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Silk River - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Silk scroll production

Exhibition preview

KEW IS collaborating with acclaimed international outdoor arts organisation, Kinetika, on the ambitious Silk River project, connecting 20 communities along the Thames Estuary and India’s Hooghly River.

Silk River explores the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through community artistic exchange. The fruits of this collaboration are twenty stunning six-meter, hand-painted silk scrolls, ten created in India and ten in the UK.

This year-long international community collaboration between artists will be celebrated by bringing together all twenty hand-painted silk scrolls in a sensational exhibition in the Nash Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from October 22 to October 27, 2017.

The exhibition opens on Sunday, October 22 with a day of activities for under 5s and families, including storytelling sessions, a natural dye workshop, a recipe exchange, dance performances and a collaborative artwork. For more information, click here.

The banner designs themselves are richly coloured and layered, depicting a mixture of landmarks, local personalities and aspects of history, ranging from pop culture in Dartford to a Tudor fort in Tilbury. The banner designed at Kew points to old trade links between the UK and India in the form of Indigo, quinine and silk.

Many of these old trade connections have not survived the test of time, but the Silk River project has delighted in reviving at least one.

With the assistance of the Crafts Council of West Bengal, this has turned out to be a great silk weaving revival project, creating a showcase for a superior quality silk cloth from Murshidabad. In fact, the silk for the banners was hand woven on looms that had not been used in recent memory and only contains silk threads from that locality, not from other parts of India or indeed the world. More information on the silk is available here.

Silk River is an ambitious project which explores the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through artistic exchange between communities along the Thames Estuary and India’s Hooghly River. Kinetika’s Artistic Director Ali Pretty, with associate Artistic Director Ruchira Das (Think Arts, India) and an international team of artists, writers and photographers, will capture and interpret the experience of journeying along these two mighty rivers.

Working in 20 locations from Murshidabad to Batanagar (Hooghly) and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to Southend (Thames) to reinterpret a shared heritage, Kinetika’s Silk River will raise cultural awareness of the Indo-British relationship through engaging diaspora communities who live alongside both rivers.

Silk River took place along the Thames between September 15 and September 24 and will culminate in West Bengal along the Hooghly December 7 – 17, 2017 with two river walks where the stories of the 20 locations will be revealed to local, national and international audiences through the showing of 20 giant hand-painted Bengali silk scrolls and accompanying performances.

Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond - British Museum

St Margaret Statuette

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond will be on display at the British Museum (Room 35) from November 2, 2017 to April 8, 2018.

There is no known culture in the world or in history without religious beliefs. What sustains this worldwide phenomenon? The answer to this question is usually set out in terms of what people believe.

By contrast, this exhibition explores the practice and expression of religious beliefs in the lives of individuals and communities around the world and through time. It will also touch on the benefits and risks of these behaviours in terms of co-existence and conflict in societies such as 17th–18th-century Japan, China and the Soviet Union, as well as modern Europe.

Belief is a key aspect of human behaviour and the exhibition will note not only the mystical and sociological aspects of this, but also the innate neurological and psychological triggers. The similarities in the recurrent practices exhibited, despite great variation in what is believed, leads to the question of whether our species might be better known as Homo religiosus rather than Homo sapiens.

The exhibition will explore behaviours inherent in everything from modern urban ideas of wellness and mindfulness to pilgrimage and prayer.

The exhibition is part of the fourth collaborative project between the British Museum, the BBC and Penguin Books. It builds on a Radio 4 series of 30 daily programmes over six weeks presented by former Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor.

Exhibition Curator Jill Cook says ‘human beings are fascinating creatures. We define our existence by our ability to think and our species has had the neurological faculties – the mind – to transform our ideas into objects that have been a key to our evolution and identities for a long time.

‘As fully modern humans we go one step further: we also symbolise our thoughts in stories and images. What is it we symbolise? Our feelings of love and sorrow, of course, but also beings, vital forces and worlds beyond nature that we venerate and sometimes fear. Such powerful, mystical ideas govern personal lives as well as defining cultural identities and social bonds.’

The exhibition will include everyday objects relating to world faiths, traditional indigenous, archaeological and modern civil practices.

