Follow Us on Twitter

Star Wars: Identities (O2 Arena London) - Review

Star Wars: Identities. Photo by IndieLondon

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THERE’S a force to be reckoned with at London’s O2 Arena… and it’s called Star Wars™: Identities.

Boasting some 200 original costumes, props, models and pieces of artwork, this collection spans all six Star Wars movies as well as the ongoing television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and is truly an experience that’s not to be missed for any young, middle aged, or old Jedi masters or Dark Sith Lords in waiting.

Equipped with audio headsets and interactive wristbands, guests can look forward to eye-opening face-to-face encounters with dozens of character costumes and props, as well as original artwork and models, taking them behind-the-scenes of the movie-making process, while also exploring the science and ideology that informed the whole creation of the Star Wars universe.

What’s more, it invites you to discover who you would be if you were a character in one of the movies. As you tour the exhibition, you’ll be invited to answer questions that help to define your own personality, and enabling you to build your personal and unique Star Wars Hero.

As you leave, you’ll then be presented with a holographic artistic make-up of the character you’ve created, as well as an entertaining back story that you can take with you forever more (and which you can have emailed to your very own inbox).

It’s a nice touch that makes the whole adventure more immersive for visitors whether you’re a walking Star Wars encyclopaedia or a keen five-year-old novice just venturing down the path to Star Wars enjoyment… as my son discovered, excitedly brandishing his wrist-band like a young Anakin Skywalker, albeit guided by his father to stay away from the Dark Side.

Star Wars: Identities

And yet, in spite of such attempts, there remained something awe-inspiring about seeing Darth Vader at the end of the tour, as every youthful gasp from my own boy and other kids [of “wow, Darth Vader”] would attest. The Dark Lord remains a mesmerising presence throughout the exhibition and it’s a good decision to have left his appearance until the very end.

But there are so many more highlights just waiting to be discovered at Star Wars Identities, whether in the form of coming face-to-face with your favourite characters and robots (from Stormtroopers to R2-D2 and Chewbacca), to hearing anecdotes about the creation of the story and key personnel, or discovering the science behind the magic. A special showcase featuring the various space-craft is also well done, with a light show giving off the feel of entering light-space if you stand in the right place.

It’s a glorious trip down movie memory lane that only deepens your admiration for the continued appeal of this George Lucas created franchise.

If there are niggles, then the head-sets require a little patience to work properly (it’s a little too easy to find the audio suddenly disappearing), while some of the background lighting can make getting that perfect photo shot a little difficult (owing to background glare).

But such grumbles are a small price to pay for an exhibition that is otherwise worth every penny. For Star Wars fans, this is a slice of heaven.

Star Wars Identities will be at London’s O2 Arena until September 3, 2017.

Visit the website l View our photo gallery

Woodberry Wetlands - Spring 2017

Events preview

OPENED by London Wildlife Trust on May 1, 2016, Woodberry Wetlands celebrates its first birthday as a wildlife reserve for public enjoyment this spring.

Spanning 11 hectares encircling Stoke Newington’s East Reservoir, this incredible oasis of natural serenity set amongst reed-fringed ponds and woodland is an important habitat for an array of resident, migrating and rare bird species.

The site is also home to the Grade II listed Coal House which underwent major restoration works to return it to its original grandeur as part of the campaign. This former coal store and kitchen is now home to the celebrated Coal House Café and visitor centre.

Following the success of last year’s programme and as part of an ongoing campaign to fundraise for the upkeep of the reserves, Woodberry Wetlands will host another summer long series of educational workshops, guided wildlife walks and well being classes and outdoor activities.


Dawn Chorus Breakfast – Guided Bird Walk and Breakfast – Saturday, April 15 and Saturday May 20 from 5am to 8am. For ages 14+. Price: £16.50 + booking fee.

At the height of the migration season, experience the wetlands’ magnificent birdsong orchestra as the sun rises up over the reeds and the rest of London is still under their duvets.

Foraging for Wild Food and Medicines – Saturday, May 20 from 10am – 12:30pm. For ages 16+. Price: £29.50 + booking fee.

Whether you would like to forage for personal enjoyment or learn it as a ‘survival’ skill, this walk will give you a taste of the basic guidelines you will need to follow in locating, collecting and preparing wild foods and medicines.

