Art / Exhibitions

Shakespeare: Staging the world

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For those interested in such things, a minor spat has broken out among some of Britain's best known thespians about whether Will Shakespeare of Stratford was, in fact, the author of the plays attributed to him.

So this exhibition at the British Musuem seems timely. Visitors are invited to walk through a series of themed rooms which explore the relationship between the plays and the world that Shakespeare would have known. Specially commissioned videos of well-known actors performing Shakespearean soliloquies are interspersed among the swords, maps, paintings, bear skulls, witches' charms and other renaissance relics.

Although at £14 it's a bit expensive for those without British Museum membership, there is plenty to enjoy here.

The End of Oil

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Edward Burtynsky says that the main aim of his work is to depict nature transformed through industry. Over a long career he has photographed mines, quarries, scrapyards, shipyards, recycling yards, refineries, oil fields and oil spills, factories and urban landscapes.

Through these images he attempts to show us places that are outside most people's normal experience, but whose output is central to our daily lives. These landscapes are often scarred and damaged by industrial development - but Burtynsky's photographs are often hauntingly beautiful.

Summer of culture

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Our round-up of some of this summer's cultural highlights

Total Recall
Out 3 August

The 1990 film adaptation of Philip K Dick's short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as forgetful fugitive Douglas Quaid, was a huge hit.

This reboot of Total Recall stars Colin Farrell and will try to put some of the political punch back into Dick's sci-fi romp.

Writing Britain

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An attempt to convey the essence, as the author perceives it, of a particular time and location is often central to literature. This has arguably become more important in the last 200 hundred years, as writers have attempted to memorialise places that are being rapidly transformed by industrialisation.

So Wordsworth's beloved Lake District is punctured by Blake's dark satanic mills; for George Eliot's provincial characters the railways are a thrilling but threatening herald of progress; from a train carriage in Edward Thomas's well-known poem "Adlestrop", the serenity of an English village seems complete - but the horror of an industrial world war is just round the corner.

Willie Doherty

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Matt's Gallery, Mile End, London

This new exhibition at Matt's Gallery in east London shows rarely exhibited photographs from artist Willie Doherty from between 1985 and 1992.

The work began in a period when the Irish Republican movement was entering into political negotiations with the British government over the future of Northern Ireland. The images offer us a glimpse into this process, contrasting the simple black and white photographs with short bites of text - "undercover", "unseen", "protecting", "invading" - creating tension for the viewer.

Jerwood Gallery

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The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings opened its doors in March. On the edge of the historic fishing beach, this has been a controversial project. Jerwood paid the borough council nothing for the site and is exempted from council tax. Hopes for free entry were dashed when the gallery announced charges of £7 for the general public, £2 for locals.

Clad in dark ceramic tiles intended to mirror the black of their iconic neighbours, it remains to be seen how their gleam will withstand the onslaught of seagull droppings.

Picasso and Modern British Art

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Tate Britain, London

This new exhibition at Tate Britain aims to consider the relationship between Picasso and British art. Picasso is displayed alongside prominent British artists spanning three generations who either worked with Picasso or were influenced by his later work.

Guernica, Picasso's famous painting created in response to the bombing of Guernica in the Basque Country by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish Civil War, memorably shows the pain and suffering that modern war creates, especially that of civilians.


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Tate Britain

Migrations is an exhibition that demonstrates the profound effect migration has had in shaping the course of British art history, showing the changing styles, trends and mediums. Paintings, video and sculpture are placed side by side to give a broad vision of this history. One of the first images in the exhibition is An English Family at Tea (Joseph van Aken, circa 1720). The faces of the subjects stare vacantly - sitters in an age when art was commissioned by the rich, to be enjoyed by them alone.

Social Fabric

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Iniva, Rivington Place

It is somehow fitting, given the subject matter of this very good exhibition, that it is housed in Rivington Place which is located in the heart of the now fashionable and expensive lanes of Shoreditch in East London, once home to numerous factories, workshops, breweries and working class houses that supplied much of the capital's furniture and building trades.


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