It will include intriguing pieces from the end of the last Ice Age that depict beings that do not exist in nature, to familiar objects of everyday practices of all periods – including a remarkable 18th-century replica of a Hindu ceremonial chariot of the kind pulled from a temple to reveal deities during festivals, posters relating to Soviet scientific atheism, and a Chinese badge celebrating ‘Mao’s mangoes’ in an extraordinary example of 20th-century veneration.

The British Museum will take a new, experiential and innovative approach to the design of the exhibition. It will incorporate the sounds, music and silence associated with religious practice, with moments of surprise, achieved with atmospheric lighting effects.

The exhibition is supported by the Genesis Foundation, with grateful thanks to John Studzinski CBE.

John Studzinski, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation said: “The Genesis Foundation works with prestigious UK arts organisations and is particularly dedicated to supporting projects on the theme of faith. Faith is an integral part of my life, which means that I am conscious of the divine in all sorts of circumstances, in sacred and secular spaces, in nature and in man-made objects.

“As soon as we began to discuss this exhibition, I was compelled by the idea of uniting in one place objects that explore religion across the world and throughout history. I am looking forward to witnessing people’s responses, both spiritual and emotional, as they make a connection to the divine at the British Museum. When we share an experience of this kind, we remember that we are more united than we often acknowledge, and I hope that this exhibition will remind us of that.”

Image: St Margaret – Statuette showing St Margaret at prayer, 1325-1350, France.

Tickets: £15, Members and under 16s free, concessions and group rates available. To book, call +44 (0)20 7323 8181 or visit

Times: Open daily from 10am to 5.30pm. Open late on Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm. Last entry 80 minutes before closing.

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

Becoming Blood: Halloween Weekender - Science Gallery London

Blood Bikers, part of Blood Life Uncut, credit Science Gallery London

Event preview

SCIENCE Gallery London is presenting Becoming Blood (October 28 and 29, 2017), an alternative Halloween weekender of free events, interactive installations and experiences around Peckham exploring the vital fluid inside us all.

The weekend will include:

Blood Bikers – Saturday, October 28 from 2pm – 10pm and Sunday, October 29 from 2pm – 7pm. FREE.

Find the roaming performance team, the Blood Bikers, as they bike between the Safehouses and Copeland Gallery, stopping to gather stories, share messages, and stage ideas inspired by blood. They will perform short stories, create unique interactions and offer you a chance to find out your blood type.

Forensics Uncovered: Who Dunnit? – Sunday, October 29 from 11am – 12noon. Safehouse 2, 137 Copeland Road. FREE.

Don your best detective hats and join artist Bea Haines and Dr Nunzianda Frascione and James Gooch from the Forensic Science Department at King’s College London to hear about how Bea’s latest artwork was developed, and uncover the techniques used to detect traces of blood. From Luminol to forensic fingerprinting powder and beyond, find out what the future holds for this area of forensics.

Sarah-Jane Norman: Take this for this is my body – Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29, various times. Safehouse 1, 139 Copeland Road, London. FREE (donation to National Justice Project encouraged).

Forensics Uncovered, part of Blood: Life Uncut. Bea Haines and Nunzianda Frascione and Science Gallery London.

Join indigenous Australian artist, S.J Norman for a traditional cream tea with a twist. Take part in a typically British colonial cultural ritual that has been reinterpreted by three Aboriginal performers. Explore ideas of ‘contamination’, the complex history of the British Empire and the impact of the ongoing legacy of the British Empire on First Nations People.

Jamie Lewis Hadley – Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29 from 7.30 – 8.30pm. Station Barbers, Peckham.

There’s a new Sweeney Todd in town… only this one’s not out to kill! Situated within the window of a barbershop, this performance explores the history of bloodletting as a medical practice, tracing its roots in ancient medicine, the rise of the barber-surgeon and the current understanding of blood within modern medicine.

Image (top): Blood Bikers, part of Blood: Life Uncut, Science Gallery London.

Image (bottom): Forensics Uncovered, part of Blood: Life Uncut. Bea Haines and Nunzianda Frascione and Science Gallery London.

The X Factor Live Tour is back for 2018

Event preview

THE X Factor Live Tour is returning for 2018 and for the first time, the audience will choose their own winner – each and every night.

