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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Review : Discovering some of the secrets of the Charterhouse in London

The Charterhouse is a historic complex of buildings in London, dating back to the 14th century. Located near to the Barbican and Smithfield Market, the Charterhouse has an extraordinary history, as a monastery, school, mansion and almshouse, and formally opened its doors to the public last year, with the launch of a new museum.

To understand some of the complex history of the site, we joined an official tour of the site which are undertaken a number of times throughout the day

The site upon which the Charterhouse stands was acquired in the middle of the fourteenth century as a burial ground for the many victims of the Black Death. In 1371 a Carthusian Monastery was established by Sir Walter de Manny, one of Edward III’s senior advisers, a church built alongside the burial ground became the priory church.

Remarkably, parts of the Carthusian Monastery still exist, most notably in the Norfolk Cloister. The monks had quite large living accommodation on two levels with their private garden. The prior and monks were able to enjoy this relative luxury for over 150 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537. Resisting Henry VIII religious authority, the Prior, John Houghton was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn and ten monks were sent to Newgate Prison where nine starved to death and the tenth was executed at Tower Hill.

After the monastery was suppressed, the property and land was passed to the crown. Subsequently it was granted to Lord North, who began to transform the old monastery buildings into a grand Tudor mansion which was later sold to the fourth Duke of Norfolk.

Lord North built the Great Hall and the Great Chamber, such was the status of the mansion it attracted royal visitors. In 1558, Queen Elizabeth I used the house during the preparations for her coronation and James I held court here on his first entrance into London in 1603. Charterhouse was also the scene of considerable Tudor intrigue when the property was owned by Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.  For scheming to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, Norfolk was placed under house arrest at the Charterhouse. Eventually Norfolk’s involvement in the Ridolfi plot was his undoing and he was executed in 1572.

The Great Hall and the Great Chamber are still in use and are visited as part of the tour, together with a visit to Master’s Court which reveals the grandeur of Lord North’s Tudor mansion.

The next phase of Charterhouse history transforms the building from large mansion populated by the ‘movers and shakers’ of the Tudor court to an almshouse and school, endowed by Thomas Sutton in 1611. Thomas Sutton was considered the richest commoner in Britain, he was appointed Master of Ordnance in Northern Parts, but showed commercial acumen to build up a considerable fortune. Before he died, he endowed a hospital on the site of the Charterhouse and bequeathed money to maintain a chapel, hospital (almshouse) and school. The foundation he created was used to provide a home for up to eighty male pensioners, and to educate forty boys.

Before the school moved out in 1872 to Godalming, Surrey, it did have some distinguished pupils including William Makepeace Thackeray and John Wesley. Stuart and Graham may not have been famous but their graffiti from 1765 on a wooden column still remains.

Some of the historic buildings of the Charterhouse were severely damaged during the Blitz. However the restoration between 1950 and 1959 exposed some of the medieval, 16th and 17th century fabric and led to the discovery of the remains of Walter de Manny, the founder of the monastery, buried in a lead coffin before the high altar of the monastic chapel. A white stone now marks his resting place in the small garden at the front of the main entrance.

Walking around Charterhouse, you are made aware that it still continues to serve as an almshouse to up to 40 pensioners, known as Brothers, although they are no religious connotations. The Brothers dine is some splendour in the Great Hall and have self-contained accommodation around the various courts. There would be very few establishments that have provided these services for over 400 years.

The tours are a fascinating insight into one of London’s oldest and yet least known historical sites. For centuries, many of its secrets were maintained behind large walls. However, the public opening of Charterhouse provides an opportunity to explore of the intriguing stories of the past and strangely of the present.  Recent Crossrail excavations at the corner of the site have confirmed the presence of a large number of remains of people who died from the Black Death in the 14th century.  

We would recommend that you go on one of the excellent tours around Charterhouse to fully understand its historical importance, but if you have limited time, the small comprehensive museum and the chapel that includes the memorial to Thomas Sutton has free admission.

 Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

The Charterhouse

Charterhouse Square

London

EC1M 6AN

Visit the museum and chapel free Tuesdays to Sundays, 11.00am to 4.45pm

Standard tour of the main buildings: Tuesday to Saturday at 11.30am, 12:00pm and 2.00pm and on Sundays at 2:00pm and 3:15pm. £10 book in advance or on the day if there is availability

A tour guided by one of the Brothers – the residents in the Almshouse. Tuesday to Saturday at 11.30am, 12:00pm and 2.00pm and on Sundays at 2:00pm and 3:15pm. £15 book in advance or on the day if there is availability.