Wild Yoga – Every Thursday from May 25 to September 14. For ages 16+. Price: £10 + booking fee.

Back by popular demand, Wild Yoga returns to Woodberry Wetlands for the summer months. Practising yoga amongst the wildlife within this picturesque waterside setting is an incredible way to connect mind, body and spirit with the natural world.

Exploring the Habitats of Bats and Nocturnal Wildlife – Guided Walk – Friday, May 26 from 9pm – 11pm. For ages 16+. Price: £16.50 + booking fee.

During this fascinating guided experience under the cloak of darkness, you will learn about the species of bat and other nocturnal wildlife that make their homes at Woodberry Wetlands.

An Introduction to Beekeeping – Saturday, June 3 from 10am – 3pm. For ages 16+. Price: £69.50 + booking fee.

Interested in keeping bees, but don’t know what’s involved or how to get started? This one-day workshop will give you an overview of the craft of beekeeping.

Patterns in Nature – Drawing and Printmaking Workshop – Saturday, June 10 from 10am – 3pm. For ages 14+. Price: £59.50 + booking fee.

Open to artists of all abilities with a passion for nature, this dynamic workshop combines the disciplines of drawing and printmaking, using the natural world as its subject matter.

All profits from the events run at Woodberry Wetlands are invested into London Wildlife Trust’s conservation work and the ongoing care of its nature reserves.

To find out more about Woodberry Wetlands visit

Driftwood receives London premiere at the 2017 Underbelly Festival

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ACCLAIMED Australian Circus Company, Casus, are bringing their thrilling new show to London for the first time, following rave reviews at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Entitled Driftwood, it will run for a limited season, from May 4 to June 4, as part of the 2017 Underbelly Festival.

As we drift along on the current of life we are shaped by the humans we encounter. The stories of our loved ones, our enemies and complete strangers guide us and determine the person we become. In this colourful and turbulent concoction of pure joy and intimacy, Casus bring a blank canvas to life and revel in our innate need for human contact.

This is a circus show that does not let you forget that to feel is to be human and in a moment of danger, a grasping hold is survival. Unique acrobatic shapes, signature to Casus, abound in this journey of explosive encounters, hidden looks, and humorous discoveries.

The company of Driftwood includes Johnny Brown, Jon Bonaventura, Shannon Vitali, Sarah McDougall and David Trappes.

Knee Deep, the previous show from Casus, won international accolades including Best Circus & Physical Theatre at the Adelaide Fringe Awards 2016, and was described as ‘awe-inspiring’ by the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner.

Tickets: From £10 – to book, call 03333 444167.

Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7.45pm; Saturday at 4pm and 7.30pm; Sunday at 7.30pm.

Running Time: 60 minutes.

Underbelly Festival, Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Also part of the Underbelly Festival: Briefs’ Close Encounters (July 14 to September 30).

The British Museum brings the works of Hokusai to the big screen

Under the wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave) from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. Acquisition supported by the Art Fund. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Event preview

ON JUNE 4, 2017, the British Museum will premiere a UK ground-breaking feature documentary: the first film to be made about the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

Co-produced with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), British Museum presents: Hokusai will include the documentary, plus an exclusive private view of the forthcoming exhibition Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave created especially for the cinema audience.

This cinema event will be available at cinemas across the UK and around the world.

Hokusai’s most famous image, known as ‘The Great Wave’, is as widely known and copied as Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and Constable’s Haywain. The Great Wave, 100 Views of Mount Fuji and other Hokusai works changed modern art, inspiring European artists Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso.

Hokusai is the only artist with his own emoji, the father of modern manga, and an inspiration to artists today.

Filmed in Japan and the UK, the documentary will spend time with Tim Clark, British Museum exhibition curator, and leading scholars who have devoted themselves to the study of Hokusai’s paintings and prints.

They are now exploiting the potential of digital art history, using the latest technologies and groundbreaking 8K video from Japan, to look at prints and paintings in incredible detail. Building on years of accumulated knowledge, they reveal new interpretations of famous works.

The British Museum exhibition is the first in the UK to focus on the later years of the life and art of Hokusai. Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave, supported by Mitsubishi Corporation, will open at the British Museum on May 25. This film and private view will introduce UK audiences to the breadth of Hokusai’s extraordinary achievement.

