Archive for United Kingdom

Richard Branson’s Ever-Expanding Universe

Richard Branson Interview Virgin Galactic

I had the ‘lightning strikes’ chance to interview Richard Branson for a second time. I first met with him on-board Virgin America at the time of the then-new airline’s inaugural LA/New York flight. This go around,  on the precipice of his Virgin Galactic commercial launches, I chatted with him for a cover story for Delta Airlines’ Sky Magazine’s April 2014 issue, which is now out… Check it out below…

Richard Branson has the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he carries it as if it’s draped casually over one shoulder—befitting a man whose workday is punctuated by tennis and kite surfing on Necker, his private Caribbean island. And he will temporarily shrug off that weight when he and his children, Holly and Sam, are thrust into zero gravity at the edge of space during the inaugural launch of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo this year—making them the first private space-bound passengers in history.

After a series of delays, the press-fueled pressure is on. Such are the unpleasant side effects of trying to conquer this world and the next—from climate change to banking monopolies. “The program has taken longer than we’d expected,” the Virgin Group CEO admits dryly, “but it is rocket science, and rocket science, as we’ve discovered, is difficult.” It’s a challenge Branson is happy to take on—even for a mere 30 seconds of bobbing around in 4.5 g loads—as the long-term ramifications are vast.

Clearly, others are willing to do whatever it takes to hitch the ultimate ride as well—wheelchair-confined physicist Stephen Hawking chief among them. “[The space flight] is going to be challenging for him and for the people who go up with him,” says Branson. Environmental scientist and author James Lovelock will face his own set of hurdles going into space at 95. “He’s keeping himself as fit as he can to make sure he can enjoy it.” The list of luminaries who’ve paid the extravagant $250,000 ticket price for a chance to follow in Branson’s free-floating footsteps reads like the table of contents of an issue of Vanity Fair, which has added to the media scrutiny.

The British entrepreneur dismisses the notion that Virgin Galactic’s flights will merely be joy rides for billionaires, citing the history of the first transatlantic flights. “It cost the equivalent of $250,000 in the 1920s to fly across the Atlantic,” he says, “It was those people who could afford it who were the pioneers and enabled hundreds of millions of people to fly across the Atlantic in the years since.” The roughly 800 individuals who have bought Virgin Galactic tickets so far, concedes Branson, are “all wealthy people, but without them our program would never have gotten off the ground.” Besides which, he is already brainstorming a way in which thousands of everyday people, “cleaners, dustbin drivers, coal miners or whatever, will have a chance to go to space.” The modest goal: “to democratize space travel.”

For decades, space tourism has been positioned as the next big thing in travel—from journeys to the moon to space station hotels. Although Branson doesn’t yet have any plans to launch a trendy five star in the stars, Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico, designed by British starchitect Norman Foster and his team, certainly looks the part. And that’s not all: “We will be building a very sexy spaceport hotel in New Mexico next to our spaceport,” Branson divulges.

In the meantime,  a bit closer to home, Virgin will launch… Read My Full Richard Branson Article on Delta Airlines’ Sky Magazine Website

3D Printing’s Tipping Point Tour: London, New York, Paris

This is a little shorty I wrote up for British Airway’s High Life magazine on the 3D printing revolution. This has been going on for years but only hit the tipping point into mainstream consumption in the past year or so.

The stuff looks outlandish like it’s out of a Luc Besson film or something so I’m not sure how mainstream it will get (after the initial novelty wears off) but I’m sure the tech will advance quickly and we’ll see more wearable stuff come out in the years to come.

My only gripe with it is that so far the rudimentary tech produces garments that look like they’re all cut from the same cloth, so to speak – a kind of uniformity that exists in tech which I abhor (pret-a-porter for the net-a-porter generation).

3D Printing Show London New York Paris

Escape From Notting Hill — A London Staycation Adventure

Great Northern Hotel lounge, King's Cross, London

Great Northern Hotel lounge, King’s Cross, London

Each year, over the late August UK bank holiday weekend, residents and merchants in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood batten down the hatches and prepare for a storm of sorts — nailing large sheets of wood to buildings’ facades and sealing off fences and access points to their residences and retail outlets.

