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Monthly Archives: November 2017

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A Short Guide to Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a bascule and suspension bridge in London built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge is close to the Tower of London and has gradually become an iconic symbol of London.
In the second half of the 19th century, it was decided that a new river crossing was needed downstream of London Bridge. A traditional bridge was not considered because of the need to allow access by sailing ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London.

A public competition was held with over 50 designs being submitted, it was decided to build a bascule bridge and Sir John Wolfe Barry was appointed engineer with Sir Horace Jones as architect. Barry designed the bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges.

Construction started in 1886 and took eight years to complete with two piers containing over 70,000 tons of concrete supported the bridge with over 11,000 tons of steel providing the framework for the towers and walkways. Cornish granite and Portland stone were used for the Victorian Gothic style façade. The finished bridge consisted of two bridge towers connected together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways. The bridge was officially opened in 1894 by The Prince of Wales and his wife, The Princess of Wales.

The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two bascules, which can be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet (82 m) long, the pedestrian walkways are 143 feet (44 m) above the river.

The bridge is accessible by both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition which opened in 1982.

Tower Bridge is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) every day. The Bridge is opened over 1000 times a year for river traffic.

The Tower Bridge Exhibition is a housed in the bridge’s twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The exhibition uses films, photos and interactive media to explain the story behind Tower Bridge. The walkways provide views over the city and the Tower of London and includes a glass-floored section.

Although Tower Bridge is considered one of the iconic sights of London today, when it was built it was not always appreciated with a number of people considered the structure pretentiousness and absurd.

Video Review 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 – A Ghost of an Idea: unwrapping A Christmas Carol at the Charles Dickens Museum from 29th November 2017 to 25th February 2018

With a new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas due to open in December, the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury celebrates one of Dickens most loved stories.

The museum presents a special exhibition entitled A Ghost of an Idea: unwrapping A Christmas Carol which will draw on the Museum’s unrivalled collections of original Dickens material to examine the issues and circumstances – social, political and personal – that inspired Dickens to write A Christmas Carol.

The exhibition explores the some of the inspiration behind the story and exhibits include earliest hand-tinted etchings by John Leech for the first edition of A Christmas Carol in 1843, first editions of the story, playbills and presentation copies given by Dickens to his friends.

Whilst Charles Dickens did not ‘invent’ Christmas, he was incredibly influential in the way the festival was seen and promoted. A Christmas Carol in particular has been endlessly been reproduced in many types of media up to the present day. The Museum includes original costumes from the new film throughout the house, as well as examples of its set and costume designs, props and other production material.

Over the Christmas period, The Charles Dickens Museum is fully dressed with traditional decorations for the festive season and many rooms have been given a special festive touch.

There will be a series of special Christmas events, including candlelit visits, tours of the house and performances of A Christmas Carol and each of Dickens’s Christmas Books.

A trip to the Charles Dickens Museum is fascinating at any time, but if you visit over the Christmas period it provides added bonus with a unique insight into a Victorian Christmas. For most of us, Dickens and Christmas is intrinsically linked and the exhibition explains how this connection was made and why it has continued to be so strong over 150 years later.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

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.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review : Modigliani at Tate Modern – 23rd November 2017 to 2nd April 2018

Tate Modern presents one of the most comprehensive Modigliani exhibitions ever held in the UK. Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) was considered a ground-breaking artist and the exhibition includes 100 works, many of them rarely exhibited and nearly 40 of which have never before been shown in the UK.

Modigliani was born in Livorno, Italy and began working as an artist in Paris from 1906. The exhibition begins with the artist’s arrival in Paris and explores how he began to create his own particular style. Although influenced by the art of Paul Cézanne, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso, Modigliani began to experiment initially with a number of styles. He began to be part of a wide network of poets, dealers, writers and musicians who had been drawn to the artistic enclaves of Montmartre and Montparnasse in Paris. Many of this network would pose for portraits including Diego Rivera 1914, Juan Gris 1915 and Jean Cocteau 1916.