Hokusai spent his life studying and celebrating humanity, as well as exploring in detail the natural and spiritual worlds. Born in 1760 in a Japan largely isolated from the rest of the world, he lived and worked mainly in the great city of Edo (modern Tokyo). Early in his career Hokusai trained in the popular Ukiyo-e style – the art of the ‘floating world’, which featured courtesans, poets and kabuki actors. In his later work he focused increasingly on nature and above all on the celebrated volcano Mt Fuji, which for Hokusai represented a sacred source of longevity, even immortality.

His ‘manga’ drawings, his prints and paintings show Hokusai’s generous, all-embracing view of humanity. Comic, dramatic, quotidian, sublime, his works celebrate people from all walks of life. He had his own dramatic range of success and failure. At 60 he was riding high, a leading figure in society, but within years tragedy and disaster had struck. His wife died, he had a stroke, his grandson bankrupted him and he spent his final years living often in poverty with his daughter Oi, who was herself an accomplished artist. But he never stopped working and aiming ceaselessly at a perfection that would only happen, as he famously predicted, when he was 110.

In an age when the average life expectancy was 45, Hokusai lived to 90 and in the last years produced some of his most beautiful and compelling works. In his very last view of Mount Fuji, painted in his final months, a dragon rises exultantly in a dark cloud above the sacred mountain, surely a symbol of the artist’s hopes of immortality.

As we know, he did achieve immortality: discovered, revered and copied by the Impressionists and others, he is now counted as one of the world’s greatest artists today. This film and exhibition are bringing him to audiences across the world who will come to know his fascinating story.

Leading Event Cinema distributor, More2Screen has been appointed by the British Museum to distribute British Museum presents: Hokusai in the UK and internationally. More2Screen distributed Vikings Live, Vikings from the British Museum, Viking Adventures from the British Museum and Pompeii from the British Museum. The screenings of British Museum presents: Hokusai enhance any visit to the exhibition and will also bring the exhibition to a wider audience in the UK and internationally who are not able to see it in London.

Image: Under the wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave) from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. Acquisition supported by the Art Fund. © The Trustees of the British Museum. On display from May 25 to August 13.

Briefs return with a brand new show


Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS summer, Briefs return to the Southbank’s Underbelly Festival (April 28 to September 30, 2017) with their dazzling new show. Entitled Close Encounters, it runs from July 14 to September 30.

Featuring their trademark heart-stopping blend of cabaret burlesque, comic capery Australian machismo and punkish swagger, these extra-terrestrial invaders are taking no prisoners.

Following four consecutive sell out runs in London and having glitter-bombed the globe as we know it, the renegade band of boys are now ready to explore the third dimension to test the limits of masculinity, taste and decency.

Expect galactic glamour, astro-athleticism, dark-side drag, inter stellar aerials and warp speed strippers from outer space.

The cosmic crew are powered by a fierce energy as they mix up a rocket-fuel blend of dancing, tumbling, juggling, acro-balancing, trapeze, hula hooping, lip-syncing, sequins, feathers and frocks.

At the helm of starship Briefs is Commander Shivannah (Fez Faanana) who, with voluminous sleeves and steely grip, leads the cosmic crew through the show with astronomical audacity. The Las Vegas award-winning Captain Kidd takes proceedings to the outer limits with his alluring athleticism.

The anarchic alien provocateur Harry Clayton-Wright goes where no man has gone before with his mix of comedy, cabaret and live art. The elastic android Thomas Gundry Greenfield bends eyes with his twists and turns.

One of Australia’s leading aerialists, contortionists and circus trainers, Thomas Worrell, defies gravity and literally ties himself in knots as he takes a lone space walk over the audience.

The queer Kamilaroi man from Mungindi Dale Woodbridge Brown goes into hyper-drive with his acrobatics, flying trapeze, baton twirling, and dance. And Louis Biggs sets his phaser to stun as he has the audience gasping for mercy.

Briefs began in 2008 as a speakeasy in the bowels of Brisbane’s alternative variety scene initially setting out to create an informal space where professional performers could test drive innovative, late night cabaret acts. In 2010, they transitioned from the late night performance club to a performance ensemble when the company was engaged to create its first ‘official’ full-length work.

