A Summer of Art
Late night gallery evenings? Rocking out to electro-punk or relaxing in the wilds of Suffolk? August has a cornucopia of cultural delights to entertain you
Column by Trevor Pickett
It’s the time of summer when Glyndebourne is in its final month. Grange Park Opera has had an amazing opening of its first season at West Horsley Park and whilst the Aldeburgh Festival has finished, their August Proms will have started with a variety of music for all tastes and genres. The arts are a broad discipline and we are fortunate in London to have some of the most innovative and breathtaking gallery spaces.
Carving its own path is the V&A. It has taken us here in the UK an age to catch up with making the use of museum spaces, successfully commercializing them without compromising their true essence and attract a more diverse visitor audience encouraging a feeling of accessibility with more entertainment to encourage them to stay. The V&A now has excellent restaurants and eating spaces as well as thriving patron groups and some of the most opulent and creative gala parties in the art world. The V&A is most certainly ahead of the curve; with the combination of Nicholas Coleridge (ex MD of Conde Nast) as Chair of the Trustees and Tristram Hunt as the Director of the museum, it is a great team. In NYC more than three decades ago, pop up bars were erected in some of the galleries on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Met. It was a great place to hang out. There is often entertainment at the V&A on Friday evenings and with the museum’s late night opening in the summer, the courtyard café is a rather beautiful environment to spend time in. Especially since its restoration (made possible by John Madejski) has created an oasis in the centre of the Museum to step out of the galleries and enjoy the atmosphere of the courtyard garden.
The festivals moved into town from Glastonbury. Move over 02 and Wembley as this summer is all about rocking out at the small intimate venue. Camden Rocks took place in early June when there were 250 bands playing on one day in 25 iconic, intimate and often grungy venues – the names of which have a place in music mythology such as The Dublin Castle, The Hawley Arms and KOKO formerly known as The Camden Palace. Only one ticket is needed. The same ethos continues to Hackney on August 5th, one ticket will grant you access to multiple Hackney venues offering music, cinema, punk rock karaoke where everyone is invited to the after-parties and there is even a Vision Dog Show. The hipster-heavy line-up so far features US electro-punks Liars, Gothic Norwegian Jenny Hval and PC Music man Sophie. Info: Aug 5, London Fields, E8, visionsfestival.com
Brockwell Park doesn’t tend to see a great deal of festival action. That is all about to change on August 12th with the arrival of Sunfall, featuring a record fair, an impressive sounding “knowledge arena” and a left-field music bill including Floating Points, Gilles Peterson and Jay Electronica. Info: Aug 12, Brockwell Park, SE24, sunfall.co.uk
August’s Grand Finale and theatrical spectacle is Notting Hill Carnival. Do it once and it is addictive. A base camp on route is essential and the Carnival encapsulates the essence of West London. It is Europe’s biggest street festival – a vivid spectacle representing London’s multicultural past and present. It’s also a vital date in any party-lover’s diary
Although I spend my week in London, my country retreat is in Suffolk. There is the get out of town mode and feeling of spontaneity as I venture north to East Suffolk. Whilst the coast from Orford to Aldeburgh to Southwold has always had a lots to offer such as Pinney’s Oysterage, The Crossed Keys, rowing on the Meare at Thorpeness or the destination for the avid ornithologist, Minsmere, August adds extra entertainment in the area. For the sea dogs, it is the regattas, for the non-seafarers the firework display to close the salty boat racing Aldeburgh on 21st August. This sets the standard and is followed on Friday 25th Friday by the display at Thorpeness. Both are spectacular being over water with the reflections adding to the drama. If it’s a bit of performing culture you feel like, every night through August is the Snape Proms that has a variety of different shows to suit all ages and entertainment tastes. If you just want to chill, there are long, relaxing stretches of beach.
If its peace, both pastoral and floral you are looking for, head for the beauty of Helmingham Hall Gardens set in a deer park with the backdrop of a Tudor moated house. It was the HHA and Christies garden of the year which makes the weeding and deadheading worthwhile by Xa Tollemache. Not only does she have a beautiful garden she has a few RHS Chelsea gold medals to her name and a list of great houses up and down the country where her green fingers have waved her magic.
It’s time for the movies and they are all over the great outdoors of London celebrating what Londoners do so well – parklife! Brought to the capital by LUNA CINEMA PRESENTS including Westminster Abbey, Kenwood, Kensington and Battersea, there more than 15 venues, showing modern Oscar winners such as La La Land to iconic classics. Chiswick Park would be the perfect location for next year’s programming of The Draughtsman’s Contract, but go on August 8th to see Breakfast at Tiffany. Whilst Chiswick Park is not Vauxhall Pleasure Garden it is the sort of place in the 18th century where Holly Golightly might have had fun with Lord Burlington who’s arcade offered extra services beyond luxury shopping from the upstairs window in the mid-19th century.
Over at Somerset House it’s Film4 summer screen an assortment of diverse films in a season that runs from 10 – 23 Aug 2017. Celebrating the city’s cultural delights in the summer can often be enjoyed outdoors such as at the Dulwich Picture Gallery Pavilion, a beautiful contemporary space.
More centrally located and new in Battersea Park is the Pear Tree Café open until 10pm whilst over in Holland Park, Belvedere in the Orangerie has always had the feel of grand dining room rather than a casual picnic. An evening stroll to the Serpentine Lido, being just that bit further over toward Kensington it seems to be quieter than the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen and has a good tasty selection at the serve yourself counter – Pickett’s top tip is the carrot cake!
Trevor is the owner and founder of Pickett.