London

A look at the artist’s first international solo exhibition

‘I’m not sure there has ever been a time in London when you chose where you lived on the basis of sexual preference’

‘Do people know what Boris Johnson believes in? He slips and slides, whether on Islam or immigration’

Contrary to what Consul Boris says, the capital is an unsustainable subsidy-junkie

‘Since my return from Bali, I have experimented with an accommodative tranquillity on a bicycle that makes my journey not only more pleasant but probably safer’

In Tobias Smollett’s great, romping 18th-century novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, our hero Matthew Bramble, a country squire, leaves his adored estate Brambleton Hall and spends a season in London. Writing to his doctor, he asks what would possess a man to live in a city where “every corner teems with fresh objects of detestation and disgust”.

His lodgings are frowzy, the air putrefying. Disease and pestilence are only kept at bay by the acid clouds of sea-coal burnt in every hearth and furnace. The locals are ugly, sallow and languid compared to the ruddy swains of Brambleton country. 

Sleep is impossible as the watchmen bawl the time down the streets every hour and knock thunderously at every door. Unrested, he starts out of bed at five o’clock because some dreadful fellow is shouting “pease pudding” beneath his window. 

The city’s great chronicler hit the streets to cure his insomnia. His writing cast a spell on me and now I go for nocturnal walks of my own

Characterisation and a sense of place have been sacrificed for a magical realist atmosphere in Peter Ackroyd’s latest novel, Three Brothers

‘There is a whole Eastern European city of half a million people in London. More than 80 per cent have arrived since 2004. It is a city working in basic jobs, with a sprinkling of Russian aristocrats and Bosnian refugees.’