A List of Great Things To Do Before the Year is Out

Pin It
Helmut Newton Bergstrom over Paris, Paris 1976
Helmut Newton Bergstrom over Paris, Paris 1976© Helmut Newton Estate

A pleasing end to 2018 courtesy of the best exhibitions to see, films to watch, theatre to enjoy and food to eat this month

Saul Leiter, David Lynch, Helmut Newton: Nudes at the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin: December 1 – May 19, 2019
The female nude is, of course, a well-explored subject in the history of art and photography. A new exhibition at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin brings together sensual nude photographs by three pioneers of the field: its namesake image-maker Helmut Newton, filmmaker David Lynch, and 20th-century New York photographer Saul Leiter. Each artist approaches the subject from a different perspective: Lynch’s mysterious shots are cinematic and stylised; Leiter’s intimate black-and-white shots depicted his friends and lovers over the course of 20 years; Newton’s extensive body of nude photographs intertwined with his fashion photography, and many of the shots on show have never previously been exhibited.

This Side of Paradise: Narrative, Cinema and Suburbia in the Work of Miles Aldridge and Todd Hido at Huxley-Parlour, London: until December 15, 2018
Two artists whose work is surreal, cinematic and somewhat mysterious are the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Huxley-Parlour gallery. Todd Hido and Miles Aldridge both product photography rich in suggested narratives – Hido’s suburban landscapes at dusk are intriguingly void of a human presences, while Aldridge’s highly stylised scenes depict women in kitsch interiors at various stages of intimate chaos. The cinematic is brought to the forefront on seeing the two artists’ work on show together in this compelling exhibition.

Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: from December 17, 2018
Icons of abstraction dating from the latter half of the 20th century onwards come together in the Metropolitan’s upcoming exhibition. Painting and sculpture by the likes of Cy Twombly and Jackson Pollock will feature in this exploration of how artists the world over turned to abstract expression to depict life in the aftermath of the Second World War, and how this mode of creativity extended into the 21st century.

Recollections at Tiwani Contemporary, London: until December 22, 2018
British artist Joy Labinjo’s debut solo show continues at Tiwani Contemporary this month. Recollections comprises large-scale depictions of Labinjo’s life and family, painted from rediscovered photographs of her parents, friends and relatives, in what becomes an intimate look at her interwoven British and Nigerian heritage. Labinjo’s vibrant, colour- and people-filled canvases span decades as they document family, culture and identity.

Indecision IV at Heist, London: December 15 – 16, 2018
The basis of immersive film experience Indecision IV is an entirely improvised reactive performance by actress and activist Rose McGowan, who was filmed earlier this year responding to dancer James Mulford performing a routine in a chapel. At East London’s Institute of Light, viewers will see McGowan’s unchoreographed reaction to the dance – which sees her move in response to Mulford’s routine and a soundtrack of ambient noises – while wearing headphones through which sounds like McGowan’s breathing or Mulford’s shoes on the floor are amplified. An arresting piece of performance art, proceeds of the piece go towards domestic violence support charity Refuge.

Tom Wood: Women’s Market at Sion and Moore, London: until December 15, 2018
Captivating series Women’s Market was taken over 20 years, starting in the 1980s, when photographer Tom Wood would visit Liverpool’s Great Homer Street Market and capture its customers. “It was the mix of faces that fascinated me most,” Wood told AnOther earlier this year as a book of the photographs was published. “You’d see a line of women walking towards you who all had virtually the same face – a mother, her daughter, and her daughter. They might be with their cousins, too. I photographed people around the shops in the centre of Liverpool too, but they were different.” Catch the fascinating series at Sion and Moore for the first two weeks of December.

Bill Brandt: Vintage Works at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London: until January 19, 2019
Experimental 20th -century photographer Bill Brandt is the focus of an exhibit at Michael Hoppen Gallery, featuring rarely seen images from his archive of portraits, landscapes, photojournalism and abstract nudes. Brandt was a pioneer of documentary photography, with his shots of all echelons of British society – from the working classes to the aristocratic – in the 1930s, and his later use of a wide-angle lens saw him establish an idiosyncratic style, whether shooting industry in the North of England or portraiture for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar.

VR Experience: Claude Monet, The Water Lily Obsession at Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris: until March 11, 2019
Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie presents a unique opportunity to see Monet’s water lilies in virtual reality, with headsets designed to transport visitors to the artist’s paradise-like garden in Giverny and his recreated studio, filled with the mammoth canvases. Until March of next year, visits to the Paris museum’s water lily paintings can be complemented by this virtual reality experience, presented by HTC VIVE, to uncover how the iconic paintings were made, and the extent to which Monet found nature and his Giverny garden to be a muse.

Holding One’s Breath at Sid Motion Gallery, London: until December 7, 2018
Hong Kong artist Yin Yi Fung creates sculptures from materials like brick, metal, clay and ice, with the intention that they eventually self-destruct naturally by melting, rusting or eroding. These ephemeral, pastel-hued pieces sit alongside visceral paintings by Rikki Turner in Sid Motion Gallery’s current exhibition; both artists make use of the organic in their work and explore how art can exist in urban landscapes. While you’re there, don’t miss the gallery’s new Drawing Room too: a space with forest green walls on which hangs new work by artists who have previously exhibited at Sid Motion.

Feast for the Eyes at Foam, Amsterdam: December 21, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Covering food photography in the art, business, science and media worlds, forthcoming Amsterdam exhibition Feast for the Eyes is a testament to how humans have long been obsessed with photographing our food – and not just since the age of social media. From documentary photography by Stephen Shore and 1960s cookbooks to storied still lifes and Martin Parr’s shots of ice cream enjoyed during an English summer, Feast for the Eyes is a playful and compelling exploration of the rituals and meaning we attribute to what we eat.