The exhibition illustrates through a film how Paris at the start of the twentieth century was one of the cultural centres of Europe with exciting developments in art, dance, theatres and cinema.

The famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi found the young artist a studio near his own in Montparnasse, his friendship with Brâncuși and Jacob Epstein may have inspired Modigliani to try his hand at sculpture, the exhibition features examples of the artist’s work made before the First World War. The sculptures also show the influence of sculptures from other cultures that were popular in Paris at the time including Egyptian, Asian and African.

In 1918, Modigliani was suffering from ill-health and decided to move to the South of France where he began to paint local people with more muted colours. He lived in Nice with his new partner, Jeanne Hébuterne who was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the section devoted to Modigliani’s nudes, which are perhaps his best-known works. Modigliani transformed the way nudes were displayed by using some familiar poses but offered more realistic and explicit depictions. Even in liberal Paris, the nudes were considered controversial and led to the police censoring his only solo exhibition in his lifetime, at Berthe Weill’s gallery in 1917, on grounds of indecency.

In the final section of the exhibition, a self-portrait from 1919 shows the artist in a confident pose and a number of portraits of his friends and lovers. However, his health began to decline and in 1920 Modigliani died from tubercular meningitis, unfortunately the tragedy did not stop there when his partner Jeanne Hébuterne committed suicide a few days later.

This fascinating exhibition explores the short artistic career of Amedeo Modigliani and provides plenty of evidence that even in the artistic hotbed of Paris at the start of the 20th century, he was considered someone with a great deal of talent. His particular style shows the influence of his Italian painting background, African art and the artists that inspired him in Paris. His tragic early death has often led to his work being overlooked in comparison with his more illustrious companions, however this exhibition provides a more rounded perspective of his life and times.

Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy a new integrated virtual reality experience, The Ochre Atelier: Modigliani VR Experience invites visitors to step into the studio where the artist lived and worked in the final months of his life.

Video Review here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern 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.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Exhibition Review : The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery – 16th November 2017 to 8th February 2018

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The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Exhibition 2017 is an opportunity to see over fifty new portraits by some of the best contemporary photographers from around the world. The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the leading competitions for contemporary portrait photography and attracts a large number of submissions from professionals and amateurs.

The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 5,717 submissions entered by 2,423 photographers from 66 countries. While the photographs are judged anonymously from prints, this was the first year in which the competition permitted digital entries for the initial selection.

The Prize continues its tradition for diversity of subject matter submitted by a range of photographers, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £15,000 first prize.

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Spanish photographer César Dezfuli won the Tenth Anniversary Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 for his portrait of a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast. Dezfuli, who was born in Madrid works as a journalist and documentary photographer, and focuses on issues of migration, identity and human rights.

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The winner of the £3,000 Second Prize is Abbie Trayler-Smith for her photograph of a girl fleeing ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. Trayler-Smith was there undertaking a commission for Oxfam documenting the camp where the charity was providing aid.

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The winner of the £2,000 Third Prize and the John Kobal New Work Award for a photographer under 35, is Maija Tammi from Finland for her portrait of a Japanese android called Erica. This is the first time in the competition’s history that one of the photographers shortlisted for a prize has also won the John Kobal New Work Award which offers a cash prize of £5,000 to include undertaking a commission to photograph a sitter for the Gallery’s Collection.

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The exhibition also features an In Focus display of previously unseen prints from a new body of work by the photographer, Todd Hido, who is known for juxtaposing mysterious and cinematic ruminations on the American landscape alongside portraits of women, which together speak of a fragmented and personal memory of the past. In Focus is an annual showcase for new work by internationally renowned photographers.

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The images around the exhibition explore many different aspects of the photographic portrait and feature a few famous faces but more often the friends and family of the photographers. This year, a number of photographers have explored many different areas around the world and especially the on-going migrant crisis in many parts of the world.

