February 10, 2011


Inside Art

Forty-eight works created by young men detained at Feltham Young Offenders Institution - paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings and collages - have been put on display in the National Gallery as part of its outreach programme. All were inspired by paintings in its collection by artists such as Edgar Degas, Paolo Uccello, Titian and J.M.W. Turner. Feltham's Art Academy offers courses in a range of creative and performing arts to 15- to 21-year-olds who have already been sentenced or are being held on remand. These are designed to help them gain confidence, develop their communication skills and, it is hoped, turn their back on crime. For this particular project, participants received large prints of famous artworks as a basis for discussion and hands-on activities. Some of the results can now be seen by the public. The exhibition runs until 1 May.


Little Black Dress

Few fashion icons have stood the test of time as well as the classic little black dress. This exhibition brings together more than 50 costumes from designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Norman Hartnell, and evokes many celebrated images from pop culture, including an LBD worn by Marilyn Monroe. It assembles stories of local women and the "special numbers" they chose for those very important occasions in their lives. Nor does it shy away from looking at matching underwear, displaying an example of vintage little black corsetry (once a major industry in Portsmouth). The event runs at the Portsmouth City Museum from 12 February to 5 June.


Novel Women

When it comes to fiction, it is women who dominate behind the scenes in publishing houses and buy a large majority of the books. So why do men top the end-of-year critics' polls and prize nominations? This debate at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on 16 February examines what gets reviewed, what is considered significant, who makes those decisions - and why we are still asking these questions in 2011. On the panel are Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Antonia Byatt, novelist and director of literature at Arts Council England; Kate Mosse, best-selling author and co-founder of the Orange Prize for Fiction; Lennie Goodings, publisher at the iconic women's press Virago; and Mary Evans, centennial professor at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics.


Memoirs of a Showwoman

Marisa Carnesky has long been acclaimed for bringing a highly distinctive twist to the traditional art of burlesque in spectacular shows that also raise troubling questions about women's bodies and the contemporary lives of migrants and refugees. Although a Fellow of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, she is no stranger to snake-wrestling or "guillotining" the heads of members of her audiences. Whether confronting her own heritage in Jewess Tattooess or the women who disappear in war zones in Ghost Train, her work is always exciting, thought-provoking and disturbing. This survey of her performances to date has been put together by Vanessa Toulmin, head of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield. It can be seen in the newly restored gallery of the university's Western Bank Library until 13 May.


The Heretic

At the university where Dr Diane Cassell (Juliet Stevenson) is a senior academic in the earth sciences department, climate science is the cool degree. So when colleagues realise that she does not accept the orthodoxy about global warming, she finds herself vilified. What sound like legitimate differences of opinion become increasingly personal. Richard Bean has had a number of his plays staged at the Royal Court, while England People Very Nice (2009), a study of four successive waves of immigration into East London, was performed at the National Theatre. His new black comedy of academic in-fighting and freedom dares to explore whether belief in man-made climate change is science, politics or even religion. The Heretic runs until 19 March.

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