Despite the local multicultural traditions that the annual Notting Hill Carnival upholds and its aim of fostering community, many residents experience the raucous event like the prospect of an out-of-control party being held in their homes, and pack up their bags, leave, and brace themselves for the worst upon their return.

Likewise, each year, I join the mass exodus, taking off for some nearby locale. One year it was a stylish B&B in a small Cotswolds town; another, a two-day sojourn in Thames-side Richmond Hill. I have come to realize that there’s no sense fighting it; my annual departure from W11 has become both a personal tradition, and an unexpected means of discovering nearby areas and new hotels and inns — some practically on my proverbial London doorstep.

This year, I got the opportunity to experience a couple of new hotels in two very distinct London quarters — South Kensington and King’s Cross.

I breezed through the former upscale museum-side area for a dosage of culture, fresh, creative food and a visit to the relatively new 111-room Ampersand Hotel. The artistic and botany and ornithology-inspired boutique property (opened in late 2012) is more modern than its 19th century facade reveals.

Staying in The Ampersand’s deluxe room presented the rare London luxury of space in which to sprawl out. For about £40 more than a superior chamber, it offers plenty of room in which to luxuriate; my favorite self-pampering spot being its comfortable and luxe double-sink bathroom with rainfall shower, tub and in-tub telly, featuring handy bath-time accoutrements like a loofah and hotel-branded rubber ducky.

With so much going on in the area — effectively the playground of the young Sloanie set who once partied at nearby Boujis — less socially adventurous culture vultures seeking a tranquil night’s sleep may want to request one of the hotel’s back rooms. However, the property is perhaps best suited to those wanting to zealously drink and dine.

Just steps away from Madsen, a laid-back Swedish restaurant with fresh, clean food and a short walk from lively Old Brompton Road tapas spots like Tendido Cero, and campy after-hours watering holes like the Nam Long Le Shaker, The Ampersand is well-positioned for cool night crawls.

However, visitors stopping by for more low-key creative inspiration thanks to the close-by Victoria & Albert and Science Museums, are likely to revel in one of the hotel’s best features: its charming Drawing Rooms restaurant. There, amidst lilac hues and playful and vibrant furniture, afternoon tea, lunch, coffee are served, including a cornucopia of sweets like raspberry hazelnut meringue slices and ‘Intense Chocolate Tarts.’ Although it’s not specifically offered, breakfast can (and should) be requested in this Wonderland-esque salon.

The next stop on my Notting Hill exodus/London staycation was the Great Northern Hotel. Opened in the spring of 2013 in the burgeoning and culturally exciting King’s Cross/St. Pancras railway station neighborhood, it is an uber-stylish high-end boutique hotel gem. Although there are some intriguing up-and-coming spots worth checking out in this hip quarter — like French chef Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store restaurant and the craftsy-cool Drink, Shop & Do — one could almost use the Great Northern as a city resort and barely leave its pleasant confines.

The hotel’s destination restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk is lorded over by none other than Mark Sargeant, who did a 13-year head chef stint at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred Claridges restaurant. The rich and tasty food consists of elegant and upscale takes on traditional British fare — a fine example of which is the creamed smoked haddock with poached hen’s egg (a small but indulgent meal in itself).

The cuisine is only perhaps upstaged by the stunning dining setting replete with a privy corner view of the railway station area (soon to be more glorious upon completion of its refurbishing), dangling hand-blown glass lights and neo-Deco furnishings. The adjacent petite bar (also upstairs) with its charmingly cluttered paintings and fragrant signature cocktails feels a bit like a literary lounge in which a contemporary Zelda and F. Scott might imbibe libations and playfully pontificate, sans the undignified distraction of tech devices.

There is a private club feeling to the whole establishment with its much-appreciated double-glazed windows and locked (to non-guests) floor entrances. The hotel’s extra-wide hallways are also a rarity. They were fashioned during Victorian times to accommodate the full-style dresses women often wore. An added modern, communal touch: pantries on every floor, stocked with gratis tea, coffee and edibles for guests.

