Tuesday, 5 April 2011

London Days Out - The Barbican

The Barbican is an ugly building, yes - flats, the Barbican centre, a school, the underground station, various shops all connected in a maze of '60s concrete. But there are gems to be found in amongst the drab architecture. The Barbican Centre really does have it all -

1. Small cinema screens on the top floors showing arty films and holding talks on film. I went to a great one on Studio Ghibli a few years ago in which an expert basically told us the film we were about to see was complete rubbish. This was after we'd forked out the money for it plus the extra to hear her opinions.

Lunch at the Barbican

2. An excellent selection of theatre from daring theatre companies who make use of the unusual spaces. I've seen dozens of plays here - my favourite so far being a production of Troilus and Cressida (with the audience on both sides of the stage).

3. Art, art and more art - they are particularly good at fashion exhibitions. I saw a fascinating show on Japanese fashion last year as well as the superb Viktor and Rolf exhibition which included a giant dolls house taking up most of the space.

Here's a video of a section of a "performance" piece called Open House which I saw this weekend. It's part of a great exhibition on three artists who lived in Downtown New York in the '70s: Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta-Clark and it's on until 22nd May 2011.

4. Eating and lounging about - the Barbican is a really great place to just grab some food and then decide which of the centre's many levels to check out. Visit the bookshop which has great cultural books and niche magazines, grab a snack from the cafe or pop into the Curve gallery which has free exhibitions - a sound collage of bowling video games is on in April and May. The terrace is also lovely - when the sun is out that is.

Boutique London Lets Tip - if you know the exhibition or film you are going for, do one thing and please book online on the Barbican website. It will save you £1 per ticket (typically £7-£12, depending on the activity, more for plays). Also if you are a student or OAP, don't forget your concessions card as you'll get an impressive £2 off.


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