Fantastic Feats 2019, City of London
To celebrate London's triumphs in architecture, Fantastic Feats is bringing six months of street theatre, circus, art installations, live performance, exhibitions, walks and tours to the capital
The events have been inspired by several historical anniversaries being celebrated this year, including the 200th birthdays of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the inventor of London’s sewer system, and Sir Horace Jones, architect and designer of Tower Bridge – which itself turns 125 this year.
Fantastic Feats features twenty events spread throughout the season – here are our highlights.
River View: 31 May – 30 November
Where: North Bank of the Thames, opposite Tate Modern
This installation, designed by Wolfgang Buttress, comprises of a 4.5 metre-high sculpture that is intentionally created to be blurry. By combing mirror, bright, satin and matt aluminium panels, the sculpture fuses together 2D, 3D, 4D experience. The effect is that your perception of the Thames is transformed, deepening what you see when looking at it. Buttress further enhances this by adding an underwater sonar to record life in the Thames, which can be viewed from an app.
Volo: Dreams of Flight: 18 - 22 June
Price : Free
Don a VR headset and make your way to one of four virtual reality swing rides set up in locations across the city. The experience, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machines, aims to give riders the chance to experience the sensation of flight in a completely new way. 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of Da Vinci's death and Volo has taken inspiration from the artist's substantial contribution to flight to change the way we think about flying.
Architecture of London: 31 May – 1 December
Where: Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE
Price: £10 (£7 concessions)
The Architecture of London exhibition at Guildhall seeks to explore 400 years of change in London's cityscape, delving into how the city has inspired the artists who have inhabited or visited it. On show are 80 works by over 60 artists, including Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Catherine Yass. Each piece displayed reveals a different side of London and the city is being portrayed from a variety of viewpoints: the artists’ windows, vast panoramas, close-ups, or views from the street. A curator's tour of the collection is being held on the first Wednesday of each month over the course of the event.
Fantastic Feats of Cinema: 19 – 24 August
For one week in August, Pop Up Screens is partnering with the City of London to screen films that embody key themes of Fantastic Feats, including architecture, engineering, science and invention. Food and drink is available to buy at the venues and deckchairs are included in the cost of the ticket, so all audiences have to do is grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy a classic film outdoors this summer.
Mon 19: Jurassic Park
Tues 20: Good Will Hunting
Wed 21: 500 Days of Summer
Thurs 22: Back to the Future
Fri 23: First Man
Sat 24: WALL-E
Illuminated River: July (Dates TBC)
Where: Across London Bridge, Cannon Street Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Millennium Bridge
American light artist Leo Villareal has designed what will be the longest public art commission in the world upon completion. Illuminated River is 2.5 miles in length, running along 4.5 nautical miles of the River Thames. Inspired by the river’s activity, Villareal seeks to 'paint with light', engaging specifically with up to 15 bridges, considering their historical and architectural features. Several public events are coinciding with the illumination of London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium Bridges, details of which are being revealed soon.
The People's Tower: 20 - 21 July
Where: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE
Artist Olivier Grossetête travels all over the world to make monumental cardboard constructions with the help of local people, and he's coming to London this summer for Fantastic Feats, taking inspiration from the medieval Guildhall to build a giant structure out of cardboard boxes. Join him on 20 July to help construct his latest project, then return on 21 July to take part in the communal destruction of it.
Olivier is also running workshops from 15 – 19 July to help with the construction of specific elements. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to take part.
Tower Bridge – What If?: 1 July - 30 September
This outdoor exhibit showcases the alternative river crossing designs submitted to the city's special committee in 1897. The competition to design a Thames crossing next to the Tower of London was a contest between some of the greatest architects and engineers of the day, and this exhibition gives you the chance to ponder a London without the Tower Bridge we know and love.
Wild by Motionhouse: 25 July
'What is it to be wild'?
In this bold outdoor production that blends dance and circus, Motionhouse explores the discontent between humans and nature, questioning whether we have become so urbanised that the wild is alien to us. Motionhouse is bringing its touring production of Wild to the urban jungle that is London, where audiences have a chance to see it free of charge.
Moby Dick: the construction of an obsession: 22 June
Where: London's Roman Amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE
'A ship, a whale, a storm, a struggle… and the mesmerising beat of the drum.'
Head to London's Roman Amphitheatre to witness a theatrical reimagining of Melville's Captain Ahab and his relentless hunt for the white whale. This fusion of theatre, dance, circus and music transforms Guildhall Yard into Captain Ahab's ship.
The London that Never Was exhibition: 6 September - 8 December
Where: London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Farringdon, EC1R 0HB
For every architectural design that leads to a building, several more have been rejected and ignored. What happened to them? How different would London be if they had been approved? The London that Never Was exhibition looks upon the discarded designs of the city's most important buildings, which range from serious to ridiculous.
Nonclassical in Sky Gardens: July and September – Exact Dates TBA
In a collaboration between artists throughout the new music scene, music promoter Nonclassical is giving audiences a revolutionary Skyline experience, which uses classical, experimental and electronic music to bring the viewer performances and sound installations at various rooftop locations across London. Nonclassical is also hosting DJ sets over three nights in July.
Where Light Falls: 25 - 27 October
Where: St Paul's Cathedral
2019 marks the 80th anniversary since the start of the Second World War, and St Paul's is remembering those who risked their lives to protect the cathedral by illuminating the building with projections of poetry in their honour.