Visiting London over Easter or just planning on staying home and relaxing with the significant other? The long weekend doesn’t have to involve extensive, sodden traipses through muddy gardens looking for quite obviously-placed coloured eggs – there are still a lot of cultural and festive events on for those only casually engaged with the rest of the holiday. Cinemas will be open and showing the best of the awards season run-offs, restaurants will be serving up celebratory menus and, this being London, the bars will still be serving and full.
On a more cultural note, we’ll begin at the Tate Modern on the South Bank, where a retrospective of portraits by Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden, will be showing until the 10th of May. Dumas calls these ‘secondhand’ images, as she prefers to paint from photographs or memories of people instead of from the live subject. Themed mainly around love, sexuality, death and shame, these are invariably forceful depictions, psychologically intense and humanly complex. Featured in the collection are not only friends and relatives of the artist (including her daughter in the titular “The Image as Burden”) but also famous figures reimagined, such as Naomi Campbell and Amy Winehouse. The largest ever retrospective of the South African artist’s work to ever be shown in Europe, it is an arresting and impressive collection not to be missed.
Over at the Royal Academy of the Arts near Piccadilly you can catch an exhibition of Californian painter Richard Diebenkorn, the abstract expressionist-turned-figurative-painter who then reverted to expressionism and has been named as one of North America’s greatest ever. The famous Ocean Park series is included here, and it’s a great opportunity to see the work of a man who manages to marry US post-war artistic trends to a latter day European tradition. Inspiring and fascinating, how better to celebrate famous rebirths than with a beautifully curated display of one?
For romantic theatrics, it doesn’t get much more life-or-death that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, which runs until the 9th of February at the Royal Opera House. This production by Anthony Dowell stars Marianela Nuñez as the White and Black Swans Odette/Odile, with Carlos Acosta as the lovelorn Siegfried, beautifully portraying the doomed lovers in this ultimate of passion plays.
A modern-day take on the secrets and lies that so often underscore our erotic and romantic relationships, Patrick Marber’s play Closer will be running at the suitably intimate Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden until the 4th of April. Seventeen years on from its initial release, the crackling dialogue and searing performances that have won it awards from the Olivier, the Evening Standard and New York Drama Critics’ Circle, amongst others, have been adapted to fit the times yet lost none of their freshness or sense of urgency. Having now been produced in more than 200 cities across the world, this intimate play about strangers and lovers, their effects on the lives of others known and unknown, is as compelling as it is cutting and as comedic as tragic – definitely a must-see.
For a breath of fresh air and glimpse of wilderness that exists despite the urban jungle of central London, pop in to Camley Street Natural Park. Just beside one of the capital’s busiest international train stations – King’s Cross St. Pancras – this is an unlikely 2 acres of green, natural habitat for flora, fauna, birds and butterflies, just on the banks of Regent’s Canal. Come for a wander among the wetlands, stroll through the woodlands, marvel at the meadow or just see if you can spot and name a single species.
If it’s a little more action you’re after to burn off some of those Easter eggs, the Canal routes and river towpaths running through the city provide a picture-perfect cycling trajectory, particularly on a sunny Spring day. Travelling from Regent’s Park to Victoria Park, for example, is one of the most scenic journeys, offering beautiful waterside vistas that meander between the two large green spaces. There are plenty of welcoming little bars and cafes along the waterways too, should you decide to take a pedal-stop and indulge in a spot of boat-people-watching.
Whether you’re in town with someone or solo, for one night or several, make sure you take full advantage of the long weekend by staying central and in style at Amba Hotel Charing Cross.