Last chance to see…Frieze Sculpture

I’ve haven’t lived in north-west London, so unless visiting London Zoo, Regent’s Park has never been on my radar. Having spent the entire summer holidays intending to head on over but never quite managing it, with the promise of an unseasonably warm Sunday, we packed a picnic ready to explore Frieze Sculpture before it ends on the 8th October.

Featuring 24 brand new works by leading artists including Alicja Kwade and Eduardo Paolozzi, this is the first time Frieze has ever curated a free summer exhibition in the park, ahead of the main London art fair.

Before we’d even found the sculpture walk, we stumbled upon the unusual Marylebone Green Playground, less than 5 minutes stroll from Regent’s Park station. Subject to its own artistic refurbishment in 2013, the space now sports 3 distinct zones, with the original play equipment forming the Traditional Zone, scattered logs and boulders forming the Natural Play Zone and brutalist geometric shapes and rendered walls forming the Art Play Zone. Apart from being surrounded by the building site of the Frieze Art Fair under construction, this hidden gem of a playground, popular with international residents and visitors, was an immediate crowd-pleaser and the perfect antidote to any long tube journey.

With the promise of a picnic, we made the short stroll through the immaculate Avenue Gardens, passing well-heeled ladies, tennis couples and cats on leads (!), to the beautiful English Gardens, a visual treat I’m sure at any time of year. Immediately struck by the scale and variety of sculpture on offer, our excited companions dashed off to explore, leaving us hot on their heels, reading the riot act about no touching or climbing.

With a showcase of work on this scale, in such a playful setting, it’s so tempting for little ones to view it as an extension of the playground, but with some smart ways to enjoy the multiplicity of sizes, shapes and subjects, you’ll soon avoid sounding like a broken record.

Our pick of the bunch which were just as fun to look at, without getting hands on were:

Ugo Rondinone’s Summer Moon (S3) With the appearance of a mysterious ghost tree, this man-made white-enamelled re-creation of a 1000 year old olive tree, creates a magical shimmer in the sunlight.

Rasheed Araeen’s Summertime (S7) The Regent’s Park – Looking somewhat like a multicoloured scaffolding, this window-like structure was fun to walk around, looking across at each other through the shapes and watching them change as we moved.

Michael Craig-Martin’s Wheelbarrow (S8) Seemingly at home in the surrounding gardens, yet completely incapable of holding anything in its reduced flat structure, hours of fun can be spent playing with perspective by taking photos from a distance.

KAWS Final Days (S10) If the weird criss-cross eyes don’t creep the kids out, fun can be had growling and stomping towards this Smurf-like toy-cum-monster, by a once prolific street artist.

Bernar Venet’s 17 Acute Unequal Angles (S17) Welded together from Corten Steel (not wooden as it appears), we found ourselves up-close to maths, walking around and under, counting all 17 angles as we went.

Hank Willis Thomas Endless Column (S15) Impossible to miss, like a beacon of play to most children in the sculpture park, this towering sculpture of footballs was by-far the most photographed sculpture in the park. Inspired by Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column, the piece comments on the room for growth in the relationship between sport, black identity, popular culture.

Beyond the sculpture trail, the beautiful bridges and boating lake can make for a perfect addition to a day out. If the whole family on a pedalo at £28 and hour is too much to stomach, there’s children’s only pedalos in a mini lake at a more palatable £4 per child (20 minutes).

Frieze Sculpture ends on the 8th October
Regents Park English Gardens, Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR
Daily 5am to 7pm, admission free.

Download the Frieze Sculpture Audio Tour and Map for more information.

5 Family Friendly Highlights from the London Design Festival

Every year I’m astounded by how accessible the London Design Festival is for families. I visited with my daughter for the first time in 2015, since then I’ve made it my mission to get more families to support this inspirational event, which celebrates London as the design capital of the world. From light installations to typographic self portraits, here’s my top tips for families to enjoy at this year’s festival.

1. Enhance your mood at Villa Walala

Fresh from her immersive installation at Now Gallery this summer, graphic artist and textile designer Camille Walala is back, this time bringing her signature bright colours and bold stripes to an inflatable break-out space in the heart of Liverpool Street. Created with the help of Go Visual, this giant playful palace will liven up lunchtime for even the stuffiest of suited city workers.

Villa Walala, Exchange Square, Broadgate, 16-24 September, 7am-9pm, Admission Free.

2. Immerse yourself in Flynn Talbot’s Reflection Room

Originally home to over 30,000 textile samples, this is the first time the V&A Prince Consort Gallery has been transformed as part of the festival. Illuminating the space from floor to ceiling in orange and blue hues, this dramatic light installation takes up the entire length of the 35m gallery, creating a colourful walkway, reflected by 56 Barrisol panels.

Reflection Room by Flynn Talbot, Prince Consort Gallery Room 110, Victoria & Albert Museum, 16-24 September, 10am-5.45pm, Admission Free

3. Retreat inside Mini Living’s Urban Cabin

With a shiny mirrored outside to reflect London’s rich and ever-evolving cityscape, this urban retreat is designed to bring city dwellers together with aspects that they may be lacking in their daily lives. Complete with its own shared kitchen and micro library, visitors are invited into the space to explore the very best of London through historic literature, and to share their own stories and experiences of life in London town.

Mini Living – Urban Cabin, Oxo Tower Wharf Courtyard, 16-24 September, 11am-9pm, Admission Free.

4. Create your own typographic selfie

Nobody wants to be a Comic Sans right? This free workshop hosted by Type Tasting Director, Sarah Hyndman, provides visitors with an opportunity to escape the Arial Narrow choice of fonts we use in our day-to-day lives, and instead customise a font which they feel reflects their Superclarendon personality! Each of the fonts are then added to a public display, which over the weekend will create a Courier New and exciting collection of typographic self portraits.

Font Selfie Workshop: What’s your font? Design Studio, Sackler Centre for arts education, Victoria and Albert Museum, 16-17 September, 11am-5pm, Admission Free.

5. Marvel at the opulence of Transmission

Designer Ross Lovegrove’s brings the V&A’s Tapestries Gallery to life, through creating a spectacular 21 meter long free-standing piece, inspired by the folds in the red gown worn by a lady featured in one of the hunting scenes. As well as providing a different perspective with which to view the surrounding wall hangings, the work, produced by colouring and digital embroidery, has been created using a tactile sound absorbant material called Alcantara, complete with gold and silver threads which emulate the richness of the surrounding scenes and celebrating the opulence of the era.

Transmission, Tapestries, Room 94, Victoria and Albert Museum, Daily 10am-5.45pm (except Friday 10am-10pm). Admission Free.