The blog for hip + arty urban adventurers. Uncovering things to do and places to go in London and beyond. Visit the main site at a www.theculturalexpose.co.uk and click here to join the mailing list...
If you managed to catch the recent Ai Weiwei documentary about his art and activism, you will no doubt be interested to see this new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Art of Change focuses on work produced by Chinese artists from the 1980s until the present, in particular those who have worked with performance and installation. The exhibition describes itself as âlivingâ and âbreathingâ and actually, it is. Not that the Hayward has taken to developing inorganic life but rather, in the run up to the opening, they have been recruiting members of the public to carry out performances for the exhibition’s duration.
Performance art participants are offered different tasks, including organising a yoga style class for the public or holding a âfallingâ pose for a period of time. The opportunity is exciting and unusual, offering a chance to truly interact with the artwork. Â Voluntary positions are on offer for works by MadeIn Company, Yingmei Duan and Liang Shaoji. Other artists in the exhibition include the late Chen Zhen, a Chinese artist who managed to emigrate to France prior to the cultural oppression that began in 1989. Other interesting artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu will be making an appearance â but be warned these artists are not for a squeamish audience, often working with human fat tissue or baby cadavers. All the artists live and work in China, so the exhibition should provide insight into the kind of contemporary work this sleeping giant is capable of. Whether any of this will signal a new direction for the freedom offered to an artist, you will probably have to ask Ai Weiwei about that. (Words: Laura Thornley)Â
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the quality of interesting happenings and stuff to do in London goes up a notch come September, so if you ever wanted to check out Rent, enjoy a free fest on behalf of Bo-Jo, try Â fried chicken that aint KFC or play games all weekend around the Southbank, this month might just be for you…
Rent at Greenwich Theatre, September 5th-16thÂ - The outstanding Tony-nominated musical (and the longest running production on Broadway) comes to the capital for a limited run. Based on Puccini’sÂ La BohÃ¨me, it’s tells the story of creatives living in New York’s Lower East Side struggling with life, love and HIV/AIDS.
I am… an artist based in London, and I’m about nothing else but art. Every moment of my day is consumed with art. Whether it’s drawing, painting, researching, looking at art, reading about art, and just generally obsessing over art and how to constantly improve my own.
The area in London I call home is… I live in Greenwich, but I always think of home as Brixton. It’s where I was raised and made so many crucial memories. But it’s been almost 10 years since I last lived there. I’ve also lived in Wembley for a couple of years. It was different to Brixton, but not so much where I felt out of place. It was still a bit naughty and I liked that. But eventually I had to return to south, as that’s where my heart is.
I’ve got to have a meal at … St. John in Smithfield. It’s nose to tail eating, which makes it ethical because they use every part of the animal that usually gets thrown away. If you do pop in, I’d recommend trying the Grouse, it’s very tasty. To drink, I like to visit a secret absinthe bar on Chamberlayne Rod in Kensal Rise (The Broken Down Doll Bar and Boutique). From the outside it looks derelict with a window full of weird deflated green balloons. To get in you need to bring something green.
I get my threads from… mainly the high street – American Apparel for T-shirts and Uniqlo for jeans. But when I want to treat myself, I head to Comme des Garcon and Yohji Yamamoto for shirts and tailoring and Zadig & Voltaire for knitwear. For men when it comes to style, I feel they should keep it fairly simple and classic.
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… head to east London. It’s full of energy, inspiration and interesting people. There’s so much going on there. You can bar and club hop all night and you’d barely scratch the surface.
If I were mayor… I would live in the new flats that have recently been built by Tate Modern.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… take the time to look at the top of buildings. This city has a rich history in architecture. The tops of buildings in London, for the majority, are incredible and go unnoticed everyday.
The things I miss when I leave London are… not one thing in particular but, as a whole, what London represents to me. Its differences, opportunities and options, that’s what I would miss.
