own routines and judges will score out of 10 based on flair, creative choreography, execution and engagement with the live crowd at The O2.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

To get the event started, Simone Biles showed her considerable skills on the floor. Biles is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time with a remarkable total of twenty five Olympic and World Championship medals. Although only 22, Biles has recently said that the Tokyo 2020 will be her final Olympics and the huge ovation by the O2 crowd when she entered the arena was testament of the high esteem she is held in the world of sport and beyond.

Photo – Jamie McPhilimey/Matchroom Multi Sport

Biles and Whitlock were not competing with other gymnasts but put on special performances in the afternoon and evening sessions before joining Amy Tinkler and Laurent Landi on the judging panel.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Away from the pressures of high level competition, the gymnasts soon entered the spirit of the event and enjoyed the freedom to perform anything they want to enthuse the crowd.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The combination of legends and upcoming gymnasts provided a great blend of experience and youthful exuberance, both enjoyed by loud and knowledgeable crowd.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The crowd was treated to some unusual dancing on the top of the parallel bars and Danusia Francis provided a remarkable display above and below the beam.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Superstars of Gymnastics showcases the stars of the sport in a fun and innovative way, the large number of young people in the audience were encouraged to sing, dance and interact with the gymnasts. This created an enjoyable atmosphere where the gymnasts tried a few unorthodox moves which delighted the audience.  With many sports struggling to attract a young audience, gymnastics seem to have found a winning formula with serious competitions and fun events like Superstars of Gymnastics.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For  more information , visit the Event website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Review: The London Landmarks Half Marathon 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A month before the London Marathon, runners had the opportunity of racing around the capital’s streets with the second London Landmarks Half Marathon organised by baby charity Tommy’s.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A warm spring morning bought out around 13,000 runners and an estimated 50,000 spectators on the 13-mile course that runs through the heart of London.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The route passes 12 key landmarks and numerous other places of interest including Nelson’s Column, Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Bank of England and the Tower of London. Runners start at Pall Mall, before ending up at Downing Street in Whitehall to collect their coveted medals.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Alongside the many thousands of runners, a number of celebrities will also be attempting the 13.1 mile course, including Call the Midwife actress Jennifer Kirby, TV presenter Jenni Falconer, Radio 1 broadcaster Cel Spellman and Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

To keep the runners and spectators entertained there are lots of cheer stations featuring choirs, bands, dance acts and DJs.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Like the London Marathon, many of the runners are running for a variety of charities and last year the inurgral event raised over 4 million pounds.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The London Landmarks Half Marathon is already a firm favourite with runners, many who will be returning at the end of April to take on the London Marathon.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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‘Lost’ Portrait of Charles Dickens goes on display at the Charles Dickens Museum – 2 to 7 April 2019

A recently discovered portrait of Charles Dickens by Margaret Gillies is to be displayed at the Charles Dickens Museum. The ‘lost portrait’ of Charles Dickens was discovered in an auction of household goods in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 2017. Last year, the painting arrived at the Philip Mould & Co Gallery in London and, following conservation and provenance research, was confirmed to be the portrait of Charles Dickens painted by Margaret Gillies over six sittings in 1843, when Dickens was 31 years old and writing A Christmas Carol.

Gillies’ portrait was exhibited at the 1844 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and quickly became the defining image of Dickens. On seeing the portrait, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it “has the dust and mud of humanity about him, notwithstanding those eagle eyes”. However, in 1886, Gillies noted that she had ‘lost sight of the portrait itself’. It remained lost until the South African auction and undisplayed until its unveiling at Mould & Co last year.

The Museum is campaigning to raise the funds to secure the future of the painting and bring it permanently to Doughty Street. It has already raised £65,000 of the £180,000 needed to purchase the portrait.

Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Phaedra at the Royal Opera House – 15th to 20th May 2019

© ROH, 2019. Image by AKA.

The Royal Opera House will present Henze’s final opera Phaedra in the Linbury Theatre in May 2019. The Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists will be taking the main parts and the opera will be directed by Noa Naamat and conducted by Edmund Whitehead.

Phaedra had its world premiere in 2007 re-imagines the Classical myth of Phaedra and her stepson Hippolytus (Hippolyt) placing them at the centre of the action. Phaedra’s desire for Hippolyt fills her with self-loathing and she attempts suicide. Aphrodite stops her. She is jealous of Hippolyt’s loyalty to the goddess Artemis and takes revenge by inciting Phaedra to action. What follows is a complex tale of love and betrayal tied up with myth and legend.

Chinese mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu sings the title role, alongside American soprano Jacquelyn Stucker as Aphrodite, American countertenor Patrick Terry as Artemis, Scottish-Iranian bass-baritone Michael Mofidian as the Minotaur and New Zealand tenor Filipe Manu as Hippolyt, in his Royal Opera debut.