The X Factor digital host, Becca Dudley, will be on the road with the contestants and presenting the tour competition each night. And at the end of each show, the audience will then become the judges – and choose the winner!

The X Factor Live Tour 2018 kicks off in Belfast on February 16 and will travel across the UK, visiting Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cardiff, Dublin, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, London (The SSE Arena, Wembley – matinee and evening on February 24) , Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The X Factor Live Tour has thrilled more than three million people since it began 13 years ago, making it one of the UK’s most successful annual arena tours.

Tickets go on general sale at 10am on Friday (October 13), with an exclusive pre-sale on Wednesday (October 11) at 10am with Ticketmaster.

Victoria Rance: The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon - The Cello Factory

The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon, Victoria Rance 2017.

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Victoria Rance: The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon. Sculptures, Drawings, Photographs and Animations 2007-2017 will be on display at The Cello Factory from October 23 to October 30, 2017.

As the title suggests, this exhibition is a ten-year retrospective of over 70 works by one of the UK’s leading and innovative sculptors

The winner of the Mark Tanner Award, with two exhibitions at Sculpture at Goodwood under her belt, Victoria Rance has completed a series of prestigious commissions over the past ten years from London’s Economist Plaza, Chelsea Physic Garden and St Andrew’s Church Waterloo to De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill and Glyndebourne Opera, East Sussex.

Her versatile yet distinctive works – from sculpture to wear to architectural installations to tiny talismanic objects – have earned her invitations to international exhibitions as well as Arts Council England and European Cultural Foundation awards.


Victoria Rance creates interactive sculptures – viewers are invited to climb inside, wear or hold the works. She records the sculpture-viewer interactions using photography, video and animation and then presents the recordings as part of the installations.

Sculpture to Wear

Rance’s ‘Sculpture to Wear’ works create a shield that protects the wearer’s inner self from the outer world – or in the artist’s own words “a sheltering skin that protects or alters the sense of self, provoking ambivalent responses in the wearer and the viewer”.

The sculptures have elements of ceremonial architecture and costume, both contemporary and historical. Examples in this series include ‘SOS 2013’, a copper bodice inspired by Islamic armour in The Metropolitan Museum New York and ‘Tabard’ a work made of jute, wax and palm stalks that was made after watching porcupines raise their quills in self defence.

Rance’s Sculpture to Wear works have been shown to critical acclaim at Standpoint Gallery, Hoxton, London, Erkan Yavuz Experimental Art Studio, Turkey, Bearspace Gallery, Deptford, at the BBK Kunst-Quartier, Osnabruck, Germany and at Lubormirov-Angus-Hughes and Morley Galleries, London.

The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon

Two new works for this Cello Factory retrospective are large scale mixed media sculptures of two mythical creatures: The Nigerian ‘Night Horse’ and the Egyptian ‘Holy Baboon’. The Night Horse can be ridden without anyone seeing the rider. The story is that you can ride the horse to kill your enemies in secret and return unnoticed. The Holy Baboon is a temple guardian that watches over sacred places and morality. The Holy Baboon believes that murder is wrong – so the two separate creatures face each other.

The work relates to contemporary politics as it was initially inspired by Rance’s experience of meeting liberal-minded people who said that they would personally like to murder President Trump, an act that they believe to be noble and morally right. The themes of invisibility, morality, ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ selves run throughout Rance’s work.

I Wish

‘I Wish’ is an ongoing project started in 2013 where a series of participants (who include hospital patients, refugees and school children) were invited to describe a wish to Rance which she then made into a talismanic type object. Rance has recorded each ‘wisher’ holding their object in a film. Through these works, she explores our relationship with superstition and spirituality. As she explains: “I want to create objects that are loaded with a meaning that is outside our material value system.”

‘I Wish’ has been a huge success with commissions for Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Invicta and Montebelle Schools, and the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network all in the South London Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham. ‘I Wish’ was awarded a Deptford X Prize in 2014 and then commissioned for Deptford X 2015.

Two pewter objects from 'Otherworld' by Victoria Rance.


