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Three to see: London

From the subterranean delights of East London to Sargent’s lesser-known paintings

by Emily Sharpe, Julia Michalska, José da Silva  |  29 June 2017
Three to see: London
Melanie Manchot, Dance (All Night,Paris 2011)
Art Night, the one-night-only contemporary art festival across East London (1 July, 6pm-4am), is unique for its use of hidden venues that are rarely accessible to the public. Ian Whittlesea, for example, is taking over the bascule chambers of Tower Bridge, the subterranean caverns that contain the bridge’s counterweights. There, Whittlesea is staging a light and audio installation with a voiceover by the hypnotherapist Ruth Sabrosa. Lindsay Seers has chosen an equally spectacular setting: the Masonic Temple near Liverpool Street. Her video installation centres on the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley and his links to masonic principles. In a listed warehouse at London Dock, meanwhile, Jake and Dinos Chapman will present a new poetry-based installation, followed by a performance by Jake and his band Funhole. A good way to end your night is Melanie Manchot’s silent disco in Exchange Square near Broadgate—if you can get over dancing in headphones in a public square.

Around 80 watercolours by John Singer Sargent, the American émigré who made the rounds in Europe to become the premiere portrait painter of the Edwardian era, are being shown in a new exhibition co-curated by Richard Ormond—Sargent’s grand-nephew who also happens to be a leading authority on the artist—and fellow Sargent expert Elaine Kilmurray. It is the first major UK show to focus on this area of Sargent’s oeuvre. As well as portraits, such as The lady with the umbrella (1911)—which has not been on display in the UK before—Sargent: the Watercolours (until 8 October) at the Dulwich Picture Gallery features the artist’s lesser-known, yet brilliant, architectural studies, landscapes and scenes from everyday life.

In the 1970s, with the help of Acme Housing Association, a row of houses earmarked for demolition on Beck Road in Hackney, was temporarily given over to artists who transformed the row of houses. Artists such as Helen Chadwick and Cosey Fanni Tutti lived and worked there, while Maureen Paley opened her first gallery on the residential street. Although many have moved on, some such as the ceramicist Karen Bunting and painter Peter Bunting remain. It is in the latter’s front room that their daughter, the artist Lola Bunting, started the 53 Beck Road gallery. The current show House Work (until 9 July) sees six young artists create works in response to the house. Among the highlights are Lauren Godfrey’s water-squirting breast sculpture in the garden’s fish pond, Holly Graham’s floorboard prints and Lucy Joyce’s slogans dotted around the house.

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