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The fun stuff to do in Warwickshire & beyond this July…

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney Art Gallery, Sat July 8-Oct 1

Muddy Warwickshire’s 2017 Award-winning Art Gallery, Compton Verney, is taking visitors on an eye-popping journey this summer  – looking at how our visual perceptions have been explored by artists. This fascinating show takes an in-depth look at the ‘Op art’ phenomenon.  Short for ‘Optical art’, this art form uses pattern and colour to create bizarre optical effects.  This must-see exhibition traces how the Op art movement developed from the famous French post-impressionist Seurat via M C Escher to Bridget  Riley and her contemporaries, and demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op art can be.,

Warwick Folk Festival, Warwick School and town, Thurs July 27-Sun July 30

Award-winning Irish folk band Goitse

The 2017 line-up for the 38th Warwick Folk Festival includes the likes of veteran folkies Oysterband, Award-winning Scottish singer Barbara Dickson who will be the headline act on Sunday July 30, the uniquely entertaining Australian The Spooky Men’s Chorale, award-winning Goitse from Ireland, DJ Andy Kershaw and Gaelica from Venezuela. Circus skills, storytelling, theatre, crafts and even star-gazing for kids. Plus, the first folk-comedy night. Also expect ceilidhs, workshops, a Craft & Music Fair and a Wine and Cocktail Bar. There’s a free festival shuttle bus, a family-friendly school camping site and indoor swimming pool.

Warwick School, Warwick,

Titus Andronicus, RST, Stratford, runs until Sept 2

Easily shocked? The next instalment in the RSC’s Rome series is this chilling modern dress version of Shakespeare’s most gory tragedy, starring David Troughton in the title role and directed by Blanche McIntyre is not for the fain-hearted. There have already been a fair few “fainters”. Reviews are now in.

Meg Rose Jewellery exhibition, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, ongoing

Elegant and wearable hand-made designs by the very talented Leamington Spa jewellery maker Jess Clarke – a Muddy Award finalist – are on show over the summer months. Inspired by the English countryside, the North Norfolk coast and childhood fairy tales, her individual pieces are made using gold vermeil, sterling silver, hand dyed silk cords, gemstones and pearls. She will also have a stall in the artist’s village at Leamington’s Art in the Park on Sat Aug 5 & Sun Aug 6 in Jephson Gardens.

Un-silencing the Library, Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, nr Kineton

If you’re checking out the new summer exhibition Seurat to Riley why not pop into the reimagined Victorian Women’s Library.  Georgiana Verney, wife of the reclusive 17th Lord Willoughby de Broke, was an enthusiastic champion of women’s reading and women’s suffrage. This reinterpretation of her 1860s library – a groundbreaking collaboration with Oxford University  – invites you to sit and find out about Georgiana, the history of the room, and what women read in the late Victorian era. You can also pick up and read books chosen by six guest curators – ranging from actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson to Pulitzer Prize-winner Margo Jefferson to students from nearby Kineton High School., 11am-5pm

 The Big Picnic, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, nr Stratford, July 29

Pack a picnic or enjoy a sizzling BBQ in the summer holidays at the annual Big Picnic celebrations at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Enjoy garden games, musical entertainment from local band The Rest and spellbinding performances from magician Lee Ryan. Browse the stalls filled with goods from local traders. Free entry for CV37 residents (with proof of address), members of the emergency services and their families, 12pm– 4pm.

Room on the Broom, Main Stage, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Mon July 24-Sat July 26

Room on The Broom

A musical stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom whizzes into Coventry to kick start the summer holidays. Join children’s theatre company Tall Stories, the Witch and her cat on a broomstick adventure, brought to life by children’s theatre company Tall Stories. This Olivier Award nominated show has toured to theatres across the UK and beyond, entertaining children 3 and up, with original songs, colourful characters and animal puppets., Tel 024 7655 3055.

Units of Possibility: The Reknit Revolution, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, until Sept 2

This is the first solo show by Amy Twigger Holroyd, a senior lecturer in Design Culture and Context at Nottingham Trent University. Her reknitting work was originally developed during her PhD at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, in 2013, resulting in a soon to be published book, Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes. Ultimately, she aims to encourage knitters to see the pieces in their wardrobes as ripe for reinvention. I’m intrigued by her Cathedral Cardigans, 5 reknitted cast-offs inspired by the architecture of gothic cathedrals!

