Letter from London: A Little of Everything

A week in London is simply just not enough time to take in the cultural offerings that emerge so numerous each season, you have to wonder that if every institution had the marketing budget of the Tate, if there would be enough poster spaces on the Tube to advertise it all. Throw in a graduation ceremony and various friendly reunions, and you’re left with a few precious afternoons to take advantage of what’s out there. I prioritized one art exhibition, one theater piece, and two short quirky adventures for my week.

 

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Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture at the Tate Modern: I thought I had been “Tated-out” so to say, but this exhibition (as well as the newly curated fourth floor) had me back on the bandwagon of the museum. With 11 rooms spanning Calder’s career, from the widely known mobiles to wire circus scenes, the show was gloriously whimsical. The best part was that most of the pieces were given from the Calder Foundation in NY and had never before been shown publicly – a nice surprise for a great afternoon at the Tate.Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.29.40 PM

 

Battlefield326x326Battlefield at the Young Vic: The Young Vic is my favorite house in London. I have been multiple times and they manage to transform their main theatre each time, there hasn’t been a piece I have not fully enjoyed. “Battlefield,” a new interpretation of Peter Brook’s “Mahabharata,” directed by Brook and his creative partner Marie-Hélène Estienne is a thread-bare production. With minimal sets, props, and costumes, it instead highlights the prose and the the actor’s delivery of the text. The four actors masterfully present the fables and lessons of their experience with war. A touching, and too short night at the theater. Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.30.00 PM

 

Architecture Tour at the Barbican: One my great failings after living in London was never making it to see anything at the Barbican, not even a film. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I wasn’t about to go down without a fight this time. A rainy Saturday afternoon provided an intense atmosphere for a 2-hour tour of the Barbican Estate and Arts Centre. Our small group traversed part of the 40-acre estate, which houses 4,000 residents, the Barbican Arts Centre, and a lake. Controversial still today, the building is a definitive piece of Brutalist architecture and an important site in London’s landscape. The most interesting bit? Learning that all the texturizing on the concrete exterior of the estate was done by hand!Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.30.00 PM

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The Barbican Estate Courtyard

complete-micrarium-2-whitened-225x300The Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL: The Grant Museum is my favorite 30-minute culture pit-stop in London. This visit was a reconnaissance mission for a friend’s project with On The Grid and while unchanged, this Victorian cabinet of curiosities-equse museum never fails to marvel. From the jar of voles, to the fully intact python skeleton, to my personal favorite, the Micrarium lightbox – the Grant Museum is a little gem nestled in Euston. No visit is complete without stopping by the Euston Tap, a great li’l pub in a converted Victorian gatehouse outside the station.

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