November 4, 2010


Queering the Museum

It is often assumed, argue the creators of a bold new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (4 November to 30 January 2011), that the world is straight, and that the objects held in museums have nothing to do with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Now, in conjunction with the ShOUT! Festival, artist and curator Matt Smith has decided to cast a queer eye over the museum. Items have been rearranged or brought out of store and new artworks commissioned to uncover - and sometimes invent - the stories hidden in the collections. Witty yet disturbingly provocative, the result calls into question much of what we think we know about home, family and domesticity.


Bright Star

Although she died tragically young, the New Zealand astrophysicist Beatrice Tinsley (1941-81) made a huge contribution to our understanding of how stars age and galaxies evolve. Yet, as a woman confronting the male-dominated scientific establishment of the 1970s, her career was often dogged by prejudice. Stuart Hoar's play premiered at the Circa Theatre in Wellington in 2005, with telescope viewings held on the wharf outside. It will now enjoy its first British run (9 to November) at London's Tabard Theatre, mounted by Firebrand Productions and Creative Cat in association with Women into Science, Engineering and Construction, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Royal Astronomical Society.


Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Created in 1989, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is Britain's leading annual poetry event; this year it brings together poets from the US, Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria and Sweden as well as the UK. Former poet laureate Andrew Motion will share the poems he can't live without. Harry Clifton, newly appointed Ireland Professor of Poetry, will examine the concept of "home", while others will explore the writer's responsibility to be subversive and whether sadness is a more natural (and even more pleasurable) subject for poetry than joy. There will also be a magic realist one-man show and some razor-sharp late-night stand-up poetry. A total of 44 events, 12 of them free, will be held all over the seaside town from 5 to 7 November. Full details from www.thepoetrytrust.org.


Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys, 1880-1900

"The Glasgow Boys" were a loose-knit group of young painters in the late 19th century who produced some of the most powerful and innovative British art of the time. Hostile to traditional narrative painting and the art establishment in Edinburgh, they were greatly influenced by French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and by their experiences of travel throughout Europe, North Africa and Japan. They also believed in total faithfulness to nature and often worked outdoors to capture fleeting lighting effects. Although some of their work is on display in Glasgow, it is more than 40 years since there has been a major exhibition in London. The show at the Royal Academy of Arts (until 23 January 2011) brings together more than 80 oil paintings, watercolours and pastels by artists such as Sir James Guthrie and Sir John Lavery from both public and private collections.



Masud was 12 years old when he was tricked into leaving Bangladesh. Upon arrival in England, he was abandoned in an Indian restaurant and "lived in cramped storerooms and slept next to jars of chutney and bags of onions". It was not until he was 28 that STOP THE TRAFFIK, a global anti-trafficking coalition, helped him build a new life. It is to highlight stories such as these and expose the realities of the contemporary slave trade that the group has created this exhibition at the International Slavery Museum (until spring 2011). Trafficked draws on the testimonies of just a few of the millions who have been transported across the world for forced labour, street begging or sexual exploitation as part of the fastest-growing form of organised crime.

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