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What’s On in Warks: The Muddy Guide (Thurs March 16-Weds March 22)

If you like comics, photography, music, art and theatre there’s masses going on across Warwickshire this week…

Newsflash! Festival on the Close, Rugby School, Sat June 25-Thurs June 29

Super stylish: Laura Mvula

There’s an impressive line-up for this new arts and music festival celebrating the 450th Anniversary year of the founding of Rugby School. It includes Birmingham’s Mercury Music Award nominated  singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, Leamington-based UK contemporary dance company Motionhouse, G4 & Lesley Garrett, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis De Bernieres performing with the Bookshop Band & Caribbean poet John Agard. A limited number of tickets are available, so book soon!

Jean Painleve & Oliver Beer, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, March 15- June 4

This first UK solo exhibition of work by the surrealist French filmmaker and photographer, who began making ‘micro-cinema’ in 1927, looks fascinating. His close-up portraits of marine life from seahorses to lobsters, vampire bats, skeleton shrimps, fan worms and starfish, won the respect of avant-garde artists in 1920s Paris including Luis Brunel, Man Ray and US sculptor Alexander Calder. The exhibition presents films, photographs, experimental music and even seaside inspired jewellery, exemplifying Painlevé’s passion for making science accessible.

Silence is Golden by Oliver Beer. Three glass spheres each containing an actual-size gold replica of the middle ear, either the hammer, the stirrup or the anvil.

Also showing is the most comprehensive exhibition of up-to-date work by the British artist Oliver Beer, a graduate from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. It features film, sculptures and a new video piece Reanimation (Wanna Be Like You) commissioned by Ikon, a ‘re-animation’ of a scene from Walt Disney’s Jungle Book comprising of drawings by 2,500 local children. A number of Oliver’s recent works are idiosyncratic musical instruments as installations. One of his videos Mum’s Continuous Note (2013) is a touching portrait of the artist’s mother. Free.

Camille O’Sullivan: The Carny Dream, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat March 18

French-Irish architect turned chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan from Passage West, Co Cork enjoys a formidable international reputation for her intensely dramatic interpretations of the songs of Brel, Cave, Waits, Bowie and Nick Cave. Her new critically acclaimed show The Carny Dream has a circus theme and is performed in a mirrored Spiegeltent. Expect some Radiohead and a love letter to Bowie…7.30pm

Creating The Countryside, Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, near Warwick, Sat March 18-Sun June 18 2017

Anna Fox and Alison Goldfrapp, Untitled, featured in Compton Verney’s new Creating the Countryside exhibition

Check out those Muddy Stilettos! See how British artists, whose work spans more than 350 years, have shaped the way we think about rural life and offered a new perspective on the countryside. The idealised visions of Old Masters such as Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, George Stubbs and Stanley Spencer are contrasted by the works of cool contemporary artists including the likes of Anna Fox, Mat Collishaw, Sigrid Holmwood and Grayson Perry.

The Photography Show, NEC, Sat March 18-Tue March 21

More than 100 experts will take to the stage at the UK’s biggest photography show including internationally renowned photographers Sebastião Salgado, Albert Watson, Nadav Kander, Jill Furmanovsky, Frans Lanting, Alex Webb, Clive Arrowsmith, David Alan Harvey, Julia Fullerton-Batten & Louis Cole (of Fun for Louis) who will share their stories of their celebrated careers, to date. Other highlights include:

  • a new Virtual Reality & 360° Theatre and Video Theatre show areas, a Mobile & Social Stage and enhanced Drone Zone, exploring the latest technology in photography.
  • The winner of this year’s Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition will be announced Live on Stage on Saturday.
  • Live photo shoots. Hear how photographers from all genres captured some of their best shots.
  •  The People’s Gallery – will host the images of 76 UK photographers covering the theme of CHAOS & CALM and a programme of talks & seminars for all levels of photographer – students, beginners, amateur, turning pro and pro.