Over the last five years Briefs have swaggered, shimmied, swished and swung all over the world, selling out in London, Berlin, Paris, Auckland, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

To book tickets, call 03333 444167 or visit

Benchmarks: New Prints by El Anatsui - October Gallery

Exhibition preview

OCTOBER Gallery, London, has announced the preview of a new body of print works by El Anatsui, Benchmarks, created in collaboration with Factum Arte, an extraordinary studio based in Madrid renowned for its synergy of past, present and future techniques.

The first presentation of this remarkable series will run from April 6 to May 13, 2017.

Though globally-renowned for his iconic hangings of aluminium bottle-tops, Anatsui’s artistic practice has always been rooted in the discovery of new media. Having graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, the artist set about ‘forgetting everything (he) had been taught’ in the search for new modes of expression, and the materials needed to convey them.

Following the imperative that an artist should work ‘with whatever his environment throws up’, Anatsui created a wide variety of novel sculptural forms with materials that range from tropical hardwoods to cassava graters, driftwood, obituary printing plates and aluminium bottle-tops. His interest is in the physical history of the materials themselves, the stories they contain and the journeys that bring them into his hands.

It was just such a remarkable journey that first led the artist to work with bottle-tops when he happened upon several bags of them lying discarded by a local liquor shop and found inscribed within a hidden history of trade in West Africa.

At the age of 73, and after a fifty-year career, crowned with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 56th Venice Biennale, Anatsui has found a new source of inspiration in the residual marks and traces of his own art practice and has poured all his energies into exploring these newfound possibilities.

Anatsui’s metal wall sculptures are worked on by a team of assistants who crush, fold and pierce the bottle-tops on tables and on smaller flats of wood. The repetitive and relentless force exerted on these surfaces over many years has resulted in a landscape of textured relief embedded in the worktops.

These wooden surfaces were delivered to the studios of Factum Arte together with some bottle-top off-cuts and cassava graters that had been used in earlier works, to serve as the primary source materials for this new series of prints.

The tabletops and wooden boards were 3-D scanned at a very high resolution, routed onto aluminium plates and then printed through an etching press. Black ink was used to access the textural information held both in the intaglio and on the surface; others were worked upon in colour, while others still with chine collé laminates. The artist played with endless combinations and permutations of the resulting prints to create these syntheses.

An overlapping pair of prints from one circular tray prompted the artist to imagine a lunar eclipse, resulting in the first completed set of thirteen pieces, named the Eclipse Suite, after the thirteen cycles of the moon.

Elsewhere, the bottle-top off-cuts and cassava graters were inked up and printed raw, both on their own and in conjunction with the printed tabletops. For one particularly direct work, coloured ink was laboriously dabbed onto dampened Japanese paper overlaying a large and highly textured tabletop, producing a detailed relief print that bears witness to many years of accumulated mark-making.

Today, El Anatsui continues to experiment with his newfound mode of creation. This preview exhibition will present a selection of works from the Benchmarks print project and indicate just some of the many new directions being explored in this ever-expanding oeuvre.

Factum Arte – Based in Madrid, London and Milan, Factum Arte consists of a team of artists, technicians and conservators dedicated to digital mediation – both in the production of works for contemporary artists and in the production of facsimiles as part of a coherent approach to preservation and dissemination. Over the past few years, Factum Arte has worked with The Musée du Louvre, The British Museum, The Pergamon Museum, Museo del Prado, Biblioteca Nacional Madrid, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt and many other museums, institutions and private individuals.

Gallery Talk: In Conversation with Mike Ward, Director of the Intaglio Studio at Factum Arte – Saturday, April 8 at 3pm at October Gallery. Entry: Free.

Image: El Anatsui, from the Eclipse Suite, 2016. Intaglio print with collage and chine collé, 99 X 99 cm. Photo by Oak Taylor-Smith. Courtesy of October Gallery.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

Tel: 020 7242 7367


Annette Messager: Avec et sans raisons - Marian Goodman Gallery London

Exhibition preview

MARIAN Goodman is presenting Annette Messager’s first solo exhibition at the London gallery. Entitled Avec et sans raisons, it will be on display from April 19 to May 22, 2017.

Messager’s work has not been shown in London since her 2009 solo exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.