The production features work by international performance designer takis and atmospheric lighting design by 2019 Olivier Award nominee Lee Curran.

Phaedra opens at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre on 15 May 2019, with subsequent performances on 16, 18 and 20 May 2019.

Sung in German with English surtitles

For more information and tickets , visit the Royal Opera House website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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Great London Sculptures : Goodman’s Fields Horses by Hamish Mackie

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many of the sculptures in London provide some insight into the history of the capital, even modern pieces of art often pay tribute to the past. An illustration of this point is the six bronze horse sculptures by Hamish Mackie in Goodman’s Fields near Aldgate.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Goodman’s Field has a fascinating history, famous London historian, John Stow provides some insight of the area in his Survey of London which was published in 1598.

Near adjoining to this abbey, on the south side thereof, was sometime a farm belonging to the said nunnery; at the which farm I myself in my youth have fetched many a halfpenny worth of milk, and never had less than three ale pints for a halfpenny in the summer, nor less than one ale quart for a halfpenny in the winter, always hot from the kine, as the same was milked and strained. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there, and had thirty or forty kine to the pail. Goodman’s son being heir to his father’s purchase, let out the ground first for grazing of horses, and then for garden-plots, and lived like a gentleman thereby.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

It is this history that was the inspiration for Goodman’s Fields Horses, the artist wanted to portray the unbridled joy of horses being released from the toil of working in the London streets.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Mackie chose six breeds of horse to illustrate the variety of horses from the past – Andalusian Stallion, Russian Cross Arab, European Warmblood, Irish Cob, Thoroughbred Cross Shire and Thoroughbred.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The sculpture was unveiled in 2015 and quickly became a popular local attraction. In 2016, Hamish Mackie was awarded the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association’s Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Fountains for the Goodman’s Fields Horses commission.


© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Although it is not on the usual tourist paths, if you are visiting the City of London it is worth taking a small detour to Aldgate to see this stunning sculpture and find out about some of the history of Goodman’s Field.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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London Shopping Streets : The Bookshops of Charing Cross Road and Cecil Court

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Charing Cross Road runs from near Trafalgar Square to Tottenham Court Road. The road was developed in the late 19th century and its construction destroyed some of worst slums in London. In the early 20th century, Charing Cross Road became famous for its specialist and second-hand bookshops.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the most famous bookshops was Foyles which was started by William and Gilbert Foyle in Cecil Court before to Charing Cross Road in 1906. They later moved to 119 Charing Cross Road where the shop became something of an institution until it closed in 2014, although Foyles opened a new shop further up Charing Cross Road. Christina Foyle who was the daughter of William created literary luncheons at the Charing Cross Road shop from the 1930’s. Speakers included great literary figures and celebrities and the events were very popular both with authors and the public. Christina took over the control of the shop in 1945 and the shop became famous for her idiosyncratic management style. She refused to install many modern conveniences, would not allow orders to be taken by phone. Customers were often required to queue three times and staff turnover was high. At the turn of the 20th century, Christina Foyle died and control passed to her nephew Christopher, who modernised the shop and business.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The bookshops on Charing Cross Road became internationally famous in the 1970s and 1980s when the book 84, Charing Cross Road was published. The book was based on the long-standing correspondence between New York City-based author Helene Hanff and the staff of a bookshop on the street, Marks & Co. The book was made into a 1987 film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins and also into a play.

The 21st century has seen a number of the bookshops closing down but Charing Cross Road is still home to Foyles, Quinto Bookshop, Henry Pordes and Any Amount of Books.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The nearby Cecil Court has a longer history going back to the late 17th century, Mozart and his family lived here for a short time. There is evidence for bookselling in Cecil Court going back to the 18th century, however it was after Cecil Court was redeveloped at the end of the 19th century that it became an important base for new British film industry which inspired the nickname Flicker Alley.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Booksellers and publishers moved in Cecil Court at the start of the 20th century, Watkins which is considered the oldest esoteric bookshop in London arrived in 1901.  Cecil Court was also well-known for its specialist foreign language like Welsh-language bookshop, Griffs and the Dolphin Bookshop sold Spanish and Catalan books.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cecil Court today has a range of businesses including Antique Dealers, Art & Craft and Art Galleries. However there are still a number of bookshops including Watkins, Tindley & Everett, Tender Books, Stephen Poole Books and Goldsboro Books.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Charing Cross Road and Cecil Court provide a pleasant change from the often mundane bookshop chains. Whilst all over London independent bookshops have closed or closing, this is the historical London heart of the modern bookshop and still provides plenty of interest to visitors.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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