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Best things to do in London, starting with the Royal Academy

November 5, 2015

If you love London but dread the busy streets in  the big shopping season then let me share a haven of peace and quiet wonderment — the Royal Academy of Arts, located slap bang on Piccadilly right across the road from Fortnum and Mason.

Walking into the spacious, classical courtyard takes me back to a London of times past, but only for a moment, for what is the artificial forest doing here, and these giant posters?

The latter announce the current exhibitions featuring artistic phenomenon Ai Weiwei and Jean-Etienne Liotard, two great talents who could not be more different. But that is the Royal Academy, which is a fine knack of often having something for everyone.

Ai Weiwei, he of the sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern five years ago, is back with a major exhibition of large-scale installations in steel, marble and glass, not to mention 1000 plastic crabs.

For something completely different, climb the stairs and check out the serene paintings of Jean-Etienne Liotard, a Swiss artist in great demand in Enlightenment Europe. He travelled widely and drew great inspiration from the Orient.

Known as “the Turk”, he dressed the part while working as a court painter.

Coming up next year is an exhibition on painting the modern garden, using the work of Monet as a starting point, and moving on to Matisse.IMG_2441

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