With the exception of three pieces from the 1984–86 series Mes Reliques (My Relics), visitors will discover recent works, some never shown before.

The exhibition brings together works that display a diversity of forms: small assemblages of objects, acrylic washes, textile works in the form of installations, and a wallpaper. As she often does, Annette Messager cultivates antithesis, complementarity, and, as ever, polysemy.

Even the title of the exhibition seems programmatic. As Annette Messager’s fondness for word-play and punning is well known, one can venture a double reading of the word raison. On one level, Avec et sans raisons may be understood to mean “having reason, or cause, for doing something, or not”; but one could go further and take it to mean “being deprived, or in possession of, the faculty of reason.”

Messager offers an experience full of contrasts. While some works have a clear underlying rationality, the absurd character of others soon comes to undermine it. The collection as a whole reveals an irreducible freedom of spirit.

Alluding to Pascal who, in Les Pensées (1670), drew a distinction between the “geometric mind” which analyzes reality through the lens of reason, and the “intuitive mind,” which, above all, “sees the matter at once, at a glance, and not by a process of reasoning,” Messager invites the visitors to put their “geometric mind” to the test and make use of their “intuitive mind” in order to better succumb to the lightness of what seems to have no raison d’être.

There thus are three works that will take the viewer by surprise: Gants croix, Gants triangle, and Gants croix oblique (2017). The minimalism of these three pieces, made of simple lengths of taut string with end-points in the form of gloves studded with colored pencils, stands out. Their mathematical rectitude, however, gives way to an unruly tangle of references, presenting us with utmost whimsy – as in En trottinette (On my Scooter) (2017), 3 Escargots-seins (3 Snails-breast) (2017), Le Bras chaussure (The Arm Shoe) (2015), or En équilibre (In Balance) (2015).

These sculptures intensify unusual associations between objects, including breasts shaped like snail shells, an infant’s arm emerging from a child’s shoe, a carbonized Barbie doll precariously balanced with both legs in the air. The resulting bizarre forms, as much uncanny as burlesque, defy any rational reading.

In the work “Mémoire Robots” (2015), where the words “memory” written with metal wire covered with a thick black net and “robots” written with soft coloured letters, Messager asks another metaphysical question that already preoccupied 17th and 18th centuries philosophers: does human nature contain a machine component?

Messager asks this question today, with even greater relevance in that one can now identify man in machines due to the development of artificial intelligence. Indeed, robots have come to replace man in a number of professional fields, they are a part of our daily lives and have in some ways become extensions of ourselves, safeguarding our memories and managing our social lives.

It is said that reason gives humans the faculty of judgment, the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. Yet Annette Messager, also known for multiple identities, continuously blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality. By disseminating the motif of the mask, namely in the installation Les 7 balais (The 7 Brooms) (2011) and the assemblages La Chaussure à double visage (The Two-faced Shoe) (2016), the artist cultivates subterfuge.

Some works, in turn, alter our perception of reality by presenting spectacular variations in scale. The monumental installation Daily (2016), composed of everyday objects hung from the ceiling, as if sewn to giants, generates a Lilliputian experience. Walking among enormous trinkets, the visitor experiences a strange inversion of proportions: the objects we routinely handle and which fit in the palm of the hand, are now out of reach. We feel as if we were in the shoes of Alice in Wonderland who had just swallowed a shrinking potion.

While reason is one path in our quest for truth, Messager never forgets that it is also the normative one. In response, the installation Les Interdictions (2014) suggests a mutinous relationship with the norm, as well as a critique of our deceptively emancipated times. Messager collected, and then re-drew, sixty-eight pictograms from around the world designating various interdictions. The sixty-ninth frame takes up the saying “It’s forbidden to forbid” coined by the actor Jean Yanne during the strikes of May 1968, and which then became the emblematic slogan of that moment in French history.

The desire for freedom and emancipation manifests itself with power and jubilation in Messager’s latest drawings. Painted using acrylic wash, some represent Femen in action, insolently baring their chests which serve as the canvas for such incisive catchphrases as I Am My Own Prophet (2017) or Fuck Your Morals (2016). Some drawings depict efflorescent or vengeful uteruses, as in To My Desire (2017), where a brash uterus twists one of its tubes to give the finger.

