Free and Cheap Events

June 22, 2015

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 Set To Open

In the renders it looks like someone’s experimented with a packet of jelly babies in a microwave. In real life, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion is even more colourful, like someone’s held a paint fight in Timmy Mallett’s wardrobe.

Every year, Serpentine Galleries invites a new architect to design a temporary event space, which then lurks outside for the duration of the summer. This year’s choice is the SelgasCano studio from Madrid, fronted by José Selgas and Lucía Cano.

It’s a blast. And almost impossible to describe. Imagine that someone announced an amnesty for 1980s shell suits, then stitched them all together into a gaudy canvas igloo. Then stuck a coffee bar in the corner. Press morning was one of the greyest this month. Yet inside the coruscating tent, all is bright. We couldn’t spot any artificial lighting — the structure seems to phosphoresce.

As ever, the Pavilion is not simply an eye-catching bauble. Over selected Fridays throughout the summer, it will play host to a programme of ‘Park Nights’ events, featuring talks and performances (good luck finding them on the over-designed website). The series begins with a prelude tomorrow (23 June), celebrating 15 years of the pavilion commission.

As a space to walk around, we’d rate this year’s pavilion as the best for some time. It’s quite simply a big bag of fun, and much less po-faced than many of its predecessors. You might want to wear shades on the sunniest days, however.

The Serpentine Pavilion is open from 25 June to 18 October 2015. Entrance is free.

June 5, 2015

Art That’s Literally Shocking: Ben Woodeson Electrocutes Us

The shock factor has been a part of the art landscape for some time now, ranging from asoiled bed to paintings made of dead flies. But this is the first time we’ve actually been electrocuted by a work of art.

A set of panels for visitors to walk over are inspired by Carl Andre, who courted controversy with a set of bricks people could walk across. But there is a key difference here and should you reach down and place a finger each on two alternative panels, then you will receive a pulse of 2,000 volts — it’s not enough to cause any physical harm but we definitely felt the kick.

It aligns with the theme of this solo show, where materials and objects are made to behave in ways we would not expect them to. A pane of glass looks like it has sliced apart a table and 99 billiard balls in a receptacle are precariously balanced on a slender glass rod.

Sheet metal is folded over as if it’s about to fall and downstairs the gallery is bathed in a red glow from contorted neon lights. These explorations of materials are playful, resulting in a fun and enjoyable exhibition.

Ben Woodeson is at Berloni, 63 Margaret Street, W1W 8SW until 1 August. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday and entrance is free.

June 5, 2015

Free Films In Hyde Park This Summer

While the British Summer Time festival will see revelling to the sounds of acts such as Blur and The Who come to Hyde Park, weekdays in the central London sanctuary will be decidedly less raucous.

Over five themed weeknights, 10 films will be screened for free. Pick from classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the more recent and hilarious Bridesmaids. The 80s blockbusters evening brings Ghostbusters and Top Gun, while the Wizard of Oz and Pride will be screened as a warm-up to London Pride weekend.

There’s no need to reserve tickets, but places are on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive in plenty of time — and bring a picnic blanket.


The Film Festival runs weekdays 19-25 June, with screenings at 6pm and 8.30pm. See full programme.

May 31, 2015

Are These London’s Most Exciting Future Public Spaces?

With 263 towers of more than 20 storeys set to be built in London, there’s ever more pressure on the public spaces that surround them. Think Tank New London Architecture is inviting us to consider this in its current exhibition, but has also selected 10 forthcoming public spaces it says are the capital’s ‘most exciting’.

The think tank worked with designers, politicians and developers to decide the list, which includes some you’d expect — such as the Thames Baths project — and some of the more controversial developments in the city, such as at Earls Court, and the High Road West regeneration of Tottenham. Both these have come under criticism from people worried about being priced out of their home area.

The politics of regeneration aside, New London Architecture says the list aims to “demonstrate the most exciting, thought-provoking and forward-thinking projects that will transform the capital and set an international standard of 21st century living”.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to spending time in these spaces? Let us know in the comments below.

See also: What next for our public spaces?

Public London: 10 Years Of Public Spaces runs at NLA, 26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT, until 11 July. Entry is free.