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Monthly Archives: December 2018

London Sculptures : A Conversation with Oscar Wilde by Maggi Hambling in Central London

Visitors to London will often come across many sculptures in the streets which give a fascinating insight into some of London’s characters. One of the larger than life characters of the late 19th century was Oscar Wilde who was an Irish poet and playwright. He became known as a ‘wit’ and became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s and also wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray, a successful novel in the period.

However, despite his success, his involvement in a libel case led to his arrest and conviction. He spent two years in prison, after his release, he left for France and died in Paris at the age of 46. After his death, Wilde’s plays have been performed regularly in London and his life continues to fascinate the latter generations.

During the 1980s and 1990s, fans of Wilde’s work suggested their should be a permanent tribute to him in London and a committee which included Jeremy Isaacs, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Seamus Heaney decided on a fitting tribute to the playwright.

In the end, a work by artist Maggi Hambling was chosen for the memorial. The work is inscribed with a quotation from Wilde’s play Lady Windermere’s Fan: “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”. The sculpture is bench-like green granite sarcophagus, with a bust of Wilde emerging from the upper end, with a hand holding a cigarette.

The sculpture was unveiled in 1998, the location is Adelaide Street which between Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross Station, behind St Martin’s in the Fields church. The reaction to the sculpture was mixed with some who thought it was witty and amusing whilst others thought it was like a Madame Tussauds waxwork.

Due to its location, it is often missed by many visitors but is considered one of the more interesting sculptures in central London.

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The Ice Watch Installation at Tate Modern

Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing have created an “Ice Watch” installation at Tate Modern that highlights climate change.

Two dozen blocks of ice, which weighed between 1.5 and 5 tons were taken out of a fjord in Greenland after detaching from an ice sheet.

Visitors will be able to watch the blocks melt and be reminded about some of the challenges facing certain parts of the world. The installation is timed to coincide with world leaders meeting in Poland for a major climate change summit.

The artists hope that the physical experience of watching ice melt will bring home some of the issues rather than just relying on photographs to highlight the problems.

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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Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

One important Christmas tradition in London since the Second World War has been the large Christmas tree that is placed within Trafalgar Square. Every year, since 1947, the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree. This gift is in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is generally a Norwegian spruce of around 20 metres high and 50-60 years old. It is selected from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care several months, even years, in advance.

The tree is felled in November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate. It is brought to the UK by sea, then completes its journey by lorry.

The tree is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights and a lighting ceremony takes place in early December with thousands of people attending.

Between the middle of December to just before Christmas, 40 carol singing groups gather beneath the famous Christmas tree to entertain visitors to Trafalgar Square.

The Christmas tree remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down for recycling.

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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La traviata at the Royal Opera House – 14th to 31st January 2019

La traviata,© ROH, 2016. Photograph by Tristram Kenton.

The Royal Opera presents Richard Eyre’s stunning production of Verdi’s La traviata, returning to Covent Garden for its 16th revival. First seen on the Royal Opera House main stage in 1994, the acclaimed English director’s classic production lavishly re-creates the glamour of Paris in the mid-19th century and contrasts the superficial splendour of Parisian high society with an intimate examination of the opera’s central characters.

Verdi’s La traviata is currently the most performed opera in the world and its sublime score contains some of the Italian composer’s most inspired arias, choruses and duets. Based on Alexandre Dumas fils’s successful novel and play La Dame aux camélias, the opera’s heart-breaking story traces the complex and ultimately tragic love affair between the courtesan Violetta Valéry and Alfredo Germont.

Star sopranos Ermonela Jaho and Angel Blue (in her Royal Opera debut) sing the role of Violetta, with American tenor Charles Castronovo and French tenor Benjamin Bernheim as Alfredo.

World-renowned singer Plácido Domingo performs the role of Giorgio Germont for three performances, including on 30 January 2019, when La traviata will be broadcast live in cinemas as part of the ROH Live Cinema Season.

