Monday, September 12th, 2016
Today’s blog post is presented to you by Daniel from Day Out in London and it’s all about creative hotspots in London. I love the places he found and I can’t wait to check them out myself to get my creative juices flowing. Enjoy!
London is the creative centre of the UK, Europe and possibly even the world. Where else could you pop into a world-renowned museum, follow it up with a musical matinée and finish off the day with a night out at the opera – all within walking distance of each other?
Creatives are drawn to London to see the best in their craft and to inspire themselves to achieve their dreams; thankfully the city is well equipped to help these people succeed. If you are a budding novelist or perhaps an actor in the making and you need a space to think, muse, write or rehearse, London is full of unique spaces where you can get the creative juices flowing. In this article, I talk about 5 of the best I’ve come across.
The Barbican Centre is one of my favourite places in London. It’s half housing estate half cultural hub; with theatre spaces, reading rooms, exhibitions, libraries and cafés all in one complex. Built in the 60’s as a social experiment, the Barbican Centre has hosted cultural events for nearly half a century. Walking around the complex is an experience in itself, the outside space is somewhat of a maze but it also beautiful in a brutalist sort of way.
Large sections of the Barbican are publically accessible all year round, including a huge library with free workspaces, a large hall with seating and free Wi-Fi and a range of cafés and kitchens for those wanting a bit to eat while they get creative. The library could be particularly useful for actors as it’s one of the few in London with an extensive play script section.
One of the Barbican’s best-kept secrets is its conservatory, a huge greenhouse with a range of unique species of fauna that few Londoners know about. This is a truly unique space in London and is an absolute must to visit, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The National Theatre is one of London’s cultural gems. It’s hard to fathom the number of world-class productions that have taken place on its stages. I don’t think it’s wrong to suggest that ‘the national’, as it’s often shortened to, is the best theatre in the world. Great news for aspiring actors is that the National Theatre is open to everyone, from 8am till 11pm, even if you don’t have a ticket to see a show.
There is a huge foyer with plenty of seating, vast roof terraces, half a dozen bars and cafés and even free Wi-Fi. I myself used to work at the National Theatre and what was obvious is that it’s a huge hotspot for theatre groups, acting students and even working actors to meet up, go through their lines and rehearse in groups. There is a bookshop filled with scripts and plays and you can even go on a tour of the backstage.
What can I say about the British Library that hasn’t already been said? It’s truly a masterpiece of organisation. The British Library stores every book ever published in the UK; they have documents dating back to 2000 B.C. and hold 170 million items in total. If on the extremely rare occasion there isn’t a book you want in the British Library, they will find it for you and it will be there within a week.
The monolith of a building, located next to St. Pancras Station, is a haven for students or those who want somewhere to focus. The atmosphere is palpable but also calm, you can tell this is a place for study. There are huge reading rooms which can be used for personal study, reading or work. You get your own desk and access to much of the equipment in the library, however, you need to have a permanent UK address and bring proof with you on your first visit. If you want to really get down to work and be surrounded by like-minded people, this is the place to come.
You have probably never heard of the View Tube, which is unsurprising because it’s tiny and hidden in a nearly forgotten corner of East London. The View Tube is a community arts venue and café, located right on the edge of the Olympic Park in Stratford. What makes this centre special is its very unique style, relaxing atmosphere and solitary location.
The View tube is a haven of solidarity in an otherwise busy urban jungle that Stratford has become. Constructed out of shipping containers, you can immediately sense that this is no ordinary café. Works of art line the bike path that leads to the entrance; there’s even a piano which anyone is welcome to use.
Inside there is a huge menu should you wish to indulge in their fantastic food, or you can just sit in their airy conservators and read, write or just relax. The View Tube is one of my favourite get-away-from-it-all places in London and I recommend you pay a visit should you find yourself in Stratford.
One of London’s hidden gems is the Chelsea Physic Garden, which is also the second oldest botanical garden in the UK. Few people know about this tranquil corner of West London; this ensures it remains a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Physic refers to the science of healing and this is certainly a great place to heal from the stresses of life. Meticulously maintained, the garden is home to the Britain’s oldest olive tree and the world northernmost grapefruit growing outdoors – maybe something to inspire you to persist in the face of adversity?
What’s your creative hotspot in London?