Other drawings represent isolated breasts, either in pairs or in a multitude, as in La Mer de Seins (2016). As always in Messager’s work, humor is just below the surface, and the uteruses seem swept by a wave of frivolity as they pirouette as innocently as little colored flowers the artist used as a motif in her wallpaper.

The ultimate lightheartedness and tomfoolery is perhaps best embodied in the recent work Tututérus (2017), exhibited here for the first time. It is a sculpture in the shape of a pink uterus attached to a puffy black leotard, suspended in mid-air and dancing in the wind generated by electric fans placed on the ground.

Finally, the spindly rag dolls Annette Messager installed above Interdictions, or the small wooden puppet tangled in his own viscera which the artist entitled Pinocchio dans ses entrailles (Pinocchio in his Entrails) (2008), or again the word Icone which she enveloped in black netting and which seems to be tumbling down like an overturned symbol, once again bring to mind Pascal pointing out the misery of the human condition and mocking human vanity.

While Annette Messager may observe others with an irony which is somewhat dark, she never forgets that they are also full of desires and dreams. Thus the word Désir is spelled out on the wall, large as life, and draped in black netting.

Marian Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John St, Soho, London, W1F 9DY

The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes Build A LEGO ® Easter Egg Challenge

The Art of the Brick DC Super Heroes - Batman

Event preview

YOUNGSTERS can put their creative skills to the test this Easter with The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes Build A LEGO ® Easter Egg Challenge – and take advantage of Easter Day’s extended opening hours from 10am to 7pm.

From Monday, April 10 to Monday, April 17 (inclusive), Super Hero fans can try their hand at making a LEGO ® sculpture of their very own after being inspired by Nathan Sawaya’s incredible artworks.

Budding artists can unleash their inspiration and create Easter Egg designs in the exhibition’s interactive zone, where every day the winning entry in two age categories (up to 10 years and 11 – 16 years) will be kept.

At the end of the week, the successful entries will be sent to the artist to judge who is the overall victor in each category.

Nathan’s lucky overall winners will receive a special The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes exhibition merchandise goody bag and will have their egg returned to them to keep as a trophy of their EGGS-TRAordinary skills.

Read about The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes, which is currently on display in an exclusively built space on London’s South Bank.

Moving stories: three journeys - the latest Asahi Shimbun Display at the British Museum

Exhibition preview

THE latest Asahi Shimbun Display, Moving stories: three journeys, which focuses on the complex and emotive theme of migration and its life-altering power, can be seen at the British Museum (Room 3) until April 30, 2017.

Moving stories: three journeys addresses migration by focusing on the million-year-old story told in footprints discovered at Happisburgh in Norfolk, and a story of exile in the contemporary work Ali’s Boat diary 1 by Iraqi artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji.

To help frame these journeys, the display includes excerpts from the poetic documentary, One World in Relation, directed by Manthia Diawara. The film follows Édouard Glissant, an inspirational poet and philosopher from Martinique on the third journey of this display: one of intellectual reflection and discovery.

The Happisburgh footprints were discovered in 2013 by a team of scientists led by the British Museum. The footprint surface was exposed at low tide as heavy seas removed the beach sands but it only survived two weeks before being washed away.

A 3D model of the exposed surface was created using digital photography, which has been used to create a projected animation that will be displayed within a novel gallery design that evokes a shipping crate in order to underline the enduring theme of human movement.

The Happisburgh footprints are the earliest evidence of humans in northern Europe. The people who made them are known from fossil remains from Spain, assigned to the species Homo antecessor (“Pioneer Man”). They were of a similar height to modern humans but a completely different species.

These very ancient people ventured beyond their known world by crossing a land bridge that connected Britain to continental Europe. It was this and similar journeys that eventually led to ancient people adapting to more difficult environments in the search of basic human needs: food, clothing, shelter and fire.

From a million years ago, we arrive at the present day with still the same needs, but different boundaries.

Ali’s Boat is an artist’s book by Sadik Kwaish Alfraji made in 2014 that acts as a meditation about the nature of exile. It is inspired by an encounter that the artist had with his 11 year old nephew on a visit to Iraq in 2009, who gave him a drawing of a boat, with the words ‘I wish this boat takes me to you.’

