London Design Festival: 6 Amazing Family-Friendly Installations

The London Design Festival started last weekend, with a view to promoting everything that is great and good about the city’s creativity. The event is running at various venues across the capital, and as well as a host of dedicated family events, including an 80’s Pop-Up Dress Up & Dance performance and Alice in Wonderland inspired workshops, there is also an immense collection of family-friendly installation work.

Here’s 6 of the best on display until the festival closes this Sunday.

1. The Drawing Room, Faye Toogood
Literal depiction of a drawing room, where visitors can relax in an environment that evokes a derelict country house, where surroundings have literally been drawn in.
West Wing Galleries Somerset House, 21-27 Sept Mon-Wed & Sun 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-9pm, Free

2. My Grandfather’s Tree, Max Lamb
When an old ash tree on his grandfather’s farm started to rot, Max was keen for it to take on a new life beyond its original roots. The result is 130 logs all created from sections of the tree and laid out in order of diameter, with the 187 annual growth rings clearly visible.
The Embankment Galleries – Mezzanine & Studio, Somerset House, 21-27 Sept Mon-Wed & Sun 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-9pm, Free

3. The Wave, Alex Rasmussen with Neal Feay
The West Wing Galleries will be awash with 700+ anodized aluminum panels, invisibly fastened to form a structural swell, reflecting crystalline shades of Pacific blue.
West Wing Galleries Somerset House, 21-27 Sept Mon-Wed & Sun 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-9pm, Free

4. Tower of Babel
A monument to the great British pastime of shopping, the tower stands 6m high and comprises of 3000 bone china shops, each depicting a real London shop as photographed by the artist.
Brompton Design District, Medieval & Renaissance 1350-1600 The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery, Room 50a, Level 1, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, 19-27 Sept, Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm, Free

5. The Cloakroom
Don one of the 150 navigational Toogood coats from Room 55 and be guided to 10 places in the Museum galleries where unique sculptural garments offer a response to items in the Museum’s collection.
V&A Museum, Britain 1500-1760, The Clore Study Area, Room 55, Level 2, Cromwell Road, 19-27 Sept, Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm, Free

6. Curiosity Cloud
Supported by Perrier-Jouet, enter this playful installation exploring the interaction of humans and nature, comprising of 250 mouth-blown glass globes set in a darkened room, 25 of the which contain insect species either extinct, common or newly discovered.
V&A Norfolk House Music Room, Brompton Design District, Gallery 52b, British Galleries, Level 2, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL, 19-27 Sept, Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm, Free

Arts Aloud: 5 family-friendly highlights for January 2015

If the impending doom of Monday morning’s school-run is starting to ruin the precious few days that you have left with the family this Christmas, set yourself to planning mode!

January is packed with family-friendly exhibitions and events in London, and best of all, some of them are absolutely free. Perfect for those of you that had too many well-behaved children to reward this Christmas.

Here is what I’ll be up this month:

1. Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915 – 2015, Whitechapel Gallery 

Admission £13.50 (including Gift Aid donation) £11.95 (without Gift Aid)

From 15th January expect a whole lot of “mummy what’s that?” as the Whitechapel Gallery pays host to a major new exhibition tracing the history of Abstract art from 1915 to today. Promising over 100 works including paintings, sculptures, film and photographs by modern masters and contemporary artists such as Carl Andre and Aleksandr Rodchenko, the admission sounds well worth it, even if the little ones struggle to make it beyond Gallery 1.

Nearby: V&A Museum of Childhood provides the perfect space for kids to be kids, with usable rocking horses, an indoor sandpit, dolls’ houses and a life-size robot, plus a baby sensory area for the very young.

2. Variety Spectacular 2015, Hackney Children’s Theatre

Admission £5 or £16 for family of 4 (booking fee applies)

Every second month of the year, the eighteenth century St. John at Hackney Church is transformed into a family-friendly theatre by local theatre company Adrenalindance. This month’s must-see event is their annual Variety, which presents a crazy mix of circus, magic, mime and dance, plus lots of surprises. Suitable for all ages.

Nearby: Head to Victoria Park, one of London’s oldest parks, home to two playgrounds, two cafes, a skatepark and a superb splash park (summer only).

3. The Great Londoners, Hoxton Hotel, Holborn

Admission free

Last chance to see Nicholas Goodden’s street photography exhibition which captures the quirks and diversity of Londoners in all their glory, going about their daily life.

Nearby: Coram’s Fields is a unique Central London playground and park, including two large sandpits, an adventure play area with aerial slide and a paddling pool in the summer months.

4. Mapping The City, Somerset House (New Wing)

Admission free

Showcasing a range of work from established and emerging artists, Mapping The City represents the intimate and unique relationship that graffiti and street artists have with their home cities, through their own cartographic representations, ranging from literal to  the highly abstract.

Nearby: Head to Covent Garden Piazza to soak up the free entertainment, everything from street performers to free lunchtime opera.

5. Cirkus Spectakular, Half Moon Theatre

Admission £6

Completely unrelated to the Hackney event with a similar name, this one-off magical theatrical production by Angel Heart Puppet Theatre brings together the colours and sounds of Eastern Europe to tell the touching story of Pavlo and his quest to feel like he ‘belongs’.  Recommended age: 4+.

Nearby: Stepney City Farm gives children a chance to meet a range of farm animals  as well as hosting other events and activities from learning to grow food, to arts and crafts.

Don’t forget, if you’ve seen something interesting on in January and you aren’t brave enough to go it alone, get in touch. I’m happy to do a test run and report back for you.

Happy New Year!