February 24, 2011


Learning to Dwell: Adolf Loos in the Czech Lands

Pioneering modernist architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933) is probably most famous for work in Vienna such as the Cafe Museum and the Karntner (American) Bar, but he also produced important buildings in Prague, Pilsen and his native Brno. The library at the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) played a key role in saving his archives when they were brought to England in 1938. It is now mounting a major exhibition (until 3 May) surveying his achievements in the Czech lands, from large residential projects to the striking interiors that made highly unusual use of furniture and glass where he urged his clients to "learn to dwell". Separate displays examine the material in Riba's own collection; provide a photographic account of the reconstruction of the iconic Villa Muller and Hirsch Apartment; and document Loos buildings in Austria, France, Switzerland and the US.


Stonehenge: henge diggers

In 2008, a team of archaeologists from many different backgrounds, including some from the University of Manchester, assembled near Stonehenge to carry out research on the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Their shared labour can be seen as an echo of Stonehenge's original purpose as a ceremonial centre for prehistoric communities. This exhibition (at the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, until 17 July) uses emotive texts and photographs by Bill Bevan to capture the archaeologists' feelings and working methods as they make discoveries near this renowned site.


British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet

A comet is a harbinger of change as well as a marker of historical recurrence. It has been adopted as the central motif of an exhibition bringing together paintings, sculpture, installations, video, film and performance by 39 contemporary British artists who draw on history to illuminate our present moment. It has already been seen in Nottingham and will travel to Glasgow and Plymouth, although it is only in London that all the works will be brought together in a single venue, the Hayward Gallery. (A spoken-word piece by Tris Vonna-Michell describes a road trip between these four destinations.) Curated by Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton, British Art Show 7 (until 17 April) forms part of an influential series of exhibitions that have been mounted by the Hayward every five years since 1979.


Ruby Wax - Losing It

Ruby Wax has largely abandoned her television career for an MSc in psychology and neuroscience at the University of Oxford. But she took to the stage last year with Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen for a sharply satirical, self-lacerating show using the blackest of black comedy to explore the "big stigma" of the mental illness that has afflicted them both (along with a quarter of the UK population). It has been performed at 12 Priory Clinics as well as other venues across the country and now comes to London for an extended run (Menier Chocolate Factory, until 19 March). Thirty-five pence from each ticket sold goes to Comic Relief for work with those affected by mental health issues.


Jewish Book Week

From the history of protest songs to Eve Ensler's sequel to The Vagina Monologues and from Gustav Mahler to Peter Mandelson, taking in book burning, beautiful buildings and the flavours of Babylon along the way, Jewish Book Week (Royal National Hotel, London, 26 February-6 March) spans the spectrum of Jewish culture and well beyond. French philosopher Pascal Bruckner discusses guilt and happiness with Clive James, David Baddiel unveils his new novel, The Death of Eli Gold, Maureen Lipman performs a sample of her monologues, Niall Ferguson examines "banking then and now", and Martin Gilbert reflects on half a century as a Jewish historian. Other academics consider the Jewish Jesus, the impact of the printing press and stories of survival.


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