My soundtrack to London would be…I Luv U from Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner album and Has it Come To This?from the Original Pirate Material album by The Streets. Growing up as a teenager in London these two albums were the first albums I felt represented our generations London. I felt finally our generation had a voice in music; both hugely important albums to me.
It was only a few months ago that revellers across the country were having a ball at the wild and wonderful Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire - including writerÂ Ena Miller. With tickets now on sale for next year’s summer jamboree, she takes a moment to reminisce on her 2012 experience…
When I look at my photos fromÂ The Secret Garden PartyÂ I can’t help but smile. When I was there I spent a lot of time smiling back at those smiling at me; it’s a festival filled with friendly people. Â Itâs a place where everyone is up for meeting everyone else and to cram in as much fun as one can have in 4 nights and 5 days.
The weeks of torrential rain beforeÂ SGPÂ worried me. But at the gates, it started well. A handsome man carried our bags in the dark and through the mud.Â Our camping neighbours to the right offered their gazebo and a merry drink. Â They knew before we did that there was no way we (with no instructions) could put up our tent in the drizzle without creating a terrible drama.â¨â¨Our neighbours to our left became our dancing partners; they offered us friendship and laughter and Â told us about places we hadnât had time to read about.
We stood on the hill as theÂ Alabama ShakesÂ played in the distance. Â Too far away to appreciate the music, we were still entertained by the people walking by. The colourful costume of the American Indian, the cool tiger face that grinned perfectly up close against my camera lens and the kids with no tears being pulled along by their parents in special homemade vehicles.
The Dance Off area was packed. Â A massive boxing ring was the space people had earlier taken turns to show who was âthe daddyâ of the dancing floor. Â Surrounded by piles of haystacks - the brave climbed to the top. Â Everywhere - below and above - bodies moved enthusiastically to show their appreciation of the music. â¨â¨Those wanting something a little more hard-core waited for the boat to take them to the rave in the middle of the lake.
We discovered the Coliseum. During the day people mud wrestled naked. Â The prize was simply the triumph of winning. Â â¨â¨On the way to the party in the woods we stopped by At Where the Wild Things Are bar for a cocktail. â¨â¨By the time we reached The Artful Badger it was always way too busy to like. Â But I loved the novelty entrance to the Alice in Wonderland disco. Â As the doors got smaller and smaller, they never got too small for me to fit through. Â They took us to a place that kept us going when the thought of sleep in a muddy tent began to feel more welcoming.
I spent most of my weekend in fancy dress. Â Sequence, wigs, silk, taffeta, netting, homemade wedding dresses, cute white leather corsets, love hearts, butterflies and bubble blowing filled my days. â¨â¨Where there was a party, there was also a place to rest. Â I spent a little time in my bikini at Lost Horizons. Â Â We chilled out on the grass. Â Glided through the air in the tree swing. Had a shower (even though itâs cold, it feels great to wash) and emptied our alcohol-filled pores in a Swedish sauna where the temperature inside was insane. Â â¨â¨Thatâs where I met naked Stephen â the playwright. Â Â Through the heated mist we talked documentaries, Russian models and always doing the job you love. We later exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet again. I like to think weâll be friends.
And when all that was done I went off to find the clay tent. Â My friend created a five-legged turtle and I moulded Mr Caterpillar that sadly never made it back to home with me. â¨â¨The secret festival is set in the fields of Huntingdon, seventy miles outside London. Wild peaceful countryside mingles perfectly with respectful mud crunching happy fun seekers.â¨â¨Even though thousands go ever year, I do feel itâs a special experience not many know about. Â It was my first ever festival and if I didnât have so many other things Iâd like to do before I die, Iâd definitely be a secret gardener again next year.â¨â¨So instead, I feel it is my duty to tell you. â¨â¨Everything I was worried about. Â I shouldnât have. â¨â¨ Would I have fun? Yes. Â â¨Did I need to know millions about music? Â No Â â¨. Would the toilets be so gross Iâd be sick? No way. They were completely fine.â¨ Â Would I spend millions of money when I was there? No. Â I didnât have to.Â Would there be decent food? Yes, it was yummy and reasonable.â¨ Would I be wet and miserable?Â I was damp and for brief moments miserable.
