Art is everywhere by Bob and Roberta Smith

Culture team highlights of 2017

13 December 2017

What an amazing year of  arts and culture it’s been. As is customary at this time of the year and reflect back on the last 12 months,  we thought we'd share some of our own cultural highlights from 2017.

What were your favourite cultural moments of the year?

Let us know @LDN_Culture  and tag #myLondonculture2017

Jackie McNerney, Acting Head of Culture

Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula and LSO in concert
Perfect collaboration between two stars - lush vocals and strings and a stunning green dress!

Girl from the North Country
Wonderful fusion of Conor McPherson's writing and the music of Bob Dylan. Amazing performances set in the American depression. Have been rediscovering Bob Dylan ever since.

Fahrelnissa Zeid at Tate Modern
I was amazed I had never heard of this Turkish artist before She created beautiful huge abstract paintings and went on to nurture female artists in Jordan. Inspiring!


Honourable mention
And finally 'What is the City but the People' the opening of Manchester International Festival. A brilliant portrait of the city with 150 people on a catwalk, from a new born to a 100 year old, from a Syrian refugee to Lemm Sissay. I laughed, cried and was deeply moved and couldn't stop talking about it for ages.

Chenine Bhathena, Senior Culture Officer


Adults and children dancing

Croydon International Mela
I attended the first London Mela Presents in Wandle Park, Croydon.  A glorious autumn afternoon gave way to an incredible event.  There was a huge turnout and great excitement from all communities across Croydon, who were offered delicious South Asian cuisine, entertained by incredible global local bands and singers and an aerial drumming finale that lit up the night sky!

Merge Festival
Down by the river, this summer I took a trip in an artist-designed Dodgem car in a disused fire station in Southwark, an intriguing and unexpected psychological journey across an audio visual landscape as part of the inspirational Merge Festival. Designed by artist Marcus Lyall whose crazy sets have been the playground for both Chemical Brothers and Metallica.

Le Sacre du printemps’ at Sadlers Wells
I’ve seen some classic stage productions re-imagined over the last year, from Pina Bausch’s extraordinary ‘Le Sacre du printemps’ (the rite of spring) part of a triple bill presented by English National Ballet at Sadlers Wells, its first return to London since 2008; to Emma Rice’s gloriously outrageous musical comedy of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre.

Honourable mention
Finally Matthew Warchus’ A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic with the incredibly Rhys Ifans as Scrooge, a stunning bell ringing chorus and the Old Vic as you’ve never seen it before!  All highly emotive, deeply engaging and joyous celebrations of life. 

Mike Clewley, Cultural Tourism Officer

Laura Donnelly, Caitlin Carney and Paddy Considine on stage for The Ferryman, Gielgud Theatre

The Ferryman
Jez Buttersworth’s modern masterpiece, 3 hours whizzes by thanks to Sam Mendes taut direction and an incredible ensemble cast led by the brilliant Paddy Constantine.

Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern
A proper game-changing exhibition. The first time some of these amazing Afro-American artists have ever been exhibited in the UK and depressingly, it could not have been more relevant to the issues and protest going on in American today. Profoundly challenging and moving.

My 40th Birthday Party
Selfish I know but without doubt my favourite night of the year. Proof that an album covers fancy dress theme can bring out the creativity in everyone; including a cardboard Led Zeppelin, four individual Kraftwerk Man Machines and a Kanye West teddy bear outfit. Plus, I got to talk about it with one of my heroes, Lauren Laverne, on BBC 6 Music.

Honourable mention
The hilarious Twitter war between the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum was wonderful.

Lauren Bouillot, Projects & Policy Officer - Placemaking

A group of dancers from the Melanie Manchot Dance (All Night London)

Art Night 2017

Dancing all night in the middle of the City of London thanks to Melanie Manchot piece was so much fun… and quite magical too! I love that this free festival makes me discover unusual or hidden places transformed by art.
 

887 by Robert Lepage at Barbican
An ingenious play about childhood, memory and legacy. Touching and powerful. It stayed with me for months after the performance.
 

Jewels at Royal Opera House
The 50th anniversary of George Balanchine: it’s always a treat to see this three-part sparkling ballet classic!

Tim Spires, Senior Policy Officer - Cultural Education and Music


Performance of 42nd Street

42nd Street

A tap dance-tastic romp celebrating the glory days of Broadway. Full of amazing full cast numbers that leave you gasping.
 

Lost Hollow

Intimate gig with fantastic husband and wife country folk duo from Nashville. Should be heard by all!
 

Angels in America

Nearly eight hours over two evening, but a beautifully staged, star studded show at the National, chronicling the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS in 1980’s NYC.

Ed Bayes, Culture at Risk Officer


Sex Worker's Opera

Sex Workers’ Opera

Slightly biased as I played keys in this for the past two years but this was the MUST SEE show of 2017. Created and performed by sex workers and friends, the opera offers an unflinchingly honest, upliftingly human insight into the lives of sex workers locally and around the world. Unfortunately I couldn’t be involved this year but it was bigger and bolder than ever before and I’m sure will be back to grace London’s stages soon.

 

Richard Mosse: Incoming

Documentary photographer Mosse worked with a powerful telephoto military camera that can detect the human body from a distance of more than 30km to create a haunting artwork about the migration crisis spanning the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Was lucky enough to see Richard in conversation with composer Ben Frost and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten to discuss the challenges producing such an extraordinary piece of work.

 

Werq: Ballroom

Another Barbican event I’m afraid … as part of Trajal Harrell’s Hoochie Koochie performance the Barbican hosted a one-off late night ballroom event in celebration of London’s burgeoning Voguing scene. #executiverealness