In ‘Otherworld’, a series started in 2015, Rance looks at the connections, real and mythological, between humans, animals and nature. She creates ‘families’ of tiny detailed pewter sculptures and sets them in tableaux scenes. The mythological character ‘Loki’ is a key figure in this group. Loki is a mischievous shape-shifting figure who moves between man and gods like Hermes. Previews of ‘Otherworld’ have been shown at Morley Gallery and Lubomirov-Angus-Hughes London, but this will be first time that the series has been shown in its entirety.

Space for a Woman

Victoria Rance has an ongoing interest in feminism and the place of women in society on an international level. She has travelled widely to investigate the spaces, physical and emotional that women occupy around the world, for example historical harems and the female-only areas of mosques. She creates sculptures for women to step into – that suggest liberation, protection and imprisonment at the same time – to give the audience time to reflect on these issues.

Renowned feminist art critic Katy Deepwell wrote of ‘Space for a Woman’: “This ornate work is a cage, a screen trapping its subject into a corner. The ambivalence is clear in the way that this structure offers protection and security but it leaves no room to manoeuvre. It’s a ‘freedom’ in security which involves considerable sacrifice.”

Rance won a Europea n Cultural Foundation Travel Award for a residency in Istanbul in 2011 for this project.

Times: Daily from 12noon to 6pm.

The Cello Factory, 34 Cornwall Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8TJ

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains extends

Exhibition preview

DUE to phenomenal demand for tickets for its final two weeks, The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains will extend opening hours as well as stay open for a period of 42 hours before it must close on October 15, 2017. A final 4,500 tickets are now available, giving the public one last chance to see the hit exhibition.

Taking place at London’s V&A, the exhibition will open for the entire weekend of October 6, welcoming visitors for 42 hours until Sunday, October 8. The Exhibition will also be opening its doors on selected days from 9am and will be open until 10pm where possible. Full available hours can be viewed at

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains has welcomed over 373,000 visitors to date, making it the most successful exhibition of its kind. These extended hours will give fans a final chance to experience it before the V&A doors close and the exhibition moves on.

Previously Posted: From May 13 to October 1, 2017, the Victoria and Albert Museum is hosting the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd, one of the world’s most pioneering and influential bands.

To mark 50 years since the band released their first single Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains will be an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey through Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world.

A story of sound, design and performance, the exhibition will chronicle the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to the present day, illustrating their groundbreaking use of special effects, sonic experimentation, powerful imagery and social commentary.

The exhibition marks the first collaboration in decades of Pink Floyd’s remaining members and is promoted by Michael Cohl and Iconic Entertainment Studios.

The exhibition will celebrate Pink Floyd’s place in history as the cultural landscape changed throughout the 1960s and beyond. Pink Floyd occupied a distinctive experimental space and were the foremost exponents of a psychedelic movement that changed the understanding of music forever. They became one of the most important groups in contemporary music.

Pink Floyd have produced some of the most iconic imagery in popular culture: from pigs flying over Battersea Power Station, The Dark Side of the Moon prism, cows, marching hammers to giant inflatable teachers; their vision brought to life by creative individuals such as modern surrealist and long-time collaborator Storm Thorgerson, satirical illustrator Gerald Scarfe and psychedelic lighting pioneer Peter Wynne-Wilson.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, with sonic experience by Sennheiser, will celebrate the band’s era-defining work in composition, staging, design, film, music technology, graphic design and photography. It will feature more than 350 objects and artefacts including never-before-seen material, presented alongside works from the V&A’s outstanding collections of art, design, architecture and performance.

Highlights will include spectacular set and construction pieces from some of Pink Floyd’s most innovative and legendary album covers and stage performances including The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Division Bell, instruments, music technology, original designs, architectural drawings, handwritten lyrics and psychedelic prints and posters.

At the exhibition, visitors will have the unique opportunity to experience never-before-seen classic Pink Floyd concert footage and a custom-designed laser light show.

The exhibition is curated by the V&A by a team led by Victoria Broackes alongside Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell of Hipgnosis, the Creative Director of Pink Floyd, and Paula Stainton. The curatorial team have worked closely with members of the group on the content of the exhibition, which is being designed by Stufish, the world leading entertainment architects and longtime stage designers for Pink Floyd.

Admission: £20 (Monday – Friday), £24 (Saturday – Sunday), concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking strongly advised.

