On the town

Here are some exhibitions and events we’ve seen – and think you might like, too – and, with half-term in mind, a round up of fun and interesting activities for children.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Golden Spider Silk display is not easy to find,* but well worth the search. Occupying one small room, it comprises a cape (which took eight years to create), a shawl and other pieces of cloth woven from ‘spider silk’, threads harvested from Golden Orb spiders, who are put into special contraptions, but released, unharmed, afterwards.

As well as the textiles, there’s an original watercolour of the design above, surrounded by the poems that inspired it. It’s on until 5 June and admission is free – click on the link above to find out more and see a video. There are also children’s activities related to the display, including creating a woven textile from unusual materials.

At the Design Museum, Terence Conran: The Way We Live Now is entering its final two weeks plus there’s a new exhibition showcasing this year’s long list for Designs of the Year. There are seven categories – Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport – and the nominated designs include the Olympic torch, the Royal wedding dress, a wind-propelled landmine detonator and the pop-up cinema below, ‘Folly for a Flyover.’ It’s on until 15 July and the category winners will be announced on
24 April. (Ticketed admission, but under-12s go free).

The Museum of London is the place to be for all things Dickens: its Dickens
and London
exhibition includes photographs, costumes, ephemera, a specially commissioned film and even original manuscripts, and there are related
talks and activities for children. (Ticketed admission, but under-fives go free).

If you are in the City with children, it’s worth paying a visit to the Guildhall Art Gallery – for the remains of a Roman ampitheatre beneath it. Discovered in 1988, only a small part of the original structure has been excavated, but even so, it’s amazingly atmospheric. (Free admission).

The biggie for kids is, of course, the Southbank Centre’s annual Imagine Children’s Festival, offering
wall-to-wall activities and entertainment, including readings, stand-up comedy, music and performance art.
Entrance to the Imagine Craft Pavilion is free, but a number of events are ticketed, including the 2012 Red House Children’s Book Awards on 18 February, where children have the opportunity to meet their favourite authors. View the complete timetable here.

We haven’t been to this one yet (it opens on Friday), but it sounds interesting: A Place to call Home: Where we live and why is the story of everyday homes in the UK from the advent of mass building in the 18th century to the present. It’s guest curated by Sarah Beeny and is on at RIBA’s building in Portland Place until 28 April. (Free admission).

Last, but not least, this one made us laugh because it was so unexpected. It might seem an odd time of the year to suggest a trip to the WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes (actually, it’s interesting at any time of the year and a good way of getting fresh air into small children), but do go and see its (indoor) exhibition Portraits: Fashion to Feathers, which juxtaposes photographs of models and pop stars with exotic birds. Kids will laugh at the shared hairdos; adults will be intrigued by the fact that the photographs are by Twiggy’s one-time boyfriend and manager, hairdresser turned fashion photographer turned wildlife photographer, Justin de Villeneuve. (Ticketed admission, but under-fours go free).

 * Walk through the shop and turn left at the end. A short way along, turn right into ‘Sculptures’.
The display is in the final room on the left (room 17a).


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