The rooms — masterfully designed by the architects at Archer Humphryes, featuring hand-crafted furnishings– also delicately straddle the line between modern/contemporary and retro (’20s/’30s).

Of the hotel’s three room styles, two pay homage to the property and area’s historical railway past: the Cubitt (named after Lewis Cubitt, the master builder behind the property’s first iconic incarnation in 1854) and the Couchette (a small, contemporary rendition of a train sleeper carriage with a geometrically riveting view of the top of the King’s Cross concourse). The other is the oaky and masculine Wainscot.

Although there is no traditional central front entrance to the railway-side boutique hotel, I originally accidentally discovered it through its downstairs bar, which feels a bit more modern and night owl-conducive than the aforementioned literary lounge. Thankfully, serendipity and happy accident led me there… and continue to lead me to explore new areas and hotels like The Ampersand and the Great Northern, each year at Carnival-time.

Originally Published in Huffington Post | Travel

Bucolic Wales

Thought I would share my photographic moments at Primrose Organic Centre in the Powys (Wales). The place was manned by this amazing character named Paul. I believe he was English and he was wholeheartedly committed to permaculture and growing veggies the natural way. After he proudly displayed his solar panel, I told him he’d have to pay a visit to California as there are loads of people who share his sentiments.

Paul Benham Primrose Organic Centre Wales

Photo by Shana Ting Lipton

Photo by Shana Ting Lipton

Primrose Organic Centre Wales

Photo by Shana Ting Lipton

Of course, I got the vibe that this part of Wales–Brecon Beacons–was a place where many non-Welsh (or perhaps English) tune in, turn on and drop out of their fast-paced city lives. Like the Cowichan Valley (in British Columbia) it seems to attract both yuppie entrepreneurs ready to cash out and set up farm-related businesses (vineyards and apple orchards) or die-hard old hippies still living the dream of living off the land.

Brecon Beacons in Wales, Primrose Organic Centre

Photo by Shana Ting Lipton

Primrose Organic Centre Wales

Photo by Shana Ting Lipton

An American’s Search For London’s ‘Personal Bubble’

American Expat Living in London England

By Shana Ting Lipton

[originally published on Huffington Post | Travel]

…Any externalization of emotion — through sighs, furrowed brows, and general visual signs of frustration, sadness, anger, etc. — seems to be frowned upon, figuratively if not literally…

Anyone who has ever lived in Manhattan is familiar with the term “personal bubble.” Although invisible, it is the nucleus of a New Yorker’s life. It promises — in a city of 8.2 million — a safe zone, not to be penetrated by the masses.

You may be centimeters away from four sweaty people in a crowded space, so close you can smell what they ate for lunch — yet, despite this proximity, eyes shall not meet, actions shall not be acknowledged and personal space shall not be violated. Such unwritten codes keep urban denizens from going mad via overwhelm and confrontation in such overpopulated milieus.

So, masses of Manhattanites grumble to themselves, exhale after a long day, roll their eyes when seeing something irritating and so on, with little fear that their private expressions shall be viewed and then confirmed by another humanoid. Quite simply put: They are ignored.

I’m quickly learning that although there are crossovers between London and New York living, the rules are essentially different in the former. Actually, when I first moved to London, I found the cultural learning curve quite flat — compared to my move to Amsterdam. London, like New York, is highly populated (7.8 million, I believe) and of course a very sophisticated, international city. Londoners are busy, busy, busy and that’s a good thing.

People are generally not too needy but rather independent. There’s a group social dynamic, but because everyone is preoccupied with juggling the many facets of London life, adjustment (for a international city-dweller like myself) is fluid…save for one social no-no I have inadvertently engaged in time and again.

Although stiff upper lips abound around these parts, I have found the aforementioned “personal bubble” to be, generally speaking, absent (save for during Rush Hours on the Tube). However, any externalization of emotion — through sighs, furrowed brows, and general visual signs of frustration, sadness, anger, etc. — seems to be frowned upon, figuratively if not literally, as that would be engaging in said no-no. Such gestures are also called out.

