COG'S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG SMOKE VOL.2
Welcome back to COG's big adventures, the monthly newsletter where COG takes you on a whistle-stop tour of some of THE BIG SMOKE's best bits.
Here you’ll find a curated list of things to see, do and eat in London – because COG loves all things art, design and culture.
This month we take a closer look at some of the capital's recently opened art exhibitions, review a delicious dinner spot and share where you can find the best June blooms in London.
Read on for six June highlights as we say hello to warm weather and longer evenings (finally!)
1. Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear at the V & A
1. Fashioning Masculinities: The Art Of Menswear at the V&A
Fashion trends throughout history are always about more than just clothes. Often, looking back at historical trends gives us a snapshot of the past, providing insight into what society was like at the time. Fashioning Masculinities is a thought-provoking journey exploring how masculinity and menswear have shape-shifted over the years.
The exhibition is split into three areas and starts off by examining the masculine body image in Undressed – a room of striking classical Greek and Roman sculptures. They dominate the space, inviting us to examine ideas around the male physique and its evolution throughout time. This neatly links into the theme of men's undergarments throughout history, from billowing cotton bloomers to the iconic 'My Calvins' adverts of the 90s. Redressed delves into the past and the uncertain future of the suit, featuring famous examples of the iconic two-piece from Bowie to the Beatles. Overdressed explores men’s grooming rituals and flamboyance, taking a closer look at over-the-top dressing throughout history and how wealth and status were closely tied to the clothes men wore. Curated by Claire Wilcox, the exhibition encourages questions around self-expression and identity, asking us to ponder the future of gendered clothing altogether.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell RD, London SW7 2RL
2. Barbara Hepwork
“I felt the most intense pleasure in piercing the stone in order to make an abstract form and space; quite a different sensation from that of doing it for the purpose of realism. I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body. My works are an imitation of my own past and present.”
Barbara Hepworth was a true pioneer who forged a prolific career within a male-dominated environment to become an icon of modernist sculpture. Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, she attended the Leeds school of art before winning a county scholarship to attend the prestigious Royal Academy of Art in London. She was fascinated by abstraction, in particular the Paris based art movement Abstraction-Création which inspired much of her earlier work. In 1930 she was the first to sculpt large scale pierced figures which became synonymous with modernist art of that period. During the second world war, she relocated to St Ives where she became a leading figure within a community of artists in Cornwall, founding the Penwith Society of the Arts. There she worked in her Trwyn studio until her death in 1975. To this day she remains best known for her imposing sculptures made of wood, stone and bronze, with many of her most famous pieces found displayed throughout London.
Monolyth Empyrean HAMPSTEAD LN, London NW3 7JR
WINGED FIGURE 300 OXFORD ST, London W1C 1DX(John Lewis Building wall)
3. SKY GARDENS
Take advantage of the longer evenings and orange-hued sunsets by visiting the London Sky Gardens. Suspended over the city in the iconic walkie-talkie building, the indoor gardens feature a myriad of tropical and temperate plantlife, spanning across a huge architecturally stunning space. If you’d prefer your view accompanied by a delicious meal, you can book into one of the restaurants or bars to enjoy incredible views across the entire city. Choose between the Darwin Brasserie, an all-day affair offering seasonal dishes and a lively atmosphere, or alternatively try Fenchurch for contemporary fine dining and innovative flavour combinations. For evening drinks, head to one of the three Sky Garden bars, each serving imaginative cocktails and award-winning wines. The incredible views across the city, lush greenery and landscaped gardens all make for an unforgettable London experience. Entry is free but visits must be booked in advance.
1. Postwar Modern, New Art in Britain 1945-1965
Postwar modern, UK's new art exhibition -1945-1965
Postwar Modern, New Art in Britain 1945-1965 explores the lasting legacy of destruction and violence enacted by the Second World War through an expertly curated collection that features numerous artists, both established and unknown.
The exhibition is thoughtfully designed with pieces organised together that offer parallels to each other in both theme or time period. Curated by Jane Alison, who spent time rediscovering forgotten artists like Franciszka Themerson, a Polish refugee whose paintings offer haunting commentary on the subject of fleeing conflict – a stark echo of events currently unfolding in Europe today. Established names such as Bacon, Freud and Auerbach and Kossoff are also featured, creating a vast exhibition that takes you on a journey through a period of conflict that irreversibly affected Europe. Rarely does an exhibition manage to capture the feeling and atmosphere of such a prolific moment in history, but Alison's expert curation does just that. Photography, sculptures and paintings all weave an intricate story of destruction and loss on the one hand – rebuilding and renewal on the other.
Until Sunday, June 26
Silk ST, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS
5. Rita's Restaurant Soho
Ritz Restaurant Soho
An East London institution that has since taken up permanent residence on Lexington street, Rita's is famed for its zingy iced Margheritas and fresh, inventive take on American classics. Since 2012 Rita's has been through multiple iterations, but the Soho restaurant is a warm, grown-up affair that still retains an element of New York City cool. The former Dalston pop-up is the brainchild of chef Gabriel Pryce and beverage connoisseur Missy Flynn, who've bought their love for Americana-inspired dishes and bold flavour combinations together to create something delicious and unique. The tear and share garlic bread with lashings of herbed garlic butter is a thing of culinary legend within foodie circles, whilst the mains include blackened Mackeral and sugar-pit pork chop. Don't leave without trying a slice of key lime pie and a promise to yourself you'll be back to work through the rest of the menu next time.
There's still loads of beautiful flora on show throughout London this June. Head to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and wander amongst a sea of newly blossoming peonies and rose bushes. Or if you fancy getting lost in the woods, meander along pathways whilst marvelling at the canopy of woodland trees above you. The gardens are vast; you could almost forget you're in London altogether! Pack a picnic, (pray for good weather) and you've got the perfect summery Saturday afternoon.
Early summer is the season when the British are at their most excited, with longer daylight hours.
You don't have to go anywhere special to see beautiful nature and buildings all over the city.
It's like rewriting a clean, brand new page in your brain's sketchbook, tired of Japanese artificial plastic colours, artificial materials and an empty landscape where convenience and cost-consciousness in the name of functionality have taken precedence over beauty.
Why do you live in London?
When asked why, after all this time, that is the only reason I can think of.
Visualists, It's time to pack your suitcase with effortless COG clothes and embark on a journey to refresh your brain sketchbook.