Jermaine Gallacher’s Smoke and Mirrors Exhibition at 59-61 Lant Street, London, SE1 1QN
Jermaine Gallacher is one of London’s most exciting voices in interior design and this month he’s staging an exhibition in south London, which aims to celebrate offbeat design. The show will bring together work by ten artists, set designers and makers “reimagining interiors with bold and visionary force”. It’ll be a great show. Also, if you’re in need of some Christmas shopping ideas for any design-loving family and friends, look no further than his online store.

The Best of Film

If you’re looking for a reason to roll off your sofa this holiday season, our handpicked array of upcoming releases provide excellent incentive. First up there’s The Image Book, the latest offering from directing legend Jean-Luc Godard. It is a dizzying film essay, composed chiefly of pre-existing imagery, that serves to explore the role of cinema in world history in a way that only Godard can. The Old Man and the Gun sees A Ghost Story director David Lowery turn his attention from aggrieved spectres to ageing swindlers in this excellent heist caper. It’s worth catching for the cast alone: Robert Redford plays the most gentlemanly bandit you’re ever likely to encounter in what is reportedly his last role, while the inimitable Sissy Spacek plays the part of doting love interest to a T. Then there’s Sorry To Bother You, the much-buzzed-about satirical fantasy from Boots Riley, set in alternate present-day version of Oakland, California and following a telemarketer who discovers a magical key to success. A macabre farce ensues.

Two more accomplished debuts come courtesy of Tides by Tupaq Felber and An Elephant Sitting Still by young Chinese director Hu Bo, who tragically died after the film’s completion. The former is the story of four friends who reunite for a drink and drug-fuelled boat trip along the canals of southern England, and offers a meandering, monochrome meditation on the trials and tribulations of middle age. The latter is an electrifying, almost four-hour portrait of four people desperate to escape the stupor of their small-town lives in northern China and takes place between dawn and dusk on a single, anxiety-ridden day.

Don’t miss Polina, the heady tale of a classically trained young dancer (Anastasia Shevtsova) whose discovery of contemporary choreography derails her plans to enroll with the Bolshoi Ballet. Starring the ever-brilliant Juliette Binoche as Polina’s exacting mentor, this captivation drama will enthrall dance lovers and film fanatics alike. This month’s unmissable documentaries, meanwhile, are Theatre of War by Argentine multidisciplinarian Lola Arias – an artfully absurd exploration of the Falklands War, 35 years on; and Free Solo, from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, which follows the fearless scrambler Alex Honnold as he completes the first ever free solo climb of El Capitan’s 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park (not one for the faint of heart).

Food and Drink

Lina Stores at Browns East: until January 7, 2019
Christmas shopping can be overwhelming, but at Browns East a respite from the chaos is on hand courtesy of Lina Stores’ pop-up. Enjoy exquisite panettone and coffee from the delicatessen’s small-but-mighty corner in the East London store, as well as hot chocolate, traditional Italian treats and store-cupboard delights (which also make for excellent Christmas presents).

Pompette, Oxford: open now
From one of the minds behind London favourite Terroirs comes Pompette, a new restaurant opening in the heart of Summertown, Oxford. Charcuterie, cheese and cured meats are available on Pompette’s bar menu – the name Pompette, incidentally, comes from the French word for ‘tipsy’ – while the restaurant, the exposed-brick walls of which are hung with playful French prints, paintings and illustrations, celebrates French cooking with the likes of turbot with beurre blanc and brown shrimps.

Chinese Jewish Christmas Feast at The Good Egg, Stoke Newington: December 21 and 22, 2018
The longstanding Jewish-American tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas day is being celebrated in London by Stoke Newington haunt The Good Egg this month. The four-course menu will feature Jewish favourites – think matzo ball soup and gefilte rolls – with twists of Chinese flavours and cooking styles, kicked off with a sichuan-pepper spiced cocktail to start. A festive feast like no other.

LINO: open now
Housed in a converted linoleum and carpet warehouse in the City, LINO’s old-school brown tiled exterior belies a fresh new take on all-day dining. Sustainability takes centre stage here, from the salvaged light fittings to the kitchen team pickling, curing and fermenting on site as part of a seasonal, low-waste menu. Classic cocktails on offer include a Singapore Sling and a Snowball, while dinner options range from oxtail and potato hot-pot to whole grilled lemon sole to share.

Great Performances

Whether you’re feeling shamelessly festive or stubbornly Scrooge-like, there’s something for everyone when it comes to December’s new productions. Theatre highlights include Mark Ravenhill’s new play The Cane at the Royal Court, a potent exploration of power and control centred on a veteran teacher whose home comes under siege by a group of angry students shortly before his retirement. Don’t miss Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat at the Donmar, the product of two years the playwright spent in Reading, Pennsylvania: officially one of the poorest cities in the USA, getting to know its inhabitants and understanding the racial tension and industrial collapse that plagues them. Meanwhile, a new production of Sam Shepard’s searing play True West opens at the Vaudeville Theatre, starring Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn as two estranged brothers who meet for the first time in five years in what proves an explosive reunion.

For a true dose of Christmas cheer, meanwhile, take your pick from Matthew Warchus’ charming take on Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, which has just returned to The Old Vic; Matthew Bourne’s masterful, modern take on Swan Lake promises to thrill at Sadler’s Wells, while opera fans must be sure to catch Antony McDonald's delightfully picturesque version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel at the Royal Opera House.