Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 13.46.52 Dana Lixenberg’s portraits of LA citizens like the one above are just one of the brilliant highlights at this year’s Deutsche Borse prize exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery. I picked this, and eight other brilliant exhibitions, for Refinery29 UK reader to diarise in January.

Big retrospectives for Basquiat and Wolfgang Tillmans dominate the calendar, while the centenary of the Russian revolution brings not one but three major exhibitions to the city’s galleries that will cover everything from architecture to poster design.

Fashion fans also have treats in store: the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death gives the Royal Palaces an opportunity to display all the pie-crust blouses that made her the original people’s princess, and the V&A delivers a drool-inducing exhibition of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s work – a UK first.

For more features on the London events calendar for 2017, check back regularly, or see a special on London literary events I made for the Time Out website last year. Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 13.47.12

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Thankyou, day off

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Ah, fabulous London. Ever wondered about the histories of your favourite streets? This year I wrote secret histories for Time Out for Cambridge Heath Road, Pitfield Street, Marchmont Street, Lamb’s Conduit Street, Essex Road and Hanbury Street.

I had so much fun with these that I went on to profile all the traders on Lamb’s Conduit Street in a 500-year anniversary magazine for the Rugby School.

For more history features, check out What it was like to go to the doctor in 1610 for Tonic.

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Long before I ever moved to London, working at Time Out was pretty #careergoals, and this year I’ve been really happy to have had nine months of shifts with the magazine. I joined under Ashleigh Arnott, who’s now working for Waitrose, met Louise Schwartzkoff as she developed the new Culture & Events section, and now work with Sonya Barber who’s managing the launch of that section.

First day back from holiday and I get to see my street guide in print. Nice 🌞

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Recently I’ve written street guides for Essex Road and Hanbury Street – both packed with great independent venues and cool new arts projects – as well as trying out a chiaroscuro class at the Royal Academy, learning about London’s black heritage in Tudor times, compiling this year’s online feature on New Year’s Eve parties for Olly Keen’s Nightlife section, writing and editing the listings for the mag, and writing about London Christmas rituals for a big collaborative feature in the front of the magazine. Lots of it is featured on my Muckrack page, as well as other features I’ve done this year, and I’m looking forward to filling 2017 with more brilliant London walks, talks, dinners, coffees, exhibitions and parties.

Walls of nudes at the chiaroscuro class at the RA. My dodgy rendition not pictured A photo posted by Ellie (@elliebroughton_) on

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For many casual cinemagoers, the Picturehouse venues look like they have all the kudos of an independent cinema with all the perks of being part of a network. The programming is great, food and drinks are good quality and the staff are super helpful.

But look behind the scenes and the story’s quite different. Staff at Picturehouses in both Hackney and Brixton have committed to strike over the network’s failure to pay London Living Wage.

Independent cinemas are not without their wage disputes either – for example, staff at the Dalston Rio went on strike last May over wages and job cuts. But if you were a Picturehouse fan until the strikes, you might want to show solidarity by taking your ticket money elsewhere.

The map above covers the following cinemas in London, so you can find the nearest indie to your home and work, or just explore cinemas you’ve never visited before:
Regent St Cinema
Close Up
Prince Charles Cinema
Rich Mix
Genesis Mile End
Dalston Rio
Institute Of Light
The Barbican
Finchley Phoenix
The Horse Hospital
Arthouse Crouch End
Ciné Lumière
The Lexi

A note on the ‘independence’ of cinemas featured on this list: the Arthouse, Prince Charles, Phoenix, Lexi, Genesis, Peckhamplex, Rich Mix, Horse Hospital and the Rio are independent, the BFI is independent registered charity, Close Up is part of a company that reinvests is profits into film resources, and Ciné Lumière is part of the Institut français, which is funded by French public funds.

The Electric Cinemas in Notting Hill and Shoreditch, although lovely, aren’t featured – they are owned by the Soho House Group – and Picturehouse cinemas (owned by Cineworld) aren’t  featured either.

Curzon cinemas, since they are not part of a giant like SHG or Cineworld, are also featured: unlike Picturehouse, the brand pays staff London Living Wage.

Cinema clubs and temporary venues for screening are not featured – everywhere on the list is a dedicated bricks-and-mortar cinema.

To add something to the list, make suggestions or syndicate this information, email

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Hot shot: a bartender pours a drink to go with one of the bar's snacks, served on a slab of pink salt. Photograph: Alex Zalewska

Hot shot: a bartender pours a drink to go with one of the bar’s snacks, served on a slab of pink salt. Photograph: Alex Zalewska

No, it’s not behind any wall. It’s down some stairs and if it’s behind anything, it’s velvet curtains. Other than its name, though, guests are unlikely to quibble with there being a new bar on the Narrow Way.

Alex Harris opened Behind This Wall (previously used as storage for a local Turkish social club) back in February after many years working in food and drink for the Soho House group.

He is a London lad who grew up in Baltimore and returned to the capital to settle in Bethnal Green. The East Coast connection pops up on the menu in a few places (Vermont whiskey and cheddar, oysters, Providence Martinis) but the atmosphere in his bar is otherwise pure Hackney.

I reviewed the bar for the Hackney Citizen’s November 2016 issue. To read more from my brief spell as the features editor at the paper when I first went freelance or read some of the features I wrote afterwards for the sister paper, the East End Review, head over to the site, or go straight:

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