The Art Insider: February '17


This image: Spillikin at Cambridge Junction

Ruthie Collins gives you the lowdown on arty happenings around Cambridge in February

Paris, I believe, is a man in his 20s in love with an older woman,’ said the brilliant art critic John Berger, who sadly passed away recently. Love has long been the fascination of writers and artists, and this month there is no escaping it! Cambridge in February brings with it the beginnings of spring, light and new life. 

Lovers of light will adore the city’s light festival, e-Luminate, which opens on 10 February this year, bringing five days of light art all over the city. It’s grown into a big, bold, glossy festival, dazzling the world with Cambridge’s forward-thinking technology and culture; its theme this year is ‘Play’.

Alessandra Caggiano, director of e-Luminate, says, “On our launch night, you can enjoy an uplifting, feel good concert at the Corn Exchange. We are so pleased to have New York dancer Giorgia Bova, along with jazz pianist Andrea Manzoni, plus the wonderful collective We Are Sound taking us on a multi-sensory journey from dark to light. At our night market on 10 February, shop at the twinkling market stalls for a special gift for Valentine’s Day and enjoy a romantic stroll around our beautiful city. With around 15 installations and projections to see, it’s perfect for a date night on a budget.”

We all love a night market! You’re sure to see plenty of familiar faces there, or meet interesting, creative folks if you’re new to the city. Check #lovelight17 on Twitter to know more.

Valentine’s couples or those sick of the whole darn thing and seeking solitude, explore Green Rooms, a new arts hotel in Wood Green, London. It’s a four-storey 20s art deco building that’s been converted into an affordable hotel for artists visiting the capital. One of Cambridge’s best-loved artists, performance-maker Hugh Chapman, is now the Green Rooms’ arts programmer.

He’ll be programming a series of creative salons throughout 2017 and is always on the lookout for talent to come and do interesting things there. Drop him a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"Our founder Nick Hartwright always says it’s classier than a hostel, but more hearty than a chain hotel,” Hugh tells me. “Part of my role is bringing together a creative community around the building. There’s a sense of love and warmth here; it’s a special building and there’s a real openness to what we’re doing.”

Simple yet stylish rooms from £24 a night, with a 12% discount for artists, make this a fabulous getaway. From choreographers and designers to musicians, writers or visual artists, all creative practitioners are welcome.

“It’s not really about a strict service-client relationship; though that’s there, there’s more scope for people to get involved in the life of the building,” Hugh says. “It’s a real oasis of love for the arts.” Check

Those seeking a love story with a twist, check out Spillikin on 15 February at Cambridge Junction. Lead female character Sally has Alzheimer’s and loves Debbie Harry. Her passed-away partner, Raymond, has created her a lifelong companion, a robot (this concept has me, hands down – brilliant). With rave reviews, this production from Pipeline Theatre is definitely one to watch. Look out for the post-performance Q & A, where you get the chance to meet the state-of-the-art robot, too. 

Utopian dreamers (if there are any left after an apocalyptic 2016), will love Plan B For Utopia at Cambridge Junction on 22 February. What role does creativity and imagination have in our personal lives? How can we stay positive, after disenchantment, failed relationships and loss? Go for a blissful dose of honest, ‘thought-provoking’ (The Stage) contemporary dance.  

"There's a sense of love and warmth. It's a special building"

If you haven’t been to Cambridge Junction yet, try their Season Launch: Spring 2017 event on 9 February, with taster offerings from the likes of the Neon Moon Burlesque and Cabaret club – a creative tour de force.

Families are in for a treat over in Saffron Walden with a family concert from resident orchestra Britten Sinfonia, inspired by Ed Vere’s picture book Max the Brave. On 18 February, there are two performances, at 2pm and 4pm at Saffron Hall. This fantastic, critically acclaimed space is a relatively new offering for our region’s cultural circuit (it opened in 2013) and hosts all sorts of fun for families, from drumming workshops at their Family Sundays, to singing sessions. Check out

Finally, if you are still getting irate over Valentine’s Day, try embracing the spirit of love and treating it as a chance to share or give to others in a creative way. Write a poem. Make a collage. Share the love. As Stephen Hawking pointed out in that piece for The Guardian last December where we were all happily informed that this is currently the most dangerous time for humanity, ‘we are going to have to learn to share.’ Enjoy your February, all.