Culture picks for spring

King's Cross' cultural experts on what to see, read, listen to & generally obsess over this spring

Posted: Wednesday 11th April 2018

Say goodbye to Netflix; it’s time to welcome fresh new music, books and art into your world. Richard Mellor grills King’s Cross’ cultural experts to find out what they will be seeing, reading, listening to and generally obsessing over this spring.


Jon Privett, Co-owner, Word On The Water

One of three founders, Jon runs this floating ‘book barge’, a century-old Dutch boat which sells new and used fiction and non-fiction from a permanent mooring off Granary Square. They also own a wood burning stove and host rooftop poetry slams, readings and acoustic concert.

“The book I’m most looking forward to reading this spring is definitely Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes. The Oliver of the title is Sacks, a neurologist, naturalist and writer who died from cancer two-and-a-half years ago, who was a wonderful creature and someone whose work I’ve always found inspiring. I was a psychotherapist, so his writing has special relevance for me.

Sacks’ partner, Hayes — who was 20 years his junior, and who I’ve seen described as a ‘somewhat hippyish writer from California’ — has penned an account of the last years they had together. I’ve not read anything by Hayes before, but I just know that a loving account of Sacks will be very engaging.

The book covers their mutual insomnia, and their life together in New York in vignette form. But, most of all, it is simply a touching love letter. Among other things, Hayes relates the fact that Sacks was not a traditionally ‘out’ gay man, even in his 70s, meaning that (also due to the two-decade age difference between them) he’d get terribly embarrassed when they’d encounter friends on the street.”

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me is out now, and available in paperback at Word on the Water for £9.99.


Nick Keynes, Co-Founder, Tileyard

Loosely defining his role as curatorial, Nick launched media hub Tileyard Studios in 2011 with the aim to unite creatives and businesses in the same space. Located just off York Way, it houses over 70 state-of-theart music studios and more than 75 creative office spaces and a growing community.

“Over 200 firms are currently based at Tileyard, about half of them in the music sector, and we have upwards of 1,200 people walking around our campus every day, and using the meeting rooms, studios, event spaces and offices. It’s a community of amazing people doing amazing things and my role is predominantly to ensure we bring the right kind of personalities into our ecosystem.

One of those is Sigala (or Bruce to his mates) who spent three years developing as an artist and honing his craft as part of the Tileyard machine, and has gone on to become one of the UK’s biggest breakthrough mainstream acts of the last few years. His debut single, Easy Love, which samples ABC by The Jackson 5 reached number one in the charts, and he’s had two further Top 10 hits. He’s a wonderful talent, plus a great guy and we’re all super proud at Tileyard of what he’s achieving. The record is due for release in May, Sigala’s first album is a great blend of uplifting feel-good pop music — or tropical house to give it its official name — and is an absolute must for everyone’s spring and early summer playlists. It’s the perfect playlist for those first magical sunny days in London when barbecues and garden parties seem possible again and it’s light when we leave the office.”

Sigala’s album (title TBA) is due for release this year. Current single, Lullaby featuring Paloma Faith, is out now.


Laura McNamara, Creative Producer of Gallery & Public Events, Central Saint Martins

As a creative producer, Laura oversees all of the art-and-design college’s public facing galleries, she also collaborates with students, alumni, academics and external institutions like The Warburg Institute to produce exhibitions which showcase Central Saint Martins’ creative talent.

“My spring pick has to be Central Saint Martins’ successive annual degree shows taking place around the college and in the Lethaby Gallery, which looks out onto Granary Square; there’s no better or more thrilling time to be around the campus. This pair of large exhibitions offer an amazing insight into students’ educational journeys via their final works, and always have a wonderful buzz and energy to them. Showcasing about 1,500 graduates, the two exhibitions are renowned for boundary-pushing work in their categories. Show One focuses on fine art, while Show Two spans all design disciplines, from ceramics to furniture to fashion. They’ll often engage with contemporary concerns of politics, activism or social anxiety. Both are free to enter, and last year 40,000 people attended.

As well as great art, the exhibitions also offer a rare opportunity for the public to come inside Central Saint Martins. Visitors can also purchase any of the work on display at Show One, so you have the chance to buy art by a future Turner Prize-winner for a comparative snip. This adds extra excitement to proceedings as alumni who have previously exhibited at these degree shows include hotly-collected artists such as Peter Doig, Yinka Shonibare, Helen Marten and Isaac Julien.”

Degree Show One (Fine Art) runs from 23–27 May, Degree Show Two (Design) from 20–24 June.

Read more about the people and stories that make King’s Cross.

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