Sometimes this can be heart-warming. You’re having ‘one of those days’. Soaking wet from a windy rain. You have an asthma attack whilst chasing a bus. Its doors close in your face, the driver grins wickedly and peels out. You’re soaking wet, have ripped your stockings and finally, wheezing like an old man, you manage to hobble onto another bus when an ornery driver berates you for swiping your Oyster card when the machine is broken.

That final straw, along with hormones, drive you to tears. Then, a kind stranger leans in and says, “The bus driver was quite rude. Are you ok?” You have no desire to engage as the combination of your tears and mascara have transformed you into ‘The Crow’ but you’re thankful for his concern, nevertheless.

On other days, the lack of ‘bubble’ feels intrusive. Your computer has randomly sent out multiple emails to the same people transforming you into a spammer in the eyes of esteemed colleagues. It crashes. You spend three hours waiting in the Apple store only to hear ‘iCan’t’ (fix your laptop). Downtrodden, you shuffle home, slumped over, exhaling as you think of ways to erase the day’s events when a complete stranger looks you in the eyes and blurts out, “Cheer up mate, it might never happen.” He means no harm but his scant few words have externalised and validated your internal worries.

Then there are the times when someone has shoved you and stepped on your foot, without so much as an ‘excuse me.’ A verbal, “ouch!” is your regrettable knee-jerk reaction. At that point, you’ve invited someone to step inside your bubble and proverbially stomp around with careless abandon in Doctor Martin boots. You will be confronted, and firmly reprimanded, as I discovered: ‘What are you complaining about? It was as much your fault as it was mine’!

Curious and perplexed by these and other confrontations in such a mannered albeit highly populated metropolitan centre, I asked some of my English friends for illumination. They all seemed to concur that this behaviour relates to the ubiquitous ‘stiff upper lip’ philosophy. The idea of expressing displeasure through facial gestures would be the opposite of holding it together, I learned. What was easily ignorable in New York, displays as a neon light festooned billboard in London–especially for someone like me whose face betrays her emotions.

As someone who was born in London but has moved about from Hong Kong to LA to New York to Amsterdam, I’ve spent my life studying cultures and analysing how my behaviours are received in them. I try to adapt as much as I can without being dishonest about my quirks and God-given flaws.

So, I wouldn’t say that this essay amounts to a gripe or a public complaint, but rather an attempt to understand it for myself. But I suppose it’s quite the opposite of keeping a stiff upper lip. Instead, mass-blogging about my take on such social mores is quite simply the literary equivalent of furrowing my brow and expelling air.

U.K. Meets LA Via David Hockney’s Brushstrokes

David Hockney a Bigger Picture London Los Angeles

London becomes another city when it’s sunny out. All the grim, pale facades that once were, in the overcast light become sanguine, hopeful, and full of new life. That could be said of any city but I feel that London–and England for that matter as well– is particularly prone to pulling a meteorologically-induced Jekyll and Hyde of the positive variety.

Few creators have been able to accurately capture Britain’s ‘other side’ as well as David Hockney. Perhaps this is due to the fact that he spent all those years in sunny LA. I have often imagined a hybrid city London-LA (or LoLA) and how perfect it would be with its uplifting, balmy weather, magnificent architecture and cultural contributions.

As a LoLA denizen myself, I was particularly looking forward to seeing the David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. It’s sold out and I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews.

Hoards of slow ambling salt and pepper headed visitors filled up the galleries on my visit–Hockney is, after all, their generational emblem of creativity. Yet, even though the space was cramped and packed, the exhibit delivered on its inherent promise to depict both the scale and depth of Hockney’s work–largely his country lane and tree paintings.

Truthfully, I was really only familiar with the vintage LA stuff–the pools, Hollywood Hills homes, etc. So experiencing (and that is the word when you’re dealing with pieces of this scale) the work was phenomenal.

The best view in the space beckons as you enter the first sparsely populated, modest exhibition hall of open-space tree paintings. If you peer through to one of the back galleries you get a perfectly pulled-back vista of one of the largest tree paintings that occupies an entire massive wall.