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In a competition of this size, the standard is always high and the various subject matter wide ranging which makes it very difficult to choose winners. However, few would argue with the competition winners who all displayed technical expertise but had a strong narrative.

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This enjoyable exhibition is always interesting and entertaining with some wonderful contemporary portraits, the range of photographs offer a wide variety of subject matter which provides evidence of the large number of talented photographers using their skills to record all facets of the human condition.

Video Review here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland at the National Gallery from 15th November 2017 to 4th February 2018

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The National Gallery presents Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland which explores a selection of paintings by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931). This will be the first exhibition in the UK devoted to this artist whose work Lake Keitele (1905) is one of the Gallery’s most popular works. The painting was purchased by the National Gallery in 1999 and it quickly entranced visitors with its unusual impressionistic style.

This exhibition provides an in-depth study of the work by bring together all four versions of Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele composition for the first time in the UK. Two Lake Keitele landscapes have been borrowed from private collections, one of which is on long-term loan to the Gallen-Kallela Museum, near Helsinki; the third comes from the Lahti Art Museum/Viipuri Foundation, Finland. Many of the works on display have rarely been exhibited publicly.

Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland is a deceptively simple image: a view of a lake bathed in brilliant light, however the different aspects of landscapes on display show how the artist moved from a more naturalistic landscape to a more impressionistic and abstracted image.

Although largely unknown in the UK, Gallen-Kallela is considered one of Finland’s most prominent artists, whose paintings came to embody the country’s cultural nationalism at a time that Finland struggled for political autonomy. Gallen-Kallela trained as an artist in Helsinki and Paris and had a great deal of success in the salons and exhibition rooms of Europe. However, Gallen-Kallela also drew on the ancient legends of his Finnish homeland with a number of representations from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic of poems glorifying the country’s heroic past.

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The exhibition which spans 30 years of Gallen-Kallela’s career features a dozen works,  including four versions of Lake Keitele. A group of his earlier landscape works, a rare, early stained-glass artwork of a lakeshore view by Gallen-Kallela (1896).

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Other paintings of lakeside landscapes executed in the summer of 1904 on the shores of Lake Keitele provide evidence of the hold this particular landscape had on the artist. There are also two works on themes from the Kalevala illustrating how the artist brings together his own particular style to the myths and legends of Finland.

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This fascinating small free exhibition introduces the work of Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela to a wider audience. The success of the Lake Keitele (1905) at the National Gallery has created considerable interest in the artist and this exhibition provides some interesting background to the artist and the painting. The exhibition goes some way to explain the painting’s remarkable success beyond its attractive appearance; the artist somehow manages to incorporate many layers of meaning to the work which seem to strike a chord with large numbers of visitors. Perhaps one of the ways this is achieved is by drawing on some of the myths and legends of Finland and finding a way to  incorporate them into a typical Finnish landscape.

Video Review here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Gallery 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

On violence and beauty: reflections on war at the British Museum – 9th November 2017 to 21st January 2018

Documenting history through art is a longstanding tradition, and the British’s Museum new Asahi Shimbun Display will examine the relationship between conflict and art in a focussed way, through four specially chosen objects. The Asahi Shimbun Display On violence and beauty: reflections on war includes objects from 5,000 years ago to the present day. The British Museum’s first acquisition of a video artwork by the Iranian artist Farideh Lashai  will also be on display. The video installation offers a contemporary perspective on Goya’s iconic work The Disasters of War which he made between 1810 and 1820 in response to the Peninsular War. The British Museum recently loaned this work to the Prado Museum where, as ‘The invited work’, it was placed in juxtaposition with paintings and etchings by Goya.

The display will begin with some of the oldest representations of war – from Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia – each of which include highly stylised depictions of conflict, commissioned to articulate the ruling elites’ views of warfare, emphasising heroism and conquest.