La traviata opens at the Royal Opera House on 14 January 2019, with subsequent performances on 17, 21, 23, 24, 26, 29, 30 and 31 January 2019. On 26 January 2019 The Royal Opera presents a matinee Welcome Performance of La traviata for families who have never been to a ballet or opera at the Royal Opera House before, and tickets in the Amphitheatre for the performance on 14 January 2019 are only available to Young ROH members.

Performances

14, 17, 21, 23, 24, 26, 29, 30, 31 January 2019 at 7pm
26 January 2019 at 12 noon (Welcome Performance)

Sung in Italian with English surtitles

The Royal Opera’s La traviata will be shown in UK cinemas on 30 January 2019 with an encore screening on 3 February 2019. La traviata will also be broadcast to cinemas around the world.

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.
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Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives at the British Museum – 29 November 2018 to 4 August 2019

This new free exhibition re-examines Captain Cook’s relationship with the people of the Pacific and includes eight contemporary artworks made by Pacific Island artists which have been acquired by the British Museum for this exhibition and are displayed for the first time.

The exhibition has seven sections which each focus on a place where Cook is remembered: Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, Vanuatu and Tahiti, as well as Great Britain. Cook’s experience of each place was different and these sections not only explore his encounters, but the varied memories that exist today on these islands. The contemporary works by artists from the Pacific Islands are all in some ways a response to Cook’s voyages, including some which are directly responding to Cooks personal possessions which he donated to the British Museum. Together they show that Islanders are still imagining – and reimagining – encounters with Cook to this day.

The exhibition contains 88 objects and images, including 14 contemporary works. Eight of these have been specifically acquired by the Museum for this display and are exhibited here for the first time. Highlights of the contemporary works include Māori artist Steve Gibbs’ Name Changer which aims to restore awareness of the traditional Māori names for the region around Gisborne New Zealand, which Captain Cook renamed “Poverty Bay”. Also on display is a work by the Aboriginal photographer and artist Michael Cook whose work Civilised #12 reflects on the legacy of William Dampier, the first Briton to visit Australia (before Cook), questioning what it means to be ‘civilised’. Early European misunderstandings of Aboriginal people left a legacy still being felt today.

The contemporary artworks on show are now part of the Museum’s collection for the nation, collected in order to challenge the traditional dialogue around Cook and offer new perspectives. One example is New Zealand Māori artist Lisa Reihana, whose work Taking Possession, Lono was recently acquired by the Museum. The work is a still image taken from Reihana’s celebrated panoramic video work In Pursuit of Venus [infected]. Inspired by a 19th century French wallpaper design, which depicts colourful, fantastical scenes from Pacific Islanders’ lives, Reihana inserts Europeans into the landscape in order to reimagine early encounters between Islanders and Europeans.

In this anniversary year, Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives highlights how the islands of the Pacific were transformed by their encounters with Cook, as well as how the islands transformed Cook himself. Two hundred and fifty years after he first set sail for the waters of the Pacific, his legacy continues to be debated, contested and challenged.

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.
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Pierre Bonnard : Colour of Memory at Tate Modern – 23rd January to 6th May 2019

In January 2019, Tate Modern will stage the UK’s first major Pierre Bonnard exhibition in 20 years, showing the work of this innovative and much-loved French painter in a new light. The exhibition will bring together around 100 of his greatest works from museums and private collections around the world. It will reveal how Bonnard’s intense colours and modern compositions transformed painting in the first half of the 20th century, and will celebrate his unparalleled ability to capture fleeting moments, memories and emotions on canvas.

Spanning four decades from the emergence of Bonnard’s unique style in 1912 to his death in 1947, Tate Modern’s exhibition will show how the artist constructed his vibrant landscapes and intimate domestic scenes from memory. At once sensuous and melancholy, these paintings express moments lost in time – the view from a window, a stolen look at a lover, or an empty room at the end of a meal. These motifs can be seen in breakthrough works like Dining Room in the Country 1913 (Minneapolis Institute of Art) in which he brought interior and exterior spaces together to create a vibrant atmosphere, while the bright colours of works like The Lane at Vernonnet 1912-14 (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh) exemplify how his palette could still evoke the poignancy of a moment gone forever.

