June 20, 2022
The French have Bastille Day. Italy has The Pope. The British have the Royal Family. And this June, and for the rest of the Summer, we will be celebrating the fact that our Queen has been on the throne for 70 years straight. Longer than the first Elizabeth or Queen Victoria. True Grit meets Majesty. We couldn’t be prouder.
We’d also like to show off our artists and entertainers, so let’s take a little time to give them centre stage, and describe the many ways they make a difference to London, and to this Platinum Jubilee month.
One of the more unusual contributions to British art has been the work of ‘land artists’ like Andy Goldsworthy who work with nature – with trees and stones for instance – to create sculptures within nature itself, made out of natural materials. He says: “We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
It’s a very different message from the spectacular indoor installations we’re all used to and it fits very well with the kind of environmental stewardship that the royals go in for – the ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ tree planting Jubilee initiative, for instance.
In that respect, “Superbloom” at the Tower of London is a species of land art, comprising 20 million seeds that have transformed the Tower’s famous moat into a beautiful wildflower meadow, complete with soundscapes commissioned from Scottish composer Erland Cooper, and 12 glass floral emblems by artist Max Jacquard (which represent the flowers that embellished the Queen’s 1953 coronation gown, designed by Norman Hartnell).
Superbloom is a self–renewing display that will bloom from now until September, in tribute to the Queen and her Platinum Jubilee.
It will be fun, too. You’ll be able to slide into the moat – literally – or take a more traditional route. It’s the first time that the public have been allowed to wander around this huge area (normally it’s just a well clipped lawn). Admission is ticketed, but you can view it for free from nearby Tower Hill gardens.
The composer Erland Cooper calls his Superbloom soundscape ‘Music for Growing Flowers’. It’s restful and welcoming: “the simplest feather of a thing” he says “a little melody that’s passed around perhaps like… a bird or a butterfly, between the instruments.”
Superbloom opened to the public on the first day of June, and continues into September this year. It turns out the flowers surrounding the Tower are making a late entrance this month, and tickets have been reimbursed for the first two weeks of June – after this, blooming business as usual. Plenty of opportunity to book those Tower Suites London deals, including discounted tickets and accommodation.
Art on the Move
Perhaps the most unusual of London’s Jubilee art offerings comes with the newly opened Elizabeth Line on the London Underground, which links West to East, including Heathrow, Paddington, Tottenham Court Road and Stratford East.
Only hours after it first opened, 130,000 people had taken a ride on the new line. Along with the chic metal surfaces and futuristic escalators, the operators have packed in a significant chunk of permanent public art.
Each station has worked with one artist. The effects are often subtly visible on the station platform or in the ticket halls. At the time of writing they are still ongoing. There are plans for Yayoi Kusama’s work on Liverpool Street Station (you can see her famous Infinity Mirror Rooms at Tate Modern).
Simon Periton’s work features on Farringdon Station’s ticket halls. The work is inspired by the etched glass of pub doors and the Victorian metalwork of Smithfield: his cut-out designs are meant to be unobtrusive (you only notice them if you look up) but they will allow interesting shapes to travel across the ticket hall as the light changes. “It’s not like sitting in a gallery and looking for something for an hour” he says. “You don’t have that luxury. It has to be something that’s going to work on lots of mini repeated viewings.”
The Art of Suspense
The other key British Art Exhibition we should draw your attention to is Cornelia Parker at Tate Britain (Pimlico). Described as a “superbly curated” retrospective, we have waited 20 long years for Parker to be celebrated as she deserves – surely among the very best of British artists this side of the millennium.
Aged 65, like most Brits, she has only every known an Elizabethan age. Her most familiar piece remains ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’ (1999). It’s a potting shed that she asked the British army to blast to bits, now suspended in the gallery as if in mid–explosion, casting shadows on the walls, fragments of white goods and wheels inside the expanded shed, one wonky window frame holding onto some memory of shape. It has energy despite the stillness. The ascent before the fall. It’s a stunner, the British art exhibition of the Summer. Conveniently, Blue Orchid Hotels has both their Wellington and Rochester hotels nearby on leafy Vincent Square.
Bank Side, Southwark
Yayoi Kunama: Infinity Mirror Rooms
Until June 2023
Immersive and spectacular. “The Brilliance of a Life,” “A Chandelier of Grief.”
Surrealism Beyond Borders
Until August 29
Work from 40 countries spanning 80 years – goes well beyond Margitte and Dali. Be surprised. Southwark is a firm favourite with visitors, well served by 5 star hotels in Central London.
