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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

‘A truly special spot’: arts insiders’ top tips for free cultural places in Britain

From Russell Tovey to Gemma Cairney, cultural figures choose their favorite hangouts – from Edinburgh to Aberystwyth – with no entry cost

Hollie McNish

Hollie McNish, poet

Storyhouse, Chester

Storyhouse in Chester.
‘A beacon of architectural and creative magnificence’: Storyhouse in Chester. {Photograph}: Andrew Paterson/Alamy

It’s fortunate I don’t dwell in Chester as a result of if I did, I would attempt to transfer into Storyhouse completely. If you happen to haven’t been but, it’s a beacon of architectural and creative magnificence, and probably the most welcoming, inclusive cultural buildings I’ve ever been in. As somebody who’s typically daunted by locations we name “cultural”, that’s a giant factor. Housed partly in an outdated Odeon cinema, it combines the town’s library, theatre and cinema in a single, and every year invitations a special poet to exhibit their phrases in gigantic poems all throughout its partitions. Amongst others, there’s been Imtiaz Dharker, Lemn Sissay and myself (a poem of mine nonetheless lingers within the attractive youngsters’s part). It’s one of many few locations that appeals culturally as a lot to my youngster as to me, so it’s simple to go collectively. Go, seize a (very fancy) chair, a guide, a glass of wine and wander spherical to feast on the poetry, the structure and, after all, the books – till 11pm. It’s bought the longest opening hours of any library within the UK.

Gemma Cairney

Gemma Cairney, broadcaster and writer

Summerhall gallery bar, Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Summerhall gallery bar.
‘An area of pleasure’: Edinburgh’s Summerhall gallery bar. {Photograph}: summerhall.co.uk

The gallery bar within the coronary heart of a spot I consider as “Charlie’s chocolate manufacturing facility” (however one for exhibited artwork, curios, get-togethers, group, dwell music and tradition fairly than newfangled sweet) – in any other case generally known as Summerhall in Edinburgh – is someplace I’ve watched quick change into an area of pleasure because it was reopened beneath new administration in January. You’ll be able to wrap your self up in a blanket in there, slowly sip on lovingly made espresso and soups whereas an Ethio-jazz soundtrack rolls. It’s change into a pop-up house for knitting teams, life-drawers and guide lovers to fulfill spherical the large central communal desk. If you happen to change into an everyday, it’s possible you’ll spot a dwell cellist one afternoon or fiddle enjoying jam the subsequent, plus there’s an everyday spoken-word open mic night time and a pub quiz with signal language. It’s a very particular spot and my coronary heart has been captured by it.

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan, poet

The Maurice Dobson Museum, Darfield, South Yorkshire

‘The only museum in the world named after a gay ex-miner’: the Maurice Dobson Museum in Darfield, South Yorkshire.
‘The one museum on this planet named after a homosexual ex-miner’: the Maurice Dobson Museum in Darfield, South Yorkshire. {Photograph}: darfieldmuseum.co.uk

This, as I at all times inform all people, is the one museum on this planet named after a homosexual ex-miner. Maurice Dobson ran a store together with his companion, Fred, and a swearing parrot in Darfield, the previous pit village close to Barnsley, the place I’ve at all times lived. When Maurice and Fred (and the parrot) died, the store, an outdated Georgian constructing, was given to the village as a museum in 2000 and we’ve been right here ever since. It’s open on Saturdays and Wednesdays and you may look across the gallery, sit on the patio and, if you wish to spend cash [£2 entry fee, 50p for children], you might go upstairs, or come to the cafe, the place I volunteer as soon as a month in a fetching inexperienced pinny!

Elizabeth Alker

Elizabeth Alker, broadcaster

The movie viewing pods, floor flooring, Manchester Central Library

‘Forgotten landscapes of the region’: viewing pods at the North West Film Archive, based in Manchester Central Library.
‘Greater than 1,750 titles can be found’: viewing pods on the North West Movie Archive, based mostly in Manchester Central Library. {Photograph}: Ade Hunter / Manchester Metropolitan College

Essentially the most novel cinema expertise in Manchester may be had through the North West Movie Archive and BFI Replay viewing pods on the bottom flooring of Manchester’s superb central library rotunda. Greater than 1,750 titles can be found to view, together with the earliest recognized footage of an expert soccer match (Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion in 1898), and have movies and documentaries starring the likes of LS Lowry, Yuri Gagarin, George Finest and the Beatles. A pal and I as soon as took popcorn and located ourselves misplaced within the historical past of the cooperative motion, a cricket match filmed in Rochdale in 1914 and life at a rural Cheshire faculty throughout the second world warfare. The forgotten landscapes of the area and tales of its heroes, famed or in any other case, introduced lots of poetry into our payday-pending lives.