The rustic country lane paintings made me nostalgic for California road trips. They were rich in vibrant colours and promise (as a road trip is). I read a placard that named some of the works including a piece called ‘Nichols Canyon’ (which is just a stone’s throw away from my LA home). So of course I felt a sense of nostalgia and closeness to the work. Imagine my surprise when I inched closer to a particular piece that recalled Central California and saw that it was not California or the States but the English countryside.

Sense of place, memory, seasonal shifts, geographic markers–all of these things seem to blur in the works of the show–into the realm of the universal.

Some of my favourite paintings were small and hung side by side (clusters of many) on a massive wall. More ‘tree tunnels,’ country lanes and such. In all of them, a common thread: that distant point that he’s manoeuvring your eye towards. It’s very Jungian, archetypal and profoundly magical.

Despite the fact that most of the show was centred on these natural pieces, towards the end of the exhibition there were a few paintings of ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ that had a dreamlike feeling to them…Something archetypal, a shared memory in the consciousness of all, a past life becoming present…

[The exhibition runs through the 9th of April]

5 Designer Hotels of the Moment

1. Jade Jagger/Baglioni, Marrakech

Jade Jagger Designed Baglioni Marrakech Hotel
With a clothing boutique in London’s chic and always quirky Notting Hill, and a dad with moves like… well, you get the picture, Jade Jagger has her finger on the pulse. Add to that the fact that she’s the designer on the Baglioni Marrakech Hotel (2013), and the future is bright for the talented creator.

2. The Armani Hotel, Milan

Armani Hotel Italy

Armani and Milano go together like fric and frac (or fric and fashion). The Northern Italian city was the perfect location for a hotel by the legendary fashion house, the much-buzzed Armani Hotel. The look is masculine and subdued. The furnishings are from Armani Casa’s home collection. And, according to a New York Times scribe, even the Q-Tips are chic–black and a whopping six inches long (but don’t get any inappropriate thoughts).

3. Missoni Hotel, Antalya, Turkey

Missoni Hotel Turkey

The flamboyant stripey look is unmistakable: Missoni. Imagine an entire hotel decked out in that style. Antalya, Turkey (a.k.a. The Turkish Riviera) will get a taste of Italian chic in 2013 when it becomes home to the Hotel Missoni Belek Antalya. But forget all that fashion house fluff, what I’m most excited about is the 18-hole golf course designed by Swedish golf champ Annika Sörenstam.

4. Bulgari Hotel, London

Bulgari Hotel London

Founded in 1884, Bulgari has been a mainstay in the high-end jewelry, watch and accessory sphere for well over a century. Now, the Italian company is ready for its close-up, 2012 Olympics style. Just in time for the festivities, the hotel will open its doors in a London West End fashion hub: Knightsbridge.

5. Martin Margiela/Maison des Champs Elysées

Martin Margiela Maison Champs Elysees Hotel Paris

I’ve saved the best–or at least my favourite–for last: Belgian designer Martin Margiela’s epic and jaw-dropping Maison des Champs Elysées in the City of Light. The structure dates back to 1864 when it was the home of Princess d’Essing, Duchess of Rivoli. It marries the best of classical style with sparklingly spartan Post Modern splendour. A ‘oui,’ in my book.

Base 2 Stay in London’s South Kensington

HOTEL EXPERIENCES

Hotel Experience:
When the places you stay at are pivotal to your travel experience–be it by virtue of a uniquely artistic design, a special location, in-house events or unusual services that offer extra insight into the city or town you’re visiting

Base 2 Stay Hotel in London's Kensington

Hotel Photos: Base2Stay

A Lower-Cost Gem in Posh South Kensington

By Shana Ting Lipton

Don’t let the space-age name fool you. Base2stay is not some sci-fi pod dwelling geared towards contemporary Blade Runners. What it is is a tasteful, chic and central so-called budget hotel for London visitors not keen on battling crowds and notoriously high Central London accommodation costs.

I might put it in my ‘more caché than cash’ category, however, it’s not a dirt cheap budget hotel by any stretch of the imagination either.

If you like your hotels non-hotely, this place is for you. In other words, if you like to experience the sensation of what it might be like to actually live in Kensington (who wouldn’t?), base2stay will appeal.

