The Summer Pavilion – Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens


Every year I excitedly await the opening of the Summer Pavilion, a programme involving a sequence of world-class architects transforming the space outside the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens into a temporary Pavilion. This year’s efforts are by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. It is the first time the Pavilion has been partly underground and it is a cool, contemplative space dotted with slightly mushroom-shaped cork stools. The design really invites you to plant yourself, linger, and look out and around – as opposed to just admiring the exterior. Our daughter, like all the children there, felt an irresistible urge to turn over the cork stools, line them up and otherwise personalise the space. The architects are interviewed here.





Damien Hirst Retrospective at Tate Modern

Hirst’s most famous piece: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living


Mother and Child Divided  Photo credit: Tate Modern website


Whether you are a fan of his work or it leaves you cold, there is no denying Damien Hirst’s current profile and influence in the contemporary art world; and they make taking a long, hard look at his Tate Modern retrospective almost irresistible.  The exhibition is aptly billed as a “substantial survey” of his work;  key pieces have been carefully selected and beautifully styled.  There are his dead animals / innards; splashes of colour; his grids (of cigarettes, dots, diamonds, instruments, fish); his pharmacy and his butterflies.  There are the weighty glass and metal cases that glamorously contain and juxtapose these objects.  As a survey, it succeeds. Exhibit runs from April 4th to September 9th, 2012.


Some of his Spin Paintings   Photo Credit:Photo By Oli Scarff/Getty Images


Detail from Sympathy in White Major   Photo credit: Prudence Cuming Associates

For the Love of God: platinum and diamond encrusted skull



“This Is Not A House” At The Wapping Project



Today we took to the Wapping Project housed in the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station to see This is not a House by Edgar Martins (A series of photographs exploring the collapse of the US housing market and the sub-prime mortgage crisis.) and enjoy lunch in the sunlit industrial space. Wapping is part of London’s Docklands but feels quite the place apart with its maritime atmosphere and sandy river banks, that yet overlooks the highrises of Canary Wharf. If you can’t make it over to see this exhibition, there is also a  great book which documents the complete exhibition called none other than, This is Not a House! Available here.





One of the photographs from the exhibition. Photograph © Edgar Martins


The Obliteration Room at The Tate Modern


(We already blogged about the original Obliteration Room here and now it’s at the Tate!)

The Obliteration Room has arrived at the Tate Modern and our daughter judged it to be the highlight of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. Of particular interest was covering daddy in spots and dots. We bumped into friends whose one year old daughter engrossed herself in pulling stickers off the walls..she was unable to restore the monochrome. The interactive zone on the Fifth Floor supplied another dollop of fun and made for a perfect Sunday afternoon at the Tate.


Victoria & Albert Museum – London

Entrance to the museum with impressive sculpture installation overhead

Although not as close to our three-year old’s heart as the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green (currently her favourite museum in London), our daughter does enjoy a trip to the V&A in particular tearing around the John Madejski Garden, digging into the children’s Activity Backpack (which you can borrow for free) and admiring selective exhibits. Today she was quite taken with the 1960 Barbie doll wearing a black and white striped swimming costume and cats-eye sunglasses.  After a good dash around the garden you can grab refreshments in the V&A Café, which includes the three rooms that formed the first museum restaurant in the world.  They make an elaborate backdrop to a sandwich lunch. Here is their website.


An elaborate backdrop to a sandwich break – the museum cafe
John Madejski garden

The little munchkin in the entry 

Here’s the Barbie in all her glory. Photo credit: V&A Museum website

The Rabbits – Spitalfields, London

This little snuggle of bunnies resides in Spitalfields, London; a vibrant area on the eastern edge of the City that also houses the Spitalfields Markets, St John Bread & Wine, Verde and some other truly scrumptious independent stores. Said bunnies are adored by children and our daughter considers riding them a highlight of any trip to Spitalfields. Every now and then their configuration changes or the bunnies are moved onto the grassy patch behind them. It’s as if they were alive…


This post is from my friend, Michelle in London.

The Tate Modern is one of the most child-friendly places in London. Even getting there is a treat: crossing the Millenium Bridge with St Paul’s behind you, the Thames below you and the Tate just ahead. Children love the main entry into the Turbine Hall – charging down the sloping floor that evens out into that famous cavernous space where some of the Tate’s most popular exhibitions have been held. There is an interactive zone where you’ll see small escapees from exhibitions being minded by their tag-teaming parents. When it’s time for lunch you’ll find the Tate is in tune with today’s foodie parents. Children’s meals include a small sandwich and juice (served in special Tate cups) and allow little ones to add to the meal by selecting a few pots – fresh carrot sticks, grapes, raisins… Of course there will be crayons and colouring sheets for the kids. Breast feeding? You are welcome. Need to change a nappy? Just over there. And you cannot go without spending a serious half hour in the Tate shop, and I am not even referring to the art books.  If you’re too energised to leave, you can hop on a Tate to Tate boat which whisks you off to the Tate Britain near Trafalgar Square (which is admittedly a more sober affair for children).  If you’re heading home via St. Paul’s tube station, don’t forget to stop at Bea’s of Bloomsbury on Watling Street for some of the best cupcakes in London