There are also other tours including the extensive gardens that are bookable through the website.

For more information , visit the Charterhouse website here

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Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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Exhibition Review: Lee Bul at the Hayward Gallery from 30th May to 19th August 2018


The Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery presents an exhibition featuring one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists from Asia, Lee Bul from South Korea.

The exhibition bring together over 100 works from the 1980s up to the present day, the artist’s early performances often included appearing in public spaces, such as airports, wearing large soft-fabric forms with appendages. Through these tactics, Lee Bul attempted to address many important issues including the oppression of women in Korean society, and the ways in which popular culture in both the East and West shapes and manipulates our understanding of ‘feminine’ beauty. 

Some of the costumes from this period are suspended from the ceiling alongside some figures from the artist’s Cyborg series that was first exhibited in New York in 1998. Whilst the artist is strongly influenced by South Korea’s political past, since 2000 she has explored utopian theories rooted in a number of areas including science fiction, folklore,  urbanism, futurism and architecture.

Crashing includes sculptural works from the Cyborg and Anagram series which question the merging of  humans and machines.

Dominating the first room is Civatis Solis II which creates a large reflective landscape with flame like lights flickering, the work is influenced by ‘City of the Sun’ written by 16th century writer Tommaso Campanella.

Room three has a seedy oversized bathtub filled with dark ink surrounded by images of snowy mountains. The work entitled Heaven and Earth (2007) references the tragic death of a student protestor who was murdered in a bathtub and the struggles of Korea to find solutions to its political problems.

Another work, Bunker (2007/12) creates a cave like sculpture in which visitors enter into a soundscape. Other works are influenced by utopian ideals of transforming more natural worlds into artificial cities, some made of fragile substances like glass.

The theme of how technology can bring benefits but also disaster is carried on in the upstairs galleries which is dominated by Willing To Be Vulnerable (2015-16), which features a giant foil Hindenburg Zeppelin.

In the final room, the main work is Via Negativa II (2014) which is a mirrored labyrinth is which people’s appearances are fragmented in endless ways.  

This fascinating exhibition explores many strands of utopian ideas, Lee Bul’s works offer a curious collection of objects that asks the question ‘what would utopia look like?’ Many utopian writers have offered some answers but there is always the nagging doubt that rather than finding utopia it is likely to be a form of dystopia.

This utopia/dystopia paradox is one of the main themes of the exhibition and has a particular relevance for many of the questions about artificial intelligence and bioengineering that we face today. 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended 

For more information , visit the Southbank Centre 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: MCM London Comic Con at ExCeL London – 25th to 27th May 2018

If you are wandering around London in the next few days , do not be surprised to see some unusual sights because the ever popular MCM London Comic Con returns to ExCel London on 25th to 27th May with a line-up of special guests, games, sci-fi, comics, anime and cosplay content to entertain the show’s 60,000 plus visitors.

The MCM London Comic Con celebrates a wide range of media from television, film, comics and video games. It also attracts in large numbers, those who want to dress up as their favourite character, London Comic Con is the UK’s largest cosplay event.

The show attracts a number of different types of visitors who support their own particular favourite genres whether it is television, films, comics, videogaming and numerous others.

The Comic Village is packed with artists, writers and graphic novels; people watch on-stage panels, play the latest games and much more. Different parts of the show tend to feature a particular genre but everyone mixes well in the friendly and easy-going atmosphere.

Many visitors are attracted by the special guests from a wide range of film and television including members of the cast of  Orange is the New Black – Taryn Manning and Jackie Cruz, stars of superhero sequel Deadpool 2 – Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić and Zazie Beetz, Khary Payton and Cooper Andrews from The Walking Dead, ‘Queen of Geek’ Felicia Day, Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator), Kevin Conroy (famous for portraying Batman in classic ‘90s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series), Taylor Gray (Star Wars Rebels), Tara Sands (Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Overwatch heroes Lucie Pohl and Gaku Space.

MCM London Comic Con also attracts games developers including Bandai Namco and Nintendo, who bring their new & upcoming games, film companies like Universal and Warner Brothers, Amazon and much more.

