New Season opens at Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park

Running Wild

Oona faces the tiger (rehearsal shot) Photo Johan Persson

Oona faces the tiger
(rehearsal shot)
Photo Johan Persson

Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, has another hit on his hands with Running Wild which opened this year’s season at the Open Air Theatre in London’s Regent’s Park. The cast includes 57 young performers from the local community alternating performances. Three children take it in turn to perform the lead role Will, as the young boy or Lilly, as the girl.

I saw it at a Preview with Joshua Fernandes as Will, a truly talented youngster and obviously a star in the making. The performance includes wild animals,cleverly portrayed by a team of puppeteers, which includes an elephant, a family of orang-utans who are given names, and a tiger. Top marks for Morpurgo who, in his story-telling, makes a stand against the racketeering that is currently going on in Indonesia whereby wild animals and their habitats are being destroyed.

The story centres on Will who, on the death of his father, goes on holiday with his Indonesian mother to learn about his origins. It’s a new start, with the chance to ride an elephant called Oona. Then the tsunami hits. Oona escapes the beach, charging deep into the jungle, with her young rider desperately clinging on. Miles from civilisation, at first there’s wonder, discovery and tree-top adventures amongst the orang-utans. As thoughts turn to his mother left behind on the beach, tigers prowl, and hunger hits. Will must learn to survive in the rainforest – a story of love, loss, loyalty, and living for the moment.

Having a picnic is always fun and at the Open Air Theatre there is always a barbecue with tables on the grass. If the weather allows it is definitely worth coming early and enjoying this option.

Ava Potter as Lilly on Oona Photo Johan Persson

Ava Potter as Lilly on Oona
Photo Johan Persson

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are partnering on Running Wild. Through education modules created by ZSL, Years 7-8 (KS3, Ages 11-12), will have the opportunity to explore the themes within the production. At ZSL London, the ‘Wildlife under Threat’ module will show how wildlife crime continues to endanger species and how the rapid expansion of unsustainable palm oil demand (found in half of packaged supermarket products, and increasingly used as a bio fuel) is devastating natural habitats.
At ZSL Whipsnade, the ‘Ecosystems’ module reveals the importance of each piece of the ecosystem puzzle, and also how human activity relies on the effective functioning of natural systems.

Box Office 0844 826 4242
Open Air Theatre, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4NU
Performances: Tue – Sun (7.45pm) matinees Weds, Sat & Sun (2.15pm)
No matinee on 14, 18 May. Finishes 12 June,2016.

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Sunken Cities opens at the British Museum

Statue of Hapy, Egyptian god of the Nile flood Thonis-Heracleion

Statue of Hapy, Egyptian god of the Nile flood

Be prepared to be bowled over by some of the objects on display at a new exhibition at the British Museum Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost World which opens today, Thursday May 19, 2016.
At the end of the 1990s two cities Thonis-Heracleion, an international port, and the city of Canopus near Alexandria were discovered, submerged beneath the Mediterranean sea. Only a fraction, around 5% of the sites which date back 1,300 years, have been explored. Some of the finds which include statues of gigantic proportions are on display at the museum’s first large-scale exhibition of underwater archaeological discoveries.

Royal Decree of Sais monument showed that Thoniis (Egyptian) & Heracleion (Greek) were the same city

Royal Decree of Sais monument showed that Thoniis (Egyptian) & Heracleion (Greek) were the same city

The exhibition explores the importance of major cities through these treasures together with pieces loaned from Egyptian and British museums. 300 objects have been brought together including more than 200 finds excavated off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria between 1996 and 2012. These are complemented by objects from various sites including Naukratis – a sister harbour town to Thonis-Heracleion, and the first Greek settlement in Egypt. The discovery at the mouth of the River Nile has transformed understanding between ancient Egypt and Greece.

The exhibition, which is family friendly, runs until 27 November, 2016 with a range of lunchtime lectures and talks as well as evening events.

Apis Bull 117 - 138 AD dedicated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian for the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria

Apis Bull 117 – 138 AD
dedicated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian for the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria

Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, British Museum,
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG.
£16.50 members and under 16s free.
Exhibition and event booking:
T. 020 7323 8181

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Painting with Light opens at London’s Tate Britain



Dante Gabriel Rossetti Proserpine 1874

Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age opens at the Linbury Galleries, Tate Britain.

The invention of photography in 1839 contributed to a period of change for the visual arts in Britain. The development of new materials and techniques influenced painters and photographers who shared ambitions and ideas. Spanning over 70 years, the exhibition brings together nearly 200 works to reveal their mutual influences.

The dawn of photography coincided with the a tide of revolutionary ideas in the arts which questioned how pictures should be created and seen.

As the quality of paints and lenses improved, painters and photographers tested the bounds of perception and representation. Photography adapted the Old Master traditions within which many photographers had been trained, and engaged with radical naturalism. As the nineteenth century progressed, some artists moved away from the clarity and detail that had been the aim of pre-Raphaelite art. The first colour photographic process in 1907 saw the introduction of auto-chrome.

