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Home NewsWhat’s on in London – August 2017

What’s on in London – August 2017

The last of the big summer dance music festivals roll out this August and Londoners will be out getting as much sun and pounding techno as they can handle. To some it’s an ideal way of keeping the continental holiday vibe going. To others it’s a great springboard for a late season getaway. Festivals are becoming more about catching up and making plans with friends than an end to themselves and that is generally a good thing. There’s no time for antisocial behaviour with all those good vibes flowing around.

Grayson Perry: Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever – Serpentine Gallery

Grayson Perry, Installation view, Serpentine Gallery. Image © 2017 Robert Glowacki
Media eccentric and all-round arts provocateur, Grayson Perry is the ideal jumping off point for anyone interested in the more leftfield creative talents, currently making a splash in London. Perry’s main medium is ceramics, but his influence has far outgrown the mere making of attractive artefacts.Keen to discover the effect that the visual arts have on people, he has made documentaries, written books and has become a fervent advocate for various alternative lifestyles. Expect plenty of socio-political content presented in a fairly confrontational way from an artist who likes nothing better than to engage the “non-establishment” parts of his audience. www.serpentinegalleries.org

Chris Ofili; Weaving Magic – National Gallery

X9602 Chris Ofili Cocktail Serenaders (Spray) © Chris Ofili courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London
In the nineties, Chris Ofili gained worldwide fame/notoriety with his dung sculptures and pictures. Animal waste is a safe and odourless building material in many parts of the world but Western sensibilities were nevertheless challenged by his use of “animal waste”. Ofili has cannily used this initial interest to cross over into a number of different disciplines.“Weaving Magic” is a document of the transformation by a collective of Edinburgh weavers of one of Ofili’s watercolours into a major tapestry. Preparatory sketches, acetates and design notes are all displayed along with the finished work: The Caged Bird’s Song. Presented in Triptych form, the main work is an impression of Trinidad (where Ofili is now based) as an island paradise that is captivating as well slightly sinister.  www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Natural History Museum

© Sam Hobson – Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This annual display of technical excellence and inspired composition seems to get better and better. Part of the reason is obviously due to the improved technology available to even amateur photographers, but the Natural History Museum has indirectly played a part. Deeper knowledge of the habits and habitats of their subjects has enabled entrants to come up with some truly jaw-dropping images.Wildlife photography, more than any other subcategory, relies on supreme levels of perseverance and patience. Waiting for the right conditions while gleaning local knowledge is a key component and all the competition winners will have probably come through several trials and false starts before bagging the perfect shot. www.nhm.ac.uk

Sargent: The Watercolours – Dulwich Picture Gallery

John Singer Sargent, Loggia, View at the Generalife courtesy Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections
John Sinclair Sargent was a brilliant painter who was nevertheless a bit out of step with the prevailing trends of his day. While the Impressionists and Modernists were turning the art world upside down at the end of the nineteenth century, Sargent was blithely producing stunningly attractive, yet unfashionable, watercolours.Perhaps his training as a painter of society portraits affected him. After making a good living out of flattering the Edwardian elite, pretty pictures of Venice were about as rebellious as it could get. However, Sargent’s prowess should not be overlooked. His depiction of light and luminescence is still the standard by which we judge watercolours today. In this respect, the exhibition is bound to be as educational as it is entertaining. www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

A Tale of Two Cities – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Tale Of Two Cities. Credit Johan Persson
Inequality of pay and the rise of populism are nothing new as Charles Dickens commented on these traits over a hundred years ago. His social commentary on the causes and effects of the French revolution is as relevant as ever with Tale of Two Cities getting a contemporary makeover in Regent’s Park.Revolutionaries are now hooded agitators and French aristocrats take the guise of wealthy fund managers. Oppressed minorities flee across the channel only to find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty. The production unapologetically tackles these big themes, but takes care not to become overbearing. www.openairtheatre.com

Southwest Four – Clapham Common

SW4 is the mirror image of London’s other dance shindig – the Hackney – based Lovebox. The Clapham festival is less self-conscious and happy to pump out chart-friendly dance anthems without worrying about street cred or purists. This is probably a result of it being scheduled at the end of summer when crowds have returned from holidays with the latest cheesy euro-smash still ringing in their ears.The line-up is bound to please crossover fans but will remain fairly edgy. Pendulum, Deadmau5 and Tinie Tempah all headline which means that trance, grime and dubstep are all catered for. There will be plenty to eat and drink as some of South London’s finest purveyors of street food will be setting up stalls on Clapham Common. www.southwestfour.com

Eastern Electrics – Morden Park

Having located to a new location in South West London, this hardcore dance gathering is fast picking up devotees. Attracted by its no compromise approach to clubbing genres, fans will be no doubt encouraged by a lineup that focuses on emerging new talent rather than superstar DJs. Eastern Electrics makes full use of the various stages in order to cater for the sometimes arbitrary sub genres that the underground scene throws up. Those in the loop will know just where to look.Carl Cox is the most mainstream name on the bill, but most revellers will be keen to absorb some of his more experimental stuff. Skream, Dennis Ferrer and Sam Divine will be covering most of the 135bpm action while the more urban side of dance will be represented by the likes of Stefflon Don and Future Dub Project. www.easternelectrics.com

Royal Victoria Beach – Docklands

The rise of Docklands has produced some fairly unique sights. Who would have thought that vintage loading equipment could produce such beautiful urban sculptures? That’s what the old pre-war docking cranes provide as they form a backdrop to one of London’s most imaginative urban beaches. Two hundred tonnes of sand have been used to transform this corner of the peninsula into an idyllic seaside spot.Deck chairs, beach games and refreshment stalls are all included and the venue is within easy reach from the offices of Canary Wharf via the Docklands Light Railway. However, what makes this city beach unique is its proximity to the Emirates cable car service that straddles the River Thames. Descending to a beach via cable car with a beach towel and flip flops in hand has got to be one of the coolest things to do this summer.

Tanguera – Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Tanguera is a concept that has seen many imitators come and go but remains in the capable hands of its originators. A musical tale of lost innocence set to the sensual rhythms of Argentina’s greatest cultural export, Tanguera features a cast of award winning Tango exponents supported by an incredible set of musicians.The story is a familiar one. A young expatriate girl arrives in Buenos Aires looking for excitement and love, only to fall prey to darker forces. The narrative is sung as well as acted but the main action comes in the form of a series of perfectly executed tango dances. All the signature moves are there: lots of leg swishing and dramatic hip swiveling turns. Audiences would be well advised to stay in their seats after the final curtain so as not to miss the great freestyle encore that follows. 

Dunkirk – Cinemas Londonwide

A star-studded representation of British acting talent tackle something that the Hollywood system usual avoids like the plague: namely a military defeat. As a retreat from Europe after a disastrous campaign, Dunkirk might well be a metaphor for our times, but that would be selling the bravery of those who fought their way to short. Dunkirk was about evacuating troops instead of letting them surrender and was therefore a beacon of hope in even the darkest of times.

Director, Christopher Nolan doesn’t flinch from depicting the horror and misery endured by allied troops as they provided target practice to the Germans as they waited to be evacuated from the Dunkirk beaches. Individual acts of heroism provide the sharpest focus as even the most mundane comforts are celebrated as acts of defiance. The term “Dunkirk spirit” is often overused, especially in relation to frivolous situations like sporting encounters, and hopefully this film might correct some of these glib sentiments. www.odeon.co.uk

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