In the heart of the City of London is a large heated conservatory that’s occasionally open to the public, and at the moment, also home to an art exhibition.
The conservatory, the second largest in London, wraps around the Barbican theatre’s fly tower, and is deceptively large, with several routes around and even an upper level to get up close to the tree canopy. And, at the moment, floating sculptures by the Indian sculptor Ranjani Shettar are hanging within the canopy.
Shettar’s sculptures are each handcrafted by the artist and draw inspiration from the complexity of nature – using a range of materials, including wood, stainless steel, muslin, lacquer and techniques that have been adapted from traditional Indian crafts.
Candidly, the art is almost easy to miss, as their organic shapes and muted colours tend to blend into the background of the plants. If they weren’t hanging from the ceiling, with a map handed out to visitors, it’s almost easy not to notice them if you didn’t know there was an art exhibition happening.
Maybe these would have been better in a plain room, and something more angular would have stood out better in the conservatory.
However, if you’ve never visited the conservatory, then this a very good reason to kick yourself into visiting, as it’s a very impressive space, and even more so for being free to visit.
And in the winter months, it’s a lovely warm space to loiter around in.
You need to book tickets in advance, which are released in batches from here.
At the time of writing, tickets are available on Sun 3rd, Fri 29th and Sun 31st December 2023, with January’s tickets to follow in a few weeks time.
When you arrive at the Barbican, the entrance to the conservatory is on the top floor – use the lift or main staircase.