Tickets available in person at the V&A; online at or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies); or from ticketing partners LOVETheatre, Ticketmaster, See Tickets and Encore.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics - Victoria and Albert Museum

Exhibition preview

THIS autumn, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, is creating a vivid and immersive journey through nearly 400 years of opera, exploring its passion, power and politics.

The exhibition, entitled Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be on display in the Sainsbury Gallery from September 30, 2017 to February 25, 2018.

The only exhibition ever to explore opera on a grand scale, it will immerse visitors in some key moments of the history of European opera from its roots in Renaissance Italy to its present-day form, by focusing on
seven operatic premieres in seven cities.

It will reveal how opera brings together multiple art forms to create a multi-sensory work of art, and show how social, political, artistic and economic factors interact with great moments in the history of opera to tell a story of Europe over hundreds of years.

More than 300 extraordinary objects, including important international loans, will be shown alongside digital footage of compelling opera performances.

Objects on display include Salvador Dali’s costume design for Peter Brook’s 1949 production of Salome; Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet, a masterpiece of modernist painting contextualising Wagner’s modern approach to music in 1860s Paris; the original score of Verdi’s Nabucco from the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan; and one of two surviving scores from the first public opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea) will be on display.

Original material from the 1934 St Petersburg premiere of Shostakovich’s avant-garde Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk will be reunited and displayed outside Russia for the first time: these include the composer’s original autograph score, along with stage directions, libretto, set models and costume designs.

World-leading opera performances will be played via headphones, dynamically changing as visitors explore the cities and objects, to create an evocative and fully immersive sound experience. The exhibition will include a powerful new recording of the Royal Opera Chorus singing ‘Va pensiero’ (the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, experienced in a 360-degree sound installation.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be the first exhibition staged in the V&A’s purpose-built Sainsbury Gallery, one of the largest exhibition spaces in Europe, opening beneath the new Sackler Courtyard as part of the Exhibition Road Building Project. It will be accompanied by live events and other digital initiatives from BBC Arts in collaboration with the V&A, Royal Opera House and high-profile opera companies from across the UK to convey opera to a wider audience.

To coincide, BBC Music will be working with the V&A interpreting themes from the exhibition across television and radio, including a landmark BBC Two documentary series exploring many of the same operas and cities, presented by Lucy Worsley and featuring The Royal Opera’s Music Director and Music Director of the V&A exhibition, Sir Antonio Pappano.

Other activity will include live outside broadcasts, recordings of live performances of all seven featured operas on BBC Radio 3, and episodes of its flagship In Tune and Music Matters programmes – broadcast live from the museum. A partnership with King’ s College London, the Royal Opera House and the V&A will create a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) introducing the core tenets of opera.

The seven cities and premieres are:

Venice – Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, 1642.

The narrative of the exhibition will begin in Venice, a Renaissance centre of entertainment, gambling and disguise, with a sumptuous painting of composer Barbara Strozzi depicted as a courtesan. The original surviving manuscript score of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea – an opera exploring scandal and ambition, which premiered in Venice’s Carnival season 1642-3 – represents opera’s transition from private court entertainment to the public realm.

London – Handel’s Rinaldo, 1711.

In 1711 Handel’s Rinaldo was premiered – one of the first Italian language operas performed in London, as the city emerged as a global trade centre. A dramatic, kinetic set will re-create the premiere’s elaborate staging, which caused a sensation at the time. The fashion for castrato singers will be shown through paintings and rare surviving costumes. Tensions at the time between the incoming European-inspired opera and traditional theatre are highlighted in a Hogarth engraving depicting crowds attending the opera as Shakespeare’s plays are wheeled away.

Vienna – Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, 1786.

Mozart’s comic opera Le nozze di Figaro premiered in 1786 in Vienna, a centre of the Enlightenment. Its characters were drawn from everyday life and the singers wore contemporary costume on stage. Fashionable dress as worn by Mozart’s Count and Countess Almaviva will be on display. The role of the composer will be examined through the figure of Mozart, and a piano he played on a visit to Prague will travel for the first time for the exhibition.

Milan – Verdi’s Nabucco, 1842.

The growing importance of the chorus is explored through Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco which premiered in Milan in 1842. The opera’s ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ (‘Va pensiero’) became an unofficial national anthem for Italy after the events of the Risorgimento led to the country’s unification.