Instead of returning from a day of city-touring to a busy hotel lobby with an adjacent mega-priced touristy restaurant, you return to a pretty little townhouse in a quiet mostly residential area. You get buzzed in, and when you enter, the small reception area is tucked away to the left. Straight ahead, a flight of stairs beckons.

My double-twin room was nicely sized. It had rather high ceilings and a spectacular view. One of the windows looked out onto a small, charming building across the street; the other onto a private garden (which most romantically inclined Americans would associate with the film Notting Hill).

Base 2 Stay Hotel in London's Kensington

The decor is clean, contemporary and bright–nothing too artsy and outrageous, but there are definite chic undertones.

Technically considered an ‘aparthotel,’ base2stay boasts a compact, hidden kitchenette in each room which includes a sink, refrigerator, microwave and shelves filled with dishes–which is perfect since, as mentioned earlier, there is no restaurant on-site. They do make up for the latter by offering 10-30% discounts at local neighborhood eateries though.

There is a wireless keyboard by the TV screen in each room and free Internet usage (there is a small charge for unlimited downloads via broadband). Most people will probably find the free wi-fi the most practical. The latter is a bit slow at times; then again whose wi-fi isn’t?

And if you’re eco-conscious, you’ll be pleased to hear that this is also a certified green hotel.

The location is damn near unbeatable. As I mentioned, you’re smack dab in the middle of a very pretty (especially when the flowers are in bloom in Spring and Summer) largely residential block in Kensington. The Earl’s Court and Gloucester Road tube stations are roughly equidistant from the hotel. And it’s about a seven minute walk from some great Spanish tapas spots on Old Brompton Road.

In summary, base2stay delivers on the promise implied by its name. I enjoyed daily walks around the lush gardens of lovely Kensington, only to return to a charming and oh-so-civilized home base.

Base2stay
25 Courtfield Gardens
London
SW5 0PG

More Hotel Experiences:

London: The Best Seats in the House

LIVING ABROAD

London Double Decker Buses United Kingdom

With Thomas Heatherwick’s new London buses being introduced this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about buses and public transportation in general.

Despite the fact that I’ve lived in ‘public transport’-friendly cities like New York and Amsterdam, on some level my LA-ness will always bring a certain distaste for it to the surface… The slowness, the array of disturbing too-human odors, the proximity to People (with a capital ‘P’) and the lack of control are all concomitant with taking a bus or metro.

But there are precious rare times when magic (not ‘shit’) happens on public transport, like getting ‘the best seat in the house’ in a citywide sense.

For instance, on several occasions, I was en-route home from the office, when I discovered masses of irritated, stranded Londoners spilling out from the nearest Tube station (‘oh no, yet another snag in the Underground works’). So I was forced to hike up to the closest bus stop and wait for that familiar #7.

Seven is indeed a lucky number. That’s the bus that makes its way down Oxford Street, through Oxford Circus, into Marble Arch, Paddington, Westbourne Grove and then Notting Hill. Luckier still is finding the crème de la crème ‘balcony’ seats empty. You know the ones. On level two of the double-decker bus, front row centre.

So, shoes on railing, legs inappropriately scrunched up, head back, mp3 player blasting, I cruised down that nighttime stunner, Oxford Street, watching snapshots of beautiful London woosh by. I took in the Victorian details–mouldings and sculptures–that I would never have perceived from ‘down there.’ During the holidays, I found myself virtually at eye level with the festive lights and decorations hung high away from pedestrian sight lines.

Meanwhile, some ethereal, moody ’90s tune or other like ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis was my spacey, chillout soundtrack. As I jokingly said to one of my mates when she said she was opting to take the bus home, ‘Have fun thinking deeply about your life.’

It doesn’t get any better than this pensive and aesthetic journey… Sometimes it does get worse, when another passenger signals with their looming form, that they’d like to nab the seat next to mine (how dare they–I’m a season ticket holder!) Alas, I’ve mostly been lucky in this respect (long legs–the perfect ‘velvet rope’ so to speak).

Then there’s this moment when you almost forget that you’ve been inconvenienced by the tube closure. As the bus driver takes advantage of a few empty blocks to pick up speed, there’s a fleeting thrill…and a few seconds–just enough time to completely let go.

