Due to close at the beginning of December, it was only when I thought I should write something for this edition, did I realize that (strangely), the museum was the catalyst that brought me to live here.
The other week my (adult) grandson M, and I popped into the museum – just as we had done throughout his childhood. We followed the route tracing the social history of London – from prehistoric to modern – as set out by the architects Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya in 1976 when it was designed as part of the new Barbican Estate.
That afternoon, M and I recalled the bits that had (at first) scared him, exhibits that had always fascinated, areas that allowed his imagination to play and the section that only ever got a cursory glance!
There were the months when we missed it: Those periods when the Museum had been closed; a £20million redevelopment, completed in May 2010, was the biggest change since its opening in 1976. These new exhibition spaces, designed by London architects Wilkinson Eyre, brought us almost up to the present day. Of course, there has been the more recent closure due to the Covid 19 pandemic but now it is as busy as ever.
The success of the Museum of London has meant that it has completely outgrown this somewhat quirky, white tiled building, standing as it does, facing St Pauls Cathedral on its own historically significant site on the London Wall. The future of the site (to my knowledge) has not yet been fixed; if it really must be demolished, who knows what the archaeologists might find beneath its foundations!
The Museum of London will continue to stay open until 4th December.
From Aug until 4 Dec:
Celebrating one of the city’s sporting heroes with a new display on the world-leading striker and England captain. Free
Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream
A new, fee display honouring the music, people and places central to the grime scene and its roots in East London.
Help Riley Radcliff learn more about her family in this fun, free, gallery trail.
Entry booking in advance.
The Dickens Museum
To Be Read At Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts & the Supernatural
5th Oct 2022 to 19th Feb 2023
Can’t get enough of Dickens? Or are you just into spooky things?
Either way, this forthcoming event should be for you!
This exhibition sets out to explore the ghosts in the mind of Charles Dickens, from boyhood horror comics to his scariest stories.
Charles Dickens wrote twenty ghost stories throughout his life, published from 1836 onwards. From “A Christmas Carol” to the “Signal Man”, to elements of “Bleak House” and “Nicholas Nickleby”, as well as “The Chimes” and “The Trial for Murder”, the stories of Charles Dickens are rarely short of a ghostly apparitions designed to chill the reader.
As a boy, Dickens read the weekly horror magazine “The Terrific Register” later admitting that it had “frightened the very wits out of my head”. It is possible that it influenced the way he marketed his own work – releasing his books in serial format.
Emily Dunbar, Curator of the Charles Dickens Museum says “Charles Dickens spent his whole writing life surrounding himself with ghosts. We believe he was a fascinated sceptic with a powerful talent for creating stories and images that resonated with, and entertained people”.
This exhibition will bring together a collection of objects, posters, letters and books to reveal just how much Dickens enjoyed creating eerie scenes, disturbing characters and building tensions to toy with the emotions of his audiences. It will be accompanied by a new programme of events, including after-hours house tours and well as haunting soundscapes in Dicken’s home.
Charles Dickens Museum, 48-49 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2XL
Tel: 020 7405 2127
Opening hours: 10.00 – 5.00pm Wed – Sun (and closed Mon and Tue).
Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics
8th Sep – 8th Jan 2023
Jane Allison – who is the Head of Barbican Visual Arts writes:
“We are delighted to be staging this major exhibition of experimental artist Carolee Schneemann. The Barbican has a long history of exhibiting radical, boundary-pushing artists, especially those whose work continues to influence contemporary practitioners. This exhibition also follows a line of exciting Barbican shows focused on the pioneers of performance, including Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer 2020), Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie(2017), Ragnor Kjartansson(2016) and Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Mata Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970 (2011).”
Although Carolee Schneemann (1939 -2019) is predominantly known as a performance artist and although throughout interdisciplinary, she was absolutely adamant that throughout her career, she was foremost a painter.
“I’m a painter. I’m still a painter and I will die a painter. Everything that I have developed has to do with extending visual principles of the canvas”.
Her early works were influenced by American Abstract Expressionism and the sensory painting style of Paul Cezanne. However, she remained frustrated by the heroized, male-dominated canon of art history and she turned to performance-based work – primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos and the body of the individual in relation to social bodies.
In the early 60’s Schneemann was living in New York City and was embedded in the downtown scene. She became a founding member of the Judson Dance Theatre – a group of avant-garde interdisciplinary artists who took everyday gestures and materials as their impetus. Schneemann described her group performances as “kinetic theatre”, incorporating complex movement scores, sets, lighting and sound and technical innovations. Numerous performances are represented through photographs, films, scores, sketches, notes and costumes.
This exhibition presents Schneemann’s remarkable film work, in which she forged a new experimental language, exploring sexual desire, challenging the male gaze and taking her daily life and relationships with humans and non-humans as source material.
A programme of events will accompany the exhibition. Check the website for the full listings: www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery
Tickets: Standard £18.00 (Members free)
Important: Schneemann’s work addresses a range of urgent subjects – from sexual expression and the objectification of women to human suffering. The Barbican would like to make everyone aware in advance that the exhibition included sexual imagery and nudity; and some works also deal with war, death and cancer and animal cruelty There will be notes throughout the exhibition highlighting specific content and the team will be on hand to support during your visit.
There will be no age limit but under 14’s must be accompanied, and young children should be always supervised by an adult.
October: City of London& Cripplegate Photographic Society
November: Ben Chisnall. Painter: A five-year project observing the lives of Londoners.
December: Leslie Shargool. A local artist who will be displaying printed fabrics, collages, bags and cushions. Her work is influenced by Middle Eastern art.
Winslow Homer: Force of Nature 10th Sep – 8th Jan 2023.
An overview of a great American Realist
Lucian Freud: New Perspectives
1st Oct – 22nd Jan 2023
Making Modernism. Paula Modesohn-Becker, Kathe Kollwitz, Gabriele Munter and Marianne Werefkin.
12th Nov – 12th Feb 2023
Janet Wells’ quarterly review of the Arts, Gallery and Museum scene from the autumn issue of Barbican Life magazine