William Morris - Story, memory, myth @ Two Temple Place (until 29th January)
It has been many years since I went to a William Morris exhibition, so I was quite looking forward to this. I had never heard of Two Temple Place before, as it turned out this neo-Gothic mansion was not opened to the public until this exhibition. Another surprise is that it was built by the wealthy American, William Waldorf Astor (the owner of Waldorf Astoria hotels), who wanted to create a mini-Tudor mansion for himself in 1895.
The exhibition focuses on ancient myths and tales that inspired and influenced Morris throughout his career. Besides his signature floral wallpaper, there are embroideries, taperstries, prints, tiles, stained glass, and illustrations (I particularly like his fairy tales illustrations). I think the opulant setting is perfect for this exhibition, my only regret is that I forgot to bring a proper camera (though no photography is allowed at the exhibition) and so I wasn't able to capture the exquiste architecture of the interior.
The exhibition is free of charge and will end in a few weeks, it is definitely worth seeing just for the mansion alone!
Forgotten spaces @ Somerset House (until 29th January)
At the nearby Somerset House, there is a very different but equally intriguing exhibition: Forgotten spaces. Launched earlier in the year, Forgotten spaces was a design competition aimed at regenerating neglected areas in London (very much needed). Architects, artists, designers and local groups (including Annie Lennox) were asked to take part in the project.
Apart from the imaginative proposals, the highlight of the exhibition is the space itself. Instead of displaying in the usual exhibiting space, the hidden passage underneath the courtyard known as the 'Deadhouse' is used. Wandering in and out of the small cells made me feel like I was in a maze and I had no idea what to expect until I reached the passage.
Apart from the winning project, (IN)Spires, I also like Fagin's Den ( would work in an ideal world but not sure about London) and Social Behaviour ( love the unconventional idea and quirky installation). See below:
Social Behaviour by Denizen Works (Hoxton)
Armed with a drawing of a simple bee-house fantasy and list of instructions, participants are invited to construct accommodation for homeless bees in unused gaps of land between buildings and boundary walls anywhere in central London.
(IN)Spires by Alex Scott-Whitby (The City of London)
A live project creating a series of low rent creative studios for a new generation of St Jerome's nesting within the belfries of the City of London's Church Spires.
Fagin's Den by Dean Walker, Geraldine Ng and Liksan Chan (St Saviour's Dock, SE1)
Fagin's Den, St Saviour's Dock, dams the Thames inlet to form an amphitheatre and beach. A canopy mimics the surface of the forgotten River Neckinger. Shelter by day, cinema by night.
Although there are many creative ideas, I wonder how many of them are feasible in reality and can regenerate the areas and help the local communities? Besides, with all the fundings being cut by the government, where will the money be coming from? These are probably the key questions that we should address.
For information on the competition and entries, please click here.