Within the exhibition the role of women photographers is also celebrated. Highlights of the show include examples of three-dimensional photography which incorporated the use of models and props, and a rarely seen Royal family photograph album.

Related events include the Curator’s Tour Friday 20 May and Curator’s Talk Friday 10 June – £20.00 a session.  The exhibition closes on 25 September, 2016.


William Holman Hunt Wood engraving on paper The Lady of Shallot illustration published 1857

Open daily 10.00 – 18.00   T. 020 7887 8888     




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Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard closes tomorrow

photograph Richard Hubert Smith

photograph Richard Hubert Smith

Following a short but acclaimed run Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close as the dethroned queen of the stage closes tomorrow, Saturday at London’s Coliseum.

Based on Billy Wilder’s film of the same name the production is orchestrated by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Despite a slipped disc and cold, Close did not let your audience down, receiving standing ovations.  I was perhaps not as enthralled as most of the audience, a packed house, on my visit. However, it is probable that they came to see the star rather than the production.

With the orchestra on stage in the background throughout the production the story tells of  Hollywood in 1949 and the world of silent movies. Impoverished screenwriter Joe Gillis, played by Michael Xavier, stumbles into the reclusive world of faded silent-screen goddess Norma Desmond. She sees an opportunity to make a comeback while at the same time he is seduced by her luxurious lifestyle.

Photograph Richard Hubert Smith

Photograph Richard Hubert Smith

Running time 2 hours 40 minutes. Tickets from £12.

London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES T. 020 7845 9300

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May Bank Holiday Little Venice Cavalcade



A great way to spend the three days of the May Bank Holiday weekend is by wandering along the waterways of Little Venice as the Inland Waterways Association organises their annual gathering of canal boats. Starting on Saturday from 10 am around 130 boats will be moored along the stretch of the Grand Union Canal known as Little Venice between Blomfield Road, Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent for the Canalway Cavalcade.

Organised events include the opening ceremony at 2pm on the Saturday followed by a themed pageant of decorated boats. On Sunday, there is a Teddy Bear’s Picnic at 3pm while in the evening, starting at 8pm, music accompanies a procession of illuminated boats.

Many of the waterborne homes will be dressed up for the pageant, and visitors can expect plenty of very British fun including morris dancers and a real ale tent. There will also be lots of stalls selling a diverse selection of items, live music, children’s activities including face painting and puppets, and stalls selling food and refreshments. The restaurants by Paddington basin will also be open.


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Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky at London’s National Portrait Gallery

Anton Chekov by Iosif Braz 1898

Anton Chekov by Iosif Braz 1898

The most important exhibition of Russian portraits to take place at a British museum has opened at London’s National Portrait Gallery as part of an unprecedented cultural exchange with Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery which will simultaneously display a selection of portraits of famous Britons.

Twenty six portraits of key figures from a golden age of the arts in Russia 1867-1914 include 22 which have never been seen before in this country.

The exhibition focuses on portraits of outstanding writers, actors, musicians, and patrons who helped create the vibrant cultural scene. Of concern was the need to develop Russian traditions in art, music and literature rather than imitate Western European practice, and during that period, Russian writers acquired unparalleled respect.

Portraits include the novelists Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Tolstoy together with composers Petr Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Excerpts of their music can be heard in the background. Patrons nurtured the talented, and amassed Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, opening dialogues between French modernism and Russian art.

A series of lectures is being held in conjunction with the exhibition, which runs until 26 June, 2016.

Ivan Morozov by Valentin Serov 1910

Ivan Morozov by Valentin Serov 1910

National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H OHE
Tickets without donation Full price £5/ Concessions £4 (Free for Members and Patrons)
Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: to 21.00
General information: 0207 306 0055

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Botticelli Reimagined




Venus by Sandro Botticelli

A major exhibition of Botticelli Reimagined opens at the V&A on March 5.

The exhibition explores the way artists and designers from the pre-Raphaelites to the present day have used Botticelli’s artistry, and responded to his legacy. More than any other Old Master he inspired and continues to inspire modern and contemporary art. His work has influenced the arts, business and manufacturing.

Spanning six centuries, the exhibition is split into three parts, starting with the present day, and then tracing the artist’s rediscovery in the nineteenth century by the pre-Raphaelites, ending with a display of paintings and drawings executed by either himself or his workshop. Interestingly, only two of his works are signed, and few documented. However his pupils and assistants propagated a recognisable ‘corporate brand’.

Works by well-known artists who were influenced by him are also on show and include Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Andy Warhol; clothes by Dolce & Gabbana, and a film clip from Dr. No showing Ursula Andress emerging from the sea clasping a conch shell. Sadly his most famous paintings the Birth of Venus and Primavera are too fragile to move but can still be seen at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Running until 3 July 2016 events include a conference and workshop which are being held during April and May. Sponsored by Societe Generale.

Admission £15 Tel. 0800 9126961


La Ghirlandata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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