May 26, 2011

Penzance (and touring nationally)

Surfing Tommies

It is 1914 and 15-year-old John Henry Pascoe has just started work in a Cornish tin mine. Then his mentor and friend Jimmy Tamblyn, sacked for accidentally blowing up a shaft, decides to sign up for the Army, little guessing that a distraught Pascoe will lie about his age, leave behind his widowed mother and sweetheart, and follow him to Flanders. Alan M. Kent's play, based on a true story, enjoyed a sell-out run in Cornwall in 2009. Now, until 23 July, Iron Shoes and Bish Bash Bosh Productions are taking it on a national tour. It continues at the Minack Theatre in Penzance until May, before moving on to venues including Bath, Leeds, London, Salford, Scarborough and Sheffield.



A Passion for Glass

The studio glass movement began in the mid-20th century, when the development of smaller furnaces meant that individual pieces could be created in a studio environment instead of a factory. Alan J. Poole and the late Dan Klein, who helped found North Lands Creative Glass in the Scottish fishing village of Lybster with the aim of developing glass as a serious artistic medium, owned one of the most comprehensive collections of such work. It was recently donated to National Museums Scotland. Some 130 dazzling objects by more than 100 artists, dating from the 1970s until today, are on display at the National Museum of Scotland until 11 September.


Entertaining the Nation

From Alma Cogan to Amy Winehouse, Sid James and Peter Sellers to Sacha Baron Cohen, Victorian music hall to pop videos, Jewish performers have made an immense contribution to the British entertainment industry. Equally prominent are writers and directors such as Jack Rosenthal, Harold Pinter, Stephen Poliakoff and Mike Leigh, and impresarios from Brian Epstein to Malcolm McLaren. Even the archetypally English "Ealing comedies" were largely created by Michael Balcon, the son of Jewish immigrants. Yet, unlike the Jewish dimension of Hollywood's golden age, this fascinating story has been largely neglected. A major exhibition at the Jewish Museum (until 8 January 2012) aims to put that right, and also explores the changing representations of Jews on stage and screen.


Autres Mers (Other Seas): Artwork by Francoise Dupre

The French-born, London-based artist Françoise Dupré is fascinated by "the vernacular and creative skills that are invisible, marginal or lost through migration, socio-economic changes and globalisation". Her playfully sculptural installations use a variety of media and forms, often incorporating everyday objects such as wire and bottle tops as well as knitting and stitching. Ouvrage, for example, was created during her residency at the French Cultural Centre in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to demonstrate how crafts can transcend cultures and language barriers. Another work on display as part of Autres Mers, which opened at the Women's Library on 26 May, features wall panels made of ordinary polypropylene bags, used both to carry the daily shopping and to transport goods across continents.


The Art Books of Henri Matisse

Throughout his career, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) took time off from painting to work in media such as drawing, sculpture - and a remarkable series of highly illustrated livres d'artiste. Many of these incorporated texts by French poets, but Matisse also produced a version of James Joyce's Ulysses with etchings and engravings (1935) and Jazz (1947), which juxtaposes his own words with more than 100 brilliantly coloured cut-outs, many of which have since become iconic images. This exhibition at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle (until 25 September), features both these works among a display of four of Matisse's most artistically significant books. Tie-in events include a two-day printmaking workshop (9-10 June) and a lecture on "Matisse and the Decorative Arts" by Kathleen James-Chakraborty, professor of art history at University College Dublin (2 June).

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