Siobhan Brown

Things to look out for in 2014

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Jeremy Deller's English Magic, part of the British Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, is touring in 2014. It includes We Sit Starving Together Amidst Our Gold, Deller's protest at the meddling of big business in art. In January the exhibition starts its UK tour at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow before visiting the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Women at Work and Sylvia Pankhurst

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Tate Britain
Both until 23 March

Tate Britain reopened in November. The oldest part of the building has been restored, combining some of its most architecturally impressive parts with new elements. New learning studios and archive space follow the opening in May of new galleries to display "the best of British art."

£45 million has been spent on the overhaul and it's clear that a lot of the cash has come from big business. One space has been named the Sackler Octagon, while rooms that focus on particular artists or themes are given to us by BP.

The Selfish Giant

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Director Clio Barnard

The Selfish Giant is inspired by Oscar Wilde's story for children of the same name. The story follows two 14 year old boys, Swifty (played by Shaun Thomas) and Arbor (Conner Chapman), excluded from school, neglected by the authorities and living in poverty on Bradford's Buttershaw Estate.

The Amen Corner

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The Amen Corner, the first play by the celebrated black writer and activist James Baldwin, is revived at the National Theatre in this moving, musical and charming production. Inspired by Baldwin's own early life as a teenage preacher, it provides a snapshot of 1950s Harlem, exploring poverty, loss, love and religion.

The "corner" itself is a neighbourhood Pentecostal church, led by the passionate Sister Margaret. At first she is a much-liked local pastor but soon there is anger among the congregation.

It soon transpires that Maggie's story is not quite what it seems. She has walked out on her drunken husband Luke to establish the church. When Luke returns and Daniel, Maggie's teenage son, reveals his desire to break out of church conformity and poverty to follow in the footsteps of his jazz musician father, her world begins to fall apart.

Why Read The Civil War in France?

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The Paris Commune of 1871 was the result of the world's first working class revolution. It survived for only two months but it was the most democratic and liberating government the world had seen up till that point. It offered a glimpse of a model of democracy that goes beyond the limited parliamentary democracy which is the best we can expect under capitalism.

Marx did not pluck a theory of what real democracy would look like from thin air - he learnt it from the concrete example of the Paris Commune. The Civil War in France, a pamphlet based on speeches to the First International, was written by Marx in 1871. It is both an impressive, succinct history of the Paris Commune and a powerful polemic against capitalism.

William Morris's socialism

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For many, William Morris is best known as a designer and artist - his patterns turned into wallpapers, his drawings into beautiful yet functional furniture.

But Morris was much more than just a craftsman: he was a poet, storyteller and socialist. For Morris, art was essential to a fulfilling life and he was angered by the poverty, environmental pollution and terrible working conditions of Victorian life.

Women and revolution

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International Women's Day, 8 March, was established by socialists to celebrate the struggles of working class women. We look at how the fight for women's liberation and revolution has gone hand in hand with three great revolutions - in Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936-37 and Egypt today


Egypt 2011-2012

Socialist Review spoke to Dalia Mostafa about the role of women in the revolution in Egypt today

All Work and Low Pay

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Using collections from the Women's Library and strengthened by material from the TUC, this exhibition attempts to cover 150 years of work performed by women and, in part, their resistance.

Its message - that women's work is consistently undervalued and underpaid - is well communicated throughout but it plays it safe in too many places to be particularly challenging.

The first few cases address the variety of work that women do or have done in recent history, and run from teaching and nursing to laundry and admin. A glass case covering the whole of one wall displays objects representing this whole range of work, although with so little space for the exhibition and so much to cover, having the objects on their own with such little information seems a waste.

Class and Gender in British Labour History

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Mary Davis (ed)

This is a varied collection of essays, interesting for the most part, covering women's involvement in the British labour movement.

The essays cover a diverse geographical area, with the focus moving away from London to discuss women's trade unionism in areas such as Bradford, Leeds and Scotland. Its content also covers an extended time period, from Bradford weavers of the 1820s to the Leeds clothing workers of the 1970s, providing a broad assessment.

Victory Street

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by Rebecca Manley (based on original novel by Richard McSween)

Opening somewhat eerily as the ensemble go slowly around the stage moving props from one side to the other, with two televisions buzzing, I was worried that this adaptation of Richard MacSween's book might suffer from a lack of sensitivity that stylised theatre sometimes falls into. It was the combination of ensemble pieces like these and the interaction between the characters throughout the play that, in fact, contributed towards making the performance unique.

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