New London Double Decker Bus Design by Thomas Heatherwick

Thomas Heatherwick's New Routemaster London Bus

Read Other Expat Articles:
Single on de Singel: When I First Moved to Amsterdam
The Decision to Move Abroad: Feel the Thrill, Feel the Fear
From Accidental Tourist to Purposeful Resident: Impromptu Moves Abroad
The Love Affair With Place


Art Trekking: Top Contemporary Art Destinations Overseas

[This article was originally published on Huffington Post]

Rome has exquisite Renaissance artwork. Paris has the Musée d’Orsay. But where should art trekkers obsessed with street art, new contemporary art movements, and cool gallery scenes go when journeying overseas?

Here is a short list of a few cities overseas that are making waves with international art aficionados, or about to.

As with any list, there’s always room for more. I welcome readers’ tips and suggestions on edgy new art galleries, districts and movements throughout the globe.

Seoul
Seoul National Museum Korea
Korean contemporary art got a boon internationally in 2009 and 2010 with exhibits from LA to London and beyond.

In the latter, the Saatchi Gallery’s “Korean Eye: Moon Generation” show was so popular that it went on the road, from Singapore to Seoul in late 2010. It featured fantastic work by Bae Joon Sung and Kim Hyunsoo.

If you plan on visiting Seoul, stop by the gallery-dotted neighborhood of Samchong-dong, and discover tomorrow’s popular new artists for yourself.

London

Banksy Street Art in London England

As gentrified as London’s East End may be to die-hard hipsters, it’s still a great place to check out some better known artists in galleries like White Cube andWhitechapel.

It’s also the playground of street artists. In the latter category, an art trek to London isn’t complete without a visit to the Lazarides Gallery in SoHo (as in Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s right hand man) and The Outsiders–another Laz production in Soho as well.

Mumbai

Colaba Arts District in Mumbai India

There has been some really exciting art from Indian creators filtering into LA and New York in recent years–particularly work by women artists. This includes pieces by video artists like Anita Dube and mixed media artist Mithu Sen.

If you’re visiting Mumbai, you’ll want to check out the National Gallery of Modern Art. And don’t forgot to wander through the streets of Colaba, a hub for classic and contemporary art galleries like The Guild.

Beijing

Beijing 798 Art Space China
China’s explosion of contemporary art (much of it pop and cynical realism) a few years ago, ushered in loads of artiste imposters. Rumor had it that Chinese students were applying to art schools in droves with the intention of making money.

The initial frenzy may have died down but there is still some incredible new art to be found in Beijing–from private ateliers, to Art Scene Beijing, ShangART Gallery and MK2 Art Space. If you can’t make it out to Beijing, much of the art filters through Shanghai (see ShanghART’s gallery there too) and Hong Kong (galleries in the SoHo district).

Berlin
Kreuzberg Art Neighborhood in Berlin Germany
Berlin is a must-stop on any art trip. And if you happen to drop by in 2012, you just might catch the Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art–which has been running since the late ’90s.

If it’s graffiti and street art you’re after, Kreuzberg is your neighborhood. It’s not all great art, mind you. But if you’re up for the adventure, wandering the streets in Berlin’s former squat neighborhood can be an energizing and edgy experience.

Amsterdam

Art in Amsterdam Holland The Netherlands

The Dutch are pretty much synonymous with painting, at least on a historical level, via their Masters. There is plenty of classical art to see in Amsterdam by the Museumplein (home to the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum).

But Amsterdam’s contemporary mixed media work (video, installations, etc.) is the real draw for serious contemporary art travelers. The Stedelijk Bureau (a small contemporary project annex of the Stedelijk Museum), and the SMART Projects Space showcase such creations.

Moscow
Art in Moscow Russia

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art is an essential stop if you’re scouting art on your travels. But if you’re looking for top ‘name-brand’ galleries alongside edgy up-and-comers, look no further than theWinzavod Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art.

This industrialized art space/former winery is home to leading galleries like XL and M & J Guelman and new galleries like Meglinskaya which carries the work of Russian nonconformist and documentary photographers.

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