Alfraji left Iraq in 1991 and now lives in the Netherlands. He works in a deliberately child-like style, made all the more poignant by the clear melancholy present in all of his work; many of his drawings form the basis of video animations.

The text that threads through the illustrations is addressed to his nephew Ali. ‘I was like you, Ali… I had a boat… it was the colour of gold in dreams and studded with lapis lazuli’. It is a warning that the arduousness of the journey and the arrival itself can easily shatter that dream: the hope of a new life.

Ali’s Boat was acquired in 2015 thanks to CaMMEA (Contemporary and Middle East art acquisitions group). The British Museum acquired an edition of prints made from the book, thanks to CaMMEA and the Brooke Sewell Fund, which makes it possible for each page of the book to be shown together with the original book.

Édouard Glissant’s moving and poetic words are expressed through the documentary film, One World in Relation. These excerpts express the devastating impacts of slavery, colonialism and racism towards Caribbean culture.

Glissant nevertheless offers a positive outlook on the potential of humanity. Although a migrant may lose the social and cultural ‘unity’ of their place of birth, they gain a cultural diversity or ‘multiplicity’. He explores how differences do not divide us but rather can co-exist with what we share and hold dear in order to create stronger, global communities.

This display was born of discussion with the British Museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, who said: “The display poses the questions about what connects these very different journeys. How can we learn from the long-term movements of people, often against all odds? It is through this study of people over time and across the globe, that we learn more about impact of migration and people’s ability to adapt to and shape a new world.”

Image: Sadik Kwaish Alfraji (b. 1960), a page from Ali’s boat 1. Indian ink and charcoal on notebook paper, 2014. © Sadik Kwaish Alfraji. Reproduced by permission of the artist.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5.30pm and Fridays from 10am to 8.30pm.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG


Also at the British Museum: The American Dream: pop to the present (until June 18) and Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave (May 25 to August 13, 2017).

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival

Event preview

ON SUNDAY, May 14, 2017, the Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival will be held in the garden of St Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, London, WC2 – the actors’ church – near the spot where Samuel Pepys first saw Mr Punch in England in May 1662.

Punch and Judy Professors and Puppeteers from all over the country will be coming to perform throughout the day. Everyone is invited to come and enjoy the shows and celebrate the art of puppetry on Mr Punch’s 355th birthday.


11am – Grand Procession around the neighbourhood of Covent Garden starting in the Church garden, led by the Superior Brass Band with a birthday toast to Mr Punch by the commemorative plaque on the church wall in the Piazza.

12 noon – Special Church Service with Mr Punch in the Pulpit.

12.30pm to 5.30pm – Punch & Judy and Puppet Shows, Puppet Workshops, Stalls, Refreshments, Folk Music by The Lost Marbles String Band, Maypole Dancing and Clowns.

The British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, The Punch and Judy Fellowship, The College of Punch and Judy Professors, The Puppet Centre Trust and The Union Internationale de la Marionette will all be represented.

There will be stalls run by community groups from all over Westminster and Camden together with the Covent Garden Community Association, and refreshments provided by the Food Chain who are raising funds to help provide nutritional support for people living with HIV in London.

Punch and Judy Professors and Entertainers attending include:

Prof Bryan Clarke, Pete Maggs, Alix Booth, David Wilde, James Bradley, Jacques Devienne (France), Paul Goddard, Jester Jim, Joey the Clown, Peter Charlton, Chris Gasper, Martyn Cooper, James Arnott, Gingernutt the Clown, Joseph Peek, Chris Somerville, Denise Petit, Richard Coombs, Chris Drewitt, Gordon Hunt, Nic Nicada, Damien Weiss (France), Ranu Eshankulova (Uzbekistan)…

…Glyn Edwards, Katey Wilde, Clive Chandler, Len Belmont, Richard Robinson, Paul Tuck & Les King, Will Counsins, Barbara Ray, Clown Salvo, Alison Clark, Gary Wilson, John Thursby, Paul Wheeler, Gary Trimby, Peter Dann, Randolph the Remarkable, James Lyon (France), The Lost Marbles String Band, Donna Marias Maypole Spectacular, and many more….

Venue: St. Paul’s Church Garden, Bedford Street, WC2E 9ED.

Admission: Free.