What’s on in London: Arts and Tradition


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Now that the sun doesn’t set at 4 p.m., the afternoon naps are dwindling. What better time to enjoy classic London culture?

From shows in the West End to temporary exhibitions not to be missed, here’s your definitive student guide to having a good day without breaking the bank.

“My Land’s Shore” by the UCL Music Theater Society

UCL’s Music Theater Society brings their very own rendition of ‘My Land’s Shore’, a musical centered around Dic Penderyn, a Welsh miner from 1831. Watch as he challenges the poverty that is his community faces after many years of bone-breaking work, and let yourself be captivated by this story of struggle, power and love.

Lyrics like “How far would you go to protect the ones you love? What would you risk for a chance at a better life? Would you try to take down not just an enemy but an entire institution?” really hit home.

The musical runs February 17-19 at the Bloomsbury Theatre. If you are a UCL student tickets are only £7.50!

“Joy” in the Wellcome Collection

The Joy exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, which runs until March 23, examines the effects of positive emotions on the human body.

Have you ever felt dizzy with happiness? Or laughed until you cried? This exhibition covers it all, exploring a “variety of euphoric experiences.” best part? It’s free! Plan your visit via the gallery’s website.

Brunei Gallery by SOAS

SOAS’ Brunei Gallery is open to all and no longer requires pre-registration. For a dose of art and history, here are some of their current exhibitions!

Co-existent Ruins: Exploring Iraq’s Mesopotamian past through Contemporary Art is a collaborative visual research project exploring how to re-engage with ancient historical sites such as Babylon, Nippur and Ur in a contemporary context.

And “Lu Xun’s Legacy: Printmaking in Modern China” features over 200 prints exploring the influence of Western-influenced printmaking in Japan on China.

Van Gogh’s self-portraits at the Courtauld Gallery

Get an intimate look at the tormented, starving artist through the Courtauld Gallery’s groundbreaking exhibition. It features 16 self-portraits by the renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh.

Learn about his struggle with mental health, the development of self-expression, and his monumental piece, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

Have a laugh at what got more press for this monumental exhibition: Courtauld’s controversial Van Gogh gift shop, which sells sunflower soaps for “the troubled artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles,” an “emotional first-aid kit” featuring Van Gogh Motives sells severed ear erasers.

Francis Bacon at the Royal Academy of Arts

London has a huge range of influential European art exhibitions. After getting a dose of post-impressionism and portraiture at the Courtauld, head to the Royal Academy of Arts for Francis Bacon: Man and Beast – a more harrowing, sensual, primal take on the human body and post-war Britain.

Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery

Finally, contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley, known for being the first black artist commissioned to paint an official portrait of the President of the United States, focuses her work on black empowerment while also taking a critical stance with the canon of European art.

Fancy a refreshing look at Old Masterpieces? Visit the National Gallery to see Wiley’s renewal of Grand Manner portraiture into landscape painting.

Cover image used with permission from the UCL Music Theater Society.

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