Paris – Wagner’s Tannhäuser, 1861.

In the 1860s opera enjoyed a high status in Paris, a city undergoing huge transformations. The 1861 Paris premiere of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser, which he had revised specially for performances in the city, polarised audiences, but Wagner’s vision for the art form proved inspirational for artists and writers.

Dresden – Strauss’ Salome, 1905.

Richard Strauss’ explosive modernist opera Salome premiered in 1905 in Dresden, a progressive city in the grip of artistic expressionism, as depicted in Erich Heckel’s painting of the suburbs. The opera’s reception and the shifting perceptions of women that the story reflected will be examined. The exhibition also includes many depictions of Salome, from Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations to a Versace costume design.

St Petersburg – Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, 1934.

The final opera explored in detail is Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Initially embraced by audiences at its St Petersburg premiere in 1934 as an expression of new Soviet opera, it was banned under political censorship in 1936. Shostakovich did not write another opera. Both avant-garde and propaganda material will be on display alongside a painting inspired by Shostakovich’s First Symphony by Pavel Filonov, rarely seen outside Russia.

Footage from 20th- and 21st-century premieres will create a finale showing how opera has moved from Europe across the world and continues to take on new forms. The operas include Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht and George Benjamin’s Written on Skin.

Admission: £19. A wide range of concessions are available. Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies). Limited tickets are also available from the Royal Opera House:

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL

Royal Academy of Arts presents From Life

Exhibition preview

FROM December 11, 2017 to March 11, 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts is presenting From Life, a special exhibition project that will take place across two distinct spaces: the Sackler Wing of Galleries and the Tennant Gallery.

From Life will examine what making art from life has meant to artists throughout history and how the practice is evolving as technology opens up new ways of creating and visualising artwork.

Drawing from casts of Classical and Renaissance sculpture and life models was long considered essential training for any aspiring artist, and was once a staple of the RA Schools, Britain’s longest established fine art school.

Beginning with a display of historic paintings and works on paper drawn from the RA Collection, From Life will explore the practice of life drawing, from the origins of the Royal Academy in the 18th century to the present day, whilst also looking to the future.

Historic paintings by artists such as Johann Zoffany will be followed by works in a diverse range of media by contemporary artists, including Jeremy Deller’s Iggy Pop Life Class (2016), Cai Guo-Qiang’s film One Thousand Youngsters Drawing David (2010) and Jenny Saville’s Entry (2004).

From Life will also present work by Royal Academicians who continue to interrogate the practice of working from life, among them Antony Gormley, Chantal Joffe, Michael Landy and Gillian Wearing.

For the first time the Royal Academy will be working with artists exploring emerging technologies, which presents them with new ways to both observe and represent themselves and the world around them. Farshid Moussavi RA, Humphrey Ocean RA, Yinka Shonibare RA and Jonathan Yeo are currently experimenting with virtual reality technologies and creating new artwork for the exhibition using virtual reality platform HTC Vive and artistic software programmes, including Google’s Tilt Brush and MakeVR Pro.

From Life will reveal the creative process in making these new artworks, as well as opening up the exciting potential of future artistic applications of virtual and augmented reality. HTC Vive is supporting the development of these works and Google Arts and Culture is working with artist Jonathan Yeo to create the first physical free-standing sculpture in metal made by using Tilt Brush.

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts said: “This is an experimental project that explores everything from artistic process to technological evolution and creative collaboration. In a sense, From Life embodies what an artist-run academy was, is and might become.”

The Royal Academy will be working with immersive content studio Factory 42, which has been commissioned by Sky Arts and Google Arts and Culture to create Virtual Reality experiences looking at individual artists’ practice.

Sky Arts has also commissioned Factory 42 to produce a documentary entitled Virtual Reality: Mystery of Creativity, which explores creating art in a virtual environment and how artists use these cutting-edge technologies to explore the limits of traditional artistic methods. Factory 42 will also create virtual experiences based on each artist’s creative process and their output.

There will also be a series of short films across the Royal Academy’s online platforms, as well as via the Sky VR and Google Arts & Culture apps.

