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The Best London Galleries Open Now

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After being closed for so long, London’s most beautiful galleries are open to the public once again. Most of them are taking careful precautions to ensure the safety of their visitors, including one-way systems, mandatory face-masks, and entry only with a slot booked in advance. With safety ensured, here are some of the best galleries in London that are both culturally enlightening and free to enter.

Tate Britain

Tate Britain contains a collection of art from 1500 to modern-day in rooms organised chronologically by historical period, allowing you to quite literally stroll through a timeline of British art. There’s work to appeal to everyone’s tastes – there’s Millais’s painting of drowned Ophelia to contrast Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. Special exhibitions aren’t free, but there’s many that are worth paying for nevertheless. At the moment, the gallery is hosting the largest collection of Aubrey Beardsley’s works in fifty years, luckily an exhibition that has been extended because of lockdown closures.

Tate Modern

If your aesthetic interests lie more in the direction of the brutal and abstract than in the impressionist, Tate Modern is a great alternative to the Tate Britain. Based in the old Bankside Power Station in Southwark, it’s one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world. The collection is very international, some notable artists featured here include the Japanese artist Masami Teraoka and American pop-art and photography by Andy Warhol. With a new exhibition of Warhol’s works extended until November, there’s no better time to book a timeslot and visit this searingly modern space.

The National Gallery

Located in Trafalgar Square and therefore central to most of London’s main tourist attractions, this gallery is one of the most convenient to drop into casually, whilst also being worthy of a specific excursion. The National Gallery’s collection is vast (containing over 2,300 works) and a consequence of this is that essentially every major art movement finds representation in its rooms. Household names of the art world like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Da Vinci all have work exhibited here, so if you’re still undecided about the nature of your art preferences, then this is a good place to examine many different styles in one place.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Although containing its own impressive collection of paintings, the V&A Museum is predominantly known for its collection of applied arts and design. At the moment, a display on the concealed history of Nazi Looting is available to view for free, as well as all its permanent collection. This is a gallery with a strong history dating back to 1851 when Queen Victoria herself contributed to the original collection. Even stopping for coffee here is an engagement with history – it’s café is actually the first museum café in the world!

Hayward Gallery

Perhaps the least famous on this list, Hayward Gallery is still absolutely worth visiting. It’s part of the Southbank Centre (which also hosts live events and workshops) and is unique for its outside gallery space. After lockdown, Hayward Gallery opened with a topical and relevant photography exhibition entitled ‘Everyday Heroes’, which celebrates the key workers throughout the pandemic. Another current exhibition ‘Among the Trees’ explores the human relationship to the natural world, and looking around it is a fantastic way to mentally escape the confines of the city.

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Top 5 Stephen King Books

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IT

And this should not come as a surprise at all, King’s 1986 novel It probably contributed in one way or another to the spread of clown fear than any other book or movie out there. Spread across three decades, the book tells the story of a group of friends from Maine, that find themselves battling with now the most iconic clown, Pennywise. They were sure they killed him back in the 1950s, but 30 years later he comes back from the sewers ready to make new victims.

The Shining

In the mid-1970s, King and his family spent a night at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The place was about to be closed up for winter, and King got a chance to wander around on the empty building. He started thinking and imagining how would it be like to stay and spend the entire winter locked inside, thinking how would the human mind cope with solitude and ghosted premises. As a result, The Shining started to take contour, and Jack Torrance became one with King. 

Salem’s Lot

His debut novel was Carrie, the follow-up was Salem’s Lot. Starting with a simple premise which involves a Dracula-like vampire moving to a small town in Maine, he encapsulated the beauty of the genre with each turning that occurred. A high school teacher and his young girlfriend decide to fight back and save the town from vampirism.

Misery

It is a well-known fact that celebrity attracts all kind of people and craziness, but luckily enough King was spared and he never met anyone like Annie Wilkes. Wilkes, the character from Misery, kidnaps her favourite author and forces him to write a sequel to her favourite series. Of course, the author fights back but Annie doesn’t take no for an answer, coming with an axe, chopping frantically at him.

Cell

Perhaps not many know this novel, but it is most certainly one of the most terrifying ones, considering how embedded in reality it is. Published in 2006, the apocalyptic horror novel tells the story of an artist that struggles to reunite with his young son after a mysterious signal broadcast over the cell network, turning people into enraged and vicious animals.

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Steve McQueen’s ‘Lovers Rock’ is Coming to LFF

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Source: BFI

With the BFI London Film Festival set to kick off from the 7th of October, more films are still being added to the exciting lineup of the new virtual approach to the UK’s biggest film festival. This film festival will be the first ever edition to be widely accessible wherever you are in the UK, with over 50 virtual premieres, free online events and cinema screenings across the country.

The latest addition to the catalogue comes from BFI Fellow Steve McQueen, who looks set to dominate the festival with two films showing from his new incoming anthology series, Small Axe.

The film is Lovers Rock , and is billed as a romantic ode to the reggae genre. Taking place at a house party in the 1980’s, this is a film about young love and music, and has already received an incredible reception from critics of the New York Film festival. The film will screen on Sunday 18 October across 2 screenings at BFI Southbank as part of the LFF’s Love strand supported by Porsche, who are joining the LFF as new sponsors this year. 

Along with McQueen’s Mangrove, two of the five films of McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe are set to be shown before debuting on the BBC later in the year. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination. Mangrove will open the film festival on Wednesday 7 October and will play for free to audiences at BFI Southbank and in selected cinemas across the UK.

McQueen had this to say about Lovers Rock being added to the LFF line-up: “I’m so happy to be screening Lovers Rock at the London Film Festival. To show it here where it belongs is a privilege. I hope this film will bring back memories of parties past and look to the future of parties to come.”

Head to the BFI website to book your tickets for Lovers Rock and other films that are playing as part of the London Film Festival. You can also check out the trailer for the Small Axe anthology below.

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London’s Top 5 Photography locations

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Whether you are looking to expand your portfolio, experiment, or get more creative with your Instagram feed, here are five locations in London that will change the game.

1. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral has been here for over 1,400 years. It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a place of worship and prayer. Besides being free, another great part about this location is that you can take the elevator and take some great high view photos.

Credits: Daria Shevtsova

2. Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market is a covered market in London located on Gracechurch Street. It is one of the oldest markets in London, dating from the 14th century, and is located in the historic centre of the City of London financial district. It offers a sophisticated and posh look, free to access, and very easy to get creative and impress your friends.

Credits: Pierre Blaché

3. Light Tunnel – Kings Cross

Connecting the transport hubs of Kings Cross to its bars, restaurants and public spaces Take the light tunnel to King’s Cross This subway tunnel with a difference will take you from St Pancras International and King’s Cross stations towards Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard and the shops and restaurants around the canal. The multicoloured tunnel is great for Instagram, but you can take some great shots for your portfolio as well. You will find it on the underground walkway that connects St. Pancras to Kings Cross Station.

Credits: Carrie Johnson

4. The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history.It is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the others being the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Great architecture, especially in the main hall, preferably use a wide-angle lens to capture it properly. Very popular among fashion photographers.

Credits: Joshua K. Jackson

5. Notting Hill & Portobello Road

Portobello Road boasts the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectable. Visitors flock from all over the world to discover one of London’s best loved landmarks. It is extremely popular but it was impossible not to include it. You see it very often on Instagram and Pinterest, everyone loves the scenery and how vibrant it is. Perfect for your feed or some cool street photography shots.

Credits: Bethany Opler

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