Other sections are devoted to PopAsia which offers a fusion of Japanese, Korean & Asian culture. Cosplay Masquerades, CreatorScape which highlights bloggers, vloggers, artists and makers, Kidzone, gaming areas and plenty of merchandise to browse.

MCM London Comic Con is one of the capital’s more unusual shows where the visitors are very much part of the show with an amazing array of costumes and designs. The show is often a pilgrimage for fans from all over the world and is very popular especially on the Saturday and Sunday. If you are interested in any of the genres, the show really does cater for a wide range of tastes and interests.

The show is held in the ExCel London Exhibition centre which has a large number of food and drink options.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets , visit the MCM Comic Con 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 – Charles Dickens: Man of Science at the Charles Dickens Museum from 24th May to 11th November 2018

The Charles Dickens Museum presents a new exhibition entitled Charles Dickens: Man of Science that challenges the long held belief that Dickens had little interest in science.

The misconception about Dickens and science can be traced back to writer George Henry Lewes who when he saw Dickens’s library at Doughty Street in 1839, he declared him ‘completely outside philosophy, science, and the higher literature’.

However by drawing on his novels, journalism, letters and exchanges with friends, the exhibition illustrates that Dickens saw science as a potential force for good especially regarding curing disease and creating a cleaner and more healthy environment.

The exhibition reveals Dickens links to some of the greatest scientists and reformers of the day including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Ada Lovelace, Mary Anning, Florence Nightingale and many more.

A little known aspect of Dickens is that his acute observations were sometimes used by the medical profession to aid diagnosis. A small wax figure of the ‘fat boy’ in Pickwick Papers is a reminder that his work was used by doctors in the 1950s when they were looking at why obese people sleep more than normal.

Dickens was fascinated by optical technologies and the exhibition features his telescope and a magic lantern. 

Although Dickens was believer in mesmerism or animal magnetism, he did not believe in Spiritualism and would often join with others to expose tricks used by those who wished to exploit the ‘vulnerable’. The exhibition includes a version of Pepper’s ghost which uses glass to create the illusion of a ghost. John Henry Pepper was a professor at The Royal Polytechnic Institute where he saw in 1862, inventor Henry Dircks Phantasmagoria which was an optical illusion to make a ghost appear on-stage. Pepper realized that the method could be used to incorporate into existing theatres. Pepper first showed the effect during a scene of Charles Dickens’s The Haunted Man, to great success.

This fascinating small exhibition illustrates that far from having no interest in science, Dickens used many of the latest scientific developments in his writing. Dickens had an extraordinary ability to observe some of smallest details of everyday life, but also saw the bigger picture. Whilst pointing out some of the human cost of the rapid industrialisation of the 19th century, Dickens had some faith that medical advances and scientific knowledge could have some beneficial benefits if practical uses could be found.

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The  Charles Dickens: Man of Science exhibition runs from 24 May – 11 November 2018 at the Charles Dickens Museum and is included in the admission ticket to the museum.

Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, the London Townhouse into which Charles Dickens moved with his family in 1837. The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related material, including the desk at which he wrote Great Expectations. 

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.
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London : 1968 at Tate Britain – 7th May to 31st October 2018

Vote for Guy Fawkes, 1968 Screenprint – Courtesy Alexander Peter Dukes

To mark 50 years since the protests of 1968, a new free display at Tate Britain reveals how artists in London responded to this watershed moment in political and social history.

1968 witnessed a series of protests across the globe. Although the different movements were not united by one singular goal, there was a shared sense of youthful rebellion and a struggle against oppression that was both personal and political.

 

1968 Screenprint – Courtesy Alexander Peter Dukes

London: 1968 features a series of iconic agit-prop posters by the Camden Poster Workshop, who moved their studio into the London School of Economics during the student occupation in October. Inspired by the Atelier Populaire in Paris, between 1968-1971 anyone could commission a poster from the workshop, using screenprinting equipment to create posters for workers, tenants’ associations and liberation movements from all over the world. The posters leave behind a permanent visual record of pertinent issues of the time such as rent and industrial strikes, the Vietnam War and civil rights movements in Ireland, America and South Africa.

 

Vuka: Stand by the Revolutionary Patriots of Victoria West, South Africa, 1969 Screenprint – Courtesy Alexander Peter Dukes

Also in the display, a film by Patricia Holland looks at the occupation of Hornsey School of Art by its students, while archive material delves deeper into the activities of these artists and the wider impact of May 68.