The earliest object on display is the Battlefield Palette made in Egypt around 3300 – 3100 BC, probably intended for display in temples and most likely associated with early rituals related to power. Not intended to illustrate a specific event or battle, the palette reflects a desire to defeat chaos and restore order and the complete subjugation of enemies.

The two other Ancient objects, an Assyrian relief and a Greek amphora are more specific. The relief is part of a larger sequence depicting a battle between the Assyrian army and the kingdom of Elam in southwest Iran. In this scene the Elamite army have been defeated, and an Assyrian soldier is about to execute an Elamite general, Ituni. Having witnessed the devastation around him, Ituni cuts his bow in an act of submission and prepares for his fate. In cuneiform script are the dramatic words that tell the story: ‘Ituni….saw the mighty battle and with his iron dagger, cut with his own hands (his) bow, the ornament of his hands.’

The Greek amphora highlights a moment of combat during the Trojan War when the Greek hero Achilles kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons – an imaginary tribe of fierce women warriors. Achilles is masked by his helmet, while Penthesilea’s face is exposed to emphasize her vulnerability. Her spear passes harmlessly across Achilles’ chest, while he pierces her throat and draws blood. As a definition of Greek masculinity, the vessel was used at all-male drinking parties, illustrating an appetite for this type of imagery among the Greek middle class. According to a later version of the story the two warriors fell in love when their eyes met during combat, tragically too late.

Bringing the story to the present day, artist Farideh Lashai lived through the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the bombardment of Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). At the end of her life, Lashai watched the unfolding of the ‘Arab Spring’ that began in Tunisia in 2011.

Warfare can be traced back to at least 13,000 years ago and the Asahi Shimbun Display On violence and beauty: reflections on war will focus on four objects from across centuries that depict this particular aspect of human history. The Asahi Shimbun Displays allow an opportunity to consider the ways in which humans document their lived experiences and the significance these have in shaping our understanding of the cultures and times that came before us.

Free Admission

For more information, visit the British 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.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review – Skylark: Britain’s Pioneering Space Rocket at the Science Museum from 13th November 2017

The Science Museum celebrates the 60th anniversary of the day when British scientists launched the Skylark rocket programme with an exhibition that tells the remarkable story behind the project.

The Skylark project began at the height of the Cold War to inform military research, especially in the development of the Blue Streak ballistic missile. However the scientific value of Skylark became apparent to researchers who were keen to use the rocket to learn more about the Earth, Sun and deep space.

One of the great advantages of the Skylark rocket was that it could travel way beyond the height of scientific balloons and could be used for a range of experiments during its 10-minute flight time when it was in space. The results would be recorded on board and then parachuted back to Earth for recovery.

Most Skylark rockets were launched from the South Australian desert and conditions could be challenging but the relative simplicity of Skylark made it ideal for training space scientists. Many leading space scientists (some attended the launch of the exhibition) from university professors to Space Shuttle astronauts, started their space careers with Skylark.

The exhibition  includes archive footage of Skylark flights and interviews with the space scientists who used it and helped to build it. There is a model of the Skylark rocket and a number of objects that tell the technical story of how designing experiments for Skylark gave scientists the experience and expertise to work on future space missions including the Ariel 1 satellite and the Giotto spacecraft.

Remarkably, Britain launched a total of 441 Skylark missions over 50 years, making it one of the longest and most successful rocket programmes in the world. Some of the Skylark missions provided the first X-ray surveys of the southern sky and some of the earliest ultraviolet images of the cosmos.

This fascinating small free exhibition tells the little known story of Britain’s first space rocket and how Skylark laid the foundations for Britain’s space science programmes both in technology and training some of Britain’s top space scientists. Whilst Skylark was overshadowed by the American and Soviet space programmes, its relatively simplicity enabled scientists to explore a wide range of scientific questions in a number of new scientific areas. It was these experiments that laid the foundations for Britain’s later more prestigious space science programmes and the design and building of satellites.

Video Review here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the Science 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.
To find out more visit the website here