The exhibition will emphasise Bonnard as a 20th century artist who – like his friend and contemporary Henri Matisse – had a profound impact on modern painting and would become an influential figure for later artists like Mark Rothko and Patrick Heron. Bonnard will be repositioned as a man who engaged with the world around him, revealing overlooked areas of his activities – from his frequent travels around France and his practice of working on different subjects side by side, to his response to the crises of both the First and Second World War. Alert to his surroundings, he developed unconventional compositions in his paintings of everyday life: his landscapes collapsed into layers of dense foliage, such as Summer 1917 (Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence) and street scenes, as in Piazza del Popolo, Rome 1922 (private collection), were simplified into friezes. Perhaps most famously, his interior scenes like Coffee 1915 (Tate) and Nude in an interior c.1935 (National Gallery of Art, Washington) caught domestic life at uncanny moments and reframed them from snatched points of view.

Bonnard’s process of reimagining through memory also allowed his paintings to become more abstract. This is already evident in the bands of contrasting colour in works like The Violet Fence 1922 (Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh) but reaches a high-point in the vivid Studio with Mimosa 1939-46 (Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris). The exhibition will conclude with a group of works created towards the end of Bonnard’s life, while spending the Second World War in Le Cannet living with scarce resources and the anxiety of invasion. These panoramic views and vibrant garden scenes show the artist looking back on a lifetime of memories and working on the brink of abstraction.

For more information and 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.
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Review – Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens at the Charles Dickens Museum from 28 November 2018 to 22 April 2019

The Charles Dickens Museum provides evidence of Dickens’s enduring influence on the celebration of the festive season when every year, Dickens’s home is dressed for a Victorian Christmas.

Food is often an important ingredient in Dickens’s stories and a new exhibition entitled Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens investigates Dickens’s relationship with food and explores the epic menus of dishes and drinks served by the Dickens family to their many guests. The exhibition also examines how Dickens’s childhood memories of hunger led to him being a generous host of many dinner parties for some of the most influential and interesting members of Victorian society.

In the London townhouse into which Dickens moved with his growing family in 1837, the exhibition uses many of the family rooms to illustrate the influence of food in many Dickens novels.

In the upstairs exhibition gallery is a series of letters which provide first hand accounts by Dickens’s dinner guests that illustrate the experience of enjoying dinner with Dickens. Fellow novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell writes a letter giving a detailed description of a dinner at Dickens’s home.

Upstairs in the nursery is a reminder that the hardship of Dickens’s own childhood and the poverty influenced his writing most notably in Oliver Twist.

The exhibition examines some of the excesses of Victorian dining and often strange recipe combinations. The full dining table showcases a number of culinary delights that were often featured in novels.

A visit to the kitchen downstairs provides some insight into some of the ‘food scandals’ of the Victorian age, food was adulterated to extend its reach which led to acorns passing as coffee, plum leaves for tea leaves and the wholesale watering-down of milk and beer. The often ‘toxic’ ingredients sold indicate that food safety was in its infancy and became one of Dickens causes to fight for reforms.

A visit to the Charles Dickens Museum in the festive season is always a pleasure and a reminder of the enduring influence of Dickens on modern Christmas celebrations. The fascinating Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens exhibition gives a wider perspective on how food provided links to Dickens childhood and inspired some of the most memorable scenes in his novels.

Whilst at the museum, you can find out about the campaign to raise £180,000 in order to secure the portrait of Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) by Margaret Gillies for the nation, bringing it into the Museum’s permanent collection and placing it on public display. The portrait was thought to have been lost for more than 150 years until it was rediscovered in South Africa in late 2017. If you would like to donate, find a link here

Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
Exhibition dates: 28 November 2018 – 22 April 2019

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Visitors to the exhibition can also explore the Charles Dickens Museum, The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related material, including the desk at which he wrote Great Expectations.

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