London: 1968 brings together work by radical artists including Barry Flanagan, Richard Long, Joseph Beuys and Mario Merz who participated in the landmark exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at London’s ICA in 1969. The exhibition was initiated and researched in the immediate aftermath of May 68, reflecting its idealism. Just as the student protestors were questioning the political, social and cultural establishment, these artists were questioning the nature of the art object.

 London: 1968 coincides with 1968: Protest and the Photobook, a free display at Tate Modern bringing together politically engaged photobooks made during this period. The photobooks reflect a surge of political activism in places such as France, Japan, Italy, Mexico and Czechoslovakia. Some document marches and demonstrations, with the photographer bearing witness to collective action, while in others, the photobook is itself a medium of protest, conveying a specific perspective on events.

For more information, visit the Tate Britain 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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Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire at the National Gallery – 11th June to 7th October 2018

Ed Ruscha helped to shape the way that we see the American landscape over the span of his influential six-decade career. Elegant, informed, often humorous, Ruscha’s work conveys a unique brand of visual American art.

In June, for the very first time in the UK, visitors to the National Gallery have the chance to experience his modern take on the cyclical nature of civilisation with an exhibition entitled Course of Empire.

In 2005 Ruscha was invited to exhibit in the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. He selected a set of five black-and-white landscapes which he had painted in 1992 called Blue Collar Series, all of which feature his home city of Los Angeles. Seven years later he revisited each site, seeing how the buildings had changed in the interim and this time painting them in colour, describing the works as ‘an accelerated, aged version of the same urban landscape.’ 

Ruscha called the combined series of 10 works Course of Empire in response to a sequence of paintings created by Thomas Cole (1801–1848) in the 1830’s, which is concurrently on view at the National Gallery in Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire. This is the first time ever that these two very different approaches to the same subject have been brought together simultaneously at a single institution.

Cole invented a genre of specifically American landscape painting. In The Course of Empire (1833–1836, The New-York Historical Society, New York) he traced the rise, glory, and inevitable destruction of an imaginary civilisation and his series ends in war and destruction. Ruscha also invented a new way of seeing his city and a new American urban landscape tradition. However, unlike Cole’s grandiose vision of the rise and fall of an imaginary classical civilisation, Ruscha’s Course of Empire shows the industrial buildings of Los Angeles – simple, box-like, utilitarian structures with no pretension to beauty, but suggestive of economic impact and global corporate relationships.

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.
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Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire at the National Gallery – 11th June to 7th October 2018

In June at the National Gallery, visitors will see the American wilderness through the eyes of British-born Thomas Cole (1801–1848).

Known for epic vistas, dramatic natural settings, and imaginative landscapes, Thomas Cole’s work depicts nature at its most powerful and vulnerable. His paintings glory in the unique terrain of the American Northeast – largely still unspoiled in his time – while serving as a cautionary tale about the use of natural resources in an increasingly industrial age.

The exhibition includes 58 works, the majority on loan from North American collections. It includes Cole’s iconic painting cycle, The Course of Empire (1834–6, New-York Historical Society) and the masterpiece that secured his career and reputation – and which has never been seen in the UK before – View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm – The Oxbow (1836, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Cole’s paintings are shown alongside works by British artists with whom he was personally acquainted, as well as those who influenced him most, including Joseph Mallord William Turner and John Constable.  

Cole is recognised as the father of landscape painting in the US. However his career was shaped by his formative years labouring in the textile mills north of Manchester, and by his later study of the European masters whose works he travelled to see in London, Paris, and Rome.

In the five years following his return to New York late in 1832, Cole painted his greatest works in response to his time abroad.  Working from drawings and oil studies, he completed his epic painting cycle The Course of Empire and The Oxbow almost simultaneously in this period – both of which may be seen as the culmination of what he took away from his experiences in London, Florence, and Rome. The Course of Empire depicts the rise and fall of an imaginary civilisation in an ancient style, but was intended to highlight the dangers of politics and commerce.

Before his untimely death in 1848 at the age of 47, Cole launched the first American school of landscape art by addressing the subject of a new country’s development with respect to its relationship with nature. Ultimately, generations of artists were influenced by Cole’s vision and resonance with the natural world.

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