Until October 16
Key works from first–rate British artist Cornelia Parker. Show stealer from the immersive War Room installation. Also a 13 metre long Magna Carta embroidery.
Until September 18
Important and controversial artist from the early 20th Century. How he went from impressionism to a dark modernism, inspired by popular culture.
Japan: Courts and Culture at The Queen’s Gallery
Until 26 February 2023
Exquisite Japanese art from the Royal Collection, including rare pieces. From diplomatic gifts to James I and cultural exchanges between the British and Japanese royal families.
Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace
July 22–Oct 2
Another celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in the historic State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, featuring Elizabeth II’s collection of royal portraits and jewellery.
Until July 31
Raphael had a short life but his skill and charm won him well deserved fame and popularity. The show brings together works from across the globe. A major show.
On your next visit to Blue Orchid Hotels Tower Suites, be sure to note the Bengal white tiger sitting in the Lobby. Artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman, who created ‘White Tiger,’ was also responsible for the transformation of the front of the Tate Britain into a celebration of bright lights.
Jubilee Celebrations and Exhibitions
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at IWM
Until January 2023
Special display of photographs that focuses on the Queen and her wartime experience, when she trained as a mechanic, drove trucks and served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945.
Until July 31
Gillick was born in 1881 and studied at the Royal College of Art. She was responsible for the most iconic images of Queen Elizabeth II, profiles on coins that filled the pockets of British shoppers for decades.
Also until 17 July The World of Stonehenge – unmissable hit show.
Pop/rock music live from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, staged and broadcast. Tickets already allocated by ballot. Likely large public screens for the crowds in central London.
The Platinum Jubilee Pageant
Sunday June 5
Buckingham Palace and The Mall
Massive jubilee parade around the palace and Westminster streets, including street art, theatre, music, circus/carnival performers. This is a must–see, and if you want to spectate in style, then there are affordable luxury hotels in London close to the events and as easy on the wallet as they are on the eye.
Crowning Glory: Sotheby’s Jubilee Arts Festival
Until June 15
June 4: Free Family Festival – children’s authors, artists, including Michael Morpurgo reading from one of his books; a Winnie the Pooh vs Paddington debate and children’s music/art sessions (book and drop–in)
June 6: RADA immersive performances (12pm, 1pm, 2pm)
June 8: British Art in the 1960s with Sotheby’s Julian Gascoigne (1pm)
June 9: Caroline Campbell of the National Gallery and art critic Martin Gayford.
June 14: Artist talk, Dame Magdalene Odundo and V&A director Tristram Hunt.
Music and Theatre
My Fair Lady
Until August 27
St Martin’s Lane
English National Opera. Amara Okereke much acclaimed as Eliza Doolittle.
Beauty and the Beast
June 24-Sept 17
8 Argyll St. W1
Stage revival of Disney’s much loved classic animation.
West End LIVE
Free tasters from West End Musicals in Trafalgar Square. Sing along, dance, enjoy.
BST Hyde Park
June 24–July 10
Pearl Jam, Pixies, Duran Duran, Elton John, The Eagles, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Nile Rogers & CHIC.
Until November 19
Playhouse Theatre, Charing Cross
Acclaimed stage performance of the year from Jessie Buckley. Eddie Redmayne the big name draw, Bob Fosse’s dark musical classic.
June 15–Sept 4
The Ambassadors Theatre
Playwright Theresa Rebeck has had many a Broadway hit, but this is a rare world premiere of her work in the West End. Starring David Harbour and Bill Pullman, no less. Mad House is a ‘dark comedy’ about the children of a dying man who have one eye on their inheritance. Pullman plays the fading father, Harbour one of the siblings. Choice.
The Glass Menagerie
Until August 27
Amy Adams (six times Oscar nominated) stars in her London stage debut as the Southern Mama from Hell (based on Tennessee Williams’ own mother). Love was never so scary. Directed by Jeremy Herrin.
Peaky Blinders: The Rise
June 23-Feb 12 2023
Immersive production from the team who produced Doctor Who: Time Fracture. Help Thomas Shelby take over Camden Town.
21 New Globe Walk, Southwark, SE1.
Tickets from £6
Philandering, egotistical ruler from late Shakespeare
Another troubled and, in this case, doomed ruler.
Kathryn Hunter in the lead role as the ageing ruler who can’t tell good from bad. Hunter’s fabulously worn–out face should work a treat.
Much Ado About Nothing
“Admirably clear” production from Lucy Bailey and a warm, sunny, post WWII Italian setting.
July 22–Oct 22
Much loved late Shakespeare that has both light and dark, laughter and farewells.