But then there was always a Secret Gardener around to make me smile.Â â¨â¨(Words: Ena Miller)Â
About three or four years ago, restaurants offering robust, butch British fare in clubby surroundings (gentlemen’s rather than night) were the height of fashion, Dean Street Townhouse being the first and I would still argue the best of the bunch. It was a fashion I was very happy with, this being exactly the kind of food I like to eat and the kind of place I like to eat it in.
Fashions change however, with each new restaurant opening now seemingly contending to be more niche and novel than the last, so just as I was thinking we’d all moved on to places serving only hot dogs and champagne or authentic pork-bone ramen, it came as a not-unpleasant surprise to hear about somewhere as resolutely - one might say wilfully - old-school as Reform Social & Grill.
Located in the Mandeville Hotel in Marylebone, Reform consists of a bar area (the Social) serving some pretty spot-on cocktails - they got my vodka Martini exactly right - and the Grill, a large room which with its bare-wood floors, dark Edwardian colour palette and studded leather banquettes and booths is attractive but almost oppressively masculine. On the night Alyn and I visited we were the only diners for almost the entire evening, word having clearly not yet spread that Marylebone, an area well-served for high-end eating establishments but less so for good everyday options, now has exactly that…
To read the rest, click here to visit Hugh Wright’s blog twelvepointfivepercent.com
Film fanatics will agree that movie posters are arguably as significant as the flicks themselves, as their long history has given them - the good ones at least - the credibility to be considered contemporary art. So when 40 established artists and emerging illustrators were tasked with producing prints inspired by some of the most notable movies on the planet, they not only paid homage to the early approach of creating artistic interpretations of film scenes and themes for posters, but collectively produced an attractive show worth checking out when it drops into Dalston this weekend.
Back to the Future by RYCA
Presented by Print Club London, BLISTERS - The Director’s Cut is the studio’s fourth annual show and features clever revamps of posters for the likes of Star Wars, The Godfather and Metropolis amongst others. The open evening on August 31st will feature film screenings, themed cocktails, and hot dogs and popcorn for film buffs and art lovers alike, followed by an open day on September 1st - and the prints themselves will be available to buy for just £40, signed exclusively by the artists.
You can check out a couple more of our favourite prints from the show just below, but click here for more info and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend on Friday, August 31st.
Cast your minds back to April friends - you might remember TCé flagged up a comp where you picked a prized possession you’d trade for the chance to win a pretty awesome experience of a lifetime in New Zealand - a country that looks like it should be on the destination hitlist of any self-proclaimed urban adventurer. But whether you entered or not, you’ll be pleased to know you’ve got one last opportunity as Stories Beats Stuff enters into Phase 3, offering two new adventures which you can enjoy with three of your pals. There’s the glamorous City Splendour, which will take you around three of New Zealand’s largest cities and let you get up to everything from whale watching to club hopping, before later relaxing at a boutique hotel, VIP style:
Or you can choose Culture Kaboom, where you’ll take in New Zealand’s volcanic history by visiting boiling mud pools, steaming geysers and a hot water beach before learning more about Maouri culture by meeting locals and experience the indigenous lifestyle firsthand:
We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think those two trips looked brilliant - and if you think so too, simply submit a video or a photo of what you would trade-off, select the three friends who’ll be joining you (pick wisely), and share your entry on all your social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) to get as many votes as possible. You can even win flights for two to New Zealand for just voting.
Personally, we’ve got our eyes set on Culture Kaboom for being the epitome of YOLO (“you only live once”), so’ll be entering with this:
There’s nothing more we prize more than our vinyls - and these two - from the late Amy Winehouse - were the very first we received she debuted her album Frank nine years ago. Call us crazy for putting our Amy original promos on the line, but we’re down with the philosophy that stories beat stuff (even beloved stuff!), so it’d be great if you can vote for us just here) - and let us know when you enter as we’ll be more than happy to return the favour!