250 free life drawing experiences for 250 years: To coincide with From Life and as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations in 2018, the Royal Academy will be offering free life drawing classes for 250 people of all abilities in the historic Life Room in the RA Schools. Each class will be for a particular group that has a special relationship with either the RA, drawing, or the human body, from members of the Royal Academy’s outreach programmes to nurses and architects. The guest tutors will not be revealed until the life drawing class begins. The project will be documented by online features and videos.

The RA is also inviting the public and Friends of the RA to participate through an open ballot to win 50 places at the following free classes, led by guest tutors who will be revealed on the day. Enter the ballot at

December 13, 2017 (10.30am – 1.30pm) – Exclusive to Friends of the RA
January 24, 2018 (10.30am – 1.30pm) – Open to all

From Life is organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The exhibition is curated by Adrian Locke, Royal Academy of Arts.

The exhibition is accompanied by the book Artists Working from Life, a collection of over 15 interviews with contemporary artists whose practice responds to the traditions of working from life, encompassing sculpture and conceptual art as well as figurative works on paper. The interviews are written by contributors including Caroline Bugler, Martin Gayford, Laura Gascoigne, Angela Kingston, Adrian Locke, Ben Luke, Sam Phillips and Michael Prodger. The book is introduced by an essay on the history of life drawing by Annette Wickham, the Royal Academy’s Curator of Works on Paper.

From Life Gallery

Image: Male torso, 19th century. Plaster cast. 140 × 67 × 60 cm. Photo Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Admission: £13.50 full price (£12 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free. To book, call 020 7300 8090 or visit

Times: 10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm); Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

Matisse in the Studio continues at the Royal Academy of Arts until November 12, 2017.

Melancholia. A Sebald Variation - presented by King’s College London at Somerset House

Exhibition preview

MELANCHOLIA: A Sebald Variation, presented by Kings College London, takes the writings of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) as a starting point for an exploration of melancholia in European art and culture.

Curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel, it will be on display at Somerset House (Inigo Rooms) from September 21 to December 10, 2017.

Inspired in particular by Sebald’s 1997 publication On The Natural History of Destruction – 20 years old this year – Melancholia sees works by international contemporary artists set alongside images documenting the destruction of Germany in the Second World War, as well as W.G. Sebald’s own manuscripts and peculiar photography collection.

Highlights include:

· Albrecht Dürer’s famous print Melencolia I (1514), on loan from the British Museum

· Never before exhibited photographs by Anselm Kiefer, made in the 1980s, depicting aircraft constructed out of sheets of lead taken from the roof of Cologne cathedral

. Tacita Dean’s Our Europe and I had a Father – new works on slate specially commissioned for the exhibition

· Guido van der Werve’s award-winning endurance-art film project Nummer Vierteen: Home, 2012 (pictured)

· Eye-witness drawings by Wilhelm Rudolph of the smouldering ruins of Dresden, both shown in Britain for the first time

· A video of an interview between W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag

Admission: Free.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11.30am to 5.30pm (until 7.30 Wednesdays); Sunday from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

NB: The Inigo Rooms, King’s College London’s flagship exhibition space in Somerset House East Wing, can be accessed from the Somerset House courtyard.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink opens on October 26, 2017

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Event preview

THIS winter, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink will be open to skaters from Thursday, October 26, 2017 to Sunday, January 7, 2018. Tickets are now on sale at or by calling 0844 847 1576 or 0844 847 1575 for groups (including school groups).

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink welcomes over 130,000 visitors every year, providing the perfect treat as the festive season draws ever closer.

The glistening ice rink which runs alongside South Kensington’s tree-lined streets will be topped off once again with a sparkling 30ft Christmas tree. Luxury chocolatier and cocoa grower Hotel Chocolat will be serving their luxurious signature hot chocolate and other hot drinks for skaters to enjoy and indulge in.

Skaters and visitors will also have the chance to shop for a delicious selection of chocolatey festive gifts whilst visiting the ice rink.

The Café Bar will be open for seasonal treats, providing a place to stay warm out of the winter chill. Visitors to the Café Bar can watch all the skate action from a perfectly-positioned viewing balcony. The Café Bar is open daily as a place to unwind after a skate around the shimmering ice rink.

Tickets: From £8.80 for children, £12.65 for adults, £39.60 for family (all include booking fee).

Check website for daily session times and peak times.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD