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Five Good Things: what to taste, see and do this February

It may be the shortest month, but there’s no dearth of delights to see you through these frosty February days

Five Good Things: what to taste, see and do this February

Kusama and Dinner, Tate Modern, selected Fridays and Saturdays in February (and beyond)

Fancy a slice of tart with your art? Carrying on the success of its January evenings, this month Tate Modern invites you not just to experience two of Yayoi Kusama’s mesmerising ‘mirror rooms’, but to dine out on the experience afterwards – quite literally.

For £65 (or £55 if you’re a member), you can revel in the dizzying joy of the Japanese artist’s Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life and Chandelier of Grief before heading for a three-course lunch in the kitchen and bar. February’s menu includes trout tataki with ponzu and ginger dressing, teriyaki-roasted aubergine with shimeji mushrooms and spinach, and miso chocolate mousse with yuzu purée, all washed down with a tea-based cocktail or citrussy IPA. Even without a bit of Kusama before, that sounds spot on. (And, if you like the sound of it but find your palette’s a dab more painterly, you can always consider A Taste of Cezanne instead.)

For details and to book, visit Tate’s website.

Out of the Ordinary’, Sworders, 7 February

Trust Sworders to come up with the goods for its ‘Out of the Ordinary’ auction, which every year puts a reliably diverse mix of curiosities, collectables, art and antiquities under the hammer. This is a sale for aesthetes and eccentrics alike, featuring such exotic and exciting treasures as a miniature model of the Taj Mahal, a so-called ‘sorcerer’s mirror’ and, er, a Victorian taxidermy baby crocodile reading a book. Of course.

The 2023 iteration, on 7 February, sees the inclusion of Gary Pyper’s cache. The toy inventor and collector, who started in the antiques trade in the 1990s, has always had a soft spot for surprising things. “The more unexpected the discovery, the more rewarding they are,” he says of the pieces he’s selling, many of which were “found by scouring local flea markets by torchlight, or simply by following up on a random conversation with a stranger”. Expect the likes of miners’ helmets, a carrier-pigeon message written in code during the Boer War and a 5,000-year-old ‘eye’ idol from the ancient Syrian city of Tell Brak (shown). Paddles at the ready.

For details, visit the Sworders website.

The Feast of the Beekeepers, Bocca di Lupo, 10-14 February

With the welcome conclusion of January’s asceticism, we’re greedily, giddily thrilled to hear of Bocca di Lupo’s sweet-sounding seasonal menu, running 10-14 February. Chocolate-dipped strawberries? Move over. The Soho trattoria is instead conjuring its usual regional Italian delights, but with a nectarous twist: inspired by St Valentine (patron of beekeepers, don’t cha know), there’ll be honeyed pecorino risotto, pork chops and Piedmontesi bruschetti with glossy lardo, as well as honey-infused cocktails and more.

Faced with a menu of such mellifluent magic, it’s nigh on impossible to know what to order (though the fried pastries stuffed with cheese and lemon zest, drenched with Sardinia’s bitter corbezzolo honey, do sound tempting). One thing’s for certain, however: we’re absolutely buzzing.

To book, visit Bocca di Lupo’s website.

Alice Neel: Hot off the Griddle’, Barbican Art Gallery, 16 February-21 May

“I may have done a few abstractions in my time and I could have done more except that I have this obsession with life,” Alice Neel once said in an interview. It’s this obsession that seems to define a new show of the late American artist’s work at Barbican, Hot off the Griddle. The largest in the UK to date, it’s populated by her powerful portraits of those on the margins, from civil-rights activists and queer performers to Black and Puerto Rican children.

Honest, tender and at times disquieting, the 70 or so works of Neel’s on show prove why this “collector of souls” gained such a cult following in her lifetime, despite never conforming to the taste at the time for non-figurative painting. The exhibition runs 16 February to 21 May. Don’t miss it.

For details and to book, visit Barbican’s website.

Shown: Alice Neel, Abdul Rahman, 1964. © The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy The Estate of Alice Neel

Saturday Sketch Club: online experimental drawing workshop, The Royal Academy of Arts, 18 February

What was your new year’s resolution? Test your boundaries? Try something new? Be more creative? If you answered yes to any of these, we implore you to sign up for at least one of the Royal Academy’s monthly artist-hosted drawing workshops, Saturday Sketch Club, the next of which takes place on 18 February.

Led by abstract painter Emyr Williams, this online drawing lesson focuses on experimental life drawing. As well as teaching students the fundamentals – form, proportion, structure – Emyr will help build their confidence, encouraging participants to focus on their response to models, rather than the inspiration-crushing worry of ‘getting it right’.

All you’ll need for this class is a pencil, some paper and a rubber – and to book, which you can do by visiting the RA’s website.

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