These candid and insightful photos captures the history of one of the world’s most iconic bands over half a century - from rebellious teen starters working the club circuit to wealthy aged rockers who can fill a stadium of diehard fans to this day. Admission to the exhibition (in the East Wing Galleries, East Wing) is FREE and on until August 27th.
There is nothing better than a bank holiday weekend, three whole days of unadulterated holiday relaxation. There are parties everywhere and everybodyâs mate is putting on a BBQ. Only problem is, invariably the English weather can ruin it. You know it, I know it. I have spent too many bank holiday weekends under a brollie, turning the snags on the Barbie and serving up soggy lettuce â not pretty.
If your plans are looking either paper-thin or none existent then never fear â there are still plenty of options to chose from. You could head to the lovely British coast, but then, isnât everyone else doing that? And doesnât that spell motorway tail backs to Timbuktu? How about getting the train to an historic market town? At the small price of hundreds of pounds and still the English weather to negotiate. How about a trip to the sun? Too late in the day and overpriced? Not necessarily. Even at this late date doing a bank holiday trip on a shoestring is still possible.
Cheap flights from the UK are plentiful but deciphering the multitude of sites can be a headache. Sites do exist to make it a bit easier though. Fly.co.uk scans a massive 750 airlines to bring up the cheapest options for the dates you want to leave on. Destinations are anywhere and everywhere Â - from the far flung to doorstep breaks. How about spending the bank holiday weekend in Marrakechâ¦ done. Or Belfastâ¦ no problem. There are cheap flight tickets galore to destinations that guarantee a final indulgence in vitamin D: the best kind of healthy lifestyle, if you ask me. Equally, there are flights to culture hotspots such as Paris, Barcelona and Budapest. Why not use the bank holiday to feed the mind and enrich the soul? Nirvana here we come!
The August bank holiday may be one of the busier holiday weekends of the year but donât think that means there are no last minute deals to be had. With the wealth of options out there, itâs definitely a buyers market. What better way to spend the bank holiday than watching the paralympics from the sun lounger? Believe me, I styled my Olympic watching this way and boy, it felt good.
So don’t get stuck under the brollie on the 26th. . Picture this: sun, sand, pina colada â Iâm there already.
Up Brick Lane, through a clothes shop, down some stairs and tucked away in a snug back room is the Disappearing Dining Club - Â purveyor of good food, friendly service and a memorable sharing experience. Â Decked out in fun vintage decor, the pop-up style restaurant fits perfectly with the Brick Lane crowd - and with a Grey Goose Fizz placed in my hand on arrival, what’s not to like about this place?
Tonight’s starters are a selection of potted treats from salmon and creme fraiche, salted beef and a beetroot and Â a curd mix for the veggies, which is delicious with their homemade sour dough bread. Mains of roast pork come sliced and heaped on a wooden board for the meat eaters to devour (with plenty of crackling), whilst veggies get their own portion of risotto cake - just enough of a twist on the tired veggie staple for me to enjoy. A side of seasonal jersey royal salad with asparagus reminded me of the very English picnic-in-the-park style grub, with extra class. Desserts look equally the part: panna cotta set in a old fashioned glass jar with a rhubarb topping.
DDC has been around for a while butÂ Back In 5 Minutes is its first restaurant in a semi-permanent location. The plan is to be in the premises for two years and serve dinners on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and a Sunday lunch for up to 30 people. Plus the team have a wealth of experience having cut their teeth on the cocktail bars and private members clubs of west London. The menu changes regularly, keeping up with the seasons and maintaining visitors interest - so even if risotto cake is a becomes a bit boring for a vegetarian option, next time they are sure to have something new for guests to try. Finally, prices are around Â£30 for three courses, so I am hoping this dining club doesn’t do a disappearing act for a while! (Words: Laura Thornley)