Five free things to do in January

2012 heralds the year of the dragon and Trafalgar Square will host the main festivities for Chinese new year. Plus: don't miss the twisted red metal Tatlin's Tower in the Royal Academy's courtyard
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Tatlin's Tower in the RA's courtyard
Tatlin's Tower in the RA's courtyard

Tatlin’s Tower

Until January 29 at Royal Academy of arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1 (020 7300 8000;
While you await the completion of Anish Kapoor’s Observation Tower at the Olympic Park, don’t miss this twisted red metal Tatlin’s Tower in the RA’s Courtyard. Pop downstairs to a good little show outside the restaurant explaining why Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin’s original design was never built – and how London architect Jeremy Dixon came to make this scaled model.

SCIN on the Farm

Opens today and runs until February 8 at The SCIN Gallery, Morelands, 27 Old Street, EC1 (020 7357 7574;
A huff and a puff may have blown down the little pig’s house of straw, but this eminently eco-material is underused in the UK, says Annabelle Filer, founder and director of the new materials gallery SCIN. “It’s cheap, a good insulator, and there’s plenty of it.”

Design for King Arthur and Sir Lancelot stained glass panel by William Morris
Design for King Arthur and Sir Lancelot stained glass panel by William Morris (1862)
Straw can be packed between timber frames for walls, and, of course, used in thatch. But here you can also see how artists use straw — as with Carola Wochner, who has made this exquisite flower sculpture from straw beach mats.


Until January 26 at Gallery Libby Sellers, 41-42 Berners Street, W1 (020 3384 8785;
“Water will be the new gold,” predicts artist Mark Braun. Making his point are a series of exquisite water carafes with images of glaciers, lakes and rivers — as seen from Google Earth — sandblasted, engraved and etched on to them at the renowned Austrian glass company of J&L Lobmeyr.

This glass collection, first displayed in Vienna, is at a new gallery with changing displays that are bound to reflect the personal passion for “design art” of its owner and curator Libby Sellers. A River Thames carafe has been added specially for this London show.

Chinese new year celebrations in London
© PA
Chinese new year celebrations in London

William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth

Until January 29 at Two Temple Place Gallery, 2 Temple Place, WC2 (020 7836 3715;
William Morris is on a roll (literally), with a new archive collection of 11 wallpapers and 20 fabrics to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Morris & Co (

In July a refurbished William Morris Gallery will open in Walthamstow. Meanwhile, visit this new gallery in Temple Place, a late-Victorian mansion built by William Waldorf Astor on the Embankment. Its first show explores the stories Morris told through pattern and poetry, drawing on Chaucerian verse, Norse sagas, Arthurian legends and Greek myths.

Chinese New Year

23 January, with main festivities in Trafalgar Square on January 29
Here comes the year of the dragon. See one of the West End’s most spectacular festivals, with lion and dragon dances, arts and crafts stalls, and food marquees. Leicester Square will also be full of stalls and the Museum of London Docklands has free family workshops on January 21-22, covering mask-making and Chinese watercolour painting. Another free workshop, Perfect Pattern, is running this Sunday (see

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