Book now! Lloyd Cole: Playing the Classic Songbook 1983-1996, Leamington Assembly, Thurs March 23

Don’t think I can resist this…Lost Weekend, Perfect Skin, Brand New Friend and Rattlesnakes form part of the soundtrack to my youth. Feeling nostalgic just writing and reminiscing on YouTube (still sounds great – all those jangly guitars, fiddles and slightly mournful, sarky humour). This was his black turtle-neck Bohemian look back in the day…

We Built This City, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, until May 28

I love this photo! Great title too. Why not celebrate St Patrick’s Day by finding out the story of how the Irish community helped shape Birmingham and its identity in this newly opened community exhibition. Irish labourers and navvies worked on constructing major sites from Spaghetti Junction to The Rotunda. Birmingham’s Irish Association have been collecting oral histories, objects and images to create an exhibition that brings the Irish contribution to life. Free.

 Shoot Festival, B2, The Belgrade Theatre & Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, Sat March 18

Kinfolk Collective

For its third year running, Shoot Festival has curated an eclectic programme celebrating emerging talent from across Coventry and Warwickshire. A triple bill of performances from previous Shoot Festival winners on Fri March 17 in B2 at The Belgrade includes storyteller Susie Sillett with Sleepless Dreams; Physical theatre company Kinfolk Collective performing Beat & Wolf and husband-and-wife duo Glow fusing traditional storytelling and digital media in Letters from the Front (Tickets – £10). And on Sat 18 March Shoot Festival presents The Performance Programme at Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre as well as The Sound Stage in Shelton Square. Performers include The Bootleg Puppets, Steven Ferguson and The Rude Mechanicals, plus family workshops.;

Method in the Madness: Understanding Ourselves, Then and Now, Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon, from Sat March 18

Photo: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust & Stewart Writtle.

Colourful samples of wee and some rather gruesome looking medical instruments, including replica surgical tools such as an amputation saw, form part of this new exhibition at Hall’s Croft the home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna.   It explores the medical ideas and practices in the life-time of Shakespeare’s son-in-law Dr John Hall and drawing comparison to modern-day medicine. Throughout his time in Stratford, John Hall kept detailed notes of 178 of his medical cases. It provides a wealth of insight into both his own practice and wider medical theories of the time. The exhibition also features a range of objects from the 1500s and 1600s including a syringe, a urine flask and a drug jar.

MCM Comic Con, NEC Birmingham, Sat March 18 and Sun March 19

It’s a busy couple of weeks over at the NEC. Last weekend it was full of dog-lovers for Crufts; this weekend it’s photography and comic geeks…MCM Comic Com is packed full of celebrities from Dr Who and Penny Dreadful actress Billie Piper to Sherlock’s Louise Brealey, Hooten & The Lady actor Michael Landes, comedian Keith Lemon and the original stars of 70s cop show Starky and Hutch. If films, comics, sci-fi, gaming, anime or cosplay are your thing, you won’t want to miss out and kids go free too – bonus!


Don Juan In Soho, Wyndham Theatre, London, Fri March 17-June 10

Photo: Helen Maybanks

Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho (DJIS) is no other than David Tennant, who’s currently in ITV thriller Broadchurch after touring the galaxies as the Doctor. He’s also played Hamlet and Richard II at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon (where he’s an Associate Artist). Loosely based on Molière’s Don Juan, this modern update is set in contemporary London.  The story follows the last 36 hours of its seductive protagonist – a cruel charmer who lives only for pleasure. A comedy and a tragedy, this is the play’s West End première. Looks pretty bawdy if the rehearsal photos are anything to go by. Over 16s only.

DonJuanInSoho Box office: 0844 482 5120

Gillian Wearing & Claude Cahun, National Portrait Gallery, until MonMay 29

Self-portrait of me now in a mask by Gillian Wearing, 2011; Collection Mario Testino © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York;

I once got mistaken for Gillian Wearing in my late 20s while covering a Young Achievers Award press event at Buckingham Palace for my newspaper. I hadn’t achieved anything much of note, but was there with three amazing young achievers from Cardiff. I’ve been intrigued by her work ever since… Behind the Mask brings together the work of surrealist French artist Claude Cahun and Turner prize-winner Gillian Wearing. Although they were born almost 70 years apart and came from different backgrounds, both artists share a fascination with self-portraits and photography. Claude who lived in the 1930s and 40s liked putting on disguises, assuming male identities and taking self-portraits; Gillian creates portraits of herself as other people including her brother, and her ideal self, using masks.



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