Live at the RSC: Seth Lakeman & Wildwood Kin, RST, Stratford, Sun July 23

Seth Lakeman & Wildwood Kin Photo: Matt Austin

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) plays host to Seth Lakeman and Nancy Kerr, two of the UK’s most renowned folk singer songwriters, in two separate gigs.  These one-off  performances are part of the Company’s Live at the RSC strand, which has seen the likes of Rufus Wainwright, John Grant, Gaz Coombes and Russell Kane all taking to the RSC’s stages. West country folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman will perform with his band for one night only including tracks from his 8th  studio album Ballads of the Broken Few. Nancy Kerr will be playing on Sat Nov 11., Box Office 01789 403493

Sidney Nolan, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Sept 3

An exhibition of spray painted portraits dating from the 1980s by inventive Australian-born artist Sidney Nolan, who was a close friend of Benjamin Britten, Francis Bacon and fellow Australian artist Brett Whiteley. Born in 1917 he was recognised as one of the foremost international modern artists,

Fearsome Craftsmen: Discover the Artistry of the Viking World, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry until Sept 24

Making the perilous journey through the crashing waves of the North Sea, the bloody and brutal Viking invasions of Britain are legendary – but what did they do while they were here? Step back in time and learn more about the people who settled in Britain from excavated skeletons, see real examples of Viking crafts including intricate metalwork, and a replica 15ft fishing boat, decorated with designs that reveal the true Viking creative spirit. Explore the Norse myths and legends in the gallery’s  unique family friendly Viking settlement, A Viking Voyage.

Pitt Fest Remixed, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Sat 29 July

No, not a celebration of Brad Pitt (hey, every day is that kinda Pitt Fest in the Muddy office), rather the annual one-day festival at Oxford’s excellent museum.  Visitors explore the collections via performances, workshops, tours and talks around the cases, plus there’s live music.

Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford,

RSC’s Rome Series: Julius Caesar, RST, Stratford, until Sept 9

Photo: Helen Maybanks

The well-received Julius Caesar runs in rep side-by-side with Antony and Cleopatra–the first double-bill in the RSC’s four-play Rome series. Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus will complete the quartet of Shakespeare’s most political and bloody thrillers in June and September. Season director Angus Jackson brought the brilliant atom bomb drama Oppenheimer, and Don Quixote, to the RSC stage.  He’s directing Julius Caesar, which has strong performances by Andrew Woodall as Caesar, Alex Waldmann as Brutus, James Corrigan’s Mark Antony and Martin Hutson’ as Cassius., 01789 403493

Antony and Cleopatra, the RST, Stratford, until Sept 7

Shakespeare’s tragic love story between hot-headed Egyptian queen Cleopatra, played here by a luminous Josette Simon, and Antony Byrne’s Roman general Mark Antony. It’s directed by Iqbal Khan with music composed by award-winning Birmingham singer-songwriter Laura Mvula., Tel:01789 403493

Raphael, The Drawings, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until Sept 3

The Ashmolean’s captivating summer show, Raphael, brings together 120 stunning works from international collections spanning the brief but brilliant career of Raphael, only 37 when he died. The Ashmolean’s unrivalled Raphaels are joined by superb works from the Albertina and loans from other international collections including the Louvre, the Uffizi and Liz II.  Drawings include the exquisite Head of a Muse, which broke records when auctioned at Christies in 2009, as well as the sublime Heads and Hands of two Apostles, considered to be the finest drawing Raphael ever made.

 Vice Versa, The Swan, Stratford, until Sept 9

Phil Porter’s brilliantly bonkers new farce ‘lovingly ripped off ‘from the Roman comedies of Plutus.  A clever servant and a pair of wronged young lovers team up to bamboozle Trump-like pompous general. Felix Hayes is fantastic as the bombastic General Braggadocio, playing his servant, Dexter, is the wonderfully charismatic Sophia Nomvetewhose credits include The Colour Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory) and As You Like It (Shakespeare’s Globe). ‘Allo ‘Allo star Kim Hartman makes her RSC debut as ‘a lady of the night’ called Climax. Read her My Favourite Places here.

Salome, The Swan, Stratford, Fri June 2-Sept 6

Owen Horsley directs Oscar Wilde’s controversial one act play, Salome, originally banned in the UK, marking 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. This contemporary 1hr 40 min poetic masterpiece will place sexual ambiguity at the core with male actor Matthew Tennyson playing Salome.With music from Seattle-born song-writer Perfume Genius’ 2014 critically acclaimed album Too Bright which addresses the homophobia he has faced because of his sexuality (features nudity and ‘scenes of a sexual nature’, just so you know!)., Tel: 01789 403493 

War of the Roses Live! Warwick Castle, Sat July 22 – Sun Sept 3

This summer Warwick Castle is staging a thrilling live action War of the Roses horseback battle twice-a-day. Think Game of Thrones for kids. The real-life War of the Roses story has something of a GoT quality to it – a series of battles fought in medieval England from 1455 to 1485 between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. It’s somewhat diluted for dramatic effect but perfectly pitched for bringing history to life to kids of all ages…Medieval Glamping in the Knight’s Village is also now available over the summer. Review here.

Giacometti, Tate Modern, London, until Sept 10

Here comes a biggie. Tate Modern presents the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.

Giffords Circus, Any Port in a Storm, touring now until Sept 24

This year the inimitable Giffords Circus is recreating a 17th-century Spanish court and putting on a candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. It’s moved from its Gloucestershire home into Oxfordshire for the next month – currently nestled in Oxford, it heads into London next and then back to Stonor Park.

Grayson Perry Exhibition, Serpentine Gallery, London

This summer Grayson Perry, one of the most astute commentators on contemporary society and culture, will present a major exhibition of new work. The works will touch on many themes including popularity and art, masculinity and the current cultural landscape.

Find more ideas here

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