Free and Cheap Events

July 23, 2015

Crazy Colourful Sculpture By Joana Vasconcelos

We're fast becoming huge fans of Joana Vasconcelos's work. She stars in the current Venice Biennale as well as the last one — with a glowing garden of flowers and a magical undersea world on a boat, respectively. She's recently had a successful exhibition in Manchester, and now us Londoners get a chance to see her work. This exhibition is on display in Phillips auction house in their grand new building on Berkeley Square.

Expectations are set as we enter the show with a soundtrack of cheesy classics by the likes of Madonna, Queen and Springsteen. Visitors have to walk under a convoluted chandelier that looks haphazardly pulled together with lots of mismatched swatches of fabric, before coming face to face with what can only be described as a giant wasp wrapped in a doily.

The fun doesn't stop there with a large tentacled creature emerging from a mirror and the front gallery dominated by a massive pink sculpture that looks like a parade balloon decorated with fairy lights. The works are completely over the top and brought a smile to our face.

Downstairs are smaller works that are just as bizarre, with more creatures wrapped in crochet and more mirrored pieces, some hanging on a deep pink wall that ensures the colour overdose continues.

This show is colourful, playful, unabashedly feminine and tonnes of fun.

Joana Vasconcelos: Material World is on at Phillips, 30 Berkeley Square, W1J 5BF until 28 August. Entrance is free and it's open Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm. 

For more art to see in London, see our top openings and most talked about art exhibitions for July.

July 5, 2015


The annual free showcase of the most talented portraitists is back at the National Portrait Gallery. This year the competition had a record-breaking 2,748 entries — subjects include famous people, nudes, family portraits and photo-realism. Free entry, until 20 September

July 5, 2015

London’s Biggest Beaches Are Back

Summer is here, the sun is (sometimes) shining, and sand is returning to London’s streets in the form of pop-up urban beaches.

Unsurprisingly, Camden Beach at Roundhouse is back for its fourth year; 150 tonnes of sand will grace the venue’s terrace, setting the scene for food and drink pop-ups to keep beach goers fed and watered until home time. It’s free to visit, although on the hottest days, you might find yourself tussling for towel space with, well, most of the rest of London (unless you’re lucky enough to blag yourself a deckchair).


JW3 Jewish Centre on Finchley Road offers a family-friendly urban beach. The Beach at JW3 officially launches on 12 July (although it’s open a week before that, for keen beach goers), with entertainment for the whole family. Deckchairs, games, music and an in-built paddling pool and splash area all take up residence on the sand, and ZEST café bar will be serving up drinks and snacks.


But both of these seaside set ups look likely to be trumped by The Beach at Brent Cross, claiming to be London’s biggest ever urban beach, and boasting over 250,000 tonnes of sand and 100 palm trees, plus a paddling area. After all, nothing says summer like building a sandcastle while the traffic crawls past on the North Circular.


There is a £3 entry charge, but for that you get the full British seaside experience, with games, Punch and Judy shows, children’s fairground rides, a log flume, roller coaster, and one of the last remaining original helter skelter slides (extra charge for the rides). Food and drinks are available to buy.

Camden Beach is open 17 July-23 August.  Entry is free (charge + booking required for beach huts).The Beach at JW3 is open 5 July-31 August (closed Saturdays). Entry is free (charge + booking for some events). The Beach at Brent Cross is open daily 10 July-2 September, 12pm-10pm. Entry is £3. 

Other urban beaches in London this summer:


June 22, 2015

SUMMER FAYRE:Saturday 27 June

The Charterhouse near Barbican hosts a free summer fayre with maypole dancing, food and drink stalls, face painting, a tombola, children’s activities and more. There’s also a tour of the Charterhouse. Free, just turn up, 12pm-4.30pm