Kathryn Williams

Kathryn Williams, singer-songwriter

Play areas at Newcastle upon Tyne’s galleries and museums

‘Years of joyous times’: the Playspace under-5s area at Newcastle’s Laing gallery.
‘Years of joyous instances’: the Playspace under-5s space at Newcastle’s Laing gallery. {Photograph}: twmuseums.org.uk

The fantastic thing about Newcastle with babies is that you may take a bus journey any wet day to a gallery or museum that has a particular youngsters’ play space with free entry. My youngsters are previous that age now, however I’ve had years of joyous instances on the Laing gallery’s Playspace, the Baltic artwork centre’s play, be taught and sensory space, water play at Play Tyne within the Discovery Museum and the Mouse Home on the Nice North Museum. Now, I nonetheless take my 12-year-old to the galleries, however as a substitute of utilizing the play areas, we take a sketchbook every and select a portray to attract. It’s wonderful the way you discover a lot extra this fashion and the way you find yourself speaking and dealing issues out collectively. I get a very peaceable feeling listening to his ideas and concepts from artistic endeavors.

Night time Drives by Kathryn Williams is out now on One Little Impartial Information. Her podcast Earlier than the Lights Go Out explores the time between being awake and asleep

Eleanor Nairne

Camden Artwork Centre, London

‘The feeling of an oasis’: Camden Art Centre in north London.
‘The sensation of an oasis’: Camden Artwork Centre in north London. {Photograph}: Max Colson

After I’m in want of relaxation and cultural nourishment, I head to the Camden Artwork Centre. Confusingly, it’s sandwiched between Hampstead and Finchley Street in north London, only a stone’s throw from the home on Maresfield Gardens the place Sigmund Freud as soon as lived. Nestled amongst a backyard of ferns and hellebores, the constructing has the sensation of an oasis: a beautiful bookshop and cafe spill out throughout the bottom flooring, whereas there are studios and galleries above. All its exhibitions are free and they’re at all times value seeing. Till 28 Could, Mohammed Sami is exhibiting a few of his outstanding, haunting work.

Eleanor Nairne’s newest present, Alice Neel: Scorching Off the Griddle, is on the Barbican Artwork Gallery till 21May

Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey, actor and co-host of podcast Discuss Artwork

Chisenhale Gallery, east London

An aerial view of the roof painting Cat’s Paw by the artist Abbas Akhavan at the Chisenhale Gallery in east London in 2021.
An aerial view of the roof portray Cat’s Paw by Abbas Akhavan on the Chisenhale Gallery in east London in 2021. {Photograph}: Ali Sadeghian

I’d like to suggest the Chisenhale Gallery in east London, an area that I’m proud to be a patron of, because it at all times presents probably the most bold, thrilling and regarded solo exhibitions helmed by the wonderful Zoé Whitley. Rachel Jones’s Say Cheeeeese was one of many highlights of my 2022 artwork experiences. The gallery has simply opened an exhibition with Johannesburg-based painter Ravelle Pillay titled Idyll, which appears unbelievable.

And to blow my very own trumpet, Shut on the Grimm Gallery at 2 Bourdon Avenue in central London. It’s a gaggle present of 13 up to date artists I’ve lovingly curated, connecting all to a curatorial theme of “quiet moments of home pleasure”. I’m very pleased with it.

Discuss Artwork: The Interviews by Russell Tovey and Robert Diament is printed by Ilex Press on 11 Could (£25)

Huw Stephens

Huw Stephens, DJ and broadcaster

The archives on the Nationwide Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The archives of the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
‘An unlimited, stunning constructing’: The archives of the Nationwide Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. {Photograph}: The Photolibrary Wales/Alamy

There are many nice issues to do in Aberystwyth, not least stroll the promenade and presumably kick the bar on the foot of Structure Hill, a practice began by the scholars of Aber. Previous the promenade and Aber’s winding streets you’ll discover the Nationwide Library of Wales, an unlimited, stunning constructing courting again to 1907. Its archives are huge, with greater than 6m books and each map, {photograph} or piece of music contained within the spectacular constructing. It’s basically the story of Wales, with a studying room and exhibitions bringing every part alive. I like to recommend it for a day of digging and discovery.

Jade Anouka

Jade Anouka, actor

Beckenham Place Park, London

Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham, south London.
‘The structure of the mansion constructing is kind of stunning’: Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham, south London. {Photograph}: JLS/Alamy

Take a look at the ever-growing variety of farmers’ markets and check out all of the free samples. You’ll be able to style bread, cheese, chutneys, drinks – all free! My high one is at Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham and I counsel following it with a protracted stroll across the large grounds and woods. The structure of the mansion constructing is kind of stunning; it was constructed within the 1700s and within the grounds you’ll be able to wander by the bluebells in spring, splash about within the river in summer time and sledge down the a number of hills within the snow. I like a woodland stroll, so would additionally counsel Dulwich and Sydenham Hill woods in south London for a superb wander and a surprise.

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