The Big Zipper – the Serpentine Pavilion 2016

Serpentine Pavilion 2016Every year the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens commissions a temporary summer pavilion to stand next to the gallery and showcase new architecture. They’re always amazing structures, innovative and completely different to each other, and the architect is always one who hasn’t yet built anything in the UK. This year we’ve been spoilt – besides the main pavilion there are four summer houses by different architects to choose from. Continue reading

Lincoln’s Inn, where the seventeenth century comes to life

Lincoln's Inn Wildy & Sons LtdFirst things first: Lincoln’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn Fields are not the same place, though they are next to each other. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a public open space with tennis courts and a café; Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court and it’s private. But, despite the sign on the entrance saying you can’t go in, it’s okay to visit on weekdays. Just wander through one of its arched gates and you’re there. Continue reading

Five odd places to visit in London

Oldest phone box in LondonSo you’re on a trip to London and you’ve seen all the obvious places. Big Ben? Tick. Buckingham Palace? Tick. Tower of London? Tick. Now you want somewhere that’s different, not full of crowds of people doing the same thing you are. Somewhere your friends have never heard of. Welcome to my odd places to visit. Continue reading

Inside Canada House

Canada HouseThere’s always something new to do in London, and my new thing this week is visiting Canada House in Trafalgar Square. It’s home to the High Commission of Canada in the UK and it’s recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. To showcase the result they’re running public tours on selected Fridays – so I went along to see what it’s like. Continue reading

Four new principals at the Royal Ballet – and two of them are Japanese!

Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward, Akane Takada, Ryoichi Hirano photo © ROH

photo © ROH

Way back in 2013 I wrote a post asking when we would next see a Japanese principal (the highest rank) at the Royal Ballet. Well, the 2016/17 season is the answer. And it’s not just one either – a bit like buses, it seems, you wait ages and then two come along at once. But the dancer I picked in my 2013 analysis of runners and riders isn‘t one of them. Want to find out who is? Then read on. Continue reading

Monk’s House Rodmell, Virginia Woolf’s country home

Monk's House RodmellI went down to Sussex this week to visit an old friend, and we spent a very pleasant, sunny afternoon visiting Monk’s House, the former home of writer Virginia Woolf, in Rodmell, a pretty village not far from Lewes. Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard bought it in 1919, and it became the country retreat for the Bloomsbury Group. Continue reading

Commune with the bees in the Hive in Kew Gardens

The Hive at Kew

So what exactly is the hive? Well, it’s a new attraction at Kew that hopefully will help visitors understand the life of the bee. It’s a gleaming seventeen-metre-high aluminium structure that’s like a beehive you can walk into. Plus it’s an immersive, multi-sensory experience which is driven by activity in a real beehive in the gardens that activates lights and music. With me so far?  Continue reading

The new Tate Modern extension

Tate Modern extensionThe new extension to the Tate Modern opened this week. It’s a ten story brick structure called the Switch House, that towers over the original six story Tate Modern, now called the Boiler House. Naturally, I headed down there as soon as I could, to take a look before the shine wears off. Here’s what I found.

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Want to see the new Kusama exhibition? Join the queue!

Kusama pumpkinsBack in 2012 the Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama which featured several of her infinity rooms – spaces which use mirror to give the illusion of vast distances. I remember lingering in them at my leisure, admiring the infinitely receding spots (a Kusama trademark). But that’s all in the past. Nowadays Kusama is hot, and to see her infinity rooms at the Victoria Miro gallery you need to queue. Continue reading

The Wallace Collection – French art for free in the heart of London

Wallace CollectionA lot of Londoners have a soft spot for the Wallace Collection. It’s just round the back of Oxford St and it’s free, so you can pop in for a browse any time you like. And it’s quite spectacular, filled with French eighteenth century painting, furniture and porcelain with famous Old Master paintings and, the icing on the